Monday, April 29, 2013

Marriage Mondays ~ Money

The dreaded "M" word.  It's that one word that no one wants to have anything to do with.  Everyone wants LOTS of it and no one wants to know where it goes, and how it gets there.

I've talked about this before.  I've talked about our version of the Dave Ramsey Program.  How much we love doing this and seeing our credit cards go down and slowly our savings to go up!

This past year has really shown us what we need to have.  When we lost our baby things started to pile up.  Costs that we weren't ready for, and never should have to think about while expecting a baby, let alone your own children babies or not.  And slowly our Emergency Fund started to sink lower and lower.

We are so blessed to have family who loves us and cares for us in every way we can and have helped to pay for different parts of the funeral until we could.  It has been such a blessing.

Now we are back on our feet.  Our debts have been paid off and paid back and slowly we are getting there.  Slowly we are seeing the light.

Which brings me to why I'm posting about Money in my Marriage Mondays posts. 

I've been thinking a lot about how some people have *no* idea where their money is going, where it has come from and what is going to happen to it.  Some people just don't have a clue to what is happening in their own family.

When my dad was diagnosed with cancer my mom had a "field trip" to the basement to go through all the important papers they have.  All their taxes, files, etc..  So much stuff to go through and learn.  And that was about the point that Arnold and I chose to make sure we were BOTH in our on money.  And it has become part of our marriage.

When we were first married we had little to no money.  Isn't that always how it works?  Eventually we gained some more, lost LOTS more and slowly got ourselves on our feet.  We had bank accounts in 3 different banks.  It was crazy.  And just before we had gotten married I made the stupidest choice I have *ever* made.  I got a department store credit card.  I thought, hey why not?  It will help our credit.

It took FOREVER to pay off.  Like so much time.  Even now I'm never comfortable going to stores that ask me if I want their credit card.  Most of the time I follow it up with things like "no thank you I'm trying to pay off all of mine" or " are you crazy?  I don't have that kind of extra cash laying around to pay the interest rate you want!".  Generally people leave me alone after that.

Any who.. back to the point of writing this.  I'm hoping to do something called "Marriage Mondays Money Posts" on the last Monday of the month.  Just something about how our budgeting works for us.  not for everyone else mind you.  We each need to find something that works for us and go with it.  I read a lot about money and what people say to earn more, keep more when doing taxes and how to save that "$6000.00" a year with simple changes.  But it always leads me back to just being careful with my own money.

So first things first.  Dave Ramsey teaches us to get right with your 4 walls.  Make sure you can live within your means.  It's different for everyone.  We pay a lot in rent.  When most people find out how much we pay they are always shocked and ask why we don't buy our own house right now!  And generally speaking, we would/could but we don't have the credit or the down payment needed.  And to be honest, I don't want one yet. I'm not ready to commit to a place.  For example... From the time Arnold and I got married we moved 7 times.  It gets to the point that when I do my spring cleaning the boys ask if we are moving again.  They are just so used to it.  While we love our neighbourhood and we wouldn't want to move I'm not ready to commit to staying here.

For us (again different for everyone) our 4 walls meant having enough money to pay for food (I'll get into that later), to pay for rent,  and to pay for hydro/gas/water/electric.  Everything above and beyond that is "extras" that get put into your budget later.

So we have to make sure we can afford all those.  While it's not a lot to think about at first.  When Arnolds pay cheque comes in (as we are a 1.25 income family right now) we have to think about where our money is going and what we are/can do about it. 

I was talking to a friend who has started looking at her money as a family.  She can't understand where the money goes and how 1 pay cheque has to get them through the whole month!  I asked her what happen to the first pay?  I was told it's their "Rent" money.  Well... then I got it.  For a LONG time we did the same thing.  We paid our whole rent cheque out of our first pay of the month.  It was almost impossible for US to get that to work.  Slowly I realized if I saved part of the pay it wasn't so hard. 

Now we work like this:

about $400 - $500.00 of our rent comes from pay #1.  It gets set aside into an account and we add it all up later in the month.
The rest of our pay comes out of our second cheque so that we aren't scrounging to make it for a whole month on one pay.

Next time I'm going to talk about our grocery budget and how we make that work for US!  This may not work for you but it's what works for our family.  Hopefully, if nothing else, it gives you an idea of how we do it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Marriage Mondays ~ Dress to Impress

I know this one is going to get me into ALOT of trouble but here it is anyway.

I try to do things for my husband to make him happy, excited, and want to be with me.  Not that he doesn't *want* to be with me... see this is already getting me in trouble!

Last year after we lost Otis I said I needed to figure out who the heck I am!  This includes losing weight, trying out new things, and part of it is not dressing "like a mom".

When Arnold and I met we were in university.  We lived across the hall from each other.  And while I didn't totally care what I was wearing (but mind you I only packed my "good" clothes) I was careful what I wore. 

When I got sick I was ok handling people, including Arnold, see me in PJ pants and a t-shirt.  In fact that how I spent most of my second year... in PJ pants and t-shirts.  Not because I was sick but because I just didn't care anymore. 

Slowly I began to realize I can't live in my pj's so I started to find something that worked for me.  But being plus size and being in university, clothes weren't always the top thing for me to afford.  Shirts were a lot of money, unless you got them at Walmart, and pants were always way more.  I still remember buying my first "performance" shirt to do a duet with my friend Lyle.  It was this blue shirt with sliver glitter lines in it.  So wonderful.  I *just* tossed it in the donation pile last month.  It was about $60.00 and I was so worried about wearing it too much to ruin it.

Now I'm still figuring it out.  I'm currently in jeans and a t-shirt writing this out.  I've begun adding new things to my wardrobe that my husband likes, or encourages.  Some things I'm not fond of.  Others I'll "try" and still others I love more than anything.  I've found in the past 5 months I have spent more on clothes than I ever have before.  And I'm ok with that.  I'm beginning to wear things that are less "mommy" and more "adult" ish.

Back to my dress to impress title.  Dress the way your husband enjoys, if you can.  I'm not saying if you are a plus size woman and your hubby like skin tight clothes you should wear that.  I'm saying dress how you are comfortable, dress how you look good, and remember that your husband likes how you look.  I was once told to dress and look good when your husband gets home from work.  Remind him what a wonderful person you are so he keeps coming home to you. 

My husband loves to have me dress with necklaces and earrings.  Small change but something he loves.  And I love to impress him!

Friday, April 19, 2013

New Food Fridays.... humm life got in the way.

I know that normally I post something here 2 times a day for my "New Food Fridays".  Except this week.  I'm so behind on things that I just haven't gotten my posts ready.  I know I know I've said the same thing before but it's so true.

I'm hoping to get some time this weekend to get my act together and work on some new stuff.

Next week we will be back to our regularly schedule program!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Road Rage

Oh my gosh!

Do they think I can read their minds?


Would you just go!

Humm.. they may not almost kill someone if they would just use their signal lights!

That *was* a green light... thanks for not going!

yeah... I'm mean sometimes.  And at times I just can't "handle" being nice anymore.

But dang... Road Rage is becoming more and more of something I need to watch. 

I've been driving more.  Normally it was just a few days a week (Sundays, Monday nights, Wednesday nights, Thursday afternoon/night and then maybe on the Saturday?).  But now I'm working outside the home and I'm driving 2 times a week (sometimes more) to work and back.  I've taken to turning off the radio and listening to Christian music instead.  I can honestly say that has "helped" my road rage.

Then.. there are times.. like today, where I just want to shake someone.  It started when I was late leaving.  Odd how that seems to "help/harm" the situation.  I was late getting out of work and then late leaving to get Quinton from school.  If there's one thing I really truly hate, it's people being late.  Even more so when it's to pick up their kids.

So I was late and started home.  Someone had parked in a lane where they shouldn't have.  I moved around them.  Around now my annoyance meter is about 2 or so.

I got up to the lights and I know this set of lights.  I know that there is an advanced green for the other lane, except during the non-peak times (when I'm driving) and then it's both green at the same time.  I know that just past this intersection there is a parking lane and EVERYONE uses it.  If you are not in the left lane at the lights you will be forced to make your way (rudely I might add) into the left lane.  Sure enough.. someone 3 cars back can't stand being behind everyone and pulls into the right lane, comes up to the lights and then putts along beside me until we cross the intersection.  Here's where I figure, if you haven't sped up then you aren't trying to get in my lane until AFTER me.  Well I was wrong.  Turns out he wanted in, and he wanted it now.  So here we go.. he floors it to get around me.  I have to slam my breaks (hoping the guy behind me doesn't hit me) so the dude in the right lane can get into mine.  My annoyance meter is about 4 now.

Then he slows down (annoyance meter is 5).  This drives me crazy.  Not only did this guy slow down to 40 (speed limit is 50) he was staying in the left lane. Now maybe this is just me but isn't the left lane for FAST people?  Those who are ok with daring to get a speeding ticket?  Guess what!  When I'm late getting my son I'm ok with getting a ticket to get him.  I hate for my babies to think that I've "left" them somewhere.  It's horrible. 

Then we get to another intersection.  This dude is still ahead of me (I would have passed if it weren't for the other people behind me getting annoyed and moving around us first).  I figure it's now or never.  I'm going to pass him after this intersection and then I will go BACK over 2 lanes to get into the turning lane.  Sure enough I go to move over (signal light and everything) and he goes over too, without his light on!  I was SO mad.  I had to get back into those people who were waiting for me and the slow dude to speed up to go by so I could get back over and get into the turning lane before missing the intersection (Annoyance meter is around 7 now).

I turn left and finally think, great!  I'm almost home and I should *just* make it to school on time to get Q.  No more worries.  I finally start to relax a bit and I meet another "dude".  This one figures it's ok to not drive in 2 lane.  Nope 2 lanes are MUCH better to drive in.  It's almost as if he had NO idea where the lanes were.  People were honking their horns and getting mad.  I'm just about to blow a fuse and I suddenly clue in. 

I'm a jerk.

I could be giving this person a break.  Relaxing.  Enjoying the drive.  Taking in all the amazing things God has provided us with today.  It's a wonderful warm day, the flowers are coming up and I should remember to look at those.  Not just the people around me in cars, the people walking and those who drive me crazy.  But I need to remember to take some time to take God's beauty in.

So the next time Road Rage hits me I'm going to slow down.  Take a deep breath.  And remember that this may just be my only "quiet" time I get all day. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Marriage Mondays ~ Appreciating a Good Dad/Spouse

I've tried, not too hard, but kept in mind, that not everyone reading this has kids.  They are a "touchy subject" in our house sometimes but still my children have ALOT to do with our marriage and how we live and how we treat each other.

For example, this past week between our kids therapy appointments, swimming lessons, school, class trip, birthdays, get togethers, and everything else that's part of a "normal" week for Arnold and I, I didn't get a chance to make my Marriage Monday post beforehand.

Bad Miranda!

I know...

Still, here I am, just after lunch ready to post away and I couldn't think of a good topic.  Nothing was going, "ok, write about this, someone needs to hear/read this".  I'm not saying that happens all the time but I can honestly say I have a few "saved" Marriage Monday posts that are my backups and nothing is pushing me to post about those today.

So instead I'll post about appreciating a good Dad/Spouse.

Ever since our weekend away in January, Arnold and I have tried to reconnect more.  We spend more time together, we are careful with our relationship and we are more understanding of what each other needs.

This weekend was "my" turn to have my needs met. Starting on Thursday night I had more problems than ever with my cell phone.  Arnold spent a few hours backing it up and making it all work better.  But it still had issues on Friday so Friday night Arnold stayed up late and factory-reset my phone.  He made sure it was working perfectly before giving it back to me. 

Arnold was so wonderful to go grocery shopping with me on Friday night.  We got everything we wanted to get at the store (minus 2 things we forgot) and he was wonderful about encouraging me to purchase things we wanted to restock but not always need to. 

On Friday night I planned a get together with some of the youth girls. Which meant our plans as a family to go to Home Depot and do their craft and some shopping weren't going to happen.  This also meant I was taking the car and the boys would be taking the bus.  For Arnold, this is no big deal. But with some extra people (ie my kids) it's sometimes harder.

Arnold met my needs by helping out, being so willing to take the boys still and not worry about anything else and just enjoy this time with the boys.  During the rest of our Saturday together while friends were here he was attentive, wonderful, helpful with the kids.  I love how he interacts with them.

Sunday morning we had some "snuggle time" on the couch.  We both ate our breakfasts and visited about what we had planned for the day, how we were both doing and what we were aiming to get done.  Then, that afternoon he did some fix it jobs for me. 

I may never say this enough, but he really is a wonderful dad/husband.

While the girls and I were out on Saturday I picked up one of those daily calendars.  It's a flip one from the movie "Courageous".  I always look at that days date, and my birthday to see if it's worth getting!

Saturdays date was this:

It's so true.  While I do try to show my husband I appreciate him, it doesn't always happen.  But let me tell you, do I appreciate him?  HECK YES!  And I love him so much more.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Happy Birthday Quinton!

Quinton is 6!!  Can you believe it?

I still remember the day he was born.  Heading to the hospital with Arnold.  Giving K one last kiss and hug before he was no longer an "only child".... ahh the memories!

I wanted to change it up a bit and try something different this year so I chose to "interview" Quinton.  Here are the answers I got:

What's your name?                                       Quinton

What are your nick names?                          Q,

How old are you?                                           6

What is your favorite color?                            Black,

What is your favorite animal?                       Cheetah

What is your favorite book?                         Anything Ninjago

What is your favorite TV show?                   Riders of Berk, The Fresh Beat Band, Boy Meets World

What is your favorite movie?                        How to train your dragon

What is your favorite song?                           "God's Not Dead"

What is your favorite food?                            Meat!

What is your favorite drink?                            Chocolate Milk

What is your favorite breakfast food?              Raison Bran

What is your favorite snack?                           Chocolate Eggs,

What is your favorite outfit?                             Lego T-shirt, and black pants

What is your favorite game?                             Skylander Giants!

What is your favorite toy?                                The Wii

Who is your best friend?                                   God

Do you have a girlfriend?                                  yes, 2, Carolyn and Emma

What is your favorite thing to do?                     Play Wii

What is your favorite thing to do outside?         Play spy's

What is your favorite holiday?                           Christmas

What do you like to take to bed with you at night?        My Otis Dog

Where is your favorite place to go?                    Toys R Us

What is your favorite restaurant?                      Five Guys, Burgers and Fries

Where do you want to go on vacation?              To Nana And Papa's

What do you want to be when you grow up?        An Adult, a video game maker

What did you do/are you going to do on your birthday?   Play Skylanders, get maple syrup, have my portal cake

Monday, April 8, 2013

Marriage Mondays ~ Spend Time Apart

ha! I know right?  These "Marriage Mondays" are to be talking about you and your spouse and how to get closer, have a better marriage and how to grow... TOGETHER.

Well sometimes.. you just need to spend time apart.

In the (almost) 9 years Arnold and I have been married the most we have spent apart from each other, at one time, was last summer when my mom hurt herself and we needed to stay.  The little boys and I spent 2 weeks in Sarnia and Arnold spent 2 weeks here in Toronto.  It wasn't exactly 2 weeks but pretty darn close.

Before that the most was a week when Arnold took Kyler to Alberta. 

During the times Arnold and I have been apart we have talked/texted/emailed almost every day.  I love knowing "what's new" in his life, even if we are close!  Being apart is hard.  I really thrive on knowing what my husband is doing and if everything is ok.  I know some of you are reading this and going "yeah right, she just likes checking up on him".  It's true.  I do.  I like knowing what he's doing.  But not for the reasons some of you may believe.  I love knowing what's going on because if there's a situation I can pray for him, I do. 

And I do a lot.

Each year for the past 3 or 4 Arnold and the boys have gone away for a weekend in January.  Our church used to rent out a campground for a weekend and have a retreat.  They would head out on Friday and I would enjoy the house, all to myself, quiet, and just me, for one weekend.  The first few times I would clean like mad.  Or scrapbook, or have the girls over for some wine and movie nights, or just enjoy the time alone, quiet, and alone.  I would sleep in, order out and enjoy my time alone.

This year was a bit crazy and, while I didn't get time alone, I did get some time with my hubby and me instead.

However... I know what's coming.  I'm boiling up and over.  I haven't had that weekend to "recharge".  I know it's silly but with our situation it just hasn't worked out.  I need that weekend to reconnect with myself, reorganize my priorities and just generally enjoy the quiet, and not worry about making too much noise, making sure people are fed and being a "mom".

Please don't get me wrong.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE being a mom and a wife and a sister (since Jack lives here) but sometimes I just need to be alone.  For anyone who is a mom, closing the door to the bathroom doesn't always work to shut people out.

Sometimes you just need time apart.

If you are like me take time to schedule it.  Take time to make sure you get time apart.  It doesn't mean you have to send people away but it gives you time apart.  I crave time in my own home.  I don't like having a "day off" as some people call it.  Mainly because my "days off" are being sent out of my house.  Sure I'm getting time off but I'm not in my home.  I'm being "nice" to people in public, maybe even having conversations with people I know, spending money (generally) and having to be a bit different that I do in my own home.

If you do have to schedule it and you need to send people away then plan ahead.  I can go a few months without having to need time alone.  Heck for a while it was once a year.  That worked for me.  Perfect to recharge and get that alone time.  Plan a weekend you know your spouse could go and see their family, or just crash on a buddies couch.  Anything.  If you have kids try to work it out that they have a sleepover at Grandma and Grandpas house.  Anything.

For me... I'm realizing this may need to happen.  I may need to send them away for a few days.  And while I don't enjoy being apart from my husband and my kids.  I may need it more than I realize. 

But, for now, the one night I know hubby is gone is the last weekend in April... I may stay up super late and just pretend I don't have kids while they are sleeping!  Who knows!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Quinton Update ~ March

My monthly update on Quinton.  What a silly boy!  Ever since his brothers birthday he has been counting down the days until his own.  I'm pretty sure he likes it when it's Uncle Jack's birthday cause he knows he has one more month until it's his turn to celebrate. 

Q has been so into things.  He loves Skylanders, which was his brothers birthday gift.  He loves playing the games, attacking the bad guys and winning missions.  Seriously this boy can tell you anything you want to know about Skylanders.  He can relive every moment and totally beat your bum on anything you have wrong. 

Quinton also loves anything to do with dragons.  Dragons and dinosaurs.  The boys just watched some episodes of "Riders of Burk".  Quinton is all over that one as well.  He loves it so much.  He can tell you all about the dragons and what they can do, how to "save" them and what he would do with each one.  I'm always surprised at how much he can take in and to what detail he can tell it back to you.

He has been enjoying reading with us and is always upset when he doesn't go up a level at school for reading.  I'm very impressed with his ability to "stretch out words".  When Q doesn't know a word he sounds it out.  He does this by putting his hands by his mouth and pulling it out, as if stretching/pulling bubble gum out of his mouth.  It makes me giggle sometimes but it totally works for him.

Quinton's writing has improved a lot as well.  Every time he does his nightly reading he shows off the writing to me to ask if it's good enough, or neat enough.  Each day he is improving little by little.  I still can't see his letters being capitals or small letters but it works for now.

This past month was hard on our little man.  He is so caught up with everything Otis I'm never sure what to do.  Lately he has been having nightmares and crying in his sleep.  So we put him in with our CTG and are going to sessions.  So far nothing has been said yet, as we had to reschedule his meetings, but I'm hoping we get some where with him.

Quinton's is slowly ready for the outside.  I'm pretty sure the nice weather we have been having is also helping out with him being more and more excited about going outside to play.  He asked if we could garden the other day.  I'm not ready for him to do the garden work yet, mainly cause the ground is still frozen but hey, whatever works right?

It was a fluke that I managed to get this shot.  Auntie Leah, Uncle Pat and baby Grayson had such a great Easter egg hunt that the boys were moving so fast.  Q loved his visit with them and loved the hunt! 

Kyler Update! ~ March

I promised myself that at least once a month I would make a post for each of the little men in my life.  Something to tell you what they have been doing and what they enjoy.

This one is for Kyler.

Kyler has now been 8 for a whole month.  In that time things have been a bit crazy (which I'm guessing is actually more "normal" than crazy).

Just before K turned 8 we started him to get assessed with the "Crisis Therapy Group".  They were great with him.  We had our first session right before his birthday and Arnold and I had our "Asses and Predict" session right at the end of March.  Everything is AOK with him.  They do "predict" that he will have some more sad moments and maybe hurt people but we need to keep our boundaries up and our rules to sort of "fence him into a safe place" as they told us.  Over all things are ok with him.

Kyler started to bring home chapter books from school.  The last few have been from the collection called "The Magic Tree House".  He enjoys them, as they are exactly 10 chapters in each book, which means about 1 chapter to 2 chapters a night and he can finish one in a week.  It's so much harder for him to read out loud so sometimes we do a chapter in his head and a chapter out loud.  He has really been enjoying this. 

He also brought home a "Flat Stanley" book.  I loved it!  There was so much he learned (in this one Stanley was in Egypt helping with a dig and catching bad guys).  Lots of new words.  Some harder than others but generally great for him.  I'm excited to see what book he brings home next.

Kyler is also loving the great outdoors.  In the past few weeks he has been wearing his new yellow and black runners.  He has told me, more than once, that they make him go faster.  You should have seen the look on his face when we told him it was time to send his winter coat and snowpants to the back hall and he could wear his new shoes all the time (unless it rained, then his new boots).  He was so excited.

I haven't had him ask for a soccer ball yet but I'm positive it's coming.  We also haven't "found" the soccer balls and outside toys yet.  We did clean the back yard but more of a clean the grass off than find the toys kind of thing.

I keep thinking Kyler hasn't grown that much until he tries on something from last year and I see just how small it is on him.  He hasn't been able to find a spring/summer/rain coat this year.  They are out but he just hasn't found one he likes.  Something is always wrong with them.  I'm *sure* he doesn't get that from me, right?  He put on a pair of size 7 pants the other day and it looked like I had shrunk them in the dryer.  It's not to put it past me but I know I didn't.  They have been around for a while, he just hasn't had them on lately.  I can tell for sure he has grown!  It's now size 8 or even 10's for him. 

Kyler is such a big help with his little brother, who has been having a lot of "Otis Days" as we like to call them.  Kyler is always there to give an extra hug or squeeze or remind him that we all love and miss Otis.  Just a few weeks ago I was doing something downstairs and it got really quiet upstairs.  You know that quiet I'm talking about.  The one where you are *sure* something is wrong?  Well Kyler was snuggling with Q in the back chair reading him a few books.  I love that part too.  They can read to each other.  It's something they both enjoy.

For Kyler's birthday in March we did rock climbing.  Kyler really enjoyed it.  I'm pretty sure Arnold has plans to take the boys again in May sometime.  They are starting to climb everything.  Just last weekend they were told to get out of Papa's tree at least 3 times!

Kyler got to visit with his Godmother Leah, Uncle Pat and baby Grayson.  I have to laugh at this picture every time!  I love Grayson's face, and it matches the look on K's face.  I swear if K looked like that and I looked over I'd have Grayson's look as well!

Well that's my update on Kyler!!

Friday, April 5, 2013

New Food Fridays #12 ~ Parmesan Orzo and Meatballs

Todays meal is from page 564

Happy Estimated Due Date Otis!

Every since the boys found out there was a baby in my belly they have known that this baby would come close to Quinton's Birthday.

Quinton feels the same way now.  Not that Otis will come now but that his birthday should be close to his.  Since there isn't really any "easy" way to explain this we have decided to have a little celebration tonight.

We found a local bakery and got some "mini cupcakes".  And tonight we are going out for dinner (keeping with our burger theme we are going to Five Guys and Fries).

When we come home we will celebrate our baby's EDD!

We love you Otis!

New Food Fridays #11 ~ Orange Teryaki Beef with Noodles

Todays meal comes from page 562

Monday, April 1, 2013

Marriage Mondays ~ Happy Easter!!

Lets just say this past weekend has been CRAZY!  I never got a chance to write up my Marriage Monday post.  I normally write them up a few days (maybe even a week) in advance and then spend some time praying about it.  Sometimes I change them, other times I leave them, and other still, I scrap the whole post.  It's just not what needs to be posted at this time.

This weekend was crazy with Easter time.  And instead of having time to post things I visited with family, friends, and had some naps!  Who doesn't love nap time?

Anyway... Instead of a Marriage Monday post.. you get to see my "bunnies" from this weekend!

Quinton, Grayson and Kyler