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 :)

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