Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I don't know what to title this post. I don't really even know what to write. I'm sure words will just flow, but they are not organized in my head like my posts sometimes are.

I don't know how to really express what I'm feeling and make anyone understand. And the truth is, even if I did, the only ones who would really get it are the ones who have been in my shoes.

I fear judgement. I don't know why. I usually don't care what others think of me. I just try to be me. But this part of me is the most vulnerable part of me that has ever existed. It is terrifying to put it out there for others to read and form opinions on.

I am pregnant. This is my third pregnancy in the last year. Less than a year, really. It wasn't exactly planned, but it wasn't really unplanned either. We thought we would wait a while still after our second loss in July. But things just didn't work out that way. I am now 6 1/2 weeks.

I have debated whether or not to share, who to share with, etc. We have never been secret keepers. But this news isn't the exciting kind like our first pregnancies were. We now know a new reality. Pregnancy does not equal baby. It should, but it doesn't always.

So it hasn't been easy to figure out how to tell someone. When they congratulate me and ask how I'm feeling I don't know quite what to say. I don't know how to express myself without sounding completely pessimistic. Because I'm not! I really, really am not! I just DON'T KNOW!! It's early. And I don't know if this will be like the last two or if third time's a charm. And no matter what anyone says, they don't know either.

So I've told a few close friends and family. People I know will understand me. And they really have. I've been able to talk openly about how I feel, positive or negative.

I had decided in my head that no matter what, I wasn't going to announce a pregnancy and a miscarriage on the same day again, like last time. That was horrible. And I don't want to do it. But I've wondered how and when I wanted the world to know.

I finally decided tonight. On Sunday I will be 7 weeks and 1 day pregnant. July 25th of this year was also a Sunday. I was also 7 weeks and 1 day pregnant. It's too familiar and there has been so much fear in my heart in that realization!

I need people to know. I need people to know that regardless of the outcome I love these babies. They are my babies! I am their mother. How could I not love them, even if only for a short time? I hope with everything I have that I will hold this one in my arms. But if I can't, I need the world to know that it hurts. I know I'll be okay, but it will be so, so hard! And facing that unknown is just so terrifying.

So far things are looking good. At least as far as we can tell. I knew immediately that I was pregnant. I was barely 3 weeks. Meaning that technically I'd only been pregnant for barely a week. I took a home test and it was surprisingly positive that early. I immediately called my doctor, as he'd advised me. They got me in a couple of hours later.

The urine test at the doctor's office came back negative. The lab tech apologized. I told her it was fine. I still knew I was pregnant. I have been through it five times. I know how it feels. So I asked her if we could do a blood test to confirm. She said they don't generally approve a blood test without a positive urine test. I asked her to check anyway. My doctor heard my name and immediately signed the referral.

Jason was confused by the results. He picked up a digital test (the first home test had been regular) and asked me to take one. It came back negative. I knew it would. It was early and I had been chugging water all day. We were testing water.

An hour later the blood test confirmed what I already knew. I was pregnant. Betas were low. Only 14. Just proved that it was still early.

They ordered another draw a week later. That one came back 139. It was doubling every 1.2 days instead of every 48 hours, like it was supposed to. A good sign. But still too low for a sonogram to pick anything up. We needed to be at least at 1200.

So the doctor started me on hormone supplements and scheduled another draw a week later. This time we were hoping for at least 1200. We hit over 9,000. Someone said to me, "Either you're having triplets or that baby's on steroids!" I said I'd take what I could get but one steroid baby would be just fine.

My doctor won't be in the office much for the holidays so the sonogram isn't scheduled until the 10th. A week from Friday. I'm anxious, terrified, nervous, excited, fearful, hopeful, you name it I feel it. I just want to get there and to know. I want to see that heartbeat. I want confirmation.

But even then, I don't know if we will make it further. Anything can happen. And I suppose I'll feel that for quite a while, until we either lose the baby or I've gotten far enough along to ease some of my anxiety.

In the mean time please pray for us. Of course I'd love for you to pray for this sweet baby. Pray for it to grow and grow and grow!! But really, what I need is prayers for me. Prayers that I will be able to accept the Lord's will no matter what that is.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Christmas Cards!!!!

We are completely inconsistent about holiday cards. Some years we do them, some years we don't. And usually they're cheap and not so cute when we do. But GETTING holiday cards is one of my favorite things about Christmas time! I love catching up with everyone and seeing cute family pictures. It's so fun to go to the mailbox and find a fun CARD instead of bills or junk mail!!

This year shutterfly is giving away 50 free holiday cards to bloggers! So of course we're taking advantage. :) AND their cards are completely adorable! There are plenty to choose from so I don't even have to worry that one of you will steal this genius idea and happen to have the same card I do. :)

I'm loving all these fun colors! And I love that I can create our holiday cards at home. SOOOOO much easier than trying to figure it all out while standing at a kiosk at Walmart like last year! And they have calendars and invitations and birthday cards. Jason wanted to make his mom a 2011 calendar for Christmas (hope she's not reading this!!) which will be ten times easier now. And we have tons of birthdays in January in our family, so we may be stocking up there too.

I'm still undecided on which photos and which cards we'll be sending out, but go here to sign up for your free cards!!

P.S. If you want to receive our family Christmas card this year leave me your address in a comment or email it to me! I got a new computer in January and all of my addresses were saved on the old one. I wasn't smart and didn't transfer them over.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The end of the Gratitude Posts

Yes, I'm done with my gratitude posts. No, I didn't post everything I am grateful for. Just some of the many, many things. Some days it was harder to come up with something and other days it was hard to choose between so many.

For those of you who didn't care for them, congratulations. You made it through. They're over. :) And for those of you who enjoyed them, including me, I think it will be a goal of mine from now on to post some things I've been grateful for every week or so. Nothing specific. But I definitely want to keep reminding myself of all my incredible blessings.

I'll end my gratitude posts with one last one. The last thing I've wanted to post about is my Savior, Jesus Christ, my Heavenly Father, and all they have given me. They have blessed me with an incredible family to grow up in and learn from. I have an amazing husband and beautiful children who support me and love me unconditionally. I have the gospel in my life. That one comes with a lot. Scriptures, the gift of the Holy Ghost, a prophet, apostles, and leaders to all guide me. The blessings that the Temple bring to me and my family. A knowledge of my Heavenly Father's love and concern for me. And the atonement of my Savior, Jesus Christ. Because of that I can repent daily (and more often when needed!) and try harder every day. I can strive to live worthy to live with Him again and to spend eternity with those I love.

I'm so grateful for those things and the richness that they bring to this time of year! Without those things this Christmas season would be so meaningless! I am grateful for that knowledge and for the birth of Jesus Christ that we get to celebrate this month.

I hope you all had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving! I can't wait to post my pictures from our trip! :) Now Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gratitude on Thanksgiving!!

Happy Thanksgiving!! Today I'm grateful for about a million things, but especially for all the wonderful memories I'll be making with the people I love most while eating the yummiest food in the world!!!!!! Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gratitude Day 24

UGH!! I have the cutest picture of me and my sisters and this won't let me upload it!!!!

Today I'm grateful for sisters. :) For nearly 14 years I was the only girl in the family. Now I'm hanging out at the condo and getting to spend time with my two little sisters. Most people probably take their sisters for granted. I left home when they were 4 and 5 ish...maybe younger. We didn't get to live together for very long and I missed that a lot, especially when they were young. Now it's so fun to watch them grow up from a distance. They have come out to stay with me during summers and weekends and it's always a blast when we get together for family vacations. LOVE these girls. They are my favorite!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gratitude Day 23

Today I'm grateful that we made it safely before the storm to the condo in Park City. Now I'm going to enjoy some time with my family!!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gratitude Day 22

Today I'm grateful for my cute parents. They have called me so many times today to make sure that we knew about pending storms and to help us figure out when the best time to drive would be. :) They're always so concerned about us and have never had anything but our absolute best interest at heart. They are ALWAYS there to listen or give advice when I ask. They both always say the right thing, even when it's not what I might WANT to hear. They have prayed for me every day of my entire life. And I have felt those prayers when I've needed them most. They have been the best example to me of righteousness, even when they've made mistakes. They showed me how to apologize when they were wrong. They have taken us on the best vacations and provided all kinds of awesome memories for us growing up. I can't say enough about all of the things they've done for me. It would take me days to post it all. You should just know they're pretty incredible. And you should be totally jealous. Because my parents are way awesomer than yours. ;)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Gratitude Day 21

Today I'm grateful that kids are so resilient. Payson woke up super sick late last night and puked in multiple spots on the floor. Not so fun for cleaning. We had a long night together on the couch with towels and a big bowl, but by morning she was perfect again! I kept her home from church as a precaution, but she's been totally fine. I hate lingering bugs and am so glad that she got better so quick!!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Gratitude Day 20

I'm grateful tonight for the Sabbath. I love that no matter how crazy my week has been or how busy I am with meetings on Sunday I always feel recharged and refreshed. Taking the sacrament helps me recommit to being better throughout the upcoming week and gives me the strength to overcome the challenges I face. My meetings take my mind off of silly worries and direct them towards serving others. And best of all I get to spend the day with my family who I love so, so, so much!! I'm so looking forward to tomorrow!!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Gratitude Day 19

I'm grateful for Bunco. Mostly for the fun I had with the ladies in our group tonight. I hosted and sometimes I stress out unnecessarily over things. I did that this week. But tonight was worth all the stress. I love getting together with such awesome women and just laughing until we pee in our pants. I love watching timid friends come out of their shells. I love getting to act like a teenager again for just a little while. I'm grateful that life is to be ENJOYED, not just endured!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gratitude Day 18

I'm most grateful today for this one:

That sweet boy has two sides, for sure!! He can be completely sweet one moment and then throwing a full blown tantrum the next. But for the most part he is just a sweet, sweet boy! He's such a mama's boy and I love it! He loves to snuggle me and gives the world's sweetest kisses. I honestly can't get enough of them!

I love bed time with this kid. After baths and stories and prayers and everything he climbs into bed and gets the most cuddly. He'll rub my face or my arm for a minute and then curl up close next to me and doze off. And is there anything cuter than a sleeping baby? (Yeah, I know he's almost 3 1/2, but he's still MY baby!!)

I'm so lucky to have Jack. I love every day with him. I love picking him up from preschool and hearing what he's learned. I love the funny things he says and does. I love how smart he is and watching him soak everything up! I love watching him play "Cars" or "Toy Story" and quoting all his favorite parts from the movies.

I'm so grateful for my baby boy and his beautiful blue eyes and that gorgeous grin of his!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Gratitude Day 17

Today I'm just grateful for being grateful. That may sound silly, or maybe even like a cop out. But the last few days have been jam packed with busy-ness and stress. It has been so good to sit down at the end of the night and think about what I'm grateful for during the day. It gives me a few minutes of peace and even on my worst day I can find so many things to be thankful for. I keep considering continuing this in some form after November. It feels good to focus on positives. Especially for a complainer like me who is so good at whining about the hard things. Having this silly little goal of posting one thing I'm thankful for each day has been significant in my daily life. Every time I've started to get too stressed I've been reminded to be grateful. I have so many blessings!!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gratitude Day 16

Tonight I'm grateful for the upcoming holiday. I've been super stressed the last week or so and there's just more stress to come. And I keep getting through it because I know that in just a week I'll be in a condo in Park City without a care in the world surrounded by my favorite people. I love getting together with my family and just hanging out. We laugh a lot. They are fun! I love having my husband around. I love watching my kids play with their aunts and uncles and grandparents. I love being with my cutest sisters and pestering my brothers about who their dating. I can't wait!

So tonight I'm grateful for the promise of some incredible stress relief with my fam.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Gratitude Day 15

Both my Bishop and Stake President have recently issued challenges to our ward to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year. The Stake President specified that he wanted us to read with a small notebook to keep track of our thoughts and feelings and to mark passages specifically about the Savior.

Initially I felt that this challenge was overwhelming. I don't have a lot of time to dedicate to reading. And then I realized I need to simply MAKE the time. If I can find time to do the things I WANT to do, then I should SURELY be able to find time for this. So I have.

And I have received strength daily as I read. The is a power in the scriptures. I find myself humming the tune to "Scripture Power" each time I think of it. :)

Because I want to be like the Savior, and I can
I'm reading His instructions, I'm following His plan
Because I want the power His word will give to me
I'm changing how I live, I'm changing what I'll be

I'll find the sword of truth in each scripture that I learn.
I'll take the shield of faith from these pages that I turn.
I'll wear each vital part of the armor of the Lord
And fight my daily battles, and win a great reward

Scripture power keeps me safe from sin
Scripture power is the power to win!
Scripture power, everyday I need
The power that I get each time I read.

This song states how I feel EVERY time I read from the scriptures. I have found a peace and happiness each day as I have followed the counsel of my Stake President and Bishop. I am so grateful to the Book of Mormon and for ALL scripture. It is uplifting and holds real power. It allows me to strengthen my testimony line upon line, precept upon precept.

I have such a deep love for the words of the Savior, my Heavenly Father, and His prophets. I LOVE feasting on those words each morning. I hope to instill this love in my children and everyone I meet! I want everyone to feel the things I feel when I read.

If you would like to know more about my church and about the Book of Mormon pleas go here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Gratitude Day 14

I'm so thankful today for music. Lately I have found that when things get tense at home music will turn it all around. If the kids start fighting and arguing I turn on our Primary songs and things calm down within minutes. On Sunday's we play hymns and primary music and other LDS music all day and it brings an incredible spirit into our home. The kids have come to love it as well and immediately turn it on in the morning or right when we get home from church. I love the way it affects each one of us. Everyone is calmer and happier when we have good music playing.

We have even come to leave the tv off and just play music. Whether it's Disney songs, musicals, oldies, or anything, as long as it's uplifting we have it playing almost constantly. The kids rarely watch television and movies anymore (except for our designated family movie not on the weekends, of course!) and seem so much happier to play together instead of zone out on the couch.

Music helps me through my day when I'm feeling flustered or angry or overwhelmed. It soothes me and helps me to focus on things that are important. I am so grateful that my parents introduced me to so much good music growing up and that I am now able to share that with my family.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Gratitude Day 13

Can I be grateful for my husband again today? He got up this morning and worked from 4am until about 9pm. He then had family scriptures and prayer with us, helped me put kids to bed, ate his dinner, and then helped me clean the bathroom before going to bed. Not because I asked. (Because I specifically told him he should be in bed!) But because he knew I was overwhelmed and exhausted and that I had to get up early too. Although early for me was 6. He was up around 3! What an amazing guy!!!! I am so so so blessed to have him.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Gratitude Day 12

I have the BEST ward!! I am so grateful for them! They're awesome. We had a activity tonight to collect money for Pennies by the Inch to donate to Primary Children's Medical Center. The primary was over it, but the entire ward, every auxiliary, stepped up to help making it SO easy!! And we brought in so many more donations than we have the last couple of years!! It was awesome!!

And on top of that, everyone just had a blast!! It was such a fun night! The kids were running all over the place all playing with each other. Young men and women playing with the little kids, adults playing with the younger ones. Everyone just gets along so well. It was just such a fun night. And it always is in this ward. I look forward to every activity because I know that no matter who attends we'll have a blast. Everyone is included. It's so great.

We've attended wards in the past where it's felt so exclusive, so feeling so much love and friendship and acceptance from our ward family has been such a blessing, especially with a husband who has to work so much. There are a lot of other women who are in my same shoes and really get it. We are all able to support and help each other. There is just so much unity in our ward family. And we are so, so grateful!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Gratitude Day 11

I am generally unappreciative of my body. I worry about my weight and shape and complain and wish that I looked like so-and-so. But the truth is I think I would find something wrong with someone else's body and miss my own if it were possible to switch. So I'm trying to start appreciating my own more.

Today I am so so so thankful for my body. I have not been so kind to it in the years it has been mine. And yet I can still walk, run, play with my kids, breathe, and function. I can do just about anything I want to do. My only limitations are in my head.

My body has suffered through a LOT this last year. Multiple pregnancies, surgery, and a slew of other crap. And yet I am still healthy and feeling good. I have been working out again this week and my body still allows me to do the exercises and strengthen my muscles somewhat easily. It's amazing to me.

Lately my body has gotten me through busy days, moving from early in the morning until I finally crash on my bed at night with the aches and pains of a day of work. I love that feeling and it is helping me to be more grateful for this body of mine, flaws and all.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gratitude Day 10

Today I am most grateful for your comments. Specifically on my post yesterday, but really all the time. Some of you related, others just encouraged. It was good to feel like I'm not alone and that I'm not judged. Not that I expected judgement. But I even find myself judging others' financial situations at times. And then I have to look at myself and realize how hypocritical that is!!

Anyway, I really am thankful for the comments that I get on my blog. Less than a handful of times I have received a negative comment. Generally from "anonymous". Your comments over the years I have been blogging have made a difference. They have cheered me up, helped me feel loved, encouraged me, made me feel included, helped me through some really difficult times, comforted me, helped me to make difficult decisions, etc. You are great!!

Now I should remember how much I love them and get back to commenting on others' blogs more like I used to. Oh to find the time....

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


The best things in life are free

But you can give them to the birds and bees

I want money

(That's what I want)

Is that song stuck in your head now? Because it is in mine!!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Gratitude Posts to bring you this completely random (but interesting!!...at least to me...) post!

***Beware. This is so long. But interesting! And helpful! Did I mention interesting? I really do think so. :)***

Jason and I are AWFUL with money. Ask my parents. I've honestly been bad with money since I made my first nickel giving my dad foot rubs. I spent every penny I made growing up. Of course, my parents taught me to pay tithing first. And I did. But I always spent the rest on penny candy from the liquor store down the street (sound weird, but it wasn't) or the ice cream man. So I've spent a LONG time teaching myself awful financial habits. And I've learned them well. I'm pretty sure I've rubbed off on my husband a little bit. It's not such a good thing.

We both came into our marriage with debt. Jason brought (minimal) student loan debt as well as the payment on his Rodeo. My debt was not so pretty. It was ridiculous actually. I'm embarrassed to admit it. But I feel like I have to admit it in order to give you a real picture. So here you have it:

Ridiculous debt from school...which I had dropped out of to marry him and move to Idaho (with only a few months left until I would graduate...ugh!!!!). And the rest of my debt belonged to small credit cards and creditors for bounced checks. Yep. Bounced checks.

For some reason I let myself think, "I don't have the money for that. But I could just write a check and then I'll get paid before it clears and everything will work out fine!!" Turns out it doesn't really work out that way.

In my head I excused those bad financial choices because I was young. Young and stupid. But the truth is, we didn't do any better when we got married and started to "grow up".

Jason had a job. It paid around $8 an hour, which was pretty decent for Rexburg at the time. I planned on finding a job quickly and working as well. And then we got pregnant...not so planned. (Although I wouldn't trade that girl for the world!!) I got super sick. For months. I threw up all day every day. I was miserable. Plastered to the couch watching reruns of Law and Order and making frequent trips to the bathroom to give up anything I'd attempted to eat. We were barely making ends meat. In fact, we weren't. We were scrambling to pay the basics.

We made the decision to move to Utah. We would be closer to family and the job opportunities would allow Jason to make more money. He transferred schools and got a job that paid $10 or so an hour. We thought that was HUGE! We moved in with my parents for a couple of weeks while we looked for a place. And we found one down the road from family. It was great! And I started feeling better. So I got a great job. And for a few months with 2 incomes we felt like we were doing alright.

And then Payson was born. A month early. So I quit my job. We were back to one income. But at least this time it was better than before. Problem was when we made more, we spent more. And we continued to make stupid choices. We were now drowning in debt and had a family to take care of.

Eventually we chose to file bankruptcy. Our debt felt that bad. We felt like that was our only choice. And for a little while after we felt relief. Our debt was gone and we had a fresh start. (Just an FYI, if I had it to do over again I would NEVER make this same choice. I would have worked harder at saving and been smarter and paid things off, even if it took forever.)

However, although our debt had changed, our habits did not. And after a few years were were starting to see the debt creep up again. Jack was born. More mouths to feed. More bills to pay. We tried moving into a less expensive apartment. Jason switched jobs. Even quit school and got a second job. Things were tough, but we were surviving. We had considered me getting a job, and for a time I had worked from home for my dad. But that had ended when Jack came and we felt strongly that I needed to be home to raise our kids.

Then the economy changed. The housing market was declining. Jason was working for a building company doing truss design. But fewer and fewer people were building. His store eventually shut down and they transferred him. They had done lay offs. We were grateful to have been spared, but we were scared. We kept our eyes peeled for another job. Eventually things looked bad and Jason took a temp job with the power company. The company he had been working for before filed bankruptcy and shut down. When the temp job ended we looked into making it permanent, but it didn't work out.

We prayed and prayed and prayed and finally felt like we should try summer sales with my cousin's husband. They were doing really well and we felt confident that even at the minimum we should be able to at least make what Jason was making in a year. And if needed we could supplement that income in the months after the summer. So we packed up and moved to Baltimore, Maryland. And after about 6 weeks of making nothing, we prayed and cried and stressed and prayed and fasted and prayed some more. We talked with family and didn't know what to do. We were so confused. We had felt like this was what the Lord wanted for us. But now we had maxed out credit cards, incurring even more debt.

We finally decided to come home. My dad gave us the money we'd need to get home and we moved in with my parents. We were so grateful and humbled by their love and help. But it was hard. Jason looked and looked and looked every day. In the mean time he took a sales job. He made very little. Sales obviously wasn't his thing. And he didn't enjoy it at all.

Because of previous jobs, Jason had his CDL so we looked for truck driving jobs. They paid well, but the idea of him being gone so much was hard. Eventually he found his current job in the oil field. The money looked good. Really good. But we weren't sure about the job. Especially the fact that it would require him to work some Sundays. So again we fasted and prayed and went to the temple and counseled with family. Eventually we realized that, for whatever reason, this was what the Lord wanted for us. We were even very sure of which of the four possible locations the Lord wanted us to chose.

And so Jason left for Wyoming while I stayed with the kids at my parents' in Utah. At one point he needed to leave for training in Oklahoma. We didn't see each other for 5 or 6 weeks. It was challenging. But we knew it would be worth it and so we kept going.

We found our apartment and the kids and I finally moved out just before Thanksgiving in 2008. The job was hard. There have been challenges. Jason's accident last year was difficult. This last year has been emotionally draining. For MANY reasons. Things have changed. But change is something we have come to expect with Jason's work and with life in general.

One thing that hasn't changed is the feeling we've had from the beginning that this is where the Lord wants us to be. We have considered changing jobs again or moving or a million other things. But it is clear that He has lead us here. We have purpose here. And aside from the awful weather, the lack of shopping, and the ugly, dead, dry, high dessert landscape, I am finding that I love it here. I love my neighbors and my friends. I love our ward, my calling, and our leaders. I love the schools and the kids have great friends here. We are all happy.

And yet, one thing hasn't changed. We still find ourselves living paycheck to paycheck with no money in savings. With more income came more spending. How have I not learned my lesson?!

I recently found myself looking at Jason's paycheck stub. I noticed the amount in the "year to date" column. I was SHOCKED!! Had we really made THAT MUCH this year already? And there are still a few paychecks left in the year!!

WHERE DID IT ALL GO?!?!?!?!?!?

I was seriously sick to my stomach. We are making MORE than the average family in America and we are still struggling?! How is that possible?

Things HAD to change. Drastically. So I started trying to budget. We have never really budgeted. ONE month in our marriage we tried. And we did well. At the end of the month there was money leftover! But then there were things that we wanted and we got lazy and eventually we were just spending again. Turns out budgeting is not simple if you've never done it.

Eventually I discovered Dave Ramsey. I bought some of his materials and have fallen in love. We decided we'd try it out. But even then we haven't been consistent. However, I fully believe in his program and methods and I have his workbook sitting in front of me once again and plan to dive back in today.

And then a short while ago I stumbled across a blog post of someone I went to high school with. I decided to look at the website she'd mentioned knowing that I can use all the help I can get when it comes to budgeting!

I didn't try it out right away. I thought maybe I'd try budgeting on my own the old fashioned way. You know. Write it all down and keep receipts. I created a binder with some forms, budgeting each paycheck carefully. We just started with this last paycheck on October 30th. It seemed like it was working. And then the other night I got annoyed because I was having to do so much math manually and I couldn't see certain things that I wanted to and blah blah blah. So I decided to try this Neo Budget website. Besides, I could do try it for free!

So Neo Budget uses the envelop method of budgeting. This is the same method Dave Ramsey suggests. I like the idea that this website can just be a tool to go along with the financial advice I am already looking into.

As I started to try the free plan I realized that I wanted more than 10 envelops and more than one account. So I decided to pay for one month for only $4. I figured if I didn't like it after a month I wouldn't pay again and it was only a few dollars so I wouldn't be out too much cash.

And I fell in love. I LOVE this thing! It WORKS! It's simple and it makes sense to me! This is coming from someone who has never budgeted!

One of my favorite features is the "history". I can go into my accounts, choose an envelop, and see the history for that envelop. I recently looked at the history of my "unallocated funds" envelop. It was so great to see the excess things I was spending on. It gave me a clear picture of where I can cut back to make a difference for the next paycheck.

I also love the way I have my savings account set up. Jason and I have just one savings account right now. But that savings needs to go towards multiple things. So I can set up these envelops to divide the funds and see how much I have for the kids' education or retirement or our car repairs or whatever. Love it!

I know this is such a long story to get to this point. And it's just about budgeting. But the truth is, I feel so good about this! I feel like I can stick to it. We may not have an overwhelming amount of debt compared to some, but sometimes it can feel overwhelming to us. This is helping me to cut back where I need to and make better choices so that I can tackle that debt more quickly and free my family from that unnecessary stress. We can get our debt taken care of quickly and save up quickly. Like Dave says, we can use this tool to "live like no one else, so that later we can live like no one else."

(I am not being paid or compensated in anyway for this post. No one asked me to write this. I just wanted to share this information about this website and the things we've been through in case anyone else out there feels like they need the same kind of help that I do!)

Gratitude Day 9

Today I'm grateful for the holidays!! I'm loving the anticipation of the season and the lessons that are focused on at this time of year. I love spending time with my family and all the silly activities we do together to celebrate. I am so anxious for my Thanksgiving dinner! I LOVE that meal! And then to be able to decorate for Christmas and start listening to Christmas music the next day. :) I love being able to bribe my kids with the promise of Santa and seeing their excitement over every little thing. I love the goodies and treats and food and hot chocolate and soups and stews and breads and yumminess! And today it is beautiful and white outside with snow, reminding me of the pure love of our Savior and the true meaning of the holiday season.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gratitude Day 8

Today my gratitude isn't so happy. I don't mean it to sound wrong, but it's the only thing I can think of right now. Today I'm grateful that my children are safe and protected. A little girl in my carpool (a good friend of Payson's) was molested at school. Today I am grateful that it wasn't my daughter. I hope that doesn't sound like I'm grateful that it was her and not us. That is nowhere near what I mean! I wish it never happened to anyone ever. But today I am simply grateful that my children are safe and that we are not dealing with something so ugly.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gratitude Day 7

I'm grateful today for my Primary kids. They are incredible!! I should tell you about the awful behavior I have witnessed in our primary over the last year. It has been horrendous. I have never seen children behave that way in a primary before. I have seen rowdy and loud and wiggly kids. But I had never seen disrespect and irreverence like this before.

In the last several months, after MUCH prayer and counsel and fasting and more prayer and a LOT of changes in teachers and the way we do things, these kids have made strides that I can hardly believe.

Today I sat through one of the most reverent 2 hours of any primary I've ever attended. (And I've served in the primary for YEARS! On top of attending myself as a kid!) And that has been my experience the last several weeks with my primary kids. They have invited the Spirit and allowed us all to enjoy primary in a completely new way. They are giving themselves the opportunity to develop everlasting testimonies and allowing me to witness it.

And on top of that they are teaching me so much! I am learning to listen to the Lord and do as He asks, then to EXPECT miracles to happen. He needs me to have the faith to expect those miracles in order for them to work. And as we, as a Primary Presidency, have tried to do that, we have seen incredibles miracles in such a short time. Imagine what we will see in months and years!

And so today I am grateful for my primary kids. For the trials that we've been through together and for their efforts to make changes. They are giving me so much!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Gratitude Day 6

Today I'm grateful for this one:

This girl is growing up so much faster than I ever would have thought. Now that she's in school all day and I don't get to spend as much time with her, I soak up my minutes with her. She's getting so smart!! She learns something every day.

I went to her first parent/teacher conference this week. Her teacher had nothing negative to say at all. Not one word. She is testing above average in every category. I don't say this because she's just a natural brain and I want to brag. But because she works hard! She studies the letters and sounds and practices everything she can. More often than not, her idea of "play" is writing and reading and learning.

She is also just good. She was given an award at school this week at a school assembly for being responsible. Apparently each quarter 3 kids from each class are given one of these awards. One is for responsibility, one for respect, and one for kindness. Payson has been a great helper to the other kids at school and is a wonderful friend to everyone. She doesn't care if someone is different. She loves them just the same and treats them as a friend.

She got another award at school for "demonstrating the ability to say no" which made me proud! I worry about my babies being out in the world and going along with the crown. But this girl knows how to stand up for what she believes in. She chooses the right no matter where she is or what someone else might think. THAT is something I am super proud of!

Payson's a great helper at home. To the point that sometimes I have to tell her to stop so that her brother will learn some responsibility too. :) She is a wonderful big sister and sensational daughter. We just can't get enough of her!

Oh! And one more brag: Last night during family scriptures Payson read an entire verse! She's READING! And not just little "the cat ran" type words. A scripture verse! She's such a little genius.

Every day I find myself thinking about how lucky I am to be her mother. She's taught me so many lessons over the last 5 (almost 6!) years. She has made me a better person in so many ways!! Oh how I love my girl!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gratitude Day 5

Tonight I'm grateful for new beginnings. That might sound cheesy to a lot of people. But it's true. I mess up. A lot. Shocking, I know. But I do. I promise. But every new day is a chance to learn and try to be a little better. To find new methods to make things work. To find ways to make myself a little better. To make up for the things I did wrong the day before. And to really learn to apply the atone of my Savior in my life daily. I could go into plenty of detail about all the things I want to do better when I wake up in the morning, but I won't bore you. I'm just super grateful that I have the chance to do it!!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gratitude Day 4

Today I'm grateful for weekends. Payson had an early out day for school today and there will be no school tomorrow. Parent teacher conferences. And that means that I get to catch up on sleep, time with my babies, and some housework that was neglected due to some crafting and social time. :) It might seem like a silly thing to some, but I'm definitely grateful for the down time this weekend!! Now I'm off to catch up on that sleep!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gratitude Day 3

I'm grateful today for all things crafty. :) I've been on a bit of a crafting kick this week. I'm not even sure why. Anyway...

We have a fun card group once a month where we meet to exchange cards and to make a few and learn fun, new techniques. It's fun to make something as well as to just get out and be social with fun girlfriends. I spent a few hours with a friend the other day making our cards, watching Oprah, and just having a good time.

Today I spent the day lazily browsing the internet for simple crafts to make to decorate my home using things I have here in my house. I found some adorable free printables (found here) and threw them in some old frames that weren't being used and hung them on the wall.

I've been using my Cricut to cut out bazillions of pieces to make a plethora of Thanksgiving cards, treats, labels, place cards, etc. It's been relaxing and fun and it just makes me happy. And after the kids are in bed some of my favorite people are coming over to make them with me while watching "Newsies" and eating yummy treats. :)

I even have my very own little craft space. It may not be the most expensive or elaborate. But it's my own humble space that I love. The drawers are filled with the things I use to just MAKE.

Do you like that I didn't take out the trash before taking a picture? Just keepin' it real.

I may not make expensive things or things that mean anything to anyone else. And that's okay. I'm not making them for anyone else. I just like to make things that make me happy. I'm grateful that I have the supplies, the friends, the resources (love the internet!), and the loving supportive husband to do it every now and then.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gratitude Day 2

Today I feel super grateful for GOOD friends. I am blessed to have AMAZING friends! I have a million wonderful friends at church, within my family, in my neighborhood, in my apartment complex, and all of the country! Even the world! And of course throughout Blogland as well. I'm so lucky!

My friends have been so important to me over this last year especially. They have brought us meals, cards, and flowers when we were going through rough times. They have taken my children while I recovered from physical trials. They have let me cry on their shoulders and have given me words of comfort and advice. They have shared meals and girls' nights and put up with my craziness! They have made me laugh in moments when I felt like I might never laugh again. They have helped me to become a better person. They have taught me valuable lessons. They have been examples to me and showed me what kind of friend I want to be.

I literally don't think there is anyone in this world who is as lucky with their friends as I am. And if you're reading this you're probably one of them. So thanks, Friend! I love you!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gratitude Day 1

Every day this month I want to focus on something I'm grateful for. Who knows, maybe I'll post more than one thing a day. Other days, knowing me, it might be hard to come up with something. But my goal is one thing a day! So here is day one!!

Today I'm grateful for my husband. He is so absolutely wonderful to me. I am moody, grumpy, needy, demanding, stubborn, and just a regular old pain in the butt a lot of the time. And he loves me anyway. He accepts me for who I am and encourages me to be myself.

Jason is one of the hardest workers I've met in my life. The boy wakes up at 2 or 3 in the morning to get ready for work and then works his brains out until he gets home around 9 at night. He then makes time for me before crashing and getting the absolute minimum amount of sleep possible for him to function just to do it all again the next day.

Then during his time off he spends every minute helping me to get things done and just spending time with our family. He makes sure to take me on dates and does little things for me every day to make sure I know that he loves me.

Jason is silly and goofy and makes me laugh all the time! He gets my lame jokes and we are total nerds together. I am so lucky to have him.