Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bonding time

I had a nice conversation with my dad last tonight. He called to see how we were doing out here, and how my brother's visit was too. I told him him how it went really well; I loved having Brian and his girlfriend here for the weekend. Any worry I had about the kids being too much, or the weather ruining our fun-well, it all worked out. Claire was hands on with Rebecca, and we ventured to Imagine U. The kids had fun-and Brian's quite the photographer. Brian and Claire offered to watch the boys so we could go out for the evening, and we took Rebecca since we didn't quite know how long we'd be gone. We tried something new and ventured out for Indian food, using one of the restaurant.com gift certificates I bought last year. I loved going off the beaten path-eating something other than Mexican, Italian, or the old standbys of chain restaurants. My dad was surprised by our choice-but then I reminded him how part of my love for other cuisines was because he and my mom exposed me to them throughout my childhood. Robert was exposed to them during his time in the military. We also talked about how Robert and I hope to pass on our love for trying new things to our children-by taking them for various dining experiences that are away from the norm, as well as going to cultural events.

We also talked about my youngest brother, and his current situation. Since I learned about what's going on with him, I've had more questions than answers, and I have Dave Ramsey in the back of my head. Constantly. I told my dad how Financial Peace University has been the best thing for us-and is giving us direction to work on our long term goals. I'm not the only one disappointed with my brother's decisions-but they were his to make, and he'll have to live with the consequences. My dad understands how Robert and I are focused on our family-and expects us to be. I can't worry about all the unknowns for my brother-just support him-even if it through tough love.

Talking with my dad about financial planning (and my conversations about it with Claire (who is a financial planner)), I came to find out how him and my mom were millionaires at one point-that's how they had bought the second home-and they were spending more instead of saving-and then lost it all. I didn't have a clue-all I knew is that college was paid for, and that was it. On the flip side, now retirement is not an option at this point-but then again, neither is defeat. Its hard to assure him that everything is going to be okay-when in all honesty-he got the short end of the stick. Yet-seeing him-and seeing my MIL too with her financial (and health) situation gives me the push I need, gives Robert and I the incentive to be different-so we can learn from our parents mistakes.

I feel more grounded than I ever have-yet more free. We can do more (and not necessarily spend more). Our house may not be overflowing with items-but our kids are not hurting for toys or entertainment. We are enjoying our pace-and doing activities that we want to do. Going to the children's museum this past weekend-it was fun :) Participating in scouts-both with the train trip and the pinewood derby coming up, Matthew and Gabriel are super excited about it. I'm looking forward to all the activities that are coming up in spring and summer, I'm just happy the weather is getting nicer so we can go out more :)

I will admit-I was wondering if I was going to have pangs of envy when Claire was here. She has an awesome career, her own home, and can do pretty much whatever she wants, when she's not working (which she loves). She's an international traveler with stamps in her passport. She's connected to her mom, and appears to have good relationships with all her siblings. Yet, the grass isn't always greener. I think we came to the conclusion this past weekend that we both would love to have what the other one has to some degree, but the life that we live already is awesome too. I know she wants to have a family of her own-sooner than later, and is worried about all the unknowns-the same unknowns that plagued me in the beginning when we were starting a family. I wouldn't trade what I have for anything. Its just not in my DNA to go shopping out of boredom-yet, I'm always on the hunt for a bargain. I am frugal to the nth degree-yet open to buying something because we do need it. I love to cook, and bake, yet am open to trying out new restaurants and new ventures. I'm all for staying at home on a Saturday night, yet can go out too and have a great time. I love having time for arts and crafts, yet love getting outside too.

Life really does have a way of working itself out-its a journey, one that has twists and curves. Here are some pictures of my brother's visit with us this weekend :)

Elijah with Uncle Brian
Rebecca with Uncle Brian
Gabriel with Uncle Brian
All the kids with Uncle Brian
Miss Rebecca (four months)

Claire with Rebecca at the museum
Elijah the Flamingo playing trains
Uncle Brian couldn't resist the panda :)
Lunch at Costco
Playtime with Claire

Elijah made a new friend :)

Friday, March 25, 2011


♥ my husband. I caught him snuggling our baby girl this morning, and my heart melted. I've loved seeing the bond between him and each one of our boys grow-from the snippets I sneak of seeing him one-on-one with them, and now to see it w/ Rebecca, it makes my heart swell. He's been working with Matthew on tying shoes, reading with Gabriel, and potty training with Elijah. He's involved in the day to day stuff of our children, supports me in my endeavors, and all while being a great provider for our family. I wish I could bottle up this time.

Wisdom & growing up

I heard this song yesterday, and it reminds me of me at 17 and made me think of Rebecca in her car seat in the back of the van one day being that age. I'm in no rush to get there, but I know how time can pass by in a blink of an eye.

I've been having some grown up moments lately, and I don't know what to make of them. As separate events, they wouldn't amount to much-but together I feel like its showing growth. The hearing for the big D is next month, and I received paperwork for my dad. Felt great that he used my address-and hearing that he used mine because he knew I would get the paperwork to him-a grown up moment. My youngest brother bought a car-and the first words I thought were-Not a car payment, really? You have no debt-and have all your savings, yet you have a car payment? That and renting a place w/ his girlfriend-I'm not opposed to the idea-she seems like a sweet girl, yet I really hope they pay cash for the stuff they need, and know how to budget so they can save for a house, their future, paying for school w/o sinking into student loans. My other brother and I were talking about relationships and moving in with significant others, job stability, and kids...Yes all of that-stuff that I never saw us talking about seven years ago-but now we're both talking about planning-so we can enjoy life to the fullest.

Getting the life insurance exam itself yesterday was not a big deal-yet what it symbolizes is a huge deal. We're finally taking a huge weight off our shoulders-and we'll have enough to cover college for all four kids, pay off the house, and not have financial stress associated with losing a loved one. That's a huge grown up moment for me.

I'm looking forward to our staycation this year. Yes-a staycation-filled with day trips and gasp-maybe eating out. I love having Robert on board-we're going to see what interests the boys and make some plans around what they want to do. We joke how we prefer to eat at home (cheaper and healthier), but we have the coupon book and groupons to use, so between those we do have room in our budget for a couple of treats. Its just a matter of using those for meals out or something more exciting, like the Clovis Rodeo. So many choices :)

I was thinking today about Robert's 50th birthday next November (in 2012) I would love to take him on a getaway to celebrate (since we've talked about doing that for some time). I remember The best vacation ever story from FPU a couple of weeks ago. I'm thinking BIG-and I want to fund it soley in cash. This is besides any trip we take this summer, or later this year. With careful planning we will be able to do as much as we want, and much more. He wants to see Garth Brooks at the Wynn in Las Vegas. I'm not at the point to buy tickets (although as pricey and sold out as they are, maybe I should look into that now). Still-thinking about it? Knowing that it can happen? Considering where we were when we had furloughs for the first time to now-such a grown up moment.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


I ♥ cooking. baking. domesicating (is that a word?) I have my favorite blogs, and they provide inspiration for dinner. Since going out is a rarity here, I like to keep an open mind for dinnertime. Here's a meal I stumbled upon tonight-hoping the ingredients come up on my shopping list this week so I can make it: Pioneer Woman's Sour Cream Bake

Don't stop in the middle

Don't stop in the middle woke me up this morning as I went online. We've been cruising-knocking out challenges, enjoying the day to day life with our family of six. Friday though, gave me a jolt-one that could have freaked me out pre-FPU, but now, now I'm excited to figure out a plan. Like my friend Heather told me, I wasn't a numbers person before, but now I'm learning how to be.

There's a bill that's on the verge of being passed in the state government that would effectively terminate Robert's employment in three years. Its already passed the State Assembly, now its the Senate's turn to vote. We (and his union) have hopes (with social activism) that we can prevent it from going through-but if it doesn't-I don't want to think "what the heck are we going to do? " The number crunching starts now-figuring out how much extra we can pay down on the house once we have our 6 month emergency living expenses saved. It'll take some research to figure out how much we need to add to pay off our house in a few years-or if we need to refinance-lower the amount we need to finance by half. Numbers are not my thing-but thinking-wow we could have our house paid off in a few years (by the time I'm 35) and not owe anything to anyone-we could live on a lot less (and acknowledging that our house payment is already half of our take home pay that says a lot).

Not going to sweat what I can't control-but what I can control-not stopping in the middle.

In other news, this weekend has been awesome :) Moms Club is picking up steam-and I am loving this time with my kids-even if they're not glued by my side like they used to be. Bedtime has been early-but I have more energy-and when I stay up on the weekends-naps are appreciated :) I went to Bunco last night-and Robert watched-no, not babysat, but watched all four kids on his own. Mind you, a panicked call before I headed home had me worried-but baby girl was asleep by the time I made it home (and I got an apology too-turns out she was just tired and Daddy was worried why she wouldn't eat). This afternoon I'm going crafting with a friend, and I'm excited to learn some new techniques. Robert will do something with the boys-or perhaps just watch a movie with them since its cold and wet outside. Either way, it'll be a relaxing day :)

Friday, March 18, 2011


♥ being busy, but busy is an understatement. Robert told me not to overextend myself-and I did. It'll work out-kids were tended to last night, this morning, the younger two and I are off for a morning of errands, and then having a party this afternoon with friends to celebrate the weekend. Come tonight-the exhaustion will hit-but a good exhaustion-one from doing something, not just sitting around (which is okay too, but in moderation ;) )
♥ how a good cup of coffee is giving me the boost to get things done, and excited about this afternoon with all four of my kids :)
♥ hearing the baby coo-adorable-I could snuggle with her for hours-the boys were all on the go-not Miss Rebecca-she loves to be held :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New day

Yesterday was a long day-but I truly believe things happen for a reason. In part to the "bad" run, I chose to spend the morning at home-and was promptly called by Gabriel's school that he had a fever, and come to pick him up. Yeah, he may have had a fever, but was bonkers all afternoon. So much for not feeling well. We baked, we cleaned, we played with Rebecca. We made meatballs and banana bread, and wheat sandwich rolls too. R came home and said "what's cooking?" Love him ♥ I cannot believe its going to be seven years next month that we're married-I feel blessed to have the life I do-work hard to get it where it is. I don't want to take it for granted-and just appreciate every day that I have. My thoughts for this morning:
1. I'm looking for a non-mom look for our anniversary next month. thinking about checking out the boutiques here in town instead of going to my normal haunts. I feel good about my body, and want to wear something that speaks that. This goes beyond our anniversary-I need to get clothes for myself-not because I want to look great for my husband-I want to look great for myself.
2. I cannot wait until our tax refund hits. Too excited about the plans for it :)
3. Life insurance plans are going full steam ahead. I will feel so much better once its squared away after next week's medical exam.
4. FPU is making me think about my priorities-and how I'm different than my parents. I only hope the kids appreciate it when they're older and have to make the same decisions Robert and I are making now.
5. Ice cream-its calling my name every night, but sleep takes priority. Such is life with a 3 1/2 month old.
6. My kids. I've been telling Robert I'm so glad we had them-all four of them-and how Rebecca just fits in perfectly with the boys. I'm so blessed we decided to expand our family. There's a mom I know who's in the works to be a surrogate for a couple, and I love how she's doing something so selfless for people she doesn't know. Parenthood isn't for everyone, but for those who want, and cannot be, to have someone willing to help them achieve that dream...priceless ♥

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Quitting is not an option

I had a horrible run today-I ended up walking most of it-I had a great start, but negative thoughts-no, just thoughts, kept creeping in. It was hard to get focused and my mind kept racing on all that I want to accomplish this week. I pushed through and finished up over a mile and a half, and then came home to have breakfast. Eating healthy isn't a chore-its the consistent eating that is challenging-maybe because I get pulled in a million directions (or allow myself to be). I wonder how I'm going to achieve this goal-it stares me in the face-and I'm wondering what in the world did I sign up for. I admit it, I'm scared. At the same time, I remember how scared I was with other challenges, grad school, having children, emergencies that pop up which I was not prepared for. Yet I muddled my way though-quitting was not an option then, and its not now. I see Rebecca's face while I jog-or walk-and hear the boys and Robert telling me to keep going. No one can do this but me though. I'm the one that has to lace up my shoes and put one foot in front of the other. I'm going to go back out this afternoon-do another couple of miles. I'm going to do this, one step at a time.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Strength is what I find within myself to face challenges head on. A friend on FB posted yesterday: The courage to persist in the face of adversity and disappointment is the one quality that, more than anything, will guarantee your success. Your greatest personal asset can be your willingness to persevere longer than anyone else. In fact, your persistence is a true measure of your belief in yourself and your ability to succeed. - Brian Tracy

Life is too short. Recent events worldwide have me appreciating where I live and the blessings in my life. Whatever trials may come my way-yes they hold value-but they will not define me. There are more important things in life.

Monday, March 7, 2011


If you want to succeed, surround yourself with people who are where you want to be.

Standing there, with my oldest and youngest, it reminds me how life can change in a moment. It seems like just yesterday I was at a crossroads in my life, and I chose to follow my heart. Its been quite an adventure-and I wouldn't change it for the world.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Plant a seed in my garden

Now that light is starting to stay past the 4:30 mark (and my energy is not gone by 6pm on most nights), its time to think of gardening. We had a great time doing it last year-the kids learned about fruits and vegetables-Elijah played in the dirt and I sat, big and pregnant. This year, Rebecca gets to join on the fun. This is my plan: http://thepioneerwoman.com/homeandgarden/2011/02/build-your-own-raised-flowervegetable-bed/ Robert's going to help me, we'll figure out the specifics as we go along.

I'm excited about this summer, the fun times that lay ahead. Its easy to get bogged down with homework and work/college schedules, but during summer, that's when we have our own pause button. Its wide open for adventure-in our backyard, at the coast, even Magic Mountain/Discovery Kingdom. The wheels in my head are turning, plans are being formed...


Big plans for our tax refund this year. Paying cash for appliances. New attic fan to keep the house cool all summer long. Thrilling. Totally beats being slave to the lender ;)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My babies

Love my babies, Gabriel told me he wants to marry me when he grows up. Elijah wants me to change him (not Daddy) after he has an accident (more hits than misses lately with potty training, so there is progress), Matthew is an amazing reader-and loves reading to his baby sister-who is the spitting image of me when I was her age. Despite the chaos, or maybe because of it, I wish there was a pause button.