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Friday, December 10, 2010

Money

Warning.  This is going to be another one of those long and rambling posts about my current thoughts.  It's more a mental spew to clear my head and allow me to go back to cleaning and productiving.  You are under zero obligation to read it.

I have a love-hate relationship with money.

On the one hand, I love playing with numbers.  I have a pretty detailed spreadsheet saved to my computer with our budget.  I love going in and figuring out how much money we have to spend, how much goes to what bills, how much is leftover for just… whatever.  I love figuring out how much faster our mortgage will be paid off if we paid this much every month, or that much. If we gave up this luxury, we'd only pay it off a month faster, but that luxury would pay it off a year faster.  I love the challenge of living within a small paycheck knowing it's for the greater good...

… sometimes.

Other times I hate it.  I hate having to save for months and months and months for a new washer and dryer, then realizing that money would be better served on upgrading BJ's laptop.  Since that is where our extra income comes from.  And then starting to save up again.  I hate seeing projects I want to do, but knowing that I don't have the budget for it.  I want to scan all of my pictures so I can get rid of the physical copy and clear up space in my closet.  But our scanner doesn't work, and even if it did, I don't have the time it would take to scan, crop, and color-correct all of my pictures.  I'd really love to just pay someone else to do it.  But with what money?  I would love to buy organic when I can, but my grocery budget is too low to allow for that.  Speaking of groceries, I realized the other day that winter is much more expensive for groceries, because I have to actually buy my produce (minus the little bit I was able to can.)

I love paying a lot on our mortgage.  I love saving money every month for various long- and short-term goals.  I love watching our mortgage shrink and our savings grow.  It makes me giggle and squeal inside.  But for everything that doesn't fall under those very limited categories, I hate money.  I hate seeing those large sums of money going to something that isn't want I want Right Now.

I feel very, very blessed for having the income that we do.  I know it's a really hard time to find jobs right now.  I know so many people who are struggling to make ends meet.  I feel so guilty being sad about not getting a new washer and dryer right now when I know people who have to use the laundromat, especially since our current washer and dryer work just fine.  (Well, if drying everything at least twice counts as "fine."  Which it probably does, if I'm honest.)  I thank God every night for our abundant blessings.  We really have so much more than we need.  We try to give, and often.  I honestly don't think we'd be worthy of a good income if we didn't give to those with less who have more need.  We try to make that a priority.  Really.  We are blessed.  I am grateful for what we have.  I'm grateful for where we are.  I'm grateful for where I know we're headed.

But sometimes I lose sight of that and decide I want something… and hate money.

And you know what's weird?  I'm actually quite grateful that I hate money.  I'm glad I grew up poor so I could learn that I can be happy without the best of everything.  I'm glad I was forced to work growing up so that I could learn how to garden, knit, crochet, sew, cook, can, etc. I'm glad I paid my way through school so that I could gain the value of education and money.  I'm glad I had to take out student loans so that I could feel the burden of debt and know that I never want that again.  I'm grateful for a mortgage so that I can learn how fast I can pay it off and how much money I can save by sacrificing now.  And hopefully I'll someday be able to use that knowledge to save money for our next house to buy it in cash and not have to pay interest.  And so that I can teach my children the importance of interest and saving.  I'm glad I have to do without, even though I hate, hate, hate it.  Because then when I do get something, I appreciate it a lot more.  I respect the value of frugality and quality.  I'm learning how important it is to simplify.  I've noticed a lot lately how the plague of Entitlement is sweeping our nation.  I've seen it hit people I know well and care about very hard.  I've mourned for them.  I see it in myself.  I have been weakened by it.  But the fear of debt is much greater than the longing for Entitlement.  I am grateful for struggling, for overcoming, for hindsight so that I can look forward and do better.  So that I can budget, save, and still have money to splurge and enjoy life.  I'm so grateful that we have the money to provide for our family and still have plenty to help others.  I'm glad that my current monetary struggles are of my own making.  I live on a dime, not because we're struggling, but because we're focused on bigger and better goals.  And I don't think we would have ever gotten to the point of being willing to sacrifice now in order to not have to sacrifice later if it hadn't been for the struggles.

And with all that said, I can't wait until we get our tax return.  [crosses fingers that we'll actually get a tax return]

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Going in circles

Though the title of this blog could quite possibly be referencing my mental state of mind, it's actually referring to Kessa. Remember how she started walking recently?  Well, she didn't really do much more walking for the next several days.  The last day or two, however, she's been doing it more and more.  Today (maybe yesterday?  My brain is shot) she started walking on her own.  Meaning, without any assistance from us.  Before that time she'd start walking by holding our fingers, or at the very least we'd stand her up and she'd start walking.  But in the last day or two, she's started standing herself up and walking without any prompting from anyone else.

Tonight was the funniest ever.  She kept going for probably at least 10 minutes after we turned off the camera and had been going for several minutes beforehand, too.  It cracked me up.  Love it.



And then we end with a kiss.  Fer cute. :D

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Simple Acts

BJ found this nifty little site today on lds.org.  It appears to have only been up for a month or so.  I think it's a pretty nifty little thing. Utilize the vast population of the church to do little things here and there to finish huge projects. I worked in digitizing family history books for a long time and we'd get lots of senior missionaries to come help us do the little things, and it made a HUGE difference. It saves the Church, no doubt, millions of dollars a year in paychecks alone when people are willing to volunteer and serve in the little things.

I've been working on Compare Paragraphs. It's hard because I'm comparing German texts, but it's also kind of satisfying. But word to the wise: don't do it when your eyes are tired.  :D

Simple Acts Logo

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Step, step, step

Tonight BJ and I donated blood at the Red Cross.  We took Kessa with us so we wouldn't have to find a babysitter and just took turns donating blood.  She was adorable.  While I was donating blood, BJ would bring her over to where she could see me and she'd wave and say, "Hi!"  So cute.  She also kept trying to crawl under the Christmas Tree.



Then we switched and Kessa ate snacks with me.  Then she kept wanting to crawl over to Daddy while he was giving blood, and I just didn't think that'd be a good idea.  Sanitation and all that jazz.  So I distracted her by going back over to the Christmas tree.  When we turned the corner, the tree was on the far side of the room.  She was walking while holding my finger, so I pulled my finger out, figuring she'd take 2-4 steps then fall and crawl the rest of the way.  Because that's what she's been doing for a month or two now.  But to my surprise, she just kept going.  Walked the whole length of the room!  We played with the tree for a bit (she's learning the words Ball, Star, and Heart from our ornaments, so I was asking her, "Where's the ball?" and she'd point to the nearest one.) then went back and told Daddy about her newest accomplishment!  He was duly impressed. Then we went back to the tree and she walked the length of the room again!  I was much more excited than she was, I think.

I let her walk towards Daddy several times so that he could see her, then I'd just stop and drag her back when she got too close to the donation room.  When BJ got done, we had her walk to him several times.  Then we decided to take a video.  Because we have an iPod and can do that.  (Hence the lower quality than usual for picture and video.)

video

Isn't she just so cute?!  I love watching her walk and tumble at the end.  She won't stand up after a fall yet.  She'll just keep crawling.  And she only walks if I stand her up first.  So she's still got a little bit to go before I declare her an official walker, but as far as milestones go, I'm going to totally count this one.

Monday, November 15, 2010

More Hats!

I've been having way too much fun with hats lately.  After my last post about hats, a friend of mine commissioned* a bunch of newborn and toddler hats.  In trying to get sizes right, I ended up making a few more, but I figured that was fine, I'd just keep them for myself to give away.  I have plenty of people I wanna make hats for anyway.  But she loved them so much, she bought them all.  My favorite is the pink one in front.  Hence why it's in front.  :)  You can see that there are a coupla hats that are exactly the same except size.


I want to start making adult hats, too, so I started by making me one.  Because, let's be honest, if I'm making all these hats, I certainly deserve one for myself.  My first attempt was a ridiculous failure.  It's still sitting in my crochet bag, mourning its sad existence.  Next time I need that yarn I'm just going to rip it all out.  It's that bad.  But that's what I get for just trying to make it up.  So I went and found a pattern and ended up finding this one. It's probably the hardest thing I've ever crocheted.  Mostly because I couldn't figure out the pattern.  (And looking at the comments, I wasn't alone.) But once I figured out the pattern, it got pretty easy.  It's also super thick because the pattern on top is basically on top of a layer of hat underneath.  Which, hopefully, will keep my ears nice and cozy warm all winter. (Note BJ in the background finally getting around to playing Zelda: Twilight Princess. I think he got it for his birthday.  In March. He's just been so busy programming!)

Front:

Top: 

And then tonight I finished another hat for Jeri (the friend who bought all the hats).  Ok, it looks kind of funny laying down by itself, but the lighting on Photobooth was horrible and you couldn't see the pattern in the stitches or the color at all.  Maybe when Jeri comes to get it I'll make her pose for a picture.  Haha.  I'm kind of proud of this one because I made up the pattern as I went.  It's all based off other hats I've made with patterns, but I've never been able to convert into an adult hat.  Today I had a brain wave and this is the result:


*If anyone else is interesting in purchasing a hat, I charge $10 for newborn, $12 for toddler and $15 for adult.  (Except that fancy shmancy cream-colored one I'm charging $18 for because of the difficulty and because it uses about twice as much yarn.)  I can customize colors.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thanks!

It all started a month or so ago at our last Relief Society meeting that was done much like Homemaking of yesteryear.  We made cards and Boo Blocks.  (3 blocks with scrapbooking paper and the letters B-O-O modge podged on.)  And I realized that although I'm not really crafty, I really enjoy being crafty.  (I know some of you are scoffing at that statement because of the hats I've been making, but that's a different genre of crafty that I'm talking about.)

It continued when I went to Roberts the other day to get some yarn and they had a table set up of Christmas crafts and instructions of how to make them.  A couple of those crafts mixed with my desire to have some sort of Thanksgiving decor.

The result?  I was crafty!


Like, I came up with the idea (not the idea of how to do it, but the specific idea of my craft), I picked the word (creative, I know), I picked the paper (probably the hardest part), the paint and splurged on modge podge.  Who knew I'd someday own that stuff?  I did all the work, made all the mistakes, and learned all the lessons.

The result?



What do you think?  How'd I do on my color/pattern choices?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Impromptu Photo Shoot

Recently I noticed that my favorite pictures of Kessa are the close-ups.  So when she was being cute, I grabbed the camera and played.  Here are some of my favorites:





And now one just for fun.
She loves our Wii Remotes.  A lot.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Hats!

I realized the other day as Kessa and I were going out to the library that it was cold and Kessa didn't have any hats anymore!  The ones I made her last year were now WAY too small.  So I started poking around on Ravelry to find some toddler hats.  My first attempt failed miserably.  It looked more like a little pink China hat.  Y'know, like these:




So I kept looking and found a promising pattern.  I pulled out my brown yarn (because it just matches so much!) and tried again.  Success!  It was filled with big stitches for most of it, like hdc and dc so it went a lot faster.  At first Kessa didn't want to wear it when I put it on to make sure it fit, but after I showed it to her in the mirror, she loved it and wore it for most of the day!  She loves looking out our bedroom window and I loved the leaves in the background with her hat and sunflower (which I made awhile back).  Isn't it cute?



 And then BJ told me that his coworker's baby was having a birthday party that night.  Of course, by the time he got home and we ate dinner, it was way too late to go.  So we watched Planet Earth while I crocheted another hat, this time in red.  And then I decided to make a flower to go with it.  I had to play with the pattern to make the various sized flowers and totally made up the circle in the center, but in the end, I was quite pleased.  Part of me really didn't want to give it away.  It's just too cute and festive!  Haha.  Guess I'll just have to make another one for Kessa!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

It has begun



Which, btw, makes covering a garden for frost and picking all the things you can't save really difficult and cold.  It was like reliving childhood (well, the gardening portion).  Except I was doing it willingly.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Uncle DelRoy

Uncle DelRoy was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year.  It's been a very long and hard road for his wife, Alease and his family.  But he's improving a little at a time.  Before my parents went to the MTC, DelRoy and Alease came to visit between Conference sessions.

Here's my mom and DelRoy.  They have always gotten along fabulously.  My mom likes to tell us kids that the two of them have never fought.  Ever.  I think she liked to try to convince us that it was possible for siblings not to fight and that we should be like them.  We figured that we'd all already fought, so we'd ruined our chances already.  :)

Dad and Alease, on the other hand, make up for Mom and DelRoy not fighting.  They have a relationship full of playful dislike.  Even when Dad was coming out of the anesthetic after his triple bypass, Aunt Alease came in and said hi and he responded with something like, "Oh no!  What are you doing here?!"  When he fully woke up, he didn't even remember her coming in.  But we all secretly know that they really enjoy each other's company.  And now we have proof!  Here they are hugging for a picture.  See?  Dad even is squeezing her shoulder and pulling her in!  We caught them hugging like that when they said goodbye and we pulled out the cameras.  Dad didn't want to redo it for a picture.  He tried very hard to get out of it saying that it'd end up on the Internet and everyone would see it!  Well Dad, you were right.  :D

Handprints

Jalin and I had the brilliant idea to make Mom and Dad a tablecloth out of a sheet for their mission, with handprints of all their kids and grandkids.  When Jalin spent the week with me we put all the names of kids and grandkids in crossword form on it, using freezer paper.  We added the handprints while we were all at my parents' house.

Here we have Jalin being the mean big sister and pushing me!  Or rather, pushing my hands into the tablecloth to get all the paint off my hands and onto the fabric.  Whatever.  (And Spencer in the background wearing his Eric the Half-a-bee hat that Travis gave him out of his box of stuff.)

Ahhh!  My hands are bleeding!!!!

And me returning the favor and pushing Jalin's hands.  Bwahaha. 

Her hands are bleeding, too.  But she seems happy about it.  Weirdo.  ;) 

Kim also had bleeding hands.  What crazy people we are!

BJ apparently did just fine all by himself.  He doesn't need any big sisters to push him around.  And since his hands were blue afterwards, we didn't take a picture of his bleeding hands.

Farewell Dinner

After my parents talked in church that Sunday, we ate dinner and visited in their backyard.  We thought it would be appropriate to make dinner (largely grown in their garden) in a milk can and serve it in a (very fancy) trough.


It was super yummy.

Bailey taught Lexi how to play tennis.

While the adults sat and talked.  And Travis took pictures.

And I took a picture of Travis.  Just to prove that his camera isn't actually growing out of his face.  (And so my iPhoto will actually know what he looks like when I'm tagging faces.)

We had our family photo taken.  In the wind.  With lots of dust.
I think we should use this one for the final photo, don't you think?

Oh, and my parents gave their couch to Uncle DelRoy.  They put it in this big, old truck that Uncle Craig was taking back to Utah.  BJ later fell right through (only one leg, though) the bed of this old truck.  Got some great bruises out of it.  And here we thought stuff like that only happened in the movies!

Idaho Cleanup

The weekend of my parents' mission "farewell" most of us kids went up to my parents' house and helped clean out stuff. (Damian and his family moved into my parents' house, so they (being my parents) had to do a lot more to get ready to go.  Namely, emptying their house.)  Mostly we helped by going through all our old stuff that is being stored at their house.  And having way too much fun reminiscing and playing.

Turns out Travis is still really good with the hula hoop.


Even Tamra (and many other kids not pictured here) got into it.

 Brandon got shot in the forehead with a dart and got a nail put through his head.

Here is Jalin and Travis going through their stuff together.

"Oh my goodness!  Guess what I found!  IAMSOEXCITED!"

"My baby blanket!"

Travis was a good boy scout.  He was also very generous and gave a lot of of his old stuff to Jalin's kids.  (Poor Jalin and Brett had their car stuffed to the max to get all of that stuff, plus much of Jalin's old stuff, plus all the stuff they brought with them, plus 6 kids and 2 adults.)


Brett also helped out with the cleaning.  
By stuffing more and more and more into the garbage can.  
Tee hee.

The cousins had a great time together, too.
Here is Tamra helping Kessa drink her bottle.

And eat her spaghetti.

Though, Kessa decided that she could do it herself.  
But it's much better with two forks.

Tamra was worn out after all that work.  She had her bed in the closet. 

 Hmm… this cousins' section is turning into a Tamra section.  She's just too cute!
Here she is making friends with Taegen.  Aren't they just so cute together?

It was fun getting together with siblings and cousins.  (And grandparents' of course!)
Let's all do it again soon, k?

Canning

Ok, so I love to can.  My 12-year old self continues to hate the current me.  It makes me laugh how much I've changed since then.  I've even taken to canning at home.  Without my mom.  (Except periodic phone calls, of course.)  It's pure craziness.  I didn't do a good job of keeping track of everything I canned this year, though.  Sorry.  (Mostly I apologize to myself, who thinks that list could be quite impressive on a blog.  Perhaps not keeping track is good for my pride.  Keep myself more humble.)  But there were lots of pickles.  (Tragically those take 2 months to sit in a jar and finish pickling before they're ready to eat.  So I haven't eaten any yet.  I have no idea how they taste. I'll let you know how that goes.)  There's been spaghetti sauce.  Beets.  Peaches. Pears.  Applesauce (for my neighbor, Kristin).  Apple pie filling.  Apricot jam.  Just all sorts of yumminess!  And a few pictures, of course.

This is my neighbor, Kristin, and her very first jar of peaches ever.
She was super excited.

Kessa was being needy while we canned, so while I peeled peaches, I plopped Kessa in the neighboring sink.  Which she loved.  She also tried to eat the green tomatoes I had sitting in my windowsill, but found they were much more fun to plop in the sink of water and watch them float.

And in non-peaches, these are my very first ever beets done by myself.  In fact, they are the very first non-jam product that I have canned all by myself.  I was quite proud.  And yes, they are quite tasty.  (For all of you gagging yourself right now, they are Harvard beets, which have a very sweet sauce on them.  Making them divine.)

Dinnertime photo shoot

I mentioned that Kessa loves to eat corn on the cob.  Well, last post you only got to see her eat raw corn.  She loves it cooked, too.  We invited Travis over for dinner one night and had some corn on the cob.  My camera was handy, so he grabbed it and they had this impromptu photo shoot.  He got some super cute photos that I love.  Here are some highlights.  (Though, I just realized that she's not actually eating corn in three of these photos.  Mostly just her bread.  She loves both, though.  Either way, they're still way too cute.)