Sunday, October 21, 2012

3 1/2 Weeks and Counting!

We had no trouble deciding what our family reward would be when we achieved our big family goal.  In January, I mentioned that we had wanted to take the kids back to Disneyland this year.  We hadn't been since 2009.  But we decided to postpone that trip until next year, once we were debt free, so that we could speed up our debt payoff.  We also wanted to pay cash for the entire trip, so we could really enjoy it without worrying about paying it off later.  So we planned on going in March of 2013.

And then we got that snowball rolling and paid off our debt early!  Achieving our goal early meant celebrating early!!

So off to Disneyland we go!  We leave in 3 1/2 weeks and I can't tell who is more excited: me or the kids?!?!  As soon as we booked the trip we started planning out every little detail!  We immediately made a countdown paper chain (although it was MUCH shorter than the last one).  We also made each of the kids sticker charts so they can earn cash to spend on our trip.  I've researched just about everything out there that is Disneyland related.  (I grew up going all the time, so I thought I knew quite a bit, but there is a LOT of info out there!!)  Now just about every little thing is planned out in detail, so all that's left to do is WAIT!

This trip is a big deal for us because it signifies reaching a really big goal, but ALSO because this is the very first vacation that we are taking just the five of us!  We've taken lots of little road trips over the years.  And we've had a few bigger trips too.  But we were always either going to visit family or friends or going with family or friends.  This is the very first real vacation that we're going on, just our little Ralls family.  And I can't wait!  The 4 people on this trip with me are, hands down, my very favorite four people in existence and I can't wait to spend a whole week having fun and celebrating with them!

Now, next big goal?  Become rich enough to make this an annual thing.  :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

We did it!!!!!

I know I have been awful about posting lately.  But today, I have to share our BIG news!!  We accomplished a HUGE goal.  And we did it way before we thought we would.

Waaaaaaay back in 2010, I posted about it for the first time.  Then in January of this year I posted about it again.  And then again.  Then one more time in February.  And then instead of posting about it, I just got to work.  And guess what?  Working....WORKS!!

We worked our butts off this year at sticking to our budget.  We made lots of cuts and were super disciplined.  We planned on spending all of this year and maybe a little of the beginning of next year to get out of debt.  Turns out, once you get that snowball rolling it gathers speed and momentum like you could never imagine!

We did lots of research and reading and saved our baby emergency fund in January.  Then in February we started knocking out debt.  And on September 28th we made our LAST payment!!!!!  The very last one!  EVER!  We are 100% debt free!  We don't owe a single penny to anyone.  Not one!  In an 8 month period we paid off $25,316.43 of debt.  Yep!  We worked THAT hard!

I don't think I can explain how it feels for me.  This is years and years of bad habits.  Years and years of stressing about money.  Years and years of talking about how we are going to pay this off and make big changes.  YEARS of talk.  But this year it wasn't about talk anymore.  It was about ACTION.  Finally!  And we did it!

Accomplishing this goal together has changed Jason's and my relationship.  It has improved it so much!  Our communication is a thousand times better.  We know how to set goals and make plans and then work those plans together to achieve what we want.  We have really grown together.

In January, for our birthday, my parents gave us the greatest gift ever.  A gift certificate that said they would book us a hotel, take the kids for the weekend, and they even gave us cash for dinner.  We asked if we could wait to cash in our gift until we were able to leave Lucas behind as well, since he was still little and nursing at the time, and they obliged.  So to celebrate our new found debt freedom, we left the kids behind and spent a weekend together in SLC.  Just the two of us.  And it was heavenly!!

And now we have a new list of goals to work on.  Everything is mapped out clearly and we know that we will achieve those goals.  Piece of cake.  Because if we could do this ($25k in EIGHT months!!), we can do anything!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I took a good long blogging break for summer (much needed) but now I have lots to catch up on!

For now, I'll share this:

#1 Jack started Kindergarten today.  Having done this once before, I assumed I would be fine.  And I was.  Until I got to my car after dropping him off.  And then I was a big baby.

And #2  Lucas started taking his first steps this week.  A little bit yesterday, but a lot today.  It's so cute!  

Love these boys of mine so much!!  And their big sister too.  :)

Saturday, May 26, 2012


I don't know what to call this post because I have so many things I want to write about.  But this is one of those pour-your-heart-out, bare-your-soul kind of posts.  Some of my most personal and deepest thoughts.    So be gentle with me if you read this.

The last several months I have been depressed.  Severely depressed.  And simultaneously perfectly happy which made things very confusing.  Happy marriage, great kids, amazing family, financial stuff in order, etc, etc.  All this good stuff that I was so happy about.  And at the same time completely depressed.

I recently figured it out.  There is just too much going on.  There were a few basic things in my life that were completely skewed that made everything else fall apart.  I couldn't be happy with the good stuff because those few things were just throwing everything off.  So I made a decision to fix them.

I have been trying to figure out for so long how to be super woman.  And I figured it out.  The answer?  I can't.  And I'm done trying.  I am going to focus on the few things in my life that really, really matter to me.  I will be super woman with those things.  And the rest will just have to fall away.

So I'm refocused.  I'm finding balance in those things.  I'm simplifying.  And maybe as those things become more steady in my life, I'll be able to add in some more.  But until then, everything else gets cut.

First off, I'm refocusing myself spiritually.  Too many times my prayers have been repetitive.  Too many times, I told myself I'd just pick up my scriptures tomorrow.  Too many times Family Home Evening was just skipped.  Too many times I told myself that other things were more important.  Oh, I was so wrong!  As I have starting studying my scriptures consistently again and praying more sincerely I have renewed my personal relationship with my Heavenly Father and my Savior.  And "magically" (although I know it is not magic at all) it has trickled into everything else.

Next, I have not made me a priority.  I am tired of being the fat frumpy mom.  I am tired.  Everything is exhausting.  My body needs some attention so that I have the energy for everything else.  My body needs good fuel.  My body needs rest.  My family needs it too!  They need good fuel and rest just as much as I do!  And because I have been choosing not to care, they have been suffering consequences right alongside me.  So we are refocusing on making healthy choices.  We are make a conscious effort to be more physically active.  This has been a struggle for me for soooo long.  But today I made the choice all over again.  I am determined.

My family is my priority.  Spending quality time with my children.  Reading together.  Being active together.  Going on dates with Jason so that our marriage is strong, for us and for them.  Everyone else plays second fiddle to this little family unit we have created.  We are turning off the screens and playing games together, taking walks together, and enjoying each other more.  We are strengthening our family bonds.

My home is another priority (although it definitely comes after the other three).  I am struggling to keep it clean and organized and still do everything else.  So again, everything else gets cut.  Play dates, lunches, extra outings.  Sure, those are good things.  But so is old fashioned WORK.  I can spend quality time with my family WORKING together and killing two birds with one stone.

That's four things.  Everything else is gone.  But those four things are taking up all of my time and energy right now.  By the time I've cooked healthy meals, done some cleaning or laundry, gotten kids ready for the day, fit in some physical activity, made sure Lucas is getting healthy naps, fed the baby, planned a family home evening lesson, read my scriptures, showered, taken care of bills and other responsibilities, fit in visiting teaching or a temple session, and still gotten everyone to bed on time so that we can get the rest needed to do it all again the next day, there just isn't anything left for anyone else.  So it's all getting cut!  

Television?  I'll see you every now and then, but for now I'm unplugging the cable.  Pinterest?  I love to  pin every wonderful idea I see, but I'm finding we spend too much time together.  Lunch/play dates?  If you fall on a less busy day and I can fit you in, great.  But if you are taking away from any of those four more important things?  Sorry.  Texting and phone calls?  If I don't answer you right away it's because I have so many other things going on that I have to give my time and energy to first.  I care about you.  I really do.  But these things have to come first.

Because I'm tired of trying to do what I think everyone else is doing or thinks I should be doing.  I'm tired of feeling like I'm failing at the important stuff.  So I'm stepping back from everything else and focusing on the few things that matter most.  Maybe I'll find time for the other things in another season of life, but not this season.  This season is for my family, for my body and my spirit, and for work.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Why I'm Grateful for My Challenging Child

My mom calls Jack my "pay back".  And she's probably right.  He's very much like me and I am terrified that his teenage years will be even remotely like mine.  I was not easy.  And that's an understatement.  

Now, Jack has his amazingly fun and wonderful qualities too.  He is sweet and loving and funny (when he wants to be).  Some days he has me in stitches!  He is a mama's boy (not in a bad way) and still loves to snuggle with me.  He is SMART and confident.  And boy is he handsome.  :)

But some days I just want to scream and stomp and throw a tantrum right alongside Jack because I just don't know what to do.  The other two are pretty easy most of the time.  And even their hard moments are rare, and nothing I can't handle.  I know what to say or do to get things under control.

Then today I realized how grateful I am for Jack and all his rough spots.  He reminds me of how much I need my Savior and my Heavenly Father as a mother.  I can not do this alone.  I don't know what I'm doing.  I need promptings from my Father in Heaven to teach me how to teach Jack.  And I NEED the atonement of my Savior, Jesus Christ, to repent of my MANY shortcomings.  Every time I lose my temper, run out of patience, and just snap instead of teach my children, I need that saving atonement.

Without him I wonder if I would breeze along thinking I was fine on my own.  But Jack reminds me to get on my knees more often than I might otherwise.  And so I am so grateful for him.

I love my sweet, funny, beautiful little handful.  :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Heaven Is Here

Do you read Nie?  I don't.  Well, I didn't.  I knew of her story from the news, reading snippets on rare occasions, and from seeing her video on Mormon Channel.  But I didn't read her blog consistently at all.

Jason had special training this weekend, so we celebrated Mother's Day early.  He and the kids got up early before school the other day and surprised me with gifts and breakfast in bed.  One of the gifts was Nie Nie's book, Heaven Is Here.  I had heard of it and was interested.  I mentioned it casually once.  Jason remembered.  :)

I started reading it Thursday night.  I read in every spare minute this weekend, until I finished earlier this afternoon.

I don't think I can describe what I want to write right now.  I want to express the feelings I felt while reading, without them sounding ridiculous or cheesy.  But while reading I felt uplifted, inspired, and strengthened.  And the feelings are lingering.

I feel motivate to make so many changes in myself.  I feel inspired to be a better mother.  I feel honored and privileged to raise my children, even in the absolute worst moments.  I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to be on this earth in this family raising these children.

Pick up a copy for yourself.  And maybe your mother.  It is Mother's Day tomorrow, after all.  :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Random Updates

I'm just way to lazy to post any photos at the moment, but I still wanted to sit down for a minute and post a few little updates on our family, something I haven't really done in too long.  We'll go from youngest to oldest, shall we?


Lucas has changed so much!!  Although he's still a baby, it amazes me how quickly he left that infant stage behind.  Soon enough he'll be a toddler and I'm simultaneously loving and loathing watching him grow up.  It breaks my heart to watch him leave each stage behind.  Although it's so fun to watch him learn new things.  

Right now he has graduated from scooting and army crawling to real crawling.  He pulls himself to stand on anything he can.  He has seven adorable teeth and uses them to chew just about any table foods he can get his hands on.  He also loves to bite.  Little stinker.  Lucas is now sleeping through the night, which makes a world of difference to me, and is a great napper too.  He is still my bald child.  The other two were born with plenty of hair.  Lucas, however, is still light and thin.  But handsome, nonetheless!

Although he wants no one but Mama when he is tired or hurt or hungry or upset for any reason, he is a real Daddy's boy.  When Jason is working they play peek-a-boo on the computer and Lucas loves to smile and jabber at his dad through the screen.  When Daddy is home, Lucas crawls after him every time he leaves the room.  Jason loves it.

He also adores his big brother and sister.  Payson is his other little Mommy.  She loves to hep with him and hold him and make him happy when he's sad.  She usually gets him out of the crib when he wakes up and loves to help with his baths, feeding, and anything else, which I appreciate!  Jack is still waiting for Lucas to grow up and be his wrestling buddy, I think.  Half of the time he loves having a baby brother around and the other half of the time he is annoyed.  :)  Although Jack is getting better at helping with Lucas and can make him laugh like no one else can.  They are a riot!

We absolutely love having this little guy in our family!  He is such a source of joy!


Jack is our little spitfire.  He either has us wanting to rip our hair out or he has us in stitches.  My mom calls him my "payback".  And she's right.  He has so much of my personality.  Which can be very hard.  But I also know that as he grows up it will be a wonderful strength to him, especially within the church and as a missionary.

He says the funniest stuff all the time.  He's also super smart.  He's already reading (at 4 years old) and answers Payson's homework for her half of the time.  He also has such a great memory!  Which is great when he learns stuff at church or in family home evening.  But not so great when he remembers things that I'd rather forget!

Jack is finishing up his second year of preschool this month and can't wait to start kindergarten in the fall!  We are already planning his 5th birthday party this summer and he is torn between Phineas and Ferb or Star Wars theme.  :)


Payson is about to finish up 1st grade, which she has loved and excelled in.  Her teacher is struggling to challenge her enough with reading, so we work on that more at home.  She really does well in every subject, but I really enjoy how much she reads.  Every once in a while we'll read a fun chapter book together, which has been so fun.  Reading books together is one of my favorite memories with my mom growing up.  I love recreating that with my own kids.

Like I said earlier, Payson is a fantastic helper.  I'm looking forward to having her home all day during the summer months.  She is so fun and good and just makes me smile all the time.  She is growing up way too fast for me.  She's lost 6 teeth (plus had a couple pulled) and her smile is just so different from my baby girl.  In a good way.  It's so bittersweet to watch her mature.

Her next birthday is baptism and she is constantly reminding me to prepare her with family home evenings.  She wants to be ready!  :)  I love her sweet little testimony.  Is it too early for me to start planning that big day for her?


We'll do the two of us together, since half of our stuff is the same anyway.  :)

I'm not doing much of anything new.  Just the mothering thing, which I love (most of the time).  I'm working on getting back to eating healthy and working out, since I've pretty much done nothing the last  few months.  Not good!  But I'm taking baby steps to get back to it.  Hopefully when I stop breastfeeding I'll be able to really hit it hard.  I'm getting tired of feeling so sluggish and BIG.

Jason's doing great.  He's enjoying his job and is doing really well at work.  He picked up golfing as a hobby last year with some guys at work and loves it.  He goes every chance he can get.

DEBT  :)

Our biggest update is the process we've made with our finances.  We've been working on our plan to be debt free for 4 months now.  It's been an amazing process!  We have been following Dave Ramsey's baby steps and it's made a huge difference in the way we think about money.

We started the year with a significant amount of debt (including TWELVE accounts/creditors), zero savings, and living paycheck to paycheck.  Now, after just four months of hard work and discipline we have a small chunk in savings, we live off of last month's income, and we have whittled our debt down from those 12 accounts to just THREE!  That's about half of our debt, since we've been paying them off smallest to largest.  Half way done in just 4 months!!

I don't think I can accurately describe what a big deal this has been for us.  We've learned so much about budgeting and making better financial choices.  We've alleviated incredible amounts of stress!  I don't worry about how we're going to pay for anything.  I don't stress about whether or not to answer the phone, because I KNOW it's not someone calling about a collection account.  Our goals are clear and our plan is workable.  I have no doubt that we'll reach our goal of becoming 100% debt free by the end of the year  and it feels amazing!

This has really been a family effort.  The kids have learned along with us and are making sacrifices as well.  They were so used to grabbing treats when we'd run to the grocery store, eating out way too often, and buying random toys just for fun.  We've talked a lot about why we want to change those habits and that it's so important for our family to not have debt and be able to save for things that we really want.  The kids have been great about keeping the whining for things to a minimum and have even learned about handling their own money.  They pay tithing, then they save some and keep the rest to spend on what they want.  

It's been fun watching their personalities learn about money.  Payson is definitely a saver.  She has a hard time buying things, even when she reeeeally wants them.  Jack however, gets frustrated that he can't just buy everything right now!  :)  But he's learning and I know we're setting a MUCH better example for them when it comes to money.

We knew that if we were going to work this hard to reach our goal, we needed a good reward at the end of the journey.  And it needed to be a reward for the whole family.  I've already started planning our Debt Free trip for next year.  :)  We picked Disneyland, since we haven't been since 2009.  I'm so anxious to get through this year and actually book the trip!  It's been hard to not say, "Let's just postpone the debt thing by a month or two and take the trip NOW, and pay off debt later."  Because we could.  But we know it will feel a MILLION times better to pay for that trip in cash knowing that the money we spend belongs to US and isn't owed to ANYONE!

For some reason, we are blessed enough to work towards our goal while still enjoying some extras in life.  However we've definitely found a new way to enjoy those extras.  We hardly do anything at full price anymore.  We see most movies later at the discount theaters and never pay for the overpriced movie treats.  We search deal sites (like groupon, social living, and deal dragon) to find great coupons.  We budgeted to buy the Utah County Pass of All Passes for our family when they were on sale so that we would have no excuses to spend money this summer.  We're spending more time out doors doing free things as a family.  We even use groupon and such for our date nights.  It's been great!  We are still living and enjoying doing things as much as we want.  We just keep it within our budget.

And don't think that once we're debt free we'll start blowing our money like we did in the past!  There are too many goals set after this.  Next we'll work on building up our savings.  That little chunk has some growing to do!  Then we'll be saving up for a house, which has been one of my personal biggest motivators.  I want my own home.  I want to decorate it and make it mine.  I want to watch my kids play in our backyard.  I want to feel the permanence of owning, rather than renting and wondering when we'll move.  But I want all those things the RIGHT way.  With zero debt, savings for all the things that come up with homeownership, a large down payment, and a home we can afford.  I want to do this the right way at the right time, not because there are great loans available or the rates are at their lowest.  Those dreams have motivated me to make it the right time as fast as possible.

We have financial goals set for the rest of our lives.  Retirement, college funds, wedding funds, mission funds, vacations, philanthropy, etc.  We're no longer flying by the seat of our pants and focusing on those last few pennies in our checking account.  Instead we get to focus on enjoying our lives and making better choices.  It's awesome.

And now that I've written a novel, I'll leave you with the hope that one day I will post pictures again.  :)  Maybe you'll get lucky and the next update will be full of photos.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lacking in Posts

There are a lot of reasons that I haven't posted in about a month now. Most of which I don't feel like delving into at the moment. Lately I feel torn. Sometimes I feel like I don't care to post. I'm just too tired and it's not a priority. But it's really the only form of record keeping I do. It's my only journal/scrapbook/etc. So I really need to catch up and get back in the groove.

How about you? Have you slacked in your posting lately? Are you even still reading this old blog?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Couch

One year ago today, Sammy died. Life changed dramatically in a matter of a moment. Somehow we all managed to breathe through the crushing grief for an entire year. A year. It's been a year?

It's been a strange day. I've been through the motions of a seemingly "normal" day. Got kids ready and off to school. Had a dentist appointment. Laundry. Dinner. Baths. Family scriptures. Nothing unusual.

On the inside, though, I've been thinking back to one year ago all day. The moment I heard Laura's voice. The moment I saw Kasey over his daughter. Praying with Sammy's sisters. The police officer's face when he told me. The feeling of Laura and Kasey in my arms as they wept. So many images.

But one thing has stood out to me in a strange way over the last year that I haven't ever acknowledged out loud. My couch.

I had wanted it for so long. I hate my couch. It was a light, micro fiber sofa. It was filthy. It absorbed every bit of dirt it could. My kids had drawn on the cushions. There were stains on every side of every cushion. I hated that couch and I'd given up trying to keep it clean at all. It was so ugly and embarrassing. It wasn't even very comfortable.

So we bought a perfect leather sectional with our tax return last year. I was so happy to throw out the old couch! I couldn't even bring myself to sell the sickening thing. We just left it outside for whoever wanted it.

I was so proud of my new couch! (Still am.) It was pretty and clean and bigger and more comfortable! And it was leather. That meant low maintenance cleaning! :)

It's been over a year since we got that couch. And now, it is so much more than just a couch to me. That couch is a sacred place.

This couch is a sacred place for my family. It is where we play together. It is where we lounge together. It is where we celebrate together. It is where we hold Family Home Evening and family scriptures and prayer. It is where we (sometimes) sleep or eat together. We do so many things together on this sacred couch.

One year ago today, this couch became a hallowed place for me. It is where I knelt and prayed for my friends. It is where I watched them tell their daughters, with grief and faith, that they're sister was with their Father in Heaven. It is where we grieved, day after day. It is where hands were placed upon heads, and sacred priesthood blessings were pronounced. One year ago today, this couch welcomed and invited. It offered a place for friends and family to mourn and grieve and cry and love together.

I see it every time I look at my couch. I don't love this couch because it's pretty or comfortable. (Although it is.) I love my couch because of what it means in my life. Because it is a sacred, hallowed place. Because every time I sit there I think of Sammy, so small, being nursed by her mommy. I think of the example she set and the lessons she and her family have taught me over the last year. I think of the services that have been given to me because of her. I think of the way she changed me as a mother.

My couch is a sacred, sacred place.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Jack and Jill

Jack and Jill (Payson) rolled down the hill
to have some fun outside.

Jack fell down and bonked his crown
and cut it open wide.

Jason and the kids were outside taking advantage of the unseasonably warm weather. Lucas was sleeping so I was getting some much needed quiet time. Next thing I know, I hear crying coming up the stairs and Jason walks in carrying Jack with both of them covered in blood.

Apparently the kids were rolling down the hill and Jack somehow managed to smack his head pretty good on the cement/metal drainage grate at the bottom. I hate how much head injuries bleed. It always seems worse than it is at first.

I had planned on giving Jack and Jason haircuts tonight, especially Jack since he was getting pretty shaggy. So we did it early to get a better look at the cut. After the haircut, I gave him a shower and cleaned up the cut as best I could first aide style.

I can see it much better now, but I'm not sure what to do with it. It's still oozy and bleeding, but not dripping like before. It's not a horrible cut, although there's a huge goose egg on it. (I already gave him some children's Tylenol as a preemptive strike against the massive headache I'm guessing he will have.) I just can't decide if I should take him in for stitches or not yet. It would probably only end up being one or two little stitches. But I hate going in for nothing. I guess we'll just watch it for another hour or so in hopes that the bleeding stops.

Funny how when it's your baby that's injured you react differently. I've never been one to panic over blood. It just doesn't really bother me. On the outside I calmed my boy and got him all cleaned up. On the inside, I felt like I was going to throw up or pass out. I hate seeing my babies hurt. I always feel a sick rush of adrenaline that takes too long to dissipate. I don't like it. I'd rather get adrenaline from jumping out of a plane.

Edited to Add:

I ended up taking Jack to the InstaCare. It just wouldn't stop bleeding. They stapled it. It was traumatizing. For Jack. And for me. Do you know they don't numb kids up for staples? Nope. They just pop those suckers in their poor little heads. It's horrible. I hope I never have to do that again.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I missed date night.

Tonight, for the first time in MONTHS (like 7 or 8 or more months), I went on a date with my husband. Just the two of us.

We've been on several dates in the last several months, but we always ended up toting the baby along. It was still nice to get away and go out, but there was always a third wheel, so it wasn't quite the same.

For Christmas Jason gave me tickets to a play. No babies allowed at the play. So we were forced to leave him with a sitter and the older two for the first time. I was pretty worried. Would he decide to be hungry? Would he be fussy for the sitter? Would he be scared or miss me? All the silly mom worries.

Turns out he was fine. :) And it was sooooooo nice to be away with just my boyfriend! (He's the husband most of the time, but on date night he's just my boyfriend again.) :) I've had a really rough few weeks, so I was really, really needing the escape, even if it was only for 3 hours.

We've already started planning next weekend's 100% child free date night.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Am I Ready??

I had a all motivated and lost a bunch of weight...made it through the holidays...started (another) a blog about it....

...and then quit. Again.

Luckily I've just fluctuated within a 5 pound range of my weight loss. I haven't gained it all back. But I have completely lost motivation. Almost every day for the last few weeks I've woken up and said to myself, "Today we're getting back on track!" And by that afternoon I've given up.

I have about a million excuses. And some of them are really good. Especially the one when I haven't had a good night's sleep in MONTHS. I'm sooooo tired!

But I'm getting tired of my own excuses. I'm getting tired of eating way too much pizza while watching the Biggest Loser and thinking about how great they are. I'm getting tired of waking up motivated just to disappoint myself the same day. And I'm really getting tired of the way I feel. Gross. Fat. Tired. Sluggish. Lazy. Ugly. Worthless. Hopeless.

So I took a small step today. A really small step, but a step still. I downloaded a book to my kindle and started reading.

Are You Ready!: To Take Charge, Lose Weight, Get in Shape, and Change Your Life Forever by Bob Harper. THE Bob Harper. He's going to be my personal trainer now. :)

All kidding aside, I looked through the descriptions of a lot of weight loss books this morning. I knew I needed something to get me off my butt, but I didn't know what. This particular book stood out to me not because it was from the tv show I love, but because the entire first 1/3 of the book focuses on your heart and mind.

That's what I'm missing. My heart and mind aren't in it right now. I know the stuff. I know I need to eat right and exercise. I even know a lot of great recipes and workouts. I know lots of tips and tricks and rules. But my heart and mind haven't been in it lately. And that needs to change.

Right now, the only thing holding me back is ME. I am too busy telling myself that I'm fat, ugly, lazy, unmotivated, etc. I'm too busy telling myself that I've failed at this a hundred times before and I'm just going to fail again. I'm too busy telling myself that maybe I'll be able to do it when Lucas is sleeping through the night, or I'm not nursing anymore, or the kids are out of the house a million years from now and I can focus on myself.

But I know that when those things happen I'll have a new set of excuses holding me back. So today I'm going to focus on reading this book and working through the emotional part of this process. And when I'm ready I'll take another step and clean out my fridge and pantry. I'll make a meal plan with healthy foods. I'll go to the grocery store. I'll force myself to go to sleep at a decent hour. I'll workout. When I'm really, really ready.

As for today, I'm going to keep reading. I'm going to focus on my heart and mind. I'm going to work on being ready. Really ready.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Life has got me laughing a lot lately, so I thought I'd share a few funnies.

The other day I overheard Jack talking on his toy cell phone. It sounded like a pretty serious conversation. "I'm sorry. We're just not debt free yet, Dave!" So I asked Jack who he was talking to. Looking at me like I was brain dead, he says, "Dave Ramsey, Mom!" Duh!

Then yesterday my little sister Mare got her wisdom teeth removed. We went over in the afternoon to take her juice and ice cream and other mushed food she could eat and to just hang out and keep her company. My parents were given strict instructions to video Maren, just in case she was funny, after her surgery. Although it's said that girls are generally less funny and more emotional than boys. And they tend to come out how they went in. Maren was anxious and weepy, so they weren't expecting much funny.

Turns out, Maren was a crack up! We watched the video and we were all laughing pretty hard. There's a good 45 minutes of goodness. Oh man. And Jack has been quoting her all morning. :) It's hilarious!

Maren made awesome facial expressions, sang like a pro, and fought ninjas. At one point she even pressed imaginary buttons on her arms while making "button noises", and then said into her imaginary intercom, "Buzz Lightyear, to the rescue!" Ha ha ha ha ha!!

My mom tells Maren in the car that she's very "glassy-eyed". Maren asks, "What does that even mean?!" Mom tells her it's just because of the drugs and Maren starts to cry. "Did I smoke?! Did I drink beer?!" It's hysterical!!! And Jack has been reminding us of all the good parts all morning long. :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

You Need A Budget.....SERIOUSLY!!!! (aka YNAB)

I definitely need a budget. Why didn't I think I did before? I mean, I think I sort of knew that I should have one. But I never realized how much of a difference it could make. And it's made a HUGE difference already!

Remember this post? And the post I linked to in that post? So we started with NeoBudget. And we really loved it. But we weren't making the dent we wanted to be making in our debt. I recently discovered YNAB. YNAB and I got off to a rocky start. I loved NeoBudget. I was comfortable with NeoBudget. I understood it and knew where everything was and how it all worked.

YNAB was a little more complicated and I didn't want complicated. I wanted comfortable. But I kept hearing about all these things. So I gave in and signed up for the free trial. I took the live web classes. And then I was in love. As in smitten kitten.

See, with NeoBudget we were budgeting for our major bills and then the rest of our income would sit in our "Unallocated Envelope" and we would spend it on whatever we wanted. We were paying off some debt. We were saving some. But we were blowing a lot. And we were still living paycheck to paycheck.

I'm not even through our 34 day trial with YNAB yet. It's still the beginning-ish of February. And already, since January I have paid off $1,621.65 in debt. On top of that we have saved $2,445.58! That's right! In 41 DAYS!!!! And here's the kicker: We haven't even received our tax refund yet!!

And that's while paying ALL of our bills and still having fun! We've gone out to eat (much less than we used to, but still enjoyed eating out on occasion), rented movies, done things together as a family, and gone out for dates, etc. We're still living! We're just doing it on a smaller scale, while saving and paying down debt on a much, much LARGER scale!

I think my favorite thing about YNAB right now is their "Rule #4: Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck". YNAB has 4 basic rules/principles for budgeting. #1, Give every dollar a job. #2, Save for a rainy day. #3, Roll with the punches. And #4, Stop living paycheck to paycheck. With the last rule, YNAB helps you to create a "buffer" in your budget so that you're living off of last month's income this month and this month's income will just be hanging out and ready to use next month.

We haven't quite reached that point yet. But we're working on it and will be there this month. Lucky timing has allowed us to use our tax refund to establish our buffer. That means no more seeing super tiny numbers in the checking account at the end of the month and hoping that I can make them stretch until the next paycheck comes. What a huge relief that will be?!

Anyway, I'm sold. Between YNAB and Dave Ramsey, we're really learning a lot about money. It has completely changed my attitude. I don't think about our accounts or finances and grimace anymore. I'm excited to check the bank balance and see what's cleared, and then check it all in my budget. I'm not anxiously waiting for payday so that I can go grocery shopping or pay bills; I'm waiting for payday so I can play with my budget and see how far I can stretch our dollars!

You can bet I'll be purchasing YNAB when my trial expires. Sure NeoBudget was good to us while it lasted. Like an old relationship, we learned a lot about ourselves from it. And it set us up for an even better relationship now. So we're grateful. But we're also super happy to have found YNAB!!

Sorry about my crazy cheesiness. I'm just that excited about this stuff. Also, no I haven't been compensated in any way by any of these companies. I'm just that excited about this stuff. Have to share! Although, saving that much and paying that much in debt is compensation enough for me!!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Things I Haven't Blogged About

(and probably won't ever get caught up on, but we'll see)

Thanksgiving in Park City
New Year's
Payson's Birthday Party
Lucas is 6 Month's Old
Lucas's First Food
Making Homemade Baby Food
Payson Losing a Mouthful of Teeth :)
Weight Loss Progress...or Lack Thereof
My Birthday/Jason's Birthday

...and probably a handful of other things. Maybe one of these days I'll find some time and get all caught up. Or partly caught up. But I sort of doubt it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Grandparent's Day??

Yesterday we were running some errands and I had the following conversation with Payson:

P: Mom, when is Granparent's Day?
M: I have no idea. Why?
P: (she says this very seriously and excitedly) Because if the Grandpa sees his shadow, then there are 4 more days of winter!
M: (laughing HARD) I think you mean Groundhog's Day. :) If he comes out and sees his shadow there are 6 more weeks of winter. And it's tomorrow.

Luckily, Payson has a good sense of humor and laughed at herself. And then we called my mom to share. I got a text from my mom this morning:

"Grandpa saw his shadow!"

We all laughed pretty hard. :) I love my sweet Payson.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


After reading two financial books this month (Financial Peace Revisited and Total Money Makeover, both by Dave Ramsey, both HIGHLY recommended!) I needed a break! Not from reading, of course, but from reading so much seriousness. So I downloaded this to my Kindle:

And now I'm obsessed. I read it so fast and immediately downloaded the sequel, Catching Fire, today. I'm about 50 pages in already. And I'm hooked. I couldn't believe where the last book ended!! And I'm pretty nervous this one will leave me hanging as well. Grrr!

My sister's gave me exactly what I asked for for my birthday this year. A "sister date". :) They will be treating me to dinner (they're cooking!!) and a movie (my choice!!), just the three of us hanging out. Halfway through the book I called Madie, who's already read it, and told her that this was my movie choice! We'll have to wait until March, but I'm so excited!! I love the cast they've chosen and I'm so excited to watch!

Anyone else read this trilogy? What do you think?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Preparing for Baptism

How did she go from this tiny little ball of preemie love... this all grown up, smart, helpful, loving, amazing, beautiful 7 year old?!

(Payson opted for a family birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese instead of presents from mom and dad this year.)

Payson had her 7th birthday last week, which we think is a pretty special birthday. I guess 7 doesn't seem like a big deal in some families, but for us it's HUGE! Seven means that we have just one year to be sure we've done our jobs right and prepared her for baptism!! SCARY!!

Starting tonight we will be focusing our family home evenings on Payson. We'll be using the Preach My Gospel guide to prepare Payson for next year. We've gone through and broken the 5 lessons up with the small headings/sections in each and have about 35 lessons to teach between now and this time next year. (Which is perfect for us, since that leaves some extra weeks for when we have other activities planned, or we just plain old forget. It happens sometimes.)

I'm so excited to go through these lessons as a family. I'm excited to prepare them and learn from them and to watch our family learn together. I can't believe it will be leading up to my baby girl making her sacred baptism covenants! I get all emotional just thinking about it and it's still a year away!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

That Money Thing

Since my last post I have found even more to do to educate myself as far as family finances go. I mentioned reading Financial Peace Revisited. Then I went on and read Total Money Makeover. Which I LOVED!! I highly recommend both books. Jason's about through with Financial Peace right now and when he gets back from his next rotation at work I'll be forcing him (insert evil laugh here) to read Total Money Makeover. But if you were to only read one of the two, I would have to suggest Total Money Makeover.

When I first learned about Dave Ramsey in 2010 I thought he was great! I was really excited about his methods and ideas. And I was desperate for someone to show me how to fix things.

After this month of reading and doing a lot of financial work, I'm a full on convert. I'm using his lingo in my every day. I'm talking anyone's ear off who will listen. I'm searching for things that I can do to be more "gazelle". :) Jason is also very on board, although I think he's getting just a tad tired of talking money all the time. Poor guy.

For the first time in our life we have a PLAN for our future. Not just hopes and dreams. We always talked about how "one day we'll _______". Now we have a very specific written plan. And I'm incredibly excited about all the things we're working on!

Unfortunately we still have to suffer some consequences of our past behaviors and choices. We've been saying we'd get out of debt and into a house "in the next year or two" for a couple of years now. We were hoping. Dreaming. That's what we wanted. But there was no real plan.

Now? We have a very clear plan. In a world where we could have what we want when we want we would be buying a house right this very second. But know we understand what we need to to do really be able to afford a house. One that we can have paid off in 10 years! Will we be able to buy it in a year or two? Nope. But that's okay! Because if everything goes according to plan, it will only be 3 or 4. Will it be a giant dream house? Nope. It will be modest. Small, even. :) But it will be ours!

We may not get rich and be taking cruises and tropical vacations any time soon, but the hope and peace I feel about our financial future is better than any vacation I can think of.

And the added bonus? Getting our finances in order seems to have a side effect. Other things are falling in order, too. Life isn't perfect, but it's looking pretty lovely right now!

So if anyone wants to yack for hours about money, shoot me an email or give me a call!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Enough is enough already!!

I just started to type up a really long and personal post. And then I got to a part that felt familiar. And I realized that I had already written pretty much the exact same post! Ha!

That was over a year ago.

Wanna know how much debt we paid off in the last year?
A little.

Wanna know how much money we saved in the last year?
A little.

(That's me screaming in frustration, in case you were wondering.)

A part of me is so bugged! WHY am I still doing this? Why haven't I learned my lesson?? Why didn't we end the year with more to show for it? More debt paid off? More savings?

Another part of me is trying to be proud. Proud that although we didn't do the best this year, we absolutely did BETTER! We learned something this last year and made some small changes. And changes are what we are after.

And now it's time to do even better!

I've already posted about all the icky sickies that have been around our house lately. So rather than waste the entire first week of the year sitting around being sick or helping sick kids, I found some useful things to do:

I re-read Financial Peace by Dave Ramsey in a weekend.
I started listening to the Financial Peace University lectures on my iTunes again.
I completely revamped our cash flow plan.
I completely revamped our cash flow plan again.
I squeezed every last drop of money I could from that dang cash flow plan.

Jason and I have had a few really good, really long conversations about money this week, about what we can do, what we're going to do, to be even better this year.

I've run the numbers. And when Jason gets home we're going to run the numbers again. And we're going to make a real commitment to be crazy strict this year and get rid of our debt by the end of the year.

It's going to be reeeeeeeally hard. It's going to take a lot of sacrifice. We had talked about taking the kids to Disneyland this year. And we still could. But we could also take that money and pay off more debt, delay our Disneyland trip by only a few months, and then when we go to Disneyland we can enjoy it DEBT FREE!

Is sacrificing a fun family vacation hard? Yes. But it's possible!! If we educate ourselves, discipline ourselves, and really implement the things we're learning, there is absolutely NO reason we can't do this.

Now I just need someone to teach me how to let go of the things I'm still attached to. Like expensive hair appointments, new clothes for the kids, and my stupid smart phone/data plan. If I can just get myself to let go of some silly STUFF I can shave off even more debt and build savings!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Happy Birthday Hubby!!

This handsome guy turns 31 today!! Unfortunately he is doing it in Colorado with a bunch of dirty guys instead of here with his family who is missing him like crazy!

Love you a million, babe! Hope you have a great birthday! least as great as a birthday spent working away from your family can be. :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

How many times can I use the title "Sick of Being Sick" on my blog?

Because I'm pretty sure I've used that title in the past.

Oh well! I'm using it again!

We've been slammed with the icky sickies the last several weeks here. Jack started us off with just a bad cough/cold.

Then I got it next. But it was WAY worse. I started feeling like maybe I was coming down with a cold the Tuesday evening before Christmas and by the time I woke up I was plastered to the couch with an awful sore throat and the kind of cough that feels like you're being stabbed in the chest incessantly. I rarely go to the doctor, but after one day of that I made an appointment.

And guess what the doc said? "You have a cold. Go home and rest." Lame. It was a new doctor. And he was lazy. I didn't like him. I will never go back to him ever. I've never had a good doctor. Anyone have a doc they recommend?

Anyway, I suffered through Christmas. And finally started feeling slightly better this weekend. Almost two weeks after it started. I still have a slight cough and some congestion, but I feel almost back to normal which is GREAT!

Problem is, Lucas got sick over the weekend. :( Anyone who is around him long is usually very surprised by his demeanor. He literally never cries unless he gets hurt or he is scared/startled. And even then it lasts about 12 seconds. If that. When he is hungry or needs to be changed or is tired he will just talk/complain. It's actually pretty funny. He just does this whiny jabber thing to let us know he needs something. Otherwise he is all smiles all the time. He is a very low maintenance baby and has just brought us so much joy.

This was not the case over the weekend. He started getting really fussy in the middle of the night. He was even crying in his sleep like he wasn't feeling well. When he woke up his voice was hoarse and he had a really bad cough. My dad and brother gave him a priesthood blessing. And I got him in to the doctor yesterday.

Unlike the doctor I saw, I ADORE our pediatrician. He's amazing. He asked lots of questions checked Lucas out. The verdict? Bronchitis. Croup. And an ear infection! This is the first ear infection in any of my children. I know they are common for a lot of kids, but we've never had them. And apparently Lucas's little throat was very swollen and narrow. :( Luckily, he was still able to breathe and didn't need to be hospitalized. He was given an antibiotic for the infection and a steroid for the rest. And after 24 hours of meds he is acting MUCH more like himself! Which is wonderful, because I missed that gummy smile with those two tiny teeth. :)

As a side note, giving oral liquid medicine to an exclusively breastfed baby is not an easy thing. Last night my mom helped me hold his arms out of the way while I pinched his little cheeks and squirted the stuff in the back of his mouth/throat. He still only got about half of it swallowed. It took me 45 minutes to get the stuff in him this morning and most of it ended up being spit out again. I finally got smart tonight. I would squirt a little on the back of his mouth/throat and then quickly give him his binki! After a second we'd repeat it and the binki would get him to swallow. Hardly any spilling and it took me about 5 minutes! Yay!! This may not seem like a big deal to many, and maybe it was an obvious solution, but after the week we've had with the illnesses and not having Jason here to help out, it was reeeeeeally nice to have something go easy.