Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Budget: Where We Stand Now

It's been a while since I've written a post about our budget and our plan to get out of debt. It's high time for an update!

We started out almost two years ago (December of 2008) on the Dave Ramsey plan to get out of debt. That Christmas we (well, mostly I, but Brian agreed) sort of hit a financial bottom and I realized that I was letting debt and financial irresponsibility drag me down. I walked around feeling heavy, like I had a huge burden on my shoulders (and I did!) I had a hard time falling asleep at night, worrying if a check would clear the bank before we got paid. It even got to the point where, when I logged in to the bank website to see my account, I could feel my chest tightening and I would close my eyes and hold my breath before the account balance came up. Folks, if you do this when you check your bank balance, it is NOT a good sign! We were paying of one bill by increasing another, just moving our debt around. We weren't giving to the church, we weren't donating to any charities.

Desperate as we were, we read Dave Ramsey's book Total Money Makeover, and it changed our lives. It lit a fire within us to break this yoke of debt off our necks. I started using my coupons and doing my grocery store sale 'game' and we started to buckle down. I started cooking more, using food bought on sale, and we really limited our eating out. We quit our unnecessary spending and stayed home more. I know it sounds like we were frivolous- we were not. I only own three pairs of shoes and haven't bought any jeans in over a year- frivolous, reckless spending was not the issue. It was the little bits of money that added up to large amounts. For example, "we'll just get Wendy's for lunch, it's only 10 bucks" and "Just order a pizza, it'll be 9 bucks plus tax." Next thing you know, you've spent $200 on fast food in a month! I loved to read, and would buy a book every time I went to Wal-mart.

Now, we eat out once a week, I go to the library two or three times a week (Andrew loves the library, which is a huge positive), and in general we try to account for every dollar we spend. And most importantly, we do not, do NOT, go to Wal-mart any more. And that, my friends, is another post entirely!!

So, where do we stand now? From December of 2008 until now, 21 months later, we have paid of a total of $16,000 of debt. Let me type it again, it feels good. Sixteen thousand dollars. The only debt remaining to us is one car loan, five more payments on the credit card, two student loans, and the mortgage. After we get this credit card paid off (December, we hope) we will start plumping up the savings account. It has not been an easy road, folks. We haven't gone hungry or anything like that (though we have had a few interesting meals) but there have been times where we really wanted to take a vacation or do some work on the house. But we know that the sacrifices we make now will pay off beautifully in the long road.

But the most inspiring part is, while we've been paying and paying these bills, stretching every dollar, we've also committed to monthly giving to our church. Sometimes, as I sit there in the pew and write out our check, I wonder how we'll manage without that money. It goes into the offering plate, and I just give it to God, it more ways than one. I do not give our offering with a heavy heart- once it's in that plate, I know that God will take care of us and will see to it that we have everything we need (need- not want!) And every month, it works out. We make it. And I know that the Lord is watching us, helping us during every step of the way.

And that, my friends, is how we are getting out of debt. By trusting the Lord.

Friday, August 27, 2010

The HeartWalk 2010

Hey, friends and family. I need your help!

As many of you know, one of my very best friends lost her mother three years ago due to undetected heart disease. Heather's mom, Miss Robbie, was a sort of second mother to me. Our moms taught at the same elementary school, which is how Heather and I met. Of course, story goes that we did NOT like each other. I thought she was too high-maintenance, and I'm sure she thought I had crawled out of the sticks. (Turns out we were both right.)

My mom and Robbie, 2003
Buddies

We ended up playing on the same softball team for years and years, went through all those horrible boy dramas together, and we survived the ultimate challenge together: braces. Miss Robbie was such a wonderful mother, friend, and softball team-mother. She always had snacks ready for us, helped Roy pick out cute uniforms - you know, middle school girls gotta look hot when they slide into 2nd base (or crouch behind home plate, as I did!)

I went on family vacations with Robbie, Roy and Heather. I did chores for months before to earn spending money. And I've wondered as I've gotten older, just how many times Robbie let me spend that money, because as I look back at it, that $30 sure went far...

I hardly have a middle or high school memory without Heather and her mother in it. I was the matron of honor in Heather's wedding three years ago. A very large matron of honor, at that. I was three weeks away from delivering Andrew! You can't get much more matronly than that!And sadly, Robbie passed away before she ever got to meet that baby she loved before she knew. In fact, the day we went dress shopping for bridesmaid's dresses for Heather's wedding, I distinctly remember Robbie saying that a particular dress "comes in a maternity style, too, you never know!" A few weeks later I was pregnant....

Miss Robbie loving on Andrew-in-utero

Miss Robbie had been in great shape, she was eating well, walking, gardening, and was really lookin' good. She taught elementary school and loved her kids. One day in June 2007, Robbie started having back pains, and chalked it up to bending over her desk at school. Later, she went for a massage, thinking it would help. One June 13, 2007, Robbie had a massive heart attack that took her life. She had no outward signs of heart disease. All of her doctors were astounded to learn that her arteries were terribly blocked.



Every September since Robbie died Heather, her family, and friends have participated in the HeartWalk in Charlotte, NC. We're called Team Beachcombers, because Robbie was very much at home at the beach. We spend months collecting donations that go to the American Heart Association. This money helps fund research, awareness, and education for heart disease, so that one day heart disease will be more easily prevented and detected.


Miss Robbie doing, no, LEADING the chicken dance!

I ask for your help now in sponsoring Team Beachcombers for this year's HeartWalk. Help us raise money to help save lives. All donations are tax-deductible, and can be made on the HeartWalk's secure donation site. If you'd rather, you can mail cash or check donations right to me and I will personally deliver them to the HeartWalk in Charlotte on September 25th.



If you feel led to give, please click HERE

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pictures!





























Six Months (almost 7)

Well the six month mark has come and gone. I felt with Andrew, when I hit six months, that I would actually be able to survive this thing called motherhood. Six months is a good time. They're happy, you can interact with them, they're sleeping. But yet, they're not mobile. It doesn't get much better than that!

Emily was six months a few weeks ago, but for some reason we just went to the pediatrician last week. She weighs in at a nice 18 pounds 3 ounces, and is 27 inches long. Both put her in the 85%-tile. As for her little noggin, she's in the 35%-tile. So, she's basically like a potato with a pea on top. That's ok. Women aren't supposed to have large heads.

She did beautifully with her shots, she whimpered for the first one, and only gave one or two big cries for the second. And by the time I picked her up off the table, she had forgotten. But she was cranky all day, but that's ok, her Nana was here. And Nana's fix everything.

So what's she doing now? Well, she sits up by herself. With just the occasional tip-over. But the tip-overs are funny, they're in slow motion. So even if we are across the room we can get there in time to minimize the impact! Lately she's been leaning so far forward getting her toes that she ends up face-planting and on her belly. I guess that is one precursor to crawling? Lord, I don't know what to do with a crawler...Andrew never crawled. He butt-scooted.

She's sleeping OK. She's in that stage where she wakes up to play sometime around 3 a.m. I try to just ignore it, but she gets rowdy. And I can't get her to go back to sleep. So sometimes I just nurse her and she falls asleep. I sure hope my pediatrician doesn't read this :) I got fussed at for nursing her in the middle of the night. But, its the only thing that gets her to sleep. And I need sleep. We'll deal with the repercussions later.

She refuses, refuses, to eat anything other than breastmilk. We've tried it all- applesauce, prunes, peaches, pears, sweet potatos, squash, banana. She apparently can't eat the rice cereal, it makes her vomit. Not spit up, but vomit. The oatmeal seems to be working, when we can manage to get her to eat it. I'm thinking she may go to first grade with a boob in her mouth.

Emily loves to sit in her high chair, she loves her bouncy thing. Her most favorite toy is Andrew. She loves that boy (can you blame her?) It's actually funny, when Andrew gets in trouble and starts to cry, Emily just laughs and grins! I'm not sure she realizes that Andrew is not happy... Sometimes when they're in the back seat, Andrew gets very loud and obnoxious, and we keep telling him to calm down and be quiet. And we look in Emily's mirror and she's just a grinning and laughing and encouraging him. Rascal.

We've got a pretty good schedule going during the day...she usually nurses around 430 to 630 a.m. and goes back to sleep sometimes until 830. Then we nurse again depending on when she ate earlier. Naps around 10 for an hour or so, then we eat again around 1, then she naps for 2-3 hours. Eats around 330-430. Then around 630 she takes a 5-25 minute power nap, eats again around 8, and goes to bed between 8 and 9. On a typical day she nurses about 5 to 6 times, about every 3 hours. We try and put some cereal or baby food in there as a snack sometimes.

All in all, she is a wonderful baby. Very happy, very content, easy to please. Rarely do we hear her cry or have a fit, and that is usually when she is so, so very tired. Andrew continues to do well as a big brother. He has finally understood what it means to "be quiet, the baby is sleeping." In fact, he tells Brian and I to "shhhhh" many times! I guess he realized that it was NOT a good thing if the baby wakes up!!!

It's about time for a nap now, so I shall leave this post. I will make another post that is just full of pictures, it's easier that way!!

And, ladies, for those of y'all with babies this age or near, does this sound right to you?!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Summer in Pictures

So, I have no time to blog anymore! I'll just throw up these pictures to let you see what we've been up to the last 5 weeks. Just view the pics in reverse order (for some reason they always get loaded backwards...)






































































Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Charleston & Such

So. I haven't blogged in a while. I've got these two kids here keeping me on my toes. And, if I let my guard down for fifteen minutes, then I'm behind on housework. I know the saying goes, "A clean house is a sign of a wasted life," but y'all, I just can't function in a messy, cluttered, dirty house. I crave the order.
So, anyways. Here's what's been going on in the past few weeks...

We dedicated both of the babies in church on Mother's Day. I don't have any pictures at the moment, my mom (ahem) hasn't emailed any to me of the dedication. It was so nice, though! I know Andrew technically isn't a 'baby' anymore (he's my baby) but we had never dedicated him. When he was born we weren't going to church, well, we went to church, occasionally, but we hadn't found one we both liked. It took us a while to find this one, First Baptist of Batesburg. We love the church. Lots of people our age and lots of little children, with a good, very good, youth program. Andrew attends Mother's Morning Out there, two days a week. Back to the dedication...The kids got a little certificate and a little New Testament. Which brings us to a total of 5 or 6 copies of the New Testament just for the kids. We'll never be at a loss for the story of Jesus around here!

The week of my birthday we went over to Atlanta while Brian was working 12 hour shifts for a week. That makes for a long, long day for me. And I'm not saying that Brian doesn't have a long day either. I'm just saying we all get more rest (and are in general, happier parents) when I take the kids to my parent's when he works those shifts. My parents enjoy it, anyhow. While we were there we drove over to Birmingham again to see my grandparents. Again, there are photos but my mother (ahem) hasn't emailed those to me either. (What does she DO all day?!) Kidding, Mom. I know you're not sitting on the couch eating bon bons. A mother never rests. I love going to see my grandparents. They're very important to me and I love them very much. I have many, many childhood memories that involve them. While it's a bit stressful driving the kids over there for the day, I know they cherish the visit.

We've got our vegetable garden up and going. I have a feeling we may have overdone it this time. Did we really need eight cherry tomatoes? Or nine tomatoes? Or the ten pepper plants? Hmmm. I guess we'll be eating lots of salsa and spaghetti. I've also got lots of beans and squash planted, and loads of sweet potatoes. My great vision is to grow and make all of Emily's baby food. We've got about two months until she starts, so I think we're right on time. It'll be fun. At least that's what I'm telling myself.

Speaking of Emily, she's FOUR months old this week! It hurts to say it, and think it. She's started rice cereal. I do have very funny pictures of her eating cereal for the first time. But, yes, you've got it, Mom hasn't emailed those to me, either. (Ahem. AHEM!) She's just in the past two days really gotten the hang of it. I'd say about 65% of the cereal that goes in her mouth stays there. The other 35% is either on her bib or on me. I had no idea breast milk was so sticky! And, it may or may not be a coincidence, but the very same night that she had cereal (and kept it in her mouth) was the same night she SLEPT!! I put her down with her last feeding around 9:30 ish, and I had to wake her up at 7:45!!! I had to. It hurt, but I woke her up. I had to nurse. In a bad, bad way! Not to mention we had to get Andrew to school. But, Lord, she slept. I think I went in around 2:30ish to give her her paci back and cover her up, but that was it. I think it was a combination of not having a long nap that day and the cereal. But, when I went in today when she was taking a nap, I saw her. Sucking. Her. Thumb. So, that may be another reason she slept. Because she was soothing herself with her little thumb. Tonight I have put mittens on her hands.
On one hand I feel like I should just let her do it, because, hey, if it helps her sleep all night, then go to it. But on the other hand, it's a very hard habit to break. It's not like you can just throw away the thumb. It's stuck on there for good. So we'll see if the mittens help.

She's a mess. 100% mess. She adores her brother, laughs at everything he does, watches his every move. She's a very happy little girl. She's now starting to grab toys and shake them, putting everything into her mouth. When she's on her tummy, she pushes all the way up, straightening her arms. If you put pressure under her feet when she's on her tummy, she pushes herself forward. Lord help us all, as soon as she gets that tummy off the ground...she'll be gone in a flash. Andrew did not crawl. He butt scooted. So we don't know what we'll do with a crawling baby. In fact, tonight, Andrew and daddy were wrestling on the floor, and Emmy was sitting in her chair watching. She was fussing and whining, so I went to sit next to her. I got her out of her chair and sat her on my legs, and she started wiggling and smiling. I realized that she was fussing because she wanted to wrestle, too! I let her play around with daddy a bit, and roll her around. She loved every minute. Tomboy, anyone?

Andrew is three. And very, very good at it. Forget that two's thing. This boy can go 180 degrees in one second flat. He's gotten so independent. Which is good, I guess. But it was much easier when he just went with the flow of things. Now getting him to come outside and play is like negotiating a Peace Plan with Iran. There is no simple task. It takes at least five minutes of negotiating, promising, and even a little bit of lying on my part. Overall he's a good little guy. Very smart. Y'all, he can count to 50, without looking at anything. He knows his ABC's, is spelling words, and is learning to write. He recognizes words on sight, which I guess is pre-reading. He loves watching t.v. In fact, the other day he was running around the house saying, "Five dollar footlongs!" The Subway commercial is his favorite. I'll have to start writing the sayings down, I've forgotten half of what he's said.

On a more serious note, I realize I haven't mentioned in a long time how we're doing with our plan to be debt free. It's happening, guys. We're so close. We're two months away from paying off the credit card, and four months away from paying off the car. After those a paid, we'll be rolling that debt snowball towards the student loans. Eighteen months from now, we will have no debt, no debt, except for the mortgage. You can't imagine how this feels!! It's going to enable us to send Andrew to a private 4-year kindergarten next year, it'll enable us to buy a camper. It'll enable us to get a six month emergency fund established. We'll be able to work on our house more. We'll be able to give. I can't wait. All these months of budgeting and scrimping and couponing are paying off. Can't wait!

Well that is it for tonight. I just put Emily down about 20 minutes ago, so if I want to get a good eight hours of sleep I should go now. But I probably jinxed it by talking about it. Which really means I should go to sleep now. Hopefully soon I will have pictures to go with this post. Did I mention my mom has them? On her camera? All she has to do is email them.....

UPDATE: I realized after I posted this that I said nothing about Charleston, as mentioned in the title. The weekend after Mother's Day we went down to Charleston with some friends. Audrie's parents live on Isle of Palms, so we went to their house. We mostly spent time hanging out, but we did go to the aquarium, and took Emily to the beach for a quick minute. Here are some photos:












Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Another Smattering of Pictures

She watches his every move!!
Cheesin' it up.

This one cheesin' it up too :)







Tummy Time!






Love those baby cheeks.









Ol Blue Eyes
What we do when we're done with Tummy Time...just flip on over! She's been rolling over since about 5 weeks old. Sheesh.



And this poor fella, so sleepy that he fell asleep on the way home from the library while reading his new book. Mind you, the library is 1.6 miles from home. So he was so tired he feel alseep in the 4 minutes it takes to get home.





Monday, April 26, 2010

Visiting Birmingham

We took the kiddos to visit my grandparents in Birmingham on Easter weekend. It was the first time they got to see Miss Emily. It's so neat that the kids have all 8 of their great grandparents still alive and kicking, and all 4 of their grandparents. Not too many people can say that! Anyhow, here are a few photos to document it.

This is grandpa, William Thomas. Thats where we got the Andrew Thomas.

This is Bertha Mae, where we got the Emily Mae. Though there are Mae's all over both sides of the family tree, grandma is the youngest of the Maes. :)