Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Voted

I took the kids with me to vote yesterday.  Mr Middle didn't want me to vote without him.  What a cutie.  My kids sure do get the voting process, I've hauled them all to vote with me since they were little -- just like what my mom did for me.

But as I handed in my ballot I got a little emotional.  Not only was I teaching my kids about the American Way, about how we get to CHOOSE our leaders.  But also how far Mormons have come.

It wasn't that long ago that it was completely legal to kill a Mormon in the state of Missouri.  And in the grand scheme of things it wasn't that long ago that they were driven from their homes, had their belongings set fire to and were often tortured. 

And while I think it is still PC to make fun of a Mormon, I think people are more accepting of us now.  I think they get we're likely to be on the PTA (or run their stinkin' carnival), or be their child's soccer coach.  Often, when I tell people I am LDS they respond that I must make good casseroles because when their mom was sick once when they were a kid, their Mormon neighbor brought in food.

I do think that Mitt is a plastic Ken doll... but as I think of LDS people, we tend to be a little bit plastic.  We tend to just keep our heads down and work.  I see a lot of that in Mitt Romney.  Sure, the guy has a big mouth, big enough for his foot -- but the guy's rich.  Newflash, I want a successful person in office -- and so do you.  He is a REALLY hard worker.  That much is obvious.  We need a hard worker right now. 

As for Mr Santorum, the fact that college graduates are snobs pretty well sealed your fate for me.  I think everyone should aspire to post-secondary education.  Period.  End of story.  It makes for better homes, better children, and a more secure future.  And if that makes me a snob, I'm good with that.

Anyway, go out there and do me proud Mitt.  Or, at least don't embarrass us. :)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Home Schooling

I've watched Rick Santorum with his loving homeschooling ways.  And frankly, I'm wondering who's homeschooling his kids while his wife is out on the campaign.

Because, really -- if you home school it can be completely perfect.  P and I had one such morning.  For, you see, I home school -- but only until the state takes it over for me.  I am big on lessons.  There are so many fun things to do with preschoolers.  The thing is, most everything IS learning for them.  It's not like I can take Conner and say, "this is a measuring cup, we're going to get a cup of flour, look at the flour, isn't it white and funny?"  He wouldn't be amused, and he certainly wouldn't be learning what he needs to learn.  But, with P, she totally IS!

We did her workbooks, we did flashcards and some sounding out.  She did a musical instrument puzzle, and then she did some Hello Kitty stickers we found at Walmart last week.  Then, we read a book together, she sounded out some words.  One of the big words in the book was Hippopotamus.  Try sounding THAT one out!  Then, I thought that she hasn't really seen a hippo, at least not lately, so we found some great youtube clips about Hippo's.  I liked this one about baby Trent, although P didn't like the hippo opening his mouth so very wide.  My little girly girl.



Then, we went outside and did a little weeding.  P does great at picking up any leaves that fall off as I'm heaving the giant weeds out of our rocky soil (not a favorite about AZ).

Then, we played some cootie together.  I'm not particularly sure she "got" it -- but she had fun building the little bug and learning how to roll the die.  I have a good friend who's been pinning a ton of really cool preschool activities on her pintrist account.  Lots of cool ways to work on fine motor skills.  I'm excited to try some of them out.

Anyway, I sometimes stare at her and think, "what can I do" so I wanted to write down some of what we do.  To be clear, many days are NOT this fun.  I can, at max, only get lessons in about 3 times a week.  Of course, she's always talking and learning, but sit down lessons are sometimes hard to fit around all the other stuff.

The thing is, she IS my job.  I'm home to be with HER, so I need to prioritize that over other things.  Like blog writing. :)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Good Sam

Somehow I find it amusing that there are SO many hospitals named Good Sam. 
Honestly, I'm not sure that there is anything more Christlike then this story.

I think the true test to, if you are Christian, is how you would react in this situation.  What would you do?  Would you help?  Would you pay a week's lodgings?

Are you Christian?  Only you really know, right?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Family Home Evening

Our church recommends we have Family Home Evening once a week (usually Monday nights).  It's just a night that we get together and discuss things important to our family.  Sometimes it's church centered, but often character building, or just things that will help our family unit run a little smoother.

 
Because I can't be all loosy goosey and just do whatever at Family Home Evening I had to come up with monthly weekly plans. Also, I was asked to give a 5 minute presentation about our family's FHE this past week.  And some people wanted to mock my in-depth entirely anal behavior a little bit more...

 
So, without further adieu, or FHe schedule for 2012 is:

  • First Monday -- Article of Faith FHE -- these are basic gospel principles that the kids need to know.
  • Second Monday -- Family need -- I just pick something I think our family needs to work on.  I find the next one to likely be reverence.  We've had issues at church.  This tends to be behavior-related.
  • Third Monday -- Book of Mormon FHE -- this is when we take a scripture story and really talk about it in depth.  It is also when we've made our videos.  I think the videos have helped to make this a lot of fun, when it could have been pretty boring for the kids.
  • Fourth Monday -- General Conference, or Friend article -- we review one of our favorite talks from General Conference, or if the kids are teaching they take an article from the Friend magazine and talk about it.
  • Fifth Monday (if there is one) -- Emergency preparedness -- we've done earthquake/fire drills, talked about strangers, morality, we work on our 72 hour kits and just make sure everyone is on the same page for emergencies.  I highly recommend this for ALL families!

 
Anyway, that's what we do.  It's just helped so that I'm not given the whole world to choose from each month.  I like to narrow my focus a little bit.

 
And as my friend Audrey told me, I've learned to embrace my inner anal-ness.  Oh yes, I have.

 
Here's our most recent Book of Mormon FHE where the boys made Lehi's dream out of legos (we have actually now done it in both duplo and now the smaller legos... and yes, I am serious).  And then one of P singing that is adorable, mostly if you're a grandparent. :)

 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Photo Friday: Late

Somehow I missed the pictures of Spencer's baptism.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?

Oh, that's right.  I'm lazy. :)

Anywho, without further adieu.  Here is my child pre-the washing-away-of-all-his-sins...


I love how poorly the jumpsuits fit.  The kid was beaming though, it's not just all the white jumpsuit, although that definitely adds.

Here's the happy couple.  Because Drew holds the priesthood, he's able to baptize Spencer.  It's one of my favorite parts of being Mormon -- that your dad can perform a saving ordiance for you.


This is a fairly poor photo, but he was SO happy after.  A very special day and we were very happy to share it with our friends here in AZ.


It wasn't JUST friends though, the grandparents all came out for the occasion.  We were really happy they could all come, we know it was an effort.



Anyway, it was a great weekend.  Thanks for coming everyone!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Debating Debates

I watched the debate last night.

First off, WHO AM I?  Am I really a person that watches debates.  I am highly disappointed in myself.

Secondly, blech.  I didn't find out anything.

Recently at work someone mentioned I'd HAVE to vote for Mitt Romney, and that coudln't be further from the truth.  You'll see no religious LDS leadeers promoting him.  I may vote for him, and I do find myself leaning his way... sometimes I lean towards Ron Paul though, and that seems HIGHLY suspect.

But, back to Mitt,  the guy's a plastic ken doll.  In fact, I'm pretty sure Princess P has some dolls with MORE personality then he does.

How will he change that?

I hope he does, he must have some charisma somewhere deep down inside his suits.

In other news, in the six degrees of Kevin Bacon I am one, or is it two, degrees away from him in many ways.  If I know someone who knows him... how many degrees is that?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Photo Books

I thought I'd never say it.

I was so in love.

The paper, the stickers, the feel of the cardstock the love of the sport.  The whole. nine. yards.

I loved it.  I spent plenty of time looking at layouts and adoring over them.

But I'm done.  It's just not in me anymore.  I will still do the errant school picture, but ladies.  I'm done scrapbooking {gasp}.

If anyone knew me when Spencer was boring circa 2004'ish they may have died to hear this.  But I just don't find it enjoyable anymore, and with 3 kids it's just hard to pull it all out and pull me away.

Plus, I have this blog.  I write enough on here to choke a horse.  AND I have journals, one for me and one for each child.  There's plenty of thoughts about our life going on.

BUT I did want the photos in a bound form.  A way they could thumb through them and feel the memories in their brains.

So I'm doing photo books. I just did my first one for 2010.  I am still, somehow, hoping to finish up 2009 -- in my regular scrapbooking fashion, I'm more then 1/2 way through the year, and I think I can do it.  I'm thinking about just doing the pages digitally and just having them printed.

I used My Publisher, but I'm not in love with the price.  I do have a friend who does BEAUTIFUL ones through there and seems to adore them, so I'll see what I think of it.  BTW,with a 40% off code my book, which was about 40 pages for the whole year, was around 41 bucks shipped to my house.

Have any of you made the transition?  Is there a service you like?  I want to start on my 2011 one soon.  I will say the My Publisher one went REALLY quickly.  I do like things to happen fast. :)

Give me your thoughts, and what you did with the 400 pounds of scrapbook paper you had laying around your craft room? :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Thoughts on the Birth Control Issue

In other news,
Amazon sells the
morning after pill,
it doesn't even cost
enough to get
super saver
shipping....
I hate the birth control issue.  I hate that the government has SO many other things to be worried about (aka, the budget, poverty, keeping its pants zipped) but they decide to "tattle" on Catholic insurance groups.  It's like when your kids are supposed to be cleaning their room, but they keep coming to you to tell you about something the other one's doing...

But I hate it more then that.  I hate it more than the religious freedom issue (which, I personally take pretty vigorously... this is entirely AGAINST their religion, even if many of them don't follow it -- it totally is).  I have two problems with it.

a)  When you work for the Catholics you aren't going along your merry way, and then all the sudden you realize your company is owned by a catholic organization . Uh, no.  For those of you who don't know -- I worked for a Catholic hospital in CA.  Within my first week I had to pledge my allegiance to Jesus and the virgin Mary.  At staff meetings they lit candles (which I still found creepy -- Mormons must have a thing against candles).  There were crosses and saints all over the hospital.  It as blatantly obvious that we were working practically for the Pope himself.  Of course, I am used to working for the Pope (inside joke if you know my maiden name).  I didn't have insurance through our hospital, but it was very clear that birth control measures weren't covered.  It's not like you couldn't use birth control -- it just wasn't covered.  We also didn't do abortions, or anything like unto it (we didn't pit live babies who were below the age of being able to live on their own, because that could be considered an abortion).  We didn't do tubals.  Those were the rules, end of story.

b)  Since when is birth control something that HAS to be covered.  I honestly think of health insurance the same way that I think of car insurance -- something bad happens to you and you are covered. You get cancer, or pneumonia.  Things that just happen.  Health accidents, if you will.  Pregnancy, and sex in general isn't a health accident.  Women don't just "become" pregnant.  If you don't get my drift, go talk to your mom.

My insurance does cover birth control, but because my deductible is so high I will have to prepare to pay for my next IUD on my own.  Or, I could be celibate, it's my choice.

It's not like they don't cover pap smears or breast exams, or even STD checks.  They cover women's HEALTH, they just don't cover their choices.

So, those are my thoughts.  Also, in the big scheme of things -- a pack of birth control is pretty cheap.  I mean, I have charged out 15k in one shift before.  Insurance is there for THAT, not there for something you can get for under 30 bucks, or even cheaper on the trojan isle.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fitness Post

I'm starting back to exercising today and I thought I'd celebrate by getting some new workout videos.  You can read all about it on Losing with Lovers.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I Love It

I am kind of drowning in motherhood lately.  Just feeling overwhelmed by my kids and commitments I've made.  It's not even that I'm that busy -- I just feel the weight of it all, I guess.

Some AWFUL things have happened at work (medically) that have made me think...

And I took some time to read some blogs this morning.

and I was just struck by how much EACH mother loves her child.  I'm always amazed at the ideas from Power of Moms, but I find them kind of unattainable -- and sometimes braggy... I won't lie.  I mostly take hope from the fact that I know I'm not the worst mom in the world.

but I digress.

I was reading Coconut Diaries, and her trials in the past while have made mine look like playing dolls.  She took her kids on a Disney Cruise and from the sounds of it they all just had an AMAZING time.  I am super jealous, but I know we can have similar times here in the desert.

Where was I?  Oh yes, each mom loves their children...  and that's so very true.  They love each hair on their heads and their little eyelids that close at night.  They love it when they're silly, they love to see them play sweetly, read book, giggle at funny shows.  They love them.  And I love mine.

Really, it's such a beautiful thing.  No one loves you like your mom.  I mean, your dad loves you, but somehow it's just not the same.  Your mom puts up with endless cleaning, and endless whining and yet she still loves you.

And it's really a miracle.

So I hope to concentrate on the miracle of motherhood.  Instead of the drowning abyss that can be motherhood. 

It truly is a miracle.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

This Isn't Working

I really wanted to start this new year fresh and on top of things.  Eat well, and lose some weight.

But it is JUST. NOT. WORKING.  And I know why.  I'm putting that moment of oral pleasure over the fact that I'd like to be more healthy.  I'd like my BMI to read "healthy" not overweight.

I. WANT. THAT.

But instead I get a deep fried taco or go to the all you can eat pizza place.

I hardly have any fruits and veggies around this place.  I need to stock up.  I've been frenetic about increasing our food storage here that I haven't been as focused on the produce section as I used to be.  I also used to go to Sprouts pretty frequently and I haven't done that either.

I'm just a mess.

And you'd think I'd write this on my weight loss blog -- but I didn't.  I wrote it on the one people read. :)

I just need motivation.  I need a group.  A group of ladies that I love that will challenge and support me. 

I also need to not be molested my crying children all day, but I think that's a blog for another day.

Thoughts?  How do you keep the final goal in mind instead of loving the moment of pleasure.  Is anyone getting my chastity lesson in this blog post also? :)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Raising a Girl

Full disclosure.  I love Teen Mom.  I have delivered a LOT of teenagers in my time (much less now, thankfully) but I always wondered how it all worked out after they left me.  Turns out, not so great.  I don't think it glamorizes the mom lifestyle at all.  and I actually do think that 16 and pregnant/teen mom has had a little impact on girls to having unprotected sex. I think some of the moms HAVE been glamorized by tabloids, etc -- but if you watch the show, they all have hard, hard, lives that I do NOT want.

I watch these girls and I'm just so sad.  So sad at how their lives are out of control, and SO much of their time hinges on boys.

Also full disclosure, I liked boys.  A lot.  I wasn't a whore, by any stretch but I sure cared what they thought and if they'd ask me out.  I spent a lot of time in high school, sad over the fact that no boys liked me.  That changed in college and I did get asked out a lot, but I still cared a lot about them.

Then, I look at my little princess P and I wonder how things are going to work out for her.  If I can somehow make her immune to obsessing over boys.

There are a few things I know my parents did and that I'll do that help.

1.  Dating -- in the LDS church they encourage us not to date til' we're 16.  That number is fully ingrained in the hearts of my kids.  I also tell them it's just smart not to have a girlfriend until after their mission -- the church doesn't encourage "pairing off" til' 18, and I agree with that too -- aka, just group dates until you're older.  I see too many overwhelmed freshman who've had a break-up.  Makes me happy for this rule.  It at least puts off the couples craze for a bit.

2.  Know who you are.  I was a shameless flirt, but I actually only kissed one other guy before Drew.  I just didn't want to give that to just anyone.  I knew what was important to me.

3.  No sex.  Oh man, how many problems these girls have because they can't keep their legs shut.  They don't even learn the lesson after the baby either.  Insane.

4.  Strong, involved parents.  This is probably #1.  Parents who let you understand small consequences, so you're not overwhelmed by them later on.  I see a lot of these girls who have no real consequences about ANYTHING -- wrecking their car, having a baby (because the mom just takes care of it).  Consequences are ugly, but a part of life.

Anyway, I've loved the show for a long time, but as I see my little P getting bigger each day I worry about her.  I want a strong, successful woman out of her.  I think prevention is a big part of that key.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

100 Favorite Things About Arizona

Ok, I can't do 100.  It's true.  I think I'll do 5 to celebrate 100 years of Arizona.

1.  The Weather.  I know, I hated it in the summer.  PASSIONATELY hated it during the summer, but you REALLY can't get better then this in the winter.  It just takes a mindframe shift.  No snow, just hot in the summer.  Stay in.  Get some crafts for the kids. :)  Also, we now have a few pools at our disposal... I think we'll make it through this next summer a bit better.  Oh, and did I mention we have new AC?

2.  Shopping.  I don't know what the deal is, but there is a TON of stores around here.  Especially super walmarts.  I know, I'm trashy -- but I love them. :)  Ikea's close by, and lots of great malls.  Costco's just down the road, or there's a nother one like 4 miles away from that.  nice.

3.  The Scenary -- I LOVE the red mountains around here.  Reminds me of southern Utah.  Funny how that is. :)

4.  My mortgage payment.  Even if we can't refi, houses are cheap here.  It makes a HUGE difference to have a bit more space.  HUGE.

5.  This is the place for us.  Time and time again I am reminded that this is where we are suppoesd to be. And even though I may not love all of it, it's here for us and we're happy to be here. :)

One more thing, I've noticed in the scriptures that when people are told to move, that their gardens grow really well.  It's no different here.  Lots of great gardening going on in our backyard.  I hope it continues through the spring. :)

Hot Love In the Desert...

Catchy title, no?

This year I've been perusing blogs that have tips for improving your marriage.  Now, don't get your  panties in a bunch.  Drew and I are totally fine, but I really think that our kids are getting out of the phase where we are just playing police all the time and it's time to strengthen US so that we can strengthen THEM.  If that makes sense?

Anyway, I have noticed that the things that help a marriage are tiny thing, and just like families you build a marriage with small bricks.  Here's a few things we've started doing that have helped us.

1.  Budget review.  I do all of the money at our house.  I guess it comes from being the economist's daughter (hey, that'd be a good other blog...).  I balance the checkbook, I make budgets -- the whole nine yards.  It's easy to just go down that road alone, but I've put it into my to do list to review the budget every 3 months together.  Just to talk about things that maybe aren't working or things we could work on.  It's good stuff, and I worry about dying and Drew having NO clue how to run the finances.  I hope this helps a little.

2.  Date night -- we're getting better about this now that we grew-up our own babysitter.  I'm also realizing that date night to the el cheapo Mexican restaurant and then sharing a yogurt is just as great as date night to the fondue place.  Ok, maybe not quite, but close.  Date night is just getting away and talking.  Even if it's in and out or just walking around the park.  Do it.  It's cheaper then a divorce lawyer.  We have always had babysitters, but the money adds up . I am here to testify you won't have to spend it forever.  But it's worth it. :)

3.  Sunday morning meetings.  We do this as a couple, where we talk about the upcoming Sunday School lesson, but then we review our calendar and pan out any conflicts.  It's great.  I highly recommend.

Anyway, those are the 3 things I've noticed making a difference lately.  What do you do?  Inquiring minds (aka, me) want to know. 

Happy Valentines everyone!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Miracle Monday: It Takes a Village

As we got ready for Mr Middle's baptism on Saturday I was really thinking about ALL the people who have had an impact on him.  We had a great primary back in CA and he was often the star of the show, singing at the top of his lungs and knowing "all" the answers.  It's fun to be in a transient ward and be one of the few kids that people had seen grow-up from birth.

We, of course, had a great school and S had so many great teachers that not only taught him academically, but how to be a good friend and a good citizen.

We have great family who's super involved in his life.  He was SO happy to have both sets of grandparents there for the happy occasion.

And here we are now with great new "family" who are helping him out.  I'm really happy with our primary presidency who are strong women who know how to raise great kids.  Anyway, we feel really loved and supported.

It doesn't matter how great a parent you are.  You just can't do it in a bubble.  Kids needs lots of resources to get them to the point you want them to be.  And on Saturday, S was just there.  Thanks everyone. :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

It's Great to be Eight!


8 adjectives to describe Mr Middle

1.  Responsible - the kid gets his stuff done and signed off EVERY night.
2.  Giggly -- is that a word?  Because either way, it would make him giggle.
3.  Just So... again, not likely an adjective, but when things aren't like he's hoping/expected/wants... whoo boy, step off.
4.  Big -- as in brother.  He does such a great time with princess P.  Love that.
5.  Rumpled -- this describes his clothing.  'nuff said.
6.  Fighter -- with his brother.  I'm pretty sure this is self explanatory
7.  Smartie -- he's got it going on.  Did I mention he read the entire Harry Potter series in ONE week.  The whole thing.  Yup.
8.  Sinner. :)  That's right, in the Mormon church, after you turn eight you can officially sin -- and he tried to hit his brother this morning.  Guess he'll need that washed away tomorrow... good thing it's soon. :)

That's right, Mr Middle is eight today.  I tried to think back to his birth.  And frankly, it was a long time ago -- and I kind of birth a lot, but I do remember thinking extremely validated in my profession that day.  I hadn't delivered AS a labor and delivery nurse before, and it was a new experience to see what a difference a nurse can make.

I also wondered what on EARTH they'd done plopping this little fat baby on my belly for?  How'd they mix up my kids without even leaving the room, or unclamping the cord?  Obviously, I fed him well while he was inside, because he's gained just about 30 pounds in those last 8 years. :)

He was extremely easy, even from day one.  A great sleeper, no reflux, never had allergies causing the whole croup thing.  What can I say, he's a dream.

He's loving Arizona, has made a ton of friends and is really enjoying his life here.

He's not planning on any major sins between today and tomorrow, in case you were wondering. :)

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Teaching You Thursday: Appraisals

So, I've learned a little something about appraisals lately.  Something I'd like to share.

We had an appraisal done for a home equity line of credit, it came in at above what we'd paid for our home, not MUCH above it -- but enough.

About 4 weeks later we get one for our loan refi, and it came in 15% less then the one a month earlier.

And it seems like both are correct.

Is it true that the market around our home gone down 15% in one month?  No.  Not true.  All the other homes are selling for somewhere in the first appraisal, BUT we had 2 REO in our area within the past month that have drug everything else down.  Does this seem right, when other homes are selling for high amounts still?  No.  But I guess it's the way it is.
SO, the moral of this story is that if you're planning to refi, go to Zillow and check your neighborhood in the last 90 days.  They are fully within their rights to pick the lowest homes in your neighborhood and just use those.  And if you're had REO homes lately, don't do it.  Don't waste your money.

We're still waiting for the final word, but I don't have high hopes.  I just thought maybe I'd save some of you. :)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Hard Time

Family's flying in for Mr Middle's Baptism.

Excited.

Excited for him, and his birthday and what a great kid he is.

I just keep biting my cheek thinking of all the people who aren't here. 

Always trying to re-focus on being glad that we know those people, and we had amazing times, and not be sad that they're so far away.

Sometimes are harder then others.

It truly is rediculous, because if I were to fly to CA to have him baptized I'd miss the people here.  Dearly.

Life is so annoying like that.

Parenting Around the World

First there was the tiger mom, and now there's the French lady.  Well, la-de-dah. :)  At first you're like, "LIKE THERE ARE NO FRENCH KIDS THAT MISBEHAVE?  Get REAL."  but the reality that good parents around the world are just that -- good parents.  Saren wrote a great post about it on her blog.

We can learn something from ALL of them.

I have absorbed these french parenting articles with interest.  I think there's always something we can learn from each of them.  I know I could give my kids more choices within a "box" of rules.  I work on that.  I agree a lot with the ideas brought out in this parenting book, and I also agree with a lot of things the Tiger mom said.  Some of it just doesn't work for me.

And I guess what it boils down to, is that you have these specific children for a reason.  God gave you children for whom your parenting style would work.

There have been times where I am allowed the sweet reminder that I was the specific nurse sent to deliver a specific patient.  They needed ME.  No other nurse would give them what they needed.  I feel warm inside, like I've done some good and I am grateful for being able to be there.

I think that because I'm too stuck in the mothering trench to realize the MANY times that I have been el presidante, or Mr Middle or Princess P's parent just at that moment when no other mom would do.  Any woman can wipe noses or tell them to shut it.... but there are specific instances where you were put with them for a reason.

And I'm grateful for all the things I can learn from the many parenting books.  But I just add them to who I am, as a mom and as a person.  And I give what I am.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Mormon Health Code

The Ensign has a great article this week about the Word of Wisdom, which is an awkward way to say the health code that the Mormon church teaches us to live by.

For a long time I have felt that much of the no tea/coffee thing boiled down to the fact that we don't want anything that gives us an addiction -- something we can't live without.

But this article had another good point:
Those who misuse legal or illegal drugs need to seek help so their bodies can become clean again and free from addiction. A clean body is more receptive to the Holy Ghost.
I think most people would agree with this.  I think people who are wrapped up in any type of addiction just have a MUCH harder time making good choices.  Period.

Just another little fact about Mormons.

Another fact is that Josh Powell left the church a long time ago, although I think his wife still practiced before she went missing/died.  I remind myself it's not for me to judge or want to beat the tar out of him.  I'm fairly sure he will be living with his misery for a long time.  My hope is that his wife and his children have eternal happiness, to make up for what they lived through here on earth.

Monday, February 06, 2012

I hate it. :)

I'm perusing my blog today and so many things are just bugging me.  I had to get it off my chest:

1.  I hate packets of FHE stuff.  I mean, if you can't figure out SOMETHING your family needs help with, maybe you don't need FHE.  I mean, we could hold a weekly one about not lying, but I try to branch out.  I sometimes post our FHE's here, but I hope people aren't following them word for word -- just sparking ideas of their own. 

2.  I also hate things that try to make money off the church.  Like family home evening packets.  Is anyone sensing a theme here?  We, on the other hand, are doing a heart attack like I saw on 71 toes...  Drew is also teaching a lesson on the 2nd article of faith.  Lucky him.

3.  Turns out, asparagus takes like twelve million years to actually grow.  Ok, like 3 or 4 years.  And it also turns out that I may have planted mine upside down.  I totally read the directions and followed them.  I am bitter.  I need ot figure out somewhere I can plant them, that it won't take up precious squre foot garden space....

4.  I hate it when people don't show remorse.  Like you're ruining something you've done for them, and the'yre like -- huh.  Not even a sorry.  I MEAN, HOW HARD IS IT TO BE SORRY?  not that hard, especially you can even just say it and not really mean it.  Not that I'd ever do that.... but you can. :)

Ok, I'm back to being peppy and positive.  Just had to get those off my chest.

Miracle Monday: A Year in Review

Yesterday we watched our family movie.  I publish one every year, just using windows movie maker.  This year's was a more emotional process then usual.  I was forced to look at our goodbye party, video of our old house.  Just a lot of stuff I was kind of trying to forget.  I had, also, already made the movie for the first part of the year before we moved (I try to stay caught up so I don't have a ton to do at the end of the year).

As I watched I thought I'd be really sad at all the changes and things that had gone wrong, or right.  But instead I found myself realizing what a GREAT year 2011 was for our family.  In my head I'd chosen to focus on all the wrong things, when instead I should've realized everything that had gone RIGHT.

We had a GREAT mid-winter break, exploring some of our favorite things around the bay area.  During spring break we went to Yosemite and had a GREAT vacation.  It was SO well needed after stressing about the job hunt, we were cut off from electronics.

Sure, the next few months are a bit foggy, but I realized that I really tried to keep things as stable for the kids as possible.  I don't think I really thought I was, at the time, but I did.  We did fun things for April Fools, they had a great end of school year and we did a few fun things before we left town.

Now they have a much bigger house. We saw pictures of their old bedroom, with all 3 crammed in there.  It's a welcome relief to have P in her own room.

Then there was the trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon where we mixed old and new friends.  What a blessing.

So, what I'm trying to say is that we had an amazing year, full of SO many blessings. While I chose to focus on the parts that left me sad, I shouldn't have. 

We are all so, so blessed.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Re-thinking...

You know, after my little post about what I am going to do with my tax rturn, I started to re-think filling up the long term savings more before I do the kids college funds, etc.

So, what priorities do you do with your extra money? What gets filled up first?

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Gardening, the cheap remodel.

Garden is well on its way.  We finished all our drippers and we've planed most of the stuff we can do in early February.  We'll have to wait a couple of weeks to do our tomatoes, and corn.  The eggplant needs to be a bit bigger before it can go out.

Anyway, I got to thinking why I love the garden so much, and I realized that IT is where I do my remodeling, because it's so free and easy to do and I just enjoy it.  I never move my couches, or paint my walls but I do all sorts of things in the garden, because I figure I can just tear it out and do something else.

I don't really even have grand visions of all the produce we'll have soon.  Although, I hope I am able to can some tomatoes, that would be lovely.  But kind of an added bonus.

Here's the other side of the garden's map... and yes, I am just this anal...


We're trying a bit of everything.  We'll see what actually grows!


Friday, February 03, 2012

Make Your Own DVR.

I have had a couple of questions about how we use our computer as a DVR, and it's all pretty simple... just takes a little money and some hooking up.

First off, if you have Windows 7, your computer is capable of being a DVR.  When we had cable, we just ran a line into the computer and it would record for us. However, once we moved we found out that our last computer (that had a built-in tuner) wasn't digital compatible so we needed to get a new tuner that was.  Also, we were no longer getting cable, so that was an issue also.

So, this is what we came-up with.  We bought a USB TV Tuner.  The one here is the actual one that we have.  The set-up was super easy.  I swear I got it for like 39.99, but maybe I'm wrong.  Shop around, I have no idea if this is a good price or not.

Then, you need (unless you have cable) to get antennae to hook up to it (see, one side goes into your computer, and the other side has a little plug in for the antennae.  I just got a cheap set at Walmart (although, this is a pretty decent price, if you're buying from Amazon already, I'd just throw this in your cart.  I think I paid about 10 at Walmart.

Then, you just plug it all into your computer and go into Windows Media Center.  Configure the TV tuner and then configure it to get all your channels, etc. and WHAMO -- you have a DVR.

We are able to access our desktop through our laptop because Windows 7 makes networking so easy.  TV shows that are recorded are automatically in your public folders and are accessed on any networked computer in your home.  That way, it's easily to pull up World World whenever I need it. :)

And, as a sidenote to yesterday's post.  El Presidante's teacher called yesterday and said he was a whole new kid now that the computers are taken away for a bit.  I am hoping he learns a lesson and doesn't take them for granted in the future.  I also hope for world peace and an end to hunger.  Ok? :)

Thursday, February 02, 2012

"That" phone call...

Yesterday I got "that" phone call.  I wouldn't say the "dreaded" phone call... but one that all parents dread.

Hi, is this Mrs. E?  Yes?  Oh, well this is Mrs. B... and I just wanted to share a little incident that happened with El Presidante today...

{heart sinks}

{mind races}

Is it a fight?  I know he hasn't been getting along as well with a kid who used to be his best friend -- I think my brother got in a fight once in Jr High... is he going to turn into my brother?  Was he looking at porn?  Did he say something inappropriate?  My goodness, JUST OUT WITH IT, WHAT IS IT?

Well, it's the computer, and thankfully he's not looking at porn.  He's looking at nine million other things and just can't keep his hands off it.

Now, we live in a VERY technological school district.  He has laptops available to him in the classroom and they integrate technology a lot, but that gives him leeway to hurry through written assignments and then run to the computer like his pants are on fire.

And he does.

But I think his teacher's had enough of it.  As am I.  So, we're both giving him absolutely no computer time for a couple of weeks.  He needs to realize the computer's a privilege, not a way of life.

I have also taken away the wii and the DS for the weekend, and he's not allowed to use the laptop to adjust the TV (although, he can use it if  I or Drew adjust it for him).

Much like the rest of his life, it's like he can't physically help himself.  His impulse control on a scale of 1 to 10 is like a 2.  Really, this is no news flash.

But I thought about that phone call.  A lot of parents get them frequently and there's so many ways to react to them.  I think the initial instinct is defensively -- but I honestly think the best reaction is to back-up the teacher, which is why I came up with the idea of no computer at home (because she is limiting it at school).  There are many reasons, but the main one is that I want to enforce the fact that the teacher is in charge and what she says, stays.  She and I are on the same team, 100%.  In fact, I think she's heartbroken to get after him.  She really adores Conner, and I think she's given him a bit of lee-way up til' this incident.  She actually said, "it's time for me to be the grown-up here."  I really like her.

Anyway, I think it's important to remember the teacher spends almost as much time with your child as you do (sad, but true) and she does this for a living, and has hundreds of other kids in the same age frame to compare it with.

So, as el Presidante has his lunch detention today I hope he learns a lesson.  I hope he learns how to stay on task and realize that there is a whole world outside of computers.

Have you gotten "the" phone call?  How did you react?

What I'm Doing with my Tax Return

We're goin' to Disneyland!  Just kidding. :)

Well, first off -- I don't think you should hope to get a giant tax return.  That's just giving uncle Sam a giant loan and that's not good.  BUT, last year we spent a HUGE amount of deductible stuff, so we're getting a lot back.  It probably won't work that way next year, but time will tell. :)  But, if you're getting a whole lot back you might want to re-think how you're getting taxes taken out of your check.  It's not smart to get a giant refund.  I, personally, hope to keep it just under 1k back.  I don't want to pay, that's for sure. :)

But, 1k is still a nice chunk of change. :)

Secondly, I do use taxact -- the online version.  I was a Turbo-Tax diehard until they started raising their prices.  I decided to try Tax Act after an account's wife said that's what they use.  I like it, I am not sure it's quite as thorough as Turbo Tax, but I've been doing my own taxes for as long as I've been paying taxes so I'm pretty aware of what's out there, and what I should be doing.

Anyway, so what am I doing with it?

We have 5 bank accounts at our bank.  I was mulling over getting a great savings account like an IMG or something like that, with great interest -- before the whole layoff, when we had quite a bit in savings.  That's no more {nervous laugh}.  I probably will open one of those accounts one day... {dreamy sigh}

1.  Checking -- I put our budgeted amount in this account each month.  It's what we pay for things during the month.  It also keeps me honest knowing that JUST our budget amount is in here.

2.  Savings -- This is where our paychecks go.  Because my paycheck is totally random I use this account as a buffer against months I'm not earning enough.  It holds just over 1,000 in savings as a buffer against unexpected small car repairs and me not working enough, etc.  This was the brainchild of my friend Lara when I just couldn't figure out how to not ruin our savings when stuff like that came up.  I love Lara. :)  BTW, I wish more people were more transparent with what they did with their money.  I've learned a lot from friends who are honest with how they deal with theirs.

3.  Money Market -- this is our longer term emergency savings.  Its the one that pulled us through the move and is significantly smaller now.  My goal is to have 3 months of living expenses in this account.  We don't right now, so it's in building mode.  This is a total emergency account.  End of story.  My goal is to never touch it.

4.  Family Fun -- I think it's really important for us to have things for our family when we're earning good money.  I found it hard to figure out a balance between being Mr. Scrooge with my money and showing my kids that when I work a lot, they get some benefit.

5.  Home Improvement fund -- it's just smart money to put a bit into your house along the way, fix little things.  And this fund helps with it.  It will be buying us a new toilet soon. :)

Anyway, so I'm dealing with my tax return the same way that I deal with "extra" income.

  • First off, the income fills up our savings to my designated dollar amount.
  • I am then going to set aside a small amount for the kids college funds and possibly my HSA.  Not sure of this amount, it kind of depends on my mood.  Neither of these are going to get very much this year, because we're still building that Money Market account, which I personally think is more important then saving for my kids college experience (especially since we're currently also trying to pay for Drew's college experience from the Money Market account).
  • After that I call it (mentally) a spillover.
  • Half of it goes into our money market, and the other half is split between family fun and home improvement.
At first I felt kind weird about this.  I mean, shouldn't I bet putting ALL of into Money market, to build, build, build?  And yes -- you do want a lot to go in to that.  After that account reaches my 3 month of savings mark I will probably diversify a little bit putting more into our retirement, the kids savings and my HSA but until then half is what I've found to work.

The family fun and the home improvement accounts stop us from grabbing into money market.  We rarely take out of there, and that's how it should be. 

I would like to know what people do for BIG stuff they're saving for.  I mean, we don't have a new car on our horizon, that I know of {furiously knocking on wood} but I figure we might want to start saving for one now -- but for right now that is our money market account... thoughts?

We use the family fun fund for vacations.  I'll give us an extra hundred or so over spring break to have a few splurges with.  My kids know it's there and they get to help us decide how to use it.

Anyway, that's how I'm going to use our tax return.

How do you use yours?  I'd love to know!  I'm sure there's flaws in my little system.  I read an article today about how someone was using theirs.  Most of it was going to debt, which I'd totally agree with.  She also said to use 5% as a splurge, which I sort of agree with.  I think that's kind of our family fun fund and because we're building that money market I figure we've splurged enough with the year.

Anyway, "extra" money is an interesting thing.  How do you allocate yours?

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

My first free time...

Today was the day.  It was THE day I actually had ALL my kids gone at once (and I wasn't packing or crying, so I'm not counting those times).  P had her preschool today at another mom's house and it was ALL. ME.

I also thought I was supposed to work today (wah-wah) so I really had nothing planned.

I mean, the options were truly limitless.

So, what did I do?  I worked on my drip system and figured out now that it's February, what I can plant.

Yay.

The thing is, I could have easily done it with P home.  I guess I wasn't bothered by her, and she wasn't watching TV.  It's just -- wow.  My own free time.

I guess this will be what it's like in 20 years when she goes to school....

Because it will be 20, right?

So, what do you do in YOUR free time?  Do you long for it already if you don't get it yet?

Why didn't I nap, you might ask.... :)

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