Monday, January 27, 2014

Goals & Budgeting

I love the start of the new year.  Of course it's important to continually be working towards goals and self-improvement all year long.  But there is something fresh and exciting about the start of a new year. And wow....I can't believe it's already February! Since we've been married, each year we've been working towards and accomplished goals like finishing school, having kids, starting new jobs, paying off student loans, purchasing a vehicle, buying a practice, starting and continuing retirement savings, getting kids potty trained (this may rank as most stressful!), reading more books, regular temple trips, visiting Lee's mission, etc.  Looking back we've been blessed to do so much, and looking forward into the future we have even more important goals ahead.  (Like kids going on missions and marrying in the temple!) Each year brings new goals to set and new things to accomplish.  I don't think life will ever slow down! And of course this year is no different.

I don't post a whole lot about budgeting and getting out of debt, but I might start doing it a little more. My sister Lena sent me someone's blog post about their journey to becoming debt free. It was so fun to read and so inspiring!  I listen to Dave Ramsey quite bit too.  I love his show.  I listen to his radio show archives from his website.  

We have some goals this year that involve money.  One of them is attacking our house with any extra income.  I've been messing with the budget, trying to cut it down to free up even more money.  Which, when looking at our budget there wasn't a lot to cut down in the first place.  Lena and I are still in full-force working on our food storage. For the most part, my grocery budget each month will be $400 with $100 dedicated to food storage. (This is just for food....shampoo and toilet paper are in a different category.) I may switch that up here and there, but basically that is what I want to stick to.  We also canceled Netflix.  Granted we're only saving $7.99 a month, but it's also for the kids to help them feel like they're contributing to paying off the house.  Not that they're giving us money to pay off the house, they're not; but that there is some sort of sacrifice involved on their part. (They liked Netflix.) We've also cut household expenses down a little by buying exactly what we need, and will try to spend less money on kids' clothes this year.  Of course some things we'll still be doing.  Clark will still be taking piano, and Cal will start this summer. We don't want to miss out on our family reunions in Utah this summer (gratefully both are back to back!), or totally scrap our play/fun/personal money.  When the budget is tight, we need a little wiggle room and fun money so we'll be doing $30 each for play money per month.

If you didn't know I love budgeting.  Seriously it is one of my hobbies now.  I love figuring it out the envelope system each month, keeping the budget updated, counting out our cash constantly to track our progress through the month, spending the money...I love all of it! (Even though I like budgeting and keeping track of it all, I am definitely the spender in the family and Lee is the saver.) Budgeting is a way to continually have specific weekly and monthly goals for my money.  And as Dave says your budget tells your money where to go and not the other way around.  It's a way for us to be in control of our money and be intentional about it. It helps me to be a better steward over it as well because I know what's going on.  Of course I fail a lot, but I keep trying.  Like December for example, I went over budget quite a bit...not $3 either.  More like $125.  Or this last summer when we went $500 over budget on our cross-country vacation.  Thankfully we were able to cover the expenses and it all worked out. (Well, we had to...we don't have any credit cards or overdraft protection!) But I do mess up. 

My cousin Heidi will be tackling her debt this year and I am sooo excited for them!  And my friend recently told me that she and her husband paid off their two cars!  How awesome! Here's to an exciting new year and to all those fun goals to work on and accomplish! 

I saw this video clip last recently.  If budgeting doesn't get you excited (I think I might be one of those few weird ones with budgeting) then this video might.  When someone is debt free and has money to give and save, the possibilities are endless!  I am super excited about Dave and Rachel's upcoming book too: Smart Money, Smart Kids

Saturday, January 25, 2014

It's cold

I know it's not THAT cold here.  But when I went Friday morning it was cold enough out that when the heat from my body went through my jacket and hit the air, frost formed.  I first noticed it on my gloves on the back of my hands.  I tried to have Lee get a picture of that but it melted too quickly.  Lee then noticed that the frost had formed on my jacket sleeves! Crazy!  (Disregard all the lint....)
Jan 24 2014 Frost

I went running last week when it was really cold, 4 degrees Fahrenheit. I mainly did it to see if I my body could handle running in that cold of weather.  I remember being outside in Minnesota during the winter and sometimes my lungs would feel uncomfortable.  This winter though I've been running when the temps were in the teens and low 20s.  And despite the coldness I felt fine.  I figured there wouldn't be much difference running in 16 degrees than 4 degrees.  I was right. When I was thinking about it I wondered why my lungs would sometimes feel uncomfortable in Minnesota and not here.  Then it dawned on me, it was probably -10 below or something like that in Minnsota!  I never really paid attention to winter temperatures then. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Crazy School Schedule

Ever since we started school after Christmas break, school has been crazy.  As I mentioned the first Friday back to school was canceled.  And then Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the next day were all 2-hour delays and Friday school was canceled. (That night Clark had two friends over for a little party.  They played, ate homemade pizza and watched the original was a fun night! I didn't take any pictures.)  Then because of testing (I think that is why, anyway it was planned and not due to weather) the next week the kids all got out early Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.  Then we had Monday off because of Martin Luther King, Jr. day.  Of course it snowed which resulted in school being canceled Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week.  Very crazy!  Tomorrow, Friday, there is already a 2-hour delay.  I wonder if it will end up being canceled.  I am going to keep checking!

My sister Lois and her family came down for the weekend on the 18th.  They hadn't been here since August.  It was so fun having them here.  I enjoyed showing them all the changes we had made to the house since then too.  Thursday night I painted the baseboards, something I've been putting off and dreading.  I was up till 4:30.  I took a long nap that morning and Elden joined me.  I got some housework done before she came and did a little more painting on Friday too. Saturday morning Lee and Jeff took the kids sledding.  Lois and stayed at home and talked.  We were going to workout while they were gone, but never got around to it during that time.  We did work out a little later.  Lois has been doing the Insanity workouts for over a month and now has her own dvds of them.  Wow, what a great workout!  I am going to borrow her first month dvds from her once she is done with the rotation.  I am excited to mix them with my running.  Really, most of the time it wasn't fun doing the insanity workout because it was kind of hard, ha ha.  But that is why I like them too.

Here are a few pictures of them sledding.
Jan 18 2014 Sledding (3)

Jan 18 2014 Sledding (4)

Surprisingly Elden didn't want his picture taken. 
Jan 18 2014 Sledding (6)

We have great hills here at the park to go sledding on.  And it's only a few blocks from our house.
Jan 18 2014 Sledding (7)

Nice team work!  I love it when my kids help each other out.
Jan 18 2014 Sledding (9)

Lee and I have been trying to be better about having official weekly dates.  We do stuff together at night, but it's special when something has been thought out and planned.  It's fine too if the dates are mostly at home.  Sometimes we go out, but mainly we do dates at home when the kids are in bed.  Lee's turn was last weekend.  He made a heavenly homemade chocolate brownie ice cream.  He even did a tricky recipe that took some time to make and required a few steps, like baking brownies and tempering eggs into a cream mixture.  Wow, amazing ice cream!!!  Thanks Lee!  Lois and Jeff were here that weekend so we did a double date with them and played Qwirkle.  (Okay, I just checked yet AGAIN about school, and yep, it's canceled!  Woo hoo!) It was a fun date night. My turn is coming up tomorrow night.  I need to think of something!
Jan 18 2014 Date Night

Sunday we had a nice day at church, and later dinner and visiting.  I made dark chocolate brownies for dessert that night and we ate up the rest of Lee's oh-so-good ice cream.  We got about 1 tablespoon each.  There wasn't much left over from Saturday night! It was fun being on google+ that night with a few of us siblings and my mom.  On Monday after another Insanity workout with Lois and lunch and such, we went to Harrisonburg to do some shopping and visit the park.  My friend Jenny and her kids were there too.  We had a nice little visit.  They are in the process of redoing their kitchen and it was fun to find out the details. Clark loves sledding and couldn't resist pulling out the sleds at the park.  The sleds will have a home in the back of my van for a little while. It was a great day out.  High 40s, low 50s.
Jan 20 2014 A Dream Come True Park

Jan 20 2014 A Dream Come True Park (2)

Jan 20 2014 A Dream Come True Park (3)

We took a little stop at Martins, a local grocery store.  They have an awesome bulk candy section.  I love that I can buy two York peppermint patties for $0.08.  Or five or so caramels for about $0.04.  So fun.  We all picked out a little treat.  Elden is so funny.  Yet again, he was making this face on purpose.
Jan 20 2014 Martins

We were glad Lois and her family came down.  Thanks for coming!!!  I love it when family visits.  They left Monday night after family home evening and a few rousing rounds of Blind Buffalo.

The next day, the first day of school being canceled, I took the kids sledding.  At 5:30 at night. 
Jan 21 2014

Lee used up the extra cream and half & half to make one more batch of ice cream.  This time he made vanilla ice cream, adding a swirl of homemade hot fudge.  We had fun eating it and watching Studio C.  We saw a Bachelorette spoof with a girl having to pick between a few guys...and Snape.  It was so funny.  (It was the top 10 cast favorites episode from season 3.)
Jan 21 2014 Homemade ice cream

Wednesday we went out sledding again.  One of my children did NOT want to go.  Though I knew once that child was there, sledding would be hard to deny.  That child said, "I will just go down once."  Yep, okay.  Said child enjoyed it a lot. We started sledding at the hill the kids did over the weekend, but then moved around the corner.  The town park/baseball fields/whatever else is down there is at the bottom of a big fish bowl almost.  There are lots of great places to go sledding at this area.
Jan 22 2014 Sledding Again (3)

Someone had made a bump on the hill which I think some of the kids enjoyed going over.  A couple people were out snowboarding too.
Jan 22 2014 Sledding Again (4)

Jan 22 2014 Sledding Again (5)

Icicles are always fun.  I need my brother Roger to tell my kids his story about kicking a several-foot-long icicle at my grandparents 50 wedding anniversary and how it fell on his forehand and made a big gash and he had to go to the emergency room and get stitches.  Ah, childhood memories.
Jan 22 2014 Sledding Again (6)

Later that day my kids did some Lego races. 
Jan 22 2014 Lego Races (4)

Jan 22 2014 Lego Races (6)

Jan 22 2014 Lego Races (7)

It's been fun and relaxing having this "winter" break.  Very different from Christmas that's for sure.  But my goal for this Christmas is to make it very relaxing...or as close as I can get!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Clark's Geography Bee

Clark was able to participate in his school's geography bee.  Apparently the 5th graders took a test and whoever did well on it was chosen to be in the bee.  In Clark's class he said he got the best grade...with 11 wrong. 

The day of the geography bee arrived.  He didn't want me to take his picture, but gave me a smile anyway. 
Jan 13 2014 Clark and Geography Bee

Each student could miss one question.  Once you missed your second question you were out.  Luckily Clark made it through the "easy" questions where two multiple choice answer options were provided.  This helped him in the harder round where several people went out. The harder round was about countries around the world.  No answer options were provided.  I was impressed with Clark's answer though about his question.  It was something to do about Anne Frank and I think where she was hiding.  He said Finland, but it was the Netherlands.  I thought Finland was a pretty good guess!  So that was his first question to get wrong.
Jan 13 2014 Clark and Geography Bee (2)

Jan 13 2014 Clark and Geography Bee (3)

Very quickly only two boys were left.  I was so surprised that Clark was one of them!  The last question was about states in the United States.  It was a question about some obscure river...okay, I've never heard the name of it before!  "The Kissimmee River flows into Lake Okeechobee in what state that borders the Gulf of Mexico?" Clark was browsing through a book one night just studying here and there and HAPPENED to see the name of the river. It is located in Florida. Wow. HE WON!  We were both a bit shocked!  When he did the spelling bee he wasn't the first person out, but I think he was the 4th or 5th person out.
Jan 13 2014 Clark and Geography Bee (5)

What is funny is that Clark told us and his teachers that he didn't even want to win, nor was he going to win anyway (I think he was nervous and probably did think he wasn't going to win!).  We told him to do his best and enjoy it. 
Jan 13 2014 Clark and Geography Bee (6)

Great job Clark!  What a fun day to remember.  (And what a weird picture of me!) He takes a test soon to determine if he can go on and participate in the state geography bee.  He is pretty excited about this.  Hopefully he can!
Jan 13 2014 Clark and Geography Bee (7)

Just to throw this in really quick, Haley was spotlight for Family Home Evening the same day as the geography bee.  "Spotlight" is a time that a person gets to show off a talent, tell a joke, display art, do a dance...whatever they want!  It's their moment to have the spotlight on them and do what they want.  Haley wasn't sure of what to do and we suggested reading a book to everyone.  It was pretty cute.  She loved doing it. It's been fun hearing Shanna and Haley get better at reading the scriptures and I know it helps them with reading at school too.
Jan 13 2014 Haley spotlight

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

First of the Year

We arrived home Wednesday from our New Year's celebrations in Pennsylvania.  I am not sure why, but school started the next day.  Funny enough school was canceled Friday because of the weather.  They should have just started school on Monday.

Looks like a lot of snow, right?!  Just kidding.  My kids have been sledding on this type of snow coverage a lot. They are used to seeing some grass stick out.
Jan 3 2014 (2)

The first Saturday in January we headed into Harrisonburg for some shopping and a meet-your-new-primary-teacher lunch. We stopped at Kroger and there were a bunch of mini shopping carts.
Jan 4 2014

I did some shopping with my gift cards the first part of January.  It worked out really well to go shopping then as Old Navy had a big sale going on!  So far with the gift card Lee gave me I've bought three pairs of pj pants (one was for Lee), a dress, a black dress shirt, a cardigan, and two workout shirts.  And I still have $2 left! I have been looking for rugs in our front room for a little while now.  I finally bought a rug for the entry way.  Yet again with buying that small rug I continue to notice that I have a rough time with the accessorizing part! Elden made himself a cape one night.
Jan 8 214 Elden

Jan 8 2014 Elden

The library here does a craft time once a month and we headed over for that.  That made bird houses.  They even received bags of bird feed.
Jan 8 2014 library, bird feeders

Jan 8 2014 library, bird feeders (2)

One of our other first of the year adventures was a busted pipe for our radiant heat system.  We arrived home from school one day and the kids told me that water was running in the house.  I asked Shanna about and it seemed like the water was on the outside of the house.  Then Clark came and told me water was leaking.  I eventually ventured back to the laundry room. And it sure was leaking! Lee was able to come home but he could get the water to completely stop leaking.  He found where to shut off the water to just these particular pipes, but there was still a drip.  Lee bought some plumbers putty, or something like that, and put it around the hole.  There was still a slight drip, but not bad by any means.
Jan 9 2014 water leak

Lee cut out the busted part of the pipe.
Jan 22 2014 busted pipe

Then he installed a shark bite (the gold-ish piece below).  Lee said it was too easy and was somewhat surprised that it wasn't leaking.  We haven't switched the water back on in this room.  The heater doesn't really work in here anyway.  It's a sunroom--we call it our laundry room as our washer and dryer are in this room. And it being a sunroom it doesn't have the same heating and cooling the rest of the house does. Eventually I think we'll just remove the pipes all together.  Lee was really blessed to talk to the right guy at ACE the day he went into to buy stuff to fix the leak.  The guy had been a plumber by trade and told Lee exactly what to it.  ACE really is the helpful place! 
Jan 22 2014 shark bite on pipe

Thankfully our first big house problem wasn't too expensive, just annoying. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve we headed to the church for games.  We played color tag for awhile, and that was really fun.  Then we played several rounds of dodge ball.
Dec 31 2013 games at church (2)

Dec 31 2013 games at church

Lois made us homemade mac-n-cheese, which we ate at the church.  We then drove to New Jersey to Halo Farms.  They are a local dairy.  You can also buy products right there at their dairy.
Dec 31 2013 Halo Farms

Dec 31 2013 Halo Farms (2)

Their chocolate milk is so delicious. It tastes like melted chocolate ice cream.  Their egg nog is very good too, along with their amazing ice cream! 
Dec 31 2013 Halo Farms (3)

Next stop, Rider University. Darrell completed his PhD in Marketing in 2012 and has been working here since.  We were standing at this directory board and Clark said: "So Darrell, what are you?  The janitor?"  It was so funny.  Hey there is nothing wrong with being a janitor.  But Darrell is not one.  Clark later commented to Lee about the bathrooms at the university and that the janitors had done a good job keeping them clean.
Dec 31 2013 Rider University

Dec 31 2013 Darrell's Office (2)

We saw his office too!
Dec 31 2013 Darrell's Office (3)

Quite a few of us fit in there!
Dec 31 2013 Darrell's office

Our last stop of the day was the Delaware River where the famous crossing of George Washington took place.
Dec 31 2013 (2)

Dec 31 2013 Delaware River

Dec 31 2013 Delaware River Clark

It was cold out!
Dec 31 2013 Delware River

Dec 31 2013

That night we had pizza for dinner, then some cheese balls, crackers, chocolate chip cookie bars and root beer for New Year's Eve treats.  Lee seriously is so good making chocolate chip cookies.  He is awesome at bars too! Most of the kids (mainly the girls) put on an elaborate skit that night.
Dec 31 2013 skit

The skit revolved around two channels, channel 6 and 3, if I remember correctly.  Channel 6 was news and when channel 3 came on it was a dancing, entertainment channel.
Dec 31 2013 skit (2)

Darrell and Stacie have a lot of fun dress up clothes.
Dec 31 2013 skit (3)

Dec 31 2013 skit (4)

Dec 31 2013 skit (5)

Dec 31 2013 skit (6)

Dec 31 2013 skit (7)

Mike also treated us to another magic show with a couple new tricks too.  His magic shows are so awesome! Thanks for doing it Mike!
Dec 31 2013 skit (9)

Dec 31 2013 skit (10)

We played our traditional game of Monopoly.  We started it quite late, about 11pm.  At midnight we rang in the new year watching the ball drop on TV.  No one went into New York this time around.  Lee and I stayed up till 3:30 playing monopoly.  We finally decided to quite with the expectation to finish it the next day.  We actually never did.  Ethan was declared the winner as it seemed he had the most money and property when we stopped the game.  Darrell also put on a movie for us to watch too.

New Year's morning Stacie took Lois, Lee and I to her gym for a workout.  Lois and Stacie went around and did different exercises and did Lee.  I did 5.45 miles on the treadmill.  That felt really good. My mom made her traditional Scotch Eggs for breakfast.  They were sooo good!  Thanks Mom!
Jan 1 2014 scotch eggs

After hanging out, eating yummy food and delicious fajitas Stacie made, along with doing a little cleaning we headed out.  We arrived home about 10pm or so.  Even though it was late, it was nice because we completely unloaded the van and unpacked everything.  Usually I am left with a big mess to deal with the next day that takes me at least two hours to clean up.  I loved getting it all done that night.

We hope you are all enjoying your new year!  Have a terrific 2014!