Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Monday, December 27, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Hi! My name is Brenden and this is my mommy's, and sometimes my daddy's, blog. My mommy asked me to write a Christmas letter for everyone. I wanted to just keep typing the letter "B", which is my favorite letter, but mommy said no. Then I wanted to type the number "3" over and over again because it's my number, but she said no to that, too. (She says no a lot.) She wanted me to tell everyone about our family and how great our year was, so I guess I'll do that.
Daddy works so hard! I love going to see him at work. I also love when he comes home and plays games with me. His knee is feeling much better but I thought it was fun to steal his crutches when he needed them. He is the best daddy ever and I want to be big and strong like him someday.
Mommy plays with me all day and lets me watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Super Why, but only if I ask nicely. She also learned how to cook fried chicken, which I love to dip in honey, and figured out that I will eat second helpings of spaghetti as long as it's got garlic Alfredo sauce on it. I like to tell my mommy that I love her all day long.
I'm 3 so I'm a big boy now!. This year I learned how to wear big boy underwear and I sleep in a big boy bed with my big boy blanket. Sometimes I sleep with other things, like my favorite light saber, my favorite basketball, or my favorite Riley. I know almost all my letters and sometimes I remember the sounds some of them make. I have lots of friends and my mommy said that I will be going to school soon! I want to go to school please, please please! My friends Connor and Jake, who ride bikes with me outside, go to school and I think it sounds like it will be sooooo cool!
Lauren is my little sister and my favorite girl. She came out of mommy's belly in April. She's not like me, she's little. She likes to crawl around and follow me and try to play with my toys. Sometimes I'm nice and I let her. She eats a lot and drinks a lot of milk and then sleeps a bunch. Mommy said that's what babies do. She can talk a little bit now and I try to repeat what she says. "Dada", "baba", "yaya", and "kih-shay" are her favorite words. She can also quack like a duck, which makes me laugh.
My grandmas, grandpas, uncles, aunts, great-grandmas and great-grandpas are all some of my favorite people. Mommy says I'm spoiled but I don't know what that word means. I think it means I love to see them because they are so much fun!
I gotta go now. Wipeout is coming on and that's my favorite show. Oh, mommy said to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
When you first see your baby you see perfection, and my babies were no exception. Little baby fingers and toes, tiny eyelashes, and hair softer than you could ever imagine. Eventually you realize that they have their flaws, and my kids definitely have them, but those flaws never matter.
Brenden had eczema and it was awful. At first we we were told it was just regular cradle cap and we scrubbed it like they told us to. Have you ever dealt with eczema? Scratching and rubbing are the worst things you could ever do. The poor boy couldn't grow hair and had to sleep with socks on his hands to keep him from making new scratches at night. One trip to the allergist at 7 months, some Allegra and some Protopic, and he was so much better.
Oh! I scratched my head!
I love Lauren's beautiful blue eyes, but her right eye has always been a problem. From the first day it was runny and eventually it got to the point where it would seal shut overnight from the gunkiness. Then it became red, itchy, and we had to constantly clean the green goop off of it. This was not an ideal situation. Her pediatrician diagnosed her with a tear duct that was too small at her 2 week appointment. She said that it would eventually open up and all of her symptoms would go away. She also explained that we needed to massage from the corner of her eye and down the side of her nose several times a day.
Her poor eye!
For months we waited to see some improvement. Antibiotics always helped, the eye drops the doctor gave us helped, but it never lasted. We were always back to cleaning it, always back to worrying about the redness. Then, I took her to see the mean doctor who told me she needed a tube. He handed me the prescription for antibiotics and told me to use a warm compress on her eye. Two days later...it was completely better. What's more, she hasn't had any redness, it hasn't been runny, and she has stopped scratching at it.
SO much better!
I took her back to her regular pediatrician this past Monday and she proclaimed her ears to be "perfect." Then I asked about her eye. She's not sure if it was ready to open, the antibiotics took care of it, the warm compress helped, or a combination, but she said that her eye looks wonderful. We could not be happier!
Now, if we could just get Brenden to go to the bathroom by himself without a huge showdown and teach Lauren to crawl on her knees and not her belly so she'll stop spitting up, we'd be good to go!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
I'm not sure how often Dave Ramsey comes up with our friends anymore, but we are HUGE fans. Haven't heard of him? Check him out. He can absolutely change your life. He changed ours. He changed our friends' Heather and Tony's. Is it hard? Oh my gosh, yes. Does it cause arguments that become agreements that become amazing achievements? Oh yeah. Is it worth it? YES.
We first started our path to financial freedom in 2007 after Tim had been listening to Dave at work. (We feel like we can call him just Dave. He's cool like that.) He liked the ideas and decided that he needed to read the book. He wasn't even halfway through before he was converted to Dave's ways. I didn't fall in line quite so easily. I was about 2 months pregnant, always a bad time for new changes, and was not ready to give up my me me me centered attitude when it came to money. Eventually, and I don't know how he did it, Tim convinced me that this plan would be a good thing.
We started on the baby steps and quickly moved on to Step 2, the Debt Snowball. It's an easy concept. You list your debts, smallest to largest, paying only the minimum payment to all of them except the smallest, which you throw all of your extra money towards. When that pays off you roll whatever that payment was into the next debt, and so on and so on. That was the easy part. The hard part? Making a budget and sticking to it. Only spending a set amount of money going out to eat? Harder than I thought. Not buying something if we didn't have the money for it? Wow...difficult. Impulse buys were out the window.
We sold Tim's Mazda that we both loved and he started driving a truck that my parents didn't need anymore. (Thank you SO MUCH Mom and Dad! You helped us move forward so much faster!) When our credit cards were paid off we moved their limit down to $1000.00 and eventually canceled them all. (Before you freak out, that's part of the plan. I promise it makes sense.) We used money that was gifted to us that would have normally gone towards frivolous things, like a new television when our old one still worked fine, or trips to the mountains, and paid off the balance on my car. We started making payments towards our mortgage twice a month. We were doing well.
This is called a "plastectomy". Yes, Tim is cutting up our credit card. It was awesome.
And yes, our 7 month old son was HUGE. And way to close to scissors.
Things were not always smooth. Sometimes we messed up and bought things we should not have bought. Some things happened that were out of our control, like our house not selling immediately when we left Colorado. We lived with Tim's parents. (Thanks for dealing with us Mike and Connie!) We lived in a 900 square foot house with most of our belongings stored in the garage. We worked through everything, Tim diligently doing the budget and I following the rules, and it didn't get us down.
When we finally got a contract on our house there was an enormous difference that we had to come up with to pay off the remaining mortgage balance, realtor fees, an incentive to the buyers, and several other things. We had saved a portion of it but were looking at a loan through our bank, USAA, to take care of the rest. The loan came with a hefty interest rate, 11.75%, but we really needed to sell the house and were will to do whatever it took. Then, Tim's parents stepped up and said that they would give us a loan through their credit union. The interest rate was considerably less and we were able to fit a good sized monthly payment into our budget. Grateful doesn't even begin to cover it.
Month after month, Tim did all that he could to make the balance go down. I would get random updates from him. "Only $7500 or so left." "We're really getting close. Only $2350, now." He was ready to see it gone. And this past Friday we were able to make it a Christmas present to ourselves:
That is an real picture from our loan statement. Tim sent me a copy with with the balance circled. ZERO! I cannot begin to explain just how happy this makes us. It means that we are only one step away from being totally debt free. (We only have my student loan left and we plan on paying that off by the end of next year.) It means that we are so close to being able to save for the house that we really want. We're so close to being able to contribute to the kid's college funds like we should be. We're so close to doing all the things we want so desperately to do.
Thank you to our parents for helping us out in every way possible. Loans, giving us a place to live, a car to drive. Every little thing helped us get to where we are. I cannot wait to get to where we are going so we can give back!
Thank you, Heather and Tony, for becoming our debt busting buddies. I'm so happy Tony thought it was weird that Tim always came home to eat lunch and finally asked him why. Seeing all of your accomplishments has really inspired us. You have done such a great job!
And finally, thank you, Tim, for realizing what our lives could be like and working so hard to make it happen. I cannot believe what you have been able to accomplish. Over $70,000 worth of debt, not including the house, paid off in less than 4 years? You. Are. AMAZING.
(And just so everyone knows, I wasn't paid in any way to promote Dave Ramsey, his Total Money Makeover, or my friend's blog. If anyone would like to pay me, feel free! Although I doubt I could make you much money with the 3 people that read my blog.) :)
Monday, December 20, 2010
Tim has often told me that I need to learn how to cut hair to save money. I have often told him he's crazy. However, I decided to try it once and if it was awful I'd never do it again. Of course I had to try right before we went to see Santa, right before all the Christmas pictures. No...I do not plan well.
All I had were our dog clippers, which Tim assured me would work just fine. After bribing Brenden with ice cream ("CHOCOLATE ice cream, mommy"), setting up a chair and a sheet to catch the hair, and turning on a movie, I set to work.
Do you think he'll hate me forever?
Not terrible, but not great.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Eight months...wow. I swear Lauren was just born, yet here she is, a little person with so much strength, so much personality. She's our little thinker, an observer. When she first picks something up it doesn't go directly into her mouth. It will make it there eventually, but she'll examine every angle of it first. If she figures something out then she's good to go, there's no stopping her!
This month she has learned so much. She's crawling like crazy, even though it's only an Army crawl, but it gets her around. She's pulled up a few times and has even let go of my hands to reach for something. Once, she let go of Tim's hands and fell straight forward. So scary! But we were all okay.
Off I go!
Her other new found development is the control of her hands. She is picking up food and feeding herself and, most importantly, waving like crazy. She'll also sign "milk" and has tried to get the hang of "more" and "all done". I'm sure, if we keep working with her, she'll be signing away in no time.
Thanksgiving we were so thankful to be with family, and very thankful that Lauren's first 2 teeth popped through without any major complaints. I think she's as amazed by them as I am. I often find her running her tongue over them or gnawing on her fingers just to see what they feel like. They are, by far, the 2 cutest baby teeth I've ever seen.
She was helping me wrap presents.
Lauren, you have changed so much in such a small amount of time. Every day I am surprised at what you can do, and I know that you will continue to amaze me. We love you!
8 Months Old!
Friday, December 10, 2010
Awhile back I had some problems with a cyst in the end of my finger. I felt so silly going in complaining about the end of my finger hurting. It's not like my hand was broken, but it hurt for a really long time and I eventually got sick of it. I'm glad I had it checked out and it finally healed on it's own. Now, it's not my finger, but my toe. It's been hurting on and off for over a year and after I wore heels at my brother's wedding in October my toe went completely numb. Two weeks later it was still numb and I realized that I really needed to go in.
The first appointment they took x-rays and checked to make sure that it wasn't a problem in the joint or with the bone. When nothing showed up the doctor decided that it was capsulitis and treated it with a cortisone shot right into the joint. Can you say OUCH? I could feel the pain all the way up my leg. A few weeks later I went back and since I was still in pain he thought that there was a nerve that was involved. He poked around on my ankle, which was strange, but it actually caused pain in my toe. He gave me another shot in my leg to try to calm down the nerve and set another appointment to check up on my progress.
Yesterday I went back and, based on the fact that the pain is now constant, he has decided it is definitely the ligament and not the nerve. If it had been a nerve problem he would have referred me to a back specialist to make sure that I didn't have arthritis or some other problem that was causing nerve damage. (That was a scary thought!) He gave me yet another shot into my joint, which hurt soooo badly, and if this doesn't work then the next step is surgery.
Surgery! I am not looking forward to the idea of that. He would have to go in and reattach the ligament correctly. I cannot imagine how long it would take to recover from that, especially having to run after two kids all day long. I'd rather have 10 more ridiculously painful shots than have surgery.
I guess I should ask Santa for an easy fix for my foot. Anyone have a direct line to the big man?
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Lauren has another ear infection. I am not at all surprised by this, especially since I think it's an extension of the ear infection that she had right before Thanksgiving. I held back from taking her to the doctor because I thought it might just be her teeth, but she had no problems with her first two teeth that came in. (Oh, I didn't mention she has two teeth?? She does! And they are the cutest baby teeth I've ever seen!)
At about 4:45 pm yesterday she woke up screaming from a nap. She had a few restless nights before that, but they were nothing compared to this. I didn't want to wait until the next day so I took to her Med Now, which we've never had a problem with. Everyone was super nice until the doctor came in. I could tell immediately that I wasn't going to be happy with him. "She looks like she feels just fine," was the first thing he said to me. I wanted to say, "Well then YOU come hang out with her at 3 am when she's screaming and can't sleep."
The exam was no better. Instead of having her lay down he made me hold her. She was not happy about that at all and was more upset than I have ever seen her at the doctor's office, except for shots of course. He didn't say a word to me the entire time and I finally had to ask if there was anything wrong. Eventually he said that her right ear was infected. "So, antibiotics?" His response was practically "Well DUH."
I was already frustrated at that point when he told me that she would probably need a tube in that ear. He's only seen her once, how could he possibly know that? Yes, she's had three ear infections, but she also had a tear duct that is too small that will probably need to be dilated after she is a year old. Her right ear is the one that gets infected the most and I feel like her eye is a contributing factor. Also, Brenden had a ton of ear infections until he was 18 months old. Since then he's only had one and that was when he had pink eye so badly. He outgrew them and I want to give Lauren a chance to outgrow them as well.
I think the worst part was when he told me that without a tube she would definitely be developmentally delayed. Tim had to have tubes when he was smaller because he wasn't talking and he had no problems after that. Lauren is talking and babbling and not showing any signs of delay at all. When I mentioned that to this doctor he completely disregarded what I was saying and told me that he was sure that Tim had to go to special classes to catch up. I finally realized that he was the type of person that believes he is always right and nothing I could say would make a difference.
We will definitely be going to her regular pediatrician to follow up. When Lauren had her first ear infection the doctor really didn't want to give her any antibiotics until it was absolutely necessary, so I think she's less likely to jump to the tube conclusion.
Obviously my opinion could change if this ear infection just never seems to go away or another symptom shows up. I'm not so set in my belief that she doesn't need a tube that I can't change my mind. No matter what, we're going to make the best choice for her that we can, which I think is what all parents try to do for their children.
I'd also like to thank everyone that gave me their opinion on facebook. It's always great to hear different ideas. Facebook might be a giant time drain, but it's also an awesome way to get advice. Thank you all!
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
This year we decided to try to miss out on a slippery, icy voyage to Colorado in December and instead headed out for Thanksgiving. It was fabulous! We even had a few days where it was warm enough to be outside for longer than 2 minutes.
The best thing, besides sleeping in all the time (Thank you again Karen and Rick!) was that Brenden and Lauren were able to see their great-grandma Pat. I am so happy about that.
A quick run down of everything we were able to fit in to one week:
A wonderful visit with friends on Sunday. Brenden is still asking to see his friend.
A trip to the Butterfly Pavilion. We got to hang out with Rosie the Tarantula, pet a sea star, and stay warm while seeing some gorgeous butterflies.
A trip to the Denver Children's Museum. I highly recommend it for anyone with small children. They have something for all of them! Both kids had a great time playing in the train room, shopping in the grocery store, playing with bubbles and painting.
Thanksgiving was so very yummy! My favorite dish? Karen's sweet potatoes. I'll have to put that recipe up someday.
Friday we took family pictures. A huge thanks to Karen for doing these for us. They turned out great! We were also able to see our friends Anne-Marie, Shebree and James, and meet little Parker. It was awesome!
Even though we woke up late on Saturday, we were still able to make it home at a decent time. Surprisingly, the trip only took 12 hours and we didn't feel like we were going to pull our hair out. I did spend the last hour lounging on the cooler that was between the kids in the back, but it went by quickly.
One last thing...we have to say THANK YOU to Mike and Connie for letting us borrow their Expedition. The dvd player, wireless headphones (which Brenden called earrings) and navigation were great!
Even if we had stayed at the house, doing nothing all day, it still would have been a great trip because we were able to see our family. Thank you Karen, Rick, Pat, Jason and Chrissy for making our Thanksgiving trip perfect.