Saturday, July 31, 2010

The One Income Life

Recently Paul and I have both received comments on how we live on one income. Some positive some negative and some I think are just wondering how it is done. So to those who think I lead the glamorous life of one of those Real Housewives types, keep dreaming.

1. This is a choice we made to give our daughter the attention we feel she needs right now in her early years. Both of us feel very passionately that she should not be in day care at this time for a variety of reasons. It didn't start like this when I got pregnant I was job hunting.

2. We couldn't do it with out our amazing landlord/ my mother. She is a bit more forgiving when rent is late than say someone with a signed contract.

3. Do it yourself. When you live on a tight budget you do a lot of things yourself. From painting, to fixing cars, to cooking, to well just about everything. I can't tell you the last time we paid for a service.

4. Coupons, Sales and planning ahead for expenses. I shop at places most often if they offer good sales or amazing coupons. Micheal's for example offers regularly 50% off one item. This is a very sizable savings. I know when birthdays are coming and usually you have some notice on special events. Those things are worked into the budget early on.

5. I cannot give lavish gifts. Actually usually they were on sale with a coupon or free shipping. I often times want to include a note in the card that is usually from an 8 pack of plain cards I personalize myself because I can get 8 cards for a dollar, I am not cheap really I am just broke.

6. We are broke most of the time and our savings suffers.

7. Things like dinners out and movies are a rarity.

8. You learn humility.

9. Presentation is everything. An inexpensive gift that is well packaged goes a long way.

10. Events with short notice can throw our budget into a tail spin.

11. I plan ahead for everything.

12. When it's payday before any money is spent we buy all baby needs for the next two weeks from food to diapers and wipes. Then we purchase food for the house. Then we negotiate what is left.

13. Any traveling usually involves a car and a tent or the floor of a friends house.

14. Garage sales and second hand shops are our friends.

15. It fosters creativity in more ways than I can list.

16. We have learned the difference between need and want. There is so much crap out there that you and your kid do not need. Since we think about every purchase we make smarter choices. We end up with less stuff we don't need. Also we don't buy status symbols. You won't find designer bags, new cars or fancy jewelery in this house.

17. We value experiences over things.

18. We have really learned how much we don't need.

19. There is so much to do for free in the world. All it takes is a little creativity and research.

20. When we are able to have two incomes again I think that we will keep many of our single income habits as they have become a way of life.

21. I have memorized the marketing schemes of many stores. I know when something I love will be on clearance. I know stores that don't keep the things I like around and if I want them to buy them early. I also have been known to drive to multiple locations to find clearance items.

22. You would be amazed at how long a wardrobe can last with out new additions to it.

23. We can never throw money at a situation to make it go away. Interpret that how you wish.

24. We have to budget in gas money for dinner with friends. We often times feel bad because we cannot host our friends for dinner as much as they host us. This goes for lunch out with my mentors as well. I can rarely return the favor. I think sometimes it makes people mad or think poorly of us but it isn't that we don't have good intentions.

I keep thinking of more as the day goes on...

25. Store brand everything.

26. NO WASTING. Not food, not a scrap of wrapping paper.

27. Re-purposing things. You can be amazed at what you can make out of things you already have.

Sometimes it sucks a lot but it is worth it in the end. There is no time for a pity party, there is life to be lived. You want more on how it works, just ask. I will share.

I almost forgot something really essential to all this. We make "charity" a priority. It keeps us grounded and humble. I don't like the word charity. We see it as God's work be it our time or some donations for the food bank or for our friends in Africa. I guess our God centered world view helps in all this too. We do not value what society values and it helps.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Capture the Night

I am not going to lie. I will probably be up all night because at five o'clock when Colton headed home and Paul walked in I took a nap a very long nap in mommy time anyway. I slept until 8 woke up and darted out the door to Micheal's with just 2 minutes to do my shopping once I got there as every employee let me know! I made it though. So with all this energy from my nap I decided to get done all the stuff I didn't get done today.

First on the list taking my Trinity for a walk at 11pm. The poor pooch has skipped her walk two days in a row and that makes her very unhappy. It was a short walk because of the time but a walk none the less. I really enjoy walking at night. Even though I was a little leery because of a friend relating a story of being mugged two years ago while walking at night in town but a different neighborhood and with out a dog. So I got past that and just stayed away from the wooded lots because many neighborhood pooches have gotten the skunk treatment recently. I would like to keep this off the list of Trinity's achievements for the summer.

So as I walked on this most amazing summer night taking in the cool air and sounds of nature that summer brings. I slowly let my guard down and I notice the moon and the stars. Something I have always found very comforting. I was thinking about all of my "far away" friends and how they get to see the same moon and stars and some how we are connected to them and each other. I got lost in my thoughts of how there are so many things going on at any given moment in the world. Birth and it's first new breath and there is death's last shallow murmur. War and a fight for peace. Falling in love, hearts breaking. Bad choices, the courage to make good ones. Violence, reconciliation. Sleeping, singing, dancing, weddings. Beginnings and endings. I could go on forever and that's with none of the mundane things like walking my dog or brushing my teeth.

All that lead me to how Lilia will turn one this week. An entire year of moments we have spent together. How from the looks of my back porch you would never guess that I am planning a small get together of our closest friends and family to celebrate the first anniversary of her birth and really the whole year of growth and learning. A rather small party for me anyway. When you are one of four children who all have children of their own and some of those children have children the number 30 seems like a small miracle. This Saturday months of planning and penny pinching will turn into a celebration of my baby girl. I have made with my own two hands many things for her party. I have left no detail unturned. I have been mastering my cupcake skills which still need help.

I have debated things like box cake vs. scratch cake. Types of frosting. I mean really if you saw my pages of notes you would think that I was planning a wedding. Well not if you looked at the budget that is nothing short of a miracle and good planning. None of it though has felt like a burden. My baby is worth the coupon clipping, decoration making, cupcake exploring and even some family feuds that came because of it. Ask me next week at this time and I might have a different idea because I will probably still be up cooking for the next day and dreaming of a pom martini.

All this to say, I have learned that these moments and this life need to be celebrated. I have no idea what next year will bring let alone the next ten. So I am taking it and celebrating it for today. It makes me sad when people pass mile stones in life with out taking a moment to celebrate them. I know that Lilia will not remember a dam thing from her first birthday party but I will. There will be pictures that she can look at and know what sort of day it was. There will even be video which I am sure like every child she will love when she is bigger. I mean really who doesn't love to wonder about what they were like as a baby. I know that if you could come remotely close to showing what love looks like it would be the details of this party, bright colors, creativity, sparkle.

It's after midnight so it is officially my late grandmother's birthday. Happy Birthday Grammy! I will be eating ice cream at some point in the next 24 hours in her honor. The reason is exactly what I am talking about here, because in her life she loved ice cream. On her birthday we would often go and buy all the fixings for huge ice cream sundaes and then sit down and make them together on a normally hot summer night. Then listen to the story about the year she got to have a birthday party with ice cream and her mom's home made root beer. Just once her whole childhood but she remembered it maybe because it was the depression and those things didn't happen often. Or maybe I come from a long line of party people. You see though here it is nearly 3 years after her death and I can still remember that story a moment in her life that I wasn't there for. 3 years seems like a long enough time for me to forget all the bad at the end and just remember the good of all our years together before. I miss her a lot this year. Maybe because of Lilia. She makes me wish all these people were here for her to meet. Grammy & Pop Pop, Her Pop Pop, Pop Tim. I know that maybe it is strange that I wish for my Grandmother more than my father in this moment. It's just that I know how much Grammy would have loved her and how she would have been with her. I know she would translate her baby babble into complete sentences and sneak her treats when I wasn't looking. Life did not afford me enough time with my dad to picture those moments with him. Maybe that is almost a protective sort of bubble. I imagine it would hurt a lot. He would love her though and have some sort of nick name for her those are the absolutes.

This blog has become way more long winded than I anticipated. If you have read this far congratulations. I will let you know that in all this thinking I did while walking right at the end the neighbors dog barked out the window at us and nearly made me crap myself until I realized it was from the window. It broke the silence and my thoughts.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I have so many things I would like to write about but they are all jumbled up inside my head and I can't currently get them out. I wish I could. I wish I could write here all about what is going on but I don't seem to be able to get the words out in an order that would make sense. There are so many topics that need my words. Yet I can't even give you a list of topics. I hate it when my head gets like this.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

So maybe something different?

When I was a little girl I used to watch the Disney Channel (which back in the 80s was a pay channel that you had to pay extra for). There was a Pooh Corner show that I loved. It was Winnie the Pooh acted out by people in costumes much like you would see in Disney World. Oh and of course there was music. This song is stuck in my head this morning...

" Try a little something new, Try a little something different, Try a little something no one else has done. Take a little different view, Try a little something new, now that's a magic trick no one else has done." Or something along those lines.

So in that spirit maybe the blog doesn't end maybe I just write like I used to but with more limitations than I had on previous versions of my blog. Maybe you my very intelligent readers will inference what it is I am grateful for in all of this mess we call life. So I won't people bash and let me tell you that is so tempting right now.

I should make clear that I am not ungrateful for anything, my quitting had more to do with my dissatisfaction with current circumstances in my life.

All that aside, let me tell you something exciting that is going on. Paul and I recently became aware of some opportunities we have in Kentucky of all places! This prospect is very exciting. If it all works out we will be moving this time next year.

I don't think I will survive that year with out blogging because there is a lot to get done and I am sure there will be blog worthy shenanigans along the way.

Last note for today... the down side of making the move... we will be living in an apartment so there will be no place for my baby's swing set! I will also have to leave behind her beautiful room (conceited I know since I did the whole thing but I really love how it turned out)! We will have to leave her really rather amazing Pediatrician.

The positives list is so much longer.

This prospect though has breathed new life into both my lungs and Paul's as well. I think just maybe we have a little bit of our light back.

OK one more thought this little girl is going to turn 1 just two weeks from today! HOLY CRAP! Slow down my little lovey!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Yesterday I pondered if this was all a bunch of BS fluff to make myself feel better. Today I decided it is so I am quitting. Peace.

Dark Time

Yesterday was a rough day for me. Many little things went wrong which added up to a pretty over all crappy day. I sat wondering what could I be grateful for in all of this? I thought of a few things that could make me feel better off. Then I thought what if this is all a sham, this whole blog. Am I just deluding myself to make myself feel better about my life which is nothing like how I imagined it to be? Maybe it is. I find it helpful though to think about the positive so with that in mind it will continue and we shall see where I end up.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Imagination of a Dreamer

It can be said of every single person that walks the Earth, you either are or are not a particular type of person. The lists of things you could or could not be are endless. I want to take a moment today to focus on just a little part of myself. I have a wildly active and vivid imagination. I always have and hope I always will. Although as I have grown from my childhood I don't imagine things like monsters under my bed or aliens outside my window coming to abduct me. Yes there was a time when I would lay terrified in my bed convinced little men with large glowing green heads would undoubtedly get into my bedroom and suck me up into their ship to do God knows what to me. Only to spit me back out and have no one believe me, then I would end up on the show Unsolved Mysteries, which is where I got the idea in the first place.

As an adult I still have a very active imagination. Sometimes I think people view this as a negative or childish thing. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I am a dreamer too. I know you might be thinking that's repetitive but it's not because a dream can actually happen it might start in the imagination but it can come to fruition. I know this because I have lived a couple of them out already and I intend on living out a few more at the very least.

All this to say last night I started to imagine what our daughter's first trip to Disney World might be like. I didn't cap off the image with a dollar sign as I perused the Disney site and signed up for my vacation planning tool kit. To me the possibilities are endless. So I grabbed my notebook where I write down things that need further thought and made a list of all the things I would love for Lilia to experience while she spends time in Disney World with her parents and if it works out maybe a few friends as well. I was finishing this up as Paul came to bed.

I sat cross legged like a child with my pad and pen, nearly bouncing as I told him of all of my wonderful discoveries. A tea party, a princess makeover, dinner in the castle, tours, restaurants we haven't tried yet in Disney, maybe a family photo shoot with an actual photographer... you get the idea. His face was not one of a happy man. His response was how will I ever afford all of that. So now you see Paul is not the dreamer and imagine-er that I am. I absolutely refused to give into dollar sign mentality. I gave a grand speech. "I am a very practical person. I do things myself to pinch pennies. I do not spend exorbitant amounts of money on things that many parents do. Nor will I ever want or suggest that we should over spend on things that are typical or can be done on our own. However when we take Lilia to Disney I do not plan on being practical. I plan on pulling out all the stops and giving her the best vacation leading to some pretty spectacular memories. So please Paul leave me that, I don't ask for much."

That didn't work either, so after an hour of trying to convince him that if possible every young girl needs to dress like a princess just once and eat in a castle I made a little progress. It took comparing it to my niece opening a gift of princess dolls to make him finally understand that even a tom boy might want to be girly for a day. (He is certian that Lilia will be a tom boy and hate all things girl like. His reason is because yours truly is not overly girly. I even professed that if when I was 5 it was an option in Disney to dress like a princess and eat in the castle I would have begged for it.)

So all this to say I am glad that I rarely allow dollar signs to get in the way of my imagination. Dreams sometimes take some dollar signs to make them happen. Yet when it is nothing more than thoughts in your head it doesn't matter. I have time, nearly four years to win Paul over to my crazy Disney vacation idea. In the mean time I will start planning a typical trip with upgrade options. Something that will make us both happy.

Paul, my love, if you are reading this, there is a part of me that is so very sad for you, because you seem to not have this capability. You however married a dreamer with a wild imagination, so I guess you might want to try to just for a moment let loose and imagine something because I don't want to imagine and dream all on my own.

I am grateful for this gift of imagination and dreams.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Adoption Option

As soon as you get married people start asking you when is the baby coming. In my case it wasn't for five years. There is also the how many babies question, which has greatly increased since we have one baby. Then the ultimate when is the next one coming? Well I don't know. I really don't sometimes I think I would love 2 more stat. Other times I think one is all I can handle. What makes people think it is any of their business anyway? If I only have one I will get criticism and if I have ten I will get it as well. I am not going to lie I feel the pressure sometimes. We all know the chances of a healthy uneventful pregnancy go down as you get older.

This is why I am so very grateful for the adoption option; something we have always been open too. I feel like I can just relax and not worry about my ovaries holding scrambled eggs. There will always be children that need parents no matter how old I get. I also firmly believe that when it's time for another child, if it ever is time, that I will know. I really trust God on this whole baby/parenting thing. I wish I was able to on other important things but I guess maybe with time.

Right now though one works for us. She doesn't really tie us down all that much. We can take her places and give her grand experiences and lots of love and attention. It is so freeing to finally not feel rushed about this whole building a family thing. I am living for today and loving what I have not longing for what I do not have.

Monday, July 12, 2010

For his Life

I know that I have been horrible about updating this blog. It's hard to blog when you are trying to only blog those things for which you are grateful. It is by far easier to complain about what you don't have gratitude. Anyhow, I made a whole list today and was determined to write them up here.

However this evening I learned of the American killed in the Kampala attacks, Nate Henn. I do not know Nate although I think I would have liked to have known him. Nate was working with the Invisible Children. In short they are an amazing group that is fighting for the child soldiers abducted in Northern Uganda. I highly recommend the film. I do not work directly with the organization but I follow their cause closely. I often join in their letter campaigns. I was very saddened by the loss of this volunteer.

I do not understand these attacks and now Bujumbura is also threatened where I have more friends. What are the chances that the two cities I visited are threatened? I am so confused and feel so personally affected by all this. However I will save my feelings in bulk for another time.

Tonight I would like to thank God for the life of Nate, a stranger but a kindred soul. Nate you are truly a hero.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Child's Wonder

So yesterday I was caring for Braiden, my great nephew. We took a walk with puppy (Trinity) and bebe (baby aka Lilia) with Uncle Pau(l). When we arrived at a soccer field that is fenced in we took Trinity off her leash to play fetch. He wanted to get out of the stroller so off he went running. It was fenced in and he just ran and ran until he plopped down and started picking the grass. He refused to come back to us so I walked out to where he plopped and got him moving back towards the gate it took a while as he often stopped to just run his fingers through the blades of grass and randomly picking some that he found interesting. What joy and wonder he had! I didn't rush him back, we took our time examining the blades of grass.

We loose something when we stop looking at the grass in wonder don't we?