Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What Happened?

I've been so good about being budgety lately. Our dining expenses are way down, and I've cut back where I can in groceries and gas. It was probably a good thing I did, because my job at Bob's Produce Ranch ended this past Sunday, when I was told through a phone call that "the store was closing effective immediately."

Yep, that sucked big time!

So imagine my surprise when I opened my cell phone bill and found a HUGE jump in the amount I'm used to paying. I thought it was a mistake, and started scrolling through the bill. Then I found this.

those are just the extra charges on my phone, above and beyond what my normal bill is. See, the genius that I am, I reduced nate and my text messages per month, to cut our bill about $40. smart, right? only, from the looks of it, I went over my messages by about 227, and got charged that money anyways. AND, on top of that, since i figured out how to check my facebook on my phone, i racked up some hefty media net (internet) charges too, to the tune of $30.


moral of the story: sometimes saving money can cost you money if you aren't being careful.

Monday, December 22, 2008

i am a mom of a tweenager

that's her in the front row center. she's great. (still a teenager, but great!) i let her have some of her mca friends over last friday night. it's important to me that she keeps those friendships, and it makes me feel good knowing the people she's letting in to her life. they were a swarm of fashion, gossip and fun...all at the same time. half the time, she was my little girl, decorating gingerbread men and laughing. the other half, i caught myself staring, not recognizing the voice of a girl who knows WAY more than i thought she did. (note to self, must have the dating talk again with her). we always tell her that she was the reason we have 4 kids: had she not been the sweetest and best baby ever, we would have never wanted more. she was so great, we knew we wanted more kids just like her.

last friday, i remembered why.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

Christmas Conversations

1. Do you have a real or artificial tree? Artifical, all the beauty without the mess.
2. Do you like eggnog? in small quantities.
3. Favorite Holiday memory? getting a tube sock with stocking stuffers instead of a "classic" stocking. my dad's mom, grandma almquist, was a budgety lady.
4. Favorite Christmas movie of all time? White Christmas.
5. What do you have for dinner at Christmas? Christmas Eve: All nibblies (the best!) Christmas Day: Turkey and Ham, and all the fixings
6. Favorite Christmas song? A Baby Changes Everything by Faith Hill
7. Favorite Christmas treat? Spritz Cookies
8. Do you put up lights on the outside of your house? Nope, nate does. :P

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

slippery slope (not soap, blue's clues fans)

so nate and i have purposed to not spend money going out to eat lately. one, because we should be spending our money more wisely than dining out. and two, because we felt that our kids had become "too comfortable" with going out to eat all the time, when its actually a blessing to be taken out, so it should be a reward.


so this past weekend, friday namely, nate and i met up in plymouth to hang out while parker was at a birthday party at pump it up. every parent has suffered through this once or twice, so you do the best to stay busy. we decided to go to leann chin. YUM! what a treat, considering we hadn't been there in such a long time. so we eat dinner, bum around michaels crafts for a while, and then pick up parker.

but after we get him, we're feeling "peckish". so we decide we need dessert from wendy's. namely FROSTYs!

not too bad, right? keep reading.

then on saturday, after i get off work to find out i have a flat tire (bummer!), we head up to Tires Plus to get a spare put on. they tell us they're going to order one, so kill the time letting the kiddos spend their birthday $ at target. but let's get some snacks at the cafe first.


then sunday, through all sorts of lack of planning, it becomes 2 o'clock before the kids haven't even eaten lunch. i am running out the door for the 5th, so i tell nate just to take them to BK.

double cha-ching

after the 5th, since i never ate lunch, nate and i decide to get some chipotle and have a mini date night. fun?? yes. romantic? yes. budgety?


fast forward to monday morning, when i balance the checkbook every week. it balances, but i can't figure out why i don't have any grocery money.

oh yeah, its because i spent $97 in three days on things that (through planning and a little effort) i could have made at home.

like i said, its a slippery slope. nate and my new favorite catch phrase:

"lesson learned"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

just for miss susan

thank you for your kind words. you touched my heart, truly. so, comment away, my friend. :)

here come's the bride

my cousin is getting married next june.

my aunt asked if we'd come to the wedding, it would mean a lot to tina.


so i go to to find out how much gas will be. $300

sure, still coming.

and then i go start pricing out hotels for six. keep in mind, i want to have a nice one, with a pool, that's close to everything fun and the wedding. and, it needs to be for 4 nights. $700

possibly still coming.

and then i start pricing out fun things to do in the area. because i TALKED nate into coming with us (its a heglund thing, so its obligatory at best!), so this is our family vacation. $300+

we might come.

just kidding! we're going. it just goes to show how much a "sure, we'll come" will cost you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

this is what i get for having a job

i work. at bob's produce. an entry level job where i love the people. yep, i do.

saturdays and sundays. i'd rather not work, but our budget requires it right now. saturdays i work a 6-8 hour shift, and then come home to make dinner, run laundry and homework. sundays i start at 7 am at Bob's, work until 2:30, come home and shower, and then head to the 5th service until 9:00 or so. its not new, its been going on for a while. it is what it is.

i'm not whining, just giving you an idea of what goes on.

i try to make it easy on nate when i am gone. leave him easy meals, and very little "to-do" list things to do. i tell him, "the kids don't have to do their 'chore lists' (every mom has a once a week chore list), but just have them keep the house picked up".

here's what he understood it to mean:

"please make sure that you leave any messes you don't want to clean up for me to do on my day off on Monday. "

and here's a taste of what i woke up to, which i will be cleaning for the next four to six hours. keep in mind, its my "day off".

happy monday to me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

a little humor

sometimes words just fail me...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sometimes I hate Facebook


i see all these photos from parties i'm not at, and weddings of people from LONGGGGGG ago, with friends that were friends equally long ago, and i wonder why i'm not in them. not invited, not mentioned, not even a thought.

its not like i have a lifestyle like theirs, or have careers like theirs, or even have a need to be friends with them anymore, but so much of my life is spent....where? i have re-typed that sentence with three different endings, and none of them make sense. i have kids, but so do the people in the photos. i have a job, and so do the people having fun. i have a husband, and so do everyone in the photos of couples having game nites and parties.

so what is it?

i feel like most of my life is spent on the sidelines, watching everyone having fun, and wishing i could be a part of it. someone the other day found out i was "invited" to go out to lunch with some friends, and they asked "why are you hanging out with my friends? i didn't think they were your friends." and she was right.

they aren't my friends. they are just people who invite me to things, because they know that i bring a lot of fun with me.

yay me!

the sad part of it is that most of my life is spent indoors, watching tv, hanging with my kids, and being with my husband. because we don't get invited to things, we don't have any other couples we hang out with, and i don't feel like i have any real true friends, other than my two sisters and people that i call "co-workers"

this is me, wondering why life at 31 feels strangely like life in high school. and wishing, again, that i felt like i belonged.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

how many burgers does it take to feed a motorcycle gang?

what did you do today?

i cleaned my house, and then fed 14 guys from a motorcycle shoot nate did this morning. the group included hard-core riders from the Black Sheep, to weekend riders like nate's dad. they came down our street, roaring on their choppers, and came into the house like a cloud of black leather. all smiles and hellos though, these guys were one of a kind. nate showed up after they did, but was happy to find that the kids had done a good job being good hosts while i manned the grill. everyone enjoyed jalepeno jack and bacon cheddar burgers from bob's produce, and everyone left full! nate was happy, and so was i.

Friday, October 3, 2008

there's gotta be a lesson in here somewhere!

so this past sunday, nate and i were supposed to go see my fave singer (marc broussard) at the varsity theater. its been a little more than 2 years since marc came, so i was THRILLED to find out he was coming. i bought the tickets months ago, so i had a countdown going of the days until we went. fast forward to sunday: our kids were being HORRIBLE, and although i have been fine with leaving the kids home under madison's supervision before, they were at each others throats. so we made a big decision to skip it. we're out the money, but hey, we got the night together, right?


now skip back to yesterday. nate comes home from work, after a long week of impossible deadlines and too many malfunctions to name, and tells me that he is no where near ready for the motorcycle shoot he's planned for saturday, and needs all the time he can to get ready for it. which means friday night's plan is out. did i mention i had third row seats at the weezer concert tonight at the xcel energy center? and they are nate's favorite band? and the tickets cost a small fortune? and nate doesn't want to try and sell them on craigslist or anything, he'll just "give them away to someone at work".

:double crushed:

so now, with only one more set of tickets in hand (15th row for "Wicked" at the Orpheum), i am wondering if i should stop buying tix to concerts and stuff, because my best intentions turn into capital losses for our budget. i REALLY want to go to wicked, and have already warned nate that even if he decides not to go, i will take one of my friends and go. what are the odds we would have to cancel for a third time?

i don't even want to think about it!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

its a budget, people!

well here's my attempt at a second "riveting" post. nate and i were paying the mortgage ( i love it!) today, and looking at our upcoming bills for the month. its interesting, looking at how things have changed since we moved in. for instance: diet coke, although a staple in my book, goes unreplenished if my grocery money has already been spent. and the bills, well, in the apartment, it was cell phone, cable, and electric (all totaling less than $200 a month).

now, its garbage, water, electric, heat, cable (extra awesome cable with a dvr!), home phone, and insurance. and i am looking at all these bills, and like most people, trying to figure out a way to cut them back a bit. i could lose the dvr and super+ cable, but its my one luxury item in life. did i just say that? then our cell phones, i could cut back to less than 200 txts a month, but i would end up paying more just because my sisters and i are addicted to txting a few times a day, so its cheaper just to keep the plan.

groceries. yep, 6 people, four of them being starving children. haha. nope, that ain't it.

then it occurred to me today that i enjoy watching my super+ cable (on our 50 inch plasma) when i come home from work at 230ish. and then i watch when my shows are on around 7, until 9 or so. then we clean up, load the dishwasher, and get in bed around 11. then i watch tv (on my 13 inch) for an hour or so more, and then set my sleep timer on the tv for 90 minutes so i can fall asleep to it (melissa knows what i am talking about!) overall, i figure that i watch tv or have the tv on for 6 hours a day, on a productive day. on my days off, its not unusual for me to keep the tv on while i watch old 90210 reruns while cleaning up or running laundry, so add a few hours more. i know, its disgusting, but bear with me here.

so while i am pondering all this over while paying bills, nate mentions to me that with winter approaching, our gas bill will only get higher as we heat the house (its on no setting right now, since the house stays perfect without heat or cool). this gets me thinking: i wonder how much my constant tv watching affects our electric bill? so i get a great idea to challenge myself (and hopefully, my budget):

for the next month, i will no longer be watching tv during daytime hours, and will limit my tv watching time to 7-9 pm. that means, no more 90210, no more late night "seinfeld" or "will and grace" reruns while i fall asleep. and if its not a tv night where one of my "shows" is on, the tv won't get turned on. overall, i think i will, cut our electric bill by a quarter (or maybe a third!). right now, our electric bill is about $121.00 a month. this a good chance for me to change my very worst behavior (mindless tv watching), and maybe improve my budget a bit. i think it will be great.....i hope! thoughts???

Monday, September 29, 2008

a time for thankfulness

a year ago, we were in a 3 bedroom apartment, with four kids, wondering when our "big break" would come. we'd already moved twice, and this apartment was the nicest place we'd ever lived in. before this, a low income townhouse, where we hated the thought of sending our kids outside by themselves. before that, we had a home in crystal. a small home, our first home, but it was ours. our situation wasn't unusual: we owned a house, and with that house, came a lot of debt. We owned the debt, but really never owned up to it, until we fell behind in our house payments, then our credit cards, then our utilities. the phone rang off the hook all day long, but i never answered it. my cell phone was a safe bet to answer, when it wasn't being shut off for lack of payment.

to say that it was completely my fault would be entirely true. i was a stay at home mom, wanting to live like her friends, with things and playdates and cars and "the life"! but that wasn't where we were at. i spent, money I never had, online, and in catalogs, and in person. when nate took away my credit cards, thinking that it had solved the problem, but i had memorized the numbers long beforehand. i spent, he worked, and i kept spending. i kept waiting for that big bailout, when someone would give us all the money to solve our problems. but it never came. when the foreclosure notices started coming, i ignored them. when collectors came knocking on our front door, the kids and i "played hide and seek" upstairs, me always peeking out the windows until the collector drove away. i was depressed, suicidal, ready to leave nate. not because i didn't love him, but because i would have rather left than stay inside the black hole i had created for myself. our families tried to help, lending us money to get ahead again, but within a month, we'd get behind.

so what happened?

a GOD moment.

everyday, i'd call my sister kelly, begging her to pray for me and help me figure out what to do. she never knew what to do, but she'd always pray with me on the phone. then one day, she called me and said, " i just passed this truck that said they buy houses, and i think God is showing it to me so that you can get out of your house and start over". i was floored! none of the scenarios i'd imagined said that we'd leave the house. but we'd grown to hate the house, and all the debt and turmoil that we'd bought with it! i called, and the next day, a man came out and looked at the house. he said a lot of work needed to be done (it did!), so that would affect how much money we would get out it. he offered us $2000 up front, just so we could get on our feet, and then a little more than that when the house sold. this was the best and worst thing imaginable. we'd get out of the house, but lose everything that we wanted with it. we'd lose our freedom, and that sense of success you get when you achieve your dreams.

but it wasn't up to us. the sheriff was coming, and we had to move.

so we rented a roll off dumpster, emptied 2 years of things that we knew we'd never have room for into it, found a low income place we could afford, and moved. when we drove away, kelly and fred were there, with our four kids and our short life of memories stuffed into the trunk. i cried, but not for the house, but for the person i had become, and the affect of my decisions. i vowed that we would never be there again.

there was no bailout, no "big cash bonus", just a lot of hard work, and a lot of stress. nate and i took more jobs than any 2 people with four kids should have. it was humbling, because most of our friends wouldn't even visit our house, because it was so bad. our garage got broken into the first night we were there, so that says something! we lost our pride, and the false sense of who "we SHOULD be", and woke up to who we really were. we were broke, and starting over, but we were blessed to get a second chance. we got financial aid, we got WIC and MAC, and any other free program we could. nate's parents frequently dropped by "extra groceries" they said they didn't have room for, and my sisters were constantly buying 2 of everything, and giving one to me. it was humiliating for us, but it taught us a valuable lesson: the life we lead is only what we make of it. we suffered for what we'd done to ourselves, but found hope every day in the promise that a better day was coming. our marriage was strengthened by our need to cling to each other, because that's really all we had. each credit card we paid off felt like a victory, and the debt total kept going lower and lower!

we moved to the apartment, but only because our kids had grown, and so had our need for safety and space. we kept chugging away at the debt, and last november, we made the final payment on our unimaginable mountain of debt. to say that it feels great is an understatement. i feel proud of myself, and nate, but i am grateful for the opportunity to prove to everyone that people can change.

so we saved, and worked, and dreamed of owning a home again. our priorities changed, and saw that our family was our focus again. when nate resigned from LWCC, his employer of 9+ years, we thought we'd never get into a house, but God took our leap of faith and blessed us with an opportunity to own the home of our dreams. every single thing we'd put on our "wish list", we'd found, and in a price range we could afford.

this july, on our 10 year anniversary, we closed on our dream house. we brought our kids with us to the closing, because we all had to work to get here. and we never stop telling them that this dream was a gift from God, one we had to be patient for. somewhere along the way, i stopped expecting to be like everyone else, and just started loving MY life and MY kids, just the way we all were. i awoke from the person i had become, complacent and selfish, and found myself in a place of grace. every day when i drive up in the driveway, i smile, because at the end of my rope 4 1/2 years ago as we drove away from our first house, i never expected that God would bring me home again, but He did.