Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Recap

2011 is eight hours away, and reading my fellow blogging friends give 'year end' reviews had me considering whether or not to post one myself. This was quite a year for us, good, and not so good. I'm not one to dwell on misery, but its impossible for me to ignore others suffering and the hurts we've felt. Yet at the same time, this was the year we gave more, and had unexpected blessings in return. I opened my heart and mind, and learned a great deal about being authentic. Even now as I struggle to understand some challenges that have been placed before me and my family, I have faith I/we will figure it out-or if not, have a story to share. My kids and husband have seen the ups and downs-and so I have seen theirs, along with our family and friends. I have learned a great deal about not sweating the small stuff yet growing uncomfortable, and then angry at the big stuff. Reading "Weird" was a pivotal experience for me-it has impacted me in such a way. Indescribable. I am not sure what the future holds, yet will live it with grace and class. As someone I know recently posted, "Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you only have today." This is what I've been striving for, and will continue to do so. Wishing all my family and friends peace, love, and happiness this year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Little moments

My boys unearthed my jewelry box in the back of my closet. Mind you-I was less than thrilled with that they took it out, but the fact that they did makes me think there is a reason life unfolds the way it does. I've been wearing a bracelet I rediscovered since that morning, and Rebecca holds onto it while she nurses. I also see what I'm attached to-and why I'm attached to it, and realize some stuff is not as meaningful or significant as I once thought. For others, the opposite is true.

The words of "Sister, sister" said by the boys throughout the days. I love how she toddles after them, curious about what they're doing, wanting to be right there with them as they play dress up and legos. I told Robert she's going to be sad too when they go back to school.

We went to the library and saw Finding Nemo. I found a new cookbook, and new inspiration for meals. Its not always easy to keep on track with our budget, and be inventive, but giving us leeway and seeing the big picture (and not sweating the small stuff) help too.

I love our family life-and helping others-and how karma works. A local mom I know has a daughter almost a year younger than Rebecca. I had offered her clothes before, but she got some from somewhere else. When she asked about purchasing clothes, I quickly offered her what I had from Rebecca-free of charge. What should have been a grocery bag of clothes morphed into a case of diapers size box full of clothes. No sooner do I make arrangements than we come home and there are three bags of clothes on my porch for my boys and Rebecca ♥

Lazy winter days, and long winter nights. Robert and I watched some crazy comedy last night that was something we normally would flip past-it makes me smile how my husband and I attempt (and do succeed) to spend time together alone, because more times than not, we have a child in our bed, or out on the couch with us, or something about the kids is weighing heavy on our minds and hearts.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New chapter

Life is forever different-because now I have an android smart phone. I am a complete tech geek-but now I'm not tied to my laptop when I want to blog. It will take some getting used to, but I foresee it revolutionizing how I do things at home and while we're out and about. Stay tuned for an update-Hanukkah, visits with family, school and life happenings.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Perspective over Perfectionism

Ha-in my effort to get this post up, I double checked to see if the image I had taken on Friday was on the computer-yet its not. So the story will have to get posted without it-for now. How's that for perspective over perfectionism?

I lost my cell phone on Thursday night. I realized it right after I had placed Rebecca in her car seat after leaving the store, and drove around the corner. I went back to the store, and asked if anyone turned in my phone. No-it was gone. I went home, thanking my lucky stars that only my cell phone was gone, and not my baby girl. Perspective over perfectionism.

I went home and realized once again how the last text I received was about taking tags off the angel tree at the church where Rebecca and I attend Moms Time Out. I had just gone by there that morning, and taken five tags off the tree. I had chosen a mom and daughter, and a high school student. All could have been anyone I knew in my day to day life. I was glad I had already gone out and purchased the items for those individuals, never mind the fact that I misplaced the wrapping paper I purchased along the way. Perspective over perfectionism.

Life is short-fleeting and beautiful. I work against the grain of perfectionism everyday-its just how I'm wired. I'm taking the time to enjoy the cbildren, enjoy the season. We wrapped our first big set of donations for families and brought them to the church. I think Gabriel got the most out of it-he looked and said, this is going to people who really need stuff. Bless his heart, his face said it all. I wish I could bottle that moment and savor it for a lifetime.

That's perspective over perfectionism.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas tree lane

I decided this year was the year for us to go to Christmas Tree Lane. Of course, it was a day that Robert had to work late, but it worked out okay-I picked up my friend's children after school, and met her up in Fresno after she was off of work. We had just enough car space to make it work, and it was worth it. The boys were thrilled to see Santa and Mrs. Claus at the shopping center where we parked the car. Hearing the next morning about the stabbing (gang-related) that took place shortly after we left the lane was a bit disconcerting. However, the boys did amazing, walking down 3/4 of the lane (about 2 miles?), and then back again. Miss Rebecca was passed from Heather to me, to Kelsey, and back again-the girl was ooh'ing and ahh'ing as we saw all the lights. We were safe, and made it home in one piece. It was one of the best times we've had, good friends, great conversation, wonderful activity to celebrate this holiday season.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The weirdest blessing

"May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, and starvation, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. May God bless you with the weirdest blessing possible-his divine burden. Amen"-Craig Grieschel, Weird

This has stuck home with my family this holiday season. We're shaking up our family traditions, and thinking of others this year. In lieu of spending $45 dollars + on a tree at Hillcrest Farm, which is fun, we have opted to spend that money on adopting a family for Christmas. I'm not sure about how much the boys understand-they do understand the meaning of Christmas, and how we're celebrating Jesus' birth. They have asked whether Santa will come if we don't have a tree, and we told them that Santa comes regardless of having a tree. My friend is going to loan us a spare artificial tree that she has, and I'm hoping that will suffice. Given how we're trying to consistently laying the framework for thinking beyond ourselves, I'm hoping the boys will see the bigger picture. The family we're adopting is a single mom, and she has three children, a six, four, and 2 year old; I'm hoping to get everything squared away in the next week for them; its a welcome burden blessing another household, and I'm looking forward to surprising them.

We have two huge groups of donations headed out, clothes and food, to other great causes. I need to tidy up the rest of the order so we can get those to the families who need it. You don't have to look past the corner to see someone in need, so we're sharing the wealth. I'm excited to spread the holiday spirit with others, and show our children how its better to give than receive.

To quote my friend Nikki, who put this so eloquently as a response to me sharing a recent post about the holiday season "I heard a boy in target last night telling his mom.. NO mom I NEED this Lego set and the mon said ok fine.. Put it in the cart... I wanted to shake her and say PLEASE for the love of God tell that sweet boy he doesn't NEED that! He needs clothes, food and shelter.. He doesn't need that lego set. I am not saying don't buy your kids stuff, just tell them the difference between want and need... "

May we have more smiles than tears, more warmth than cold, and more sweetness this holiday season than ever before. Its the holidays, and its okay to be weird now too.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Adding to the mix

Last night was a tough night. We went to the holiday parade in town, and the kids participated in the floats. I took Rebecca and Elijah and G with me to the preschool float, while Robert took the older boys to the cub scout float. We came home afterwards and watched a holiday movie, and had dinner picnic style together. During the movie, I noticed G was getting restless, and I figured it was a result of the extra activity this weekend and exhaustion, coupled with missing her mom. Then the tears came. I don't think I was really prepared-although I had kept in the back of my mind since having her here that "acting out" was possible-just didn't think of it as sadness, since we hadn't seen it yet; yet it came.

G has been such a mellow child, fits in easily with our children, the most obvious change for me was adding one more plate to the table. Yet our family is just that-a family-that has rules, and nuances, traditions, and expectations. Going from your own home to someone else's you'd see the obvious differences, but give it time, and even the small decisions, such as where items go, how meals are served, and inside jokes, everyday routines surface. I'm sure it would be different if we knew how long G was going to stay here, or if she wasn't able to see/talk her to her mom whenever she wanted to, but it was still tough. It took all my strength to remind myself that God doesn't give us anything that we cannot handle, and that we were doing good by this child and her mom by welcoming her in our home. I know she misses her mom, and I told her in no way was I going to replace her. Robert attempted to talk with her too, but I think it was emotional overload. We called her mom, and arranged for an early visit this morning with homemade pancakes that I'd send over. G was happy to help make pancakes, and even happier to go to her mom's home. We'll see how this afternoon goes, when we pick her up. I don't know what to hope for, or even expect at this point. I just hope that grace and kindness lead me where I need to go, and life falls into place.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The holiday spirit

I have been reluctant to get out the decorations this year for the holidays; life is weighing on my heart, and part of me wonders if by getting out the decorations I'm going to deal with it-or mask them with pretty ribbons and bows. I'm not a grinch by any means, but a realist, and someone who wears their heart on their sleeve. There are people hurting, both near and far, and frankly it makes me think about the true meaning of the holidays. I am not sure quite what this is leading up to, but as with how I've chosen to live my life thus far, I'm going to see where it takes me.

We've had a child staying with us for awhile now. Her mom is laid up with a broken ankle and wrist, and instead of her being passed around from home to home, we invited her here to stay. Its amazing to me how another child fits right in with all the noise, but somethings never take the place of mom. Robert is loving and kind, in that he's allowed this child to stay here, and has opened his heart to helping a person who is stuck in a bad place. We don't have all the answers, and are taking life one day at a time. That's all we can do, and have faith that everything will fall into place.

With the holidays approaching, presents are not far from the children's minds. We've been talking with them about the importance of taking care of each other, and those around us. I think when they see how we're helping our friend and her daughter, they're seeing that not everything can be wrapped in a box. The children's program at the church in town is working on making a donation to World Vision, and have plans on buying an animal for a family. Its inspiring to hear, and I hope as the children do activities geared towards adding to this cause, they pull from it the meaning of the holidays. We're also doing activities with Cub Scouts and school-both with canned food drives and adopting families. Its a bit crazy with everything going on at once, but at the same time, we aspire to show the children this way of life throughout the year-its just a ton of reinforcement at once. So while the vision of Santa bringing a DS is not far from their minds, they also see how people take care of each other too.

So with all this said, it does seem like the holiday spirit is around us. There are opportunities for us to make it meaningful. I'll keep my prayers going for those who are hurting, and aspire to do good for my children and those around me.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

We are spending the Thanksgiving weekend at home this year, just the six of us. It was fun making pies, stuffing, turkey, the works as a family-took time, but the memories are priceless. It was a stark contrast from last year, with me in the hospital with a brand new baby, and Robert at home with our three boys. Grateful and thankful to have my children, all healthy and home with me, and a partner who is active in raising them. We took a bike ride yesterday, will go to the Salvation Army canned food drive movie with friends today, and spend family time the rest of the weekend. I'll take out the decorations for the holiday season, and we'll watch some holiday movies. Our lives are incredibly blessed ♥

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Rebecca and the circle

The circle of our family once had 5 parts, yet never felt completely finished. Deep inside, I knew-Robert did too-because actions speak louder than words. We welcomed Rebecca into our lives one year ago today, and while Robert knew who she was, I had no clue until she was placed on my chest. I love my daughter, the one I wasn't quite sure I would know what to do with, but shows me everyday that its okay. Its okay not to know-its okay to find out, to explore, to grab onto something and not let go. Its okay not to have all the answers, to do things perfectly, because life is like that. Yet, Rebecca fit into our lives perfectly, the noise, the heart and soul, our family. It was meant to be to have a large family. Happy birthday sweet Rebecca, may this year bring you more firsts, and more sweetness. We love you.

November 24, 2010

One month old
Two months old
Three months old
Four months old
Five months old
Six months old
Seven months old
Eight months old
9 months old
10 months old
11 months old
12 months old

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Eat my cupcake Elijah

Elijah decorated the cupcakes for his class.
passing out the sweets
one of his best friends
blowing out the candle
little sister sneaking over to say hi

Last week, Elijah and I brought cupcakes to his preschool for his 4th birthday. It was bittersweet for me, having done this twice already, I thought it wouldn't be so hard. Yet, doing it with my little boy, I know this is the last year of preschool cupcakes for him. Next year, he'll be in kindergarten. We already had the first assessment done, and the preschool says he's ready (even though I may not be).

Elijah is my spunky boy. Arriving 14 minutes after Robert and I arrived at Clovis Community, he has kept us on our toes. He is my tiny boy, but big in spirit. We had a rough go when he was first here, PPD overshadowed my world-but we pulled through. I couldn't imagine not having him in our lives, he was the little brother my boys needed-we just didn't know that until he was here. Elijah is curious, and quite the charmer. Batting his eyes, he's quick with a smile and a hug. I do see how he's different when his brothers/sister are not around, and I cherish all the time we have together. Elijah is a talker-speaking his mind since he was 18 months old, and hardly staying quiet. I love the random conversations we have, everything from God and heaven, to police cars and school. You'd think he'd get lost in the shuffle between two older brothers and a baby sister, but Robert and I take care to ensure that doesn't happen. He's a helper, and creative, with an active imagination. I can't wait to see all he accomplishes, and am his biggest cheerleader. To my baby boy, I love you. Life is so much sweeter because you're here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Birthday mash

Yesterday was Elijah's birthday. All about him, my youngest boy turned 4. He took the lead on how he wanted to spend the day. The three of us watched Barney and Racing Stripes under the blankets in the living room. We took silly pictures with the camera. There was cake and ice cream for lunch, and then a long walk to pick up the three boys. We went to church last night for the family dinner, and then Elijah ran off to the children's program. He was happy and carefree, excited to show me a bible buck he earned. After we came home it was late, he was tired, we all went to bed at 8:30 p.m.

This weekend will be the big party celebration, with friends and ice cream, tomorrow we're bringing cupcakes to celebrate at preschool. Elijah is happy about all the festivities. His main highlight has been having cupcakes and cake, and ice cream. Mine has been seeing his smile, wrapping my arms around my child, knowing he's healthy and happy, and loved.

I'm excited about the birthday party this weekend. Lots of great ideas have been shared with me offline and online, the internet has been a wonderful tool. I had a friend make party favors for me, excited to see how they turned out. I have the family gift for each child tucked away, and the items set aside from my dad and brother. Its been a crazy couple of weeks, but I'm happy that its about something fun. Life is very good these days, and I'm soaking it up.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Happy birthday Gabriel

Gabriel 11/11/2005

6 years ago you came barreling into our lives. Arriving a mere 20 minutes after we arrived at the hospital, you and I shared the moment of introducing yourself to daddy, who missed your birth by 10 minutes. I was eager to meet you, but scared-how was I going to parent two little ones so close together in age. You and I grew together, always keeping one another on our toes, wide awake, ready to play. I quickly learned what Grandma meant by having my sneakers on, you always kept me on the go. I wouldn't change it for anything having you so close in age to your brother. Its that closeness in age that makes the two of you fast friends, always looking for each other when the other one is not around, always ready to share a story, a snack, a toy. Gabriel, you are the one I can count on to say "Let's go Mommy, its time to play!" You are the one who has an insatiable curiosity and love for being active-as trying to cook breakfast at a young age showed me and your dad. You are sweet and loving, always ready with a hug and a kiss. You love to snuggle and cuddle, both with me and your dad, as well as your brothers and sister. You are an amazing helper. First one in the kitchen to help me cook, or do something to help your sister. I love your energy, your spunk, you know how to get us up on our feet and have a good time. I loved having you home with me, our weekly outings with MOMS Club and Play Pals, you fit right into the mix. I can't wait to see how you grow this year, I've told you enough times I can't blink because if I do, I'll miss something. You smile and laugh, and grab my hand. Happy birthday sweet boy, happy birthday.

4 weeks old

6 weeks old

3 months old

6 months old
18 months old

2 years old

3 years old

4 years old

5 years old

6 years old

Monday, November 7, 2011

Impeccable timing

One of my favorite bloggers, Money Saving Mom, wrote this post and it resonated with me. I have been striving for discipline lately, not for my children per se, but for myself. I've found in the past that when I'm busy, I'm disciplined. However, the women's group at the the local church has me rethinking the word "busy". Lately its finding a balance between being busy and taking on too much, and keeping up with day to day life and enjoying what life has to offer. As such, sitting at the computer has fallen by the wayside, although I miss the time for self reflection. I still yearn for it, but lately there were just things that took priority.

I made the statement to Robert last night that I felt I had life at home more under control when I was in grad school and a mom to young boys than I do now. He looked at me and said, "You weren't a mom to four then." So is that the difference? If I look at the big picture, there has been a lot going on, but its because I wanted to be an active participant with all the kids. In no uncertain terms have I felt over-scheduled, but instead chose to fully participate in activities that brought joy and purpose to our lives. There have been a series of doctors appointments for the children, but that's on course for taking care of their needs. The me-time I'm used to having has ebbed and flowed with having an increasingly active 11 month old, with both her wanting me sometimes non-stop, and other times, being content to play with her brothers or herself while I take care of something at home. The me-time at the computer has been relegated to skimming on the smartphone, and downloading books to my Kindle. When the night is quiet I want to sit with my husband-who right now is under a lot of pressure with work. Sleep has taken priority, because a teething baby has wreaked havoc on what was a normal bedtime routine.

There's a lot I still don't understand about why things happen-but like I've said before, I'm going to enjoy the journey and where it takes us. Life is too short not to enjoy what's right in front of us. At the same time, in the days/weeks to come, I hope to carve out time to update what's going on here. I have pictures, a video, want to share what's going on with the Allen crew. I have let this blog fall by the wayside, but its not disappearing. Stay tuned.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dream a little dream

It has been wonderful and crazy, time consuming and exhilarating, to have my mother in law, and dad, brother too, here over the weekend. It was a careful orchestration of going to Sacramento last week with Rebecca to pick up my MIL, come home, do all that needed to get done for Cub Scouts and soccer, school too, to chill and enjoy family. I love seeing my dad, and brother. Rebecca took to everyone well, some sooner than others, but that's to be expected. I had time with my MIL, alone, with Robert, and with the baby too. The children enjoyed seeing their grandparents, not only for Grandparent's Day, but for the weekend too. It was bittersweet bringing his mom home yesterday, but at least I didn't do it alone. Somehow going with the kids and Robert, time went by faster. The six hour trip was smoother than when I did it alone with the baby.

Robert and me grew closer this weekend, sometimes I wonder how that's possible, we've been together so long, or so it seems, yet seeing the old pictures up on his mom's walls, it reminds me how time flies. Time flies... There were bittersweet moments, like just why my dad is here this week, or Grandparent's Day, to know that while everything is not "perfect", nothing really is, but I'm grateful for what we do have.

Life is worth living, so I enjoyed that glass of wine I had the other night, the one I'm having now too. We had a blast with Cub Scouts at the dinner and camp-out. Soccer was fun the following morning. Our family has plans to acquire camping equipment, emergency preparedness necessities as part of the boys reaching their goals. My dad gave me a great lead on acquiring items from a friend back in the Bay Area, so we'll see how that pans out. I also have plans to acquire items through other means, so it will stretch out our dollars. As long as the kids have fun, and we're properly set up, its a win-win situation.

I have plans for Robert for his birthday, scoping out Las Vegas tickets (both plane and show), seeing what we want to do next year for his 50th birthday. We do have our share of concerns, what we want to do if/when his job ends, where that road will take us. Yet planning to do something for the two of us, no credit cards necessary, sounds sinfully sweet. Unheard of. Who goes to places like LV paid for before you step on a plane? I feel like the crazy woman with the cash envelope, biding my time for our vacation, the proceeds getting thicker, slowly at a time. So this birthday is on a smaller scale, but with grand plans for next year. We'll enjoy each other this year, and kick off the three birthdays that follow his own within a two week period. It'll be a birthday bonanza, but how fun that will be. Times like celebrating 4 birthdays in a two week period could be uber-stressful, or a lot of fun. I choose to have fun-never in my wildest dreams did I see myself with a large family, but I wouldn't trade it for the world. That's what I get for dreaming a little dream, and the reality is sweet.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Plank Pulling Thursday: She's come undone

It’s Plank Pullin’ time! The one day a week that we strongly resolve to ignore the multitude of specks and sawdust around us and pull one bona fide plank from our own eye. Matthew 7:3-5 style.

As I brought Elijah into preschool this morning, I heard the wailing from the front gate. I didn't know who or why, but I knew what-someone was not happy. I brought Elijah in, he proceeded to sit down at a table with his friends, and seemed unfazed by the commotion. The teachers looked at me, and said "Someone's having a rough morning." I smiled, and said "I understand. Sometimes I wish I could do the same thing." It had been one of those mornings, which has slowly become one of those weeks. I don't want it to unravel further, and become one of those months. Yet its clear that I'm slowly coming undone. I'm working on being at peace with that-its a struggle. Often times I tell the boys its okay when things go awry, such is life. Yet when Murphy has knocked at the door before, and I've taken steps to ensure his presence is far from welcome, and still I see his shadow lurking, it gives me pause. Life will cantor on, I may do the two step shuffle right now, instead of my samba or mambo. Yet, I think of the elderly frail woman I saw in Target the other day. Bent over, her husband (who looked just as frail and elderly as her) with his arm draped around her, she made her way from one side of the store to the other. Their few selections in their basket, pushing it together, one small step at a time. This may have been the one outing they took together all day. In the grand scheme of life, what's going on with life now is minute. I need to remember that, realize its okay to let it all out, because eventually I do come back. I will have battle scars, but those scars are signs of a survivor, not a victim.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hiding behind the ice cream

It has been a rough weekend. We had to put Sammy to sleep this weekend. The kids are devastated. Robert and I are both heart broken. I replay what happened, and all the what ifs, what could, what should have happened's in my mind. Its on auto replay. Constant. Its hard to shut it off. You would have to have a heart of stone for this not to have bothered you, or to have compassion. I told my brother this weekend, it really sucks to be a parent sometimes, and this was one of those times. I hope time dulls the pain-eases the memory of having to break the news that Sammy wasn't going to come home with us, it makes me sad now writing it, even though I thought it would be cathartic writing. I hate the silence in the morning-the gap of not hearing her bang her bowl around, leaving a trail of kibble just the way she did. The fur, somehow vacuuming it up is harder this time, I can't yet do it. I've left myself open to the children-grieving in their own way. Robert is too. He was with her when the vet gave her the medicine to go to sleep. We all had an opportunity to say goodbye-both before she was given the dose, and after it was done. It was one of those occasions that we were in unfamiliar territory-we didn't know what we were doing until we were in the thick of it. I have pictures of the boys with Sammy, and of Robert with her too. Right now though, its hard to look at them. As a final gesture of love, the boys left a doggy treat by Sammy's paw, and a human mint too. The human mint was for Uncle Merle, who we hope greeted Sammy on the other side. The doggy treat was a treat for Sammy, something for her to enjoy over there. The questions come and go, is Sammy in heaven? When is Sammy coming home? Why did Sammy have to go? Will we get Sammy back? I hate the questions-if only because I don't have the answers. The tears come and go, the sadness is there. Its heart wrenching, grabs ahold of your throat, and makes it hard to breathe. I hate what its doing to the boys, and as us as a family. For all the times I wasn't fond of having a pet, its nothing compared to the happiness I had at having something here that made my children happy.

So I'm hiding behind ice cream, dulling the pain tonight with ice cream. The pain of losing Sammy is there, it will be there, but this is comforting. Writing and having outlets may help, it doesn't erase it, make it go away. At the same time, it helps me cope. Maybe writing is helpful after all.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Time crunch. It hits. I'm exhausted. Overwhelmed. Freaked Out. Panic Attack. I hated being like this. It a vicious one, one that I've been slowly disentangling myself from, slowly, unraveling the layers, one layer at a time. Going to the family dinner and bible study on Wednesday night has started being a good outlet for me-and the family. I was worried about adding one more thing to our plate, wondering if it was going to be too much. Yet, its having the opposite effect. Its causing me to reexamine how I live my life, how I want to live. Really live, not just exist.

Speaking of living, I about busted up laughing yesterday with a good friend. I just read this stupid post on facebook, one where I congratulated someone on paying for a brand new car in cash. A reply to my comment was, "How does a new car equate to no payments? Usually a new car means new payments unless you're a billionaire!" Immediately I thought of a friend who paid for her minivan in cash, and thought, well she's a billionaire when it comes to love and family, so maybe that's alright. Mind you, I don't know what's in her wallet, and I don't care.
I then saw a post where my friend wrote about struggle to follow Dave Ramsey at that moment, and I wrote, "I just saw the stupidest post about only billionaires being able to pay cash for cars. seriously, the phrase slave to lender came to mind. ugh, lets be weird together, and go to dinner tonight at the church. much better use of our funds :)" Over dinner we laughed about how she's trying to get rid of her car payment, and how we've been going for
almost four years with only one car, because to add a car payment to our budget would stress us out. I look forward to the day of not having a car payment, of paying for Robert's truck with cash.

So time, it has a way of going. I have been soaking up Rebecca's babyhood with cuddles, helping the boys with the challenges of homework, the watching old Dennis the Menace shows with them. We eat together, Robert and I chill after bedtime. I'm reexamining commitments, realizing its okay to say no. Its hard, because I always say yes. Yet its okay to be still, its necessary. Robert is telling me to slow down-and I am. Its hard, I fight my inner worker bee mentality. I want to show my children what it is to live, not just exist. We're becoming weirder by the day, and that's okay.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What matters

We had a late morning this morning, first time since school started. I took the kids out of order for drop off, no sense in making everyone late since only one child was really late.This song came on the radio, and I could see Gabriel trying to sing along to the lyrics. He's my active boy-always on the move. So when I saw him doing something incredibly sweet, it made me smile. He blushed and grinned when he caught my eye, didn't think I had seen him. We laughed together, and then I dropped him off at school. He still let me give him a kiss goodbye, I think I'll miss it when he stops. Until then, I'll take his wet kisses-he's my tough guy, but he still loves to show affection ♥

Short and sweet

*should have posted this last night-posting it now.

I'm overdue for bed, but was able to accomplish quite a bit during these quiet hours. My daytime is filled with baby R, who I snuggle and love to bits. The boys are less snuggly, but have been grasping for my hand, my words, my eyes. They seek me out-and I'm doing what I can to be available-so the computer sits. Work sits too, and that's a-ok.

I'm rising above the mess, what comes when there's a mess. Life happens. I am working on seeing things as annoyances, yet the control is sometimes hard to relinquish. Once I let go, I'm at peace. Its getting to that point sometimes that's a struggle. Always wanting to take a full plate on, but learning how to balance seems like its always a struggle.

We scuffled through a week. Eye doctors and soccer, and cub scouts too. Throw in a playdate at a park and one at Chuck E Cheese, topped off by more soccer and a baby shower. I tagged and sold clothes at Just Between Friends too. It has been quite the week. Somehow I made it through, and relaxed today.

We went to a bbq for the buyers at the Fresno Fair today. My friend Heather took us as her guests; the boys loved seeing the behind the scenes at the fair. We ate lamb, and goat, turkey, and something else. The kids played, and Rebecca ate goat. So weird, but so good. Perfect bbq weather. We're buying top off bids for Heather's daughter's lamb, so next year we'll get tickets to the fair and tickets to the bbq. I'm glad we get to help her out; K already said she'll babysit us as a thank you-I'm all for that, but I love family time. Time has a way of going, soaking it up while I can.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Find North

Last weekend, I left Robert at home with four children, three soccer games, two coolers, and one parent's helper so I could have the experience of seeing Dave Ramsey LIVE in Long Beach. It was worth every second of planning. It took planning with my friend Heather, both her family and mine, to support us, and let us go-and it was worth every second. I have found a dear friend in Heather. You see, we can talk about everything under the sun- finances, relationships, parenthood, and womanhood. We hold each other accountable, tell each other our screwups, and offer support to each other. Between her and a couple of other women (one who reads this blog locally) they have offered support, kind words, and still will tell me like they see it. That's friendship ♥ Worth everything to me. The 3 hour 45 min car ride each way was filled with conversation-I don't think the radio was ever turned on and any silence that was there was comfortable silence. It was beyond awesome. I gained a new appreciation for my husband, new appreciation for myself, and respect for others going to this event. This event did not change me or become the catalyst for a major uprising. What it did was provide inspiration, reinvigorate me, and gave me an opportunity to do something for myself and my family. I ♥'d it-so much that I found myself thinking how I was at peace. So weird. Than again, it's normal to be broke. Weird to have (financial) peace. Here are some of my pictures from that day's event. I had captions with them, I'll try to go back and remember what I intended to write down. At the same, some pictures just don't need an explanation.

Dave Ramsey entering the Long Beach Arena-pure adrenaline rush when he entered the room.

How punctuation changes everything. Next time I feel like being a stay at home parent is not worth it, I need to rethink my statement.
Credit cards are not worth all the trouble they create for us. Cash and debit are it. Cutting up credit cards was the best decision we have made in this journey.

I indulged-I bought a book. Two actually (the other one was Gazelles, Baby Steps, and 37 other Things That Dave Ramsey Taught Me About Debt). Both signed by Jon Acoff.
I met Jon too. Down to earth, friendly, well spoken. I follow him on Twitter now too, I find myself encouraged and inspired by his words.
I love this clip of Dave Ramsey speaking about getting Gazelle intense about our money. Inspiring, encouraging, light a fire underneath you, give you shivers.He was so passionate, energetic, the crowd was going nuts.

Racel Ramsey Cruze (his daughter) spoke about FPU Junior, something we're incorporating into life at home.

Loans for school? We'll have funds for our four children to further their education, college or training.
What a common sense concept. Simple. We're not living like the Jones' because we're not the Jones'. When I hear someone went on a trip, bought a big/small shiny object, dined out-I have to admit, I wonder. Did they pay with cash? Its in me (and no I don't actually ask people that-its rude, in my opinion). I do think it though-and enjoy paying for stuff we consume, wear, go to, in cash. It has a nicer feel to it, when a bill doesn't follow you home.

Our marriage, family life, friendship is influenced by how we spend money. I'm looking forward to a debt-free vacation to Vegas next year with my husband to celebrate his big birthday. I love our weekends with our children, activities we do with them, both near and far from home. Hanging out with friends is awesome, in all our backyards, local parks, and wherever a two for one coupon is accepted (and we do all the groupons we can handle too). Life is amazing because we work at it to be-we have this one opportunity to give it our all, so we do.Budget-I'm gladly taking bets on if Rebecca is going to say this word or "coupon" when she learns how to talk.
Inspirational moment. I had goosebumps on my arms. This is what its about-showing each other the money-not being blindsided, rejected, depressed. Those days have happened, emergencies will arise. I always pray for good days, but along with that the wisdom and endurance to get through the tough ones too. Life is far from perfect, but it is what it is, and for that I am grateful.