Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Update on Our 2016 Budget

So as I said last in my last Wednesday post I have sat down and made our budget for the year.  Now as my Mom says, "How can you budget for something 12 months from now?"  This is where I feel as though our budget book differs.  What I do at the end of each year is sit down and budget out what our monthly bills and compare our electric bill to that same month from the year before.

What this helps me do is see the things that need to be paid on each payday and ensure that they are paid and on time.  I make sure that when I buy a new budget book for the year that it is small enough that it will fit in any bag I may carry.  And that sucker goes with me everywhere!  It helps to serve as a constant reminder that I am a grownup and I have bills to pay before I go blowing money.  

They way I have found works for us with our budget book is this:

At the front of the book I always include a list of debts we are taking into the new year, a list of home renovation goals, a list of debt/money goals and a savings plan.  With all of these goals I try to be realistic and generally try to complete a debt goal and then reward myself with a home renovation goal.  These are all rather personal things for us so I would rather not include pictures of them.

I like to have 2 pages for each paycheck, generally just use front and back, and one page for the day before our next paycheck.  

On the back of the paycheck sheet I have listed 4 questions, I like to use these 4 questions to keep myself in check and to serve as a reminder of good and bad things I have done.  This is my space to be brutally honest about mine and Chris' spending habits and also keep an eye on how we are performing with goals.

And on the next page, my day before payday check in, is where I will keep track of what our bank accounts look like the day before we get paid.  Now currently Chris and I are living paycheck to paycheck and there is very little left over when it comes time to be paid again, although we did very well with setting aside money to spend on Alex for Christmas this year.  But this is a habit we desperately want to change for the coming years!  So in making this sheet in this year's budget book I hope it will become an encouraging factor to keep money in the bank so that I can be proud to write a number other than 0!  

On this page I have also made spaces for me to write in how much is left on both mine and Chris's car loans.  Our goal is to have Chris's car paid off before our anniversary in April and mine paid down by at least $6,000 dollars this year.  Once we pay off Chris's loan we intend to pay what we were paying on his to mine to pay it off sooner!

That is really it.  I try to be as simplistic as possible while still be thorough.  So far we are on a good track to start the year off right.

Maybe sometime in July I will try to check in on how our budget is doing.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Getting Out of the Post Christmas Slump

Holy Hannah Montana!

Christmas has come and gone and it apparently took all of my energy with it!  I don't think there has ever been a year I have felt this way after Christmas.  The easiest way for me to describe it is like I just worked 3 night shifts in a row and got no sleep!  I just can't seem to drag myself out of my bed or off of the couch!  SO in order to regain control of my life I have come up with a few ideas:

1. Drink at least 8 glasses of water.

I am THE WORST when it comes to drinking enough water throughout the day.  In fact it's not uncommon that at about 3 in the afternoon I think myself, "I don't think I have drank anything all day."  So to help make sure I accomplish this I have set aside a water bottle and plan to put washi on it with check boxes for the number of times I refill it! 

2. Do light exercises compatible with my walking boot

Now this stupid boot of mine is likely to stick around until late March or early April so I need to get back into exercising.  I have found a few YouTube videos of upper body exercises that I will do and will try doing some modified lunges and squats.  But also I have found that using my iWalk 2.0 provides quite the ab workout and right leg workout so I may begin to go to a local walking track with that.

3. Clean one room per day

I am very much so the type of person who will neglect cleaning all day and then at the end of the week get so overwhelmed by the clutter that I have a freak out moment and go on a rampage until the whole house is clean.  Well since I am still not allowed to walk on my left foot, doing that is not good for me.  So I plan to take a little bit of time and clean one room completely each day and recruit Alex to help me get things off of the floor, and even better have him help me sweep the floor with his new vacuum from my Grandma.  (He uses this same vacuum at my Grandma's and helps "clean" for hours every time he is there.)

4. Spend as much time outside as possible

Our weather in Cincinnati has been all over the place over the last few weeks. One week it is 70 degrees and the next it is back into the 30's.  I believe this one will be the most difficult.  Walking around on crutches stinks!  However we have family that have screened and covered porches that I spend a significant amount of time with so maybe on weather permitting days I will go there and sit on the porch and read for awhile.

5. Get up before the boys

Now with Chris working the night shift currently it should be easy to be up before him, however our bed is so warm and very cozy in the mornings.  Chris has been awesome to let me sleep in in the mornings and he will sleep in Alex's room with him or play with him in the mornings until I get up.  Did I mention that since I have been off of work that I really love sleeping in and feel like I require 18 hours of sleep a day? (My work hasn't let me return to work on my crutches)  I feel like getting up early would provide me ample time to get ready for the day, relax and enjoy the quiet and even get some work done around the house or for my photography.

I hope these tips will be beneficial to you as I hope they will do the same for me.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

I'm Going Back to Work

I'm cleared to go back to work with modified duty as of today!! Only I don't know where I will be working?  It was mentioned that me using my iWalk crutch could be a safety hazard in an ICU and makes it extremely difficult for me to sit and down and feed babies easily.  So my work will be finding a temporary job, likely a desk job, dun dun dunnnn.  I am not made for a desk job, but I am extremely grateful that they are accommodating my work restrictions period.

So today I would like to share a simple prayer I have prayed in preparation for returning to work after being off 7 weeks recovering from surgery.

Heavenly Father,
Please place your healing hands over me and make my transition back to work as peaceful and non-stressful as possible.  Please give patience to my temporary co-workers as I am learning a new job and grant me the ability to learn these new tasks quickly and become a great help to this department.  I know all things will go as you have planned and intended for you know my path and will not lead me into anything not intended for me.  Thank you for the path of healing you have lead me on and that the hiccups we have encountered have been minor and that things are looking up! 


Friday, December 18, 2015

Toddler Christmas Gift Guide

This Christmas we have had the hardest time shopping for Alex.  As we find he needs or wants something throughout the year we typically just buy it.  But he wants and needs have changed so much over the last year.  Last Christmas it was all about choo-choo trains this year it's all about games and candy.  So I figured I would share with you some of the things on our radar when we were shopping for Alex.

 Over the last few months we have been working diligently to transition Alex from sippy cups to "big-boy" cups.  Tervis Tumbler's have been a life saver in this process.  Chris and I have found a few throughout the year and have purchased them for him to use but I have purchased 2 more for Christmas presents.  They are VERY nice to hide candy in for Alex as well!

Another gift we have done is, we ordered a few movies through Alex's Disney Movie Club membership.  We love using our membership to preorder upcoming releases but also to get a discount on our purchases!  If you have never looked into this before you are wasting your money buying movies from other places!!  Another awesome feature is that if you enter in movie codes on most new movies you get a free digital download that will play through the Disney Movies Anywhere app over WIFI.

We also found a VERY gently used bike with training wheels for Alex this year.  We debated the tricycle but wanted something that would last him a little longer.  I cannot wait for it to get warm and take him outside with his bike!

Alex's big ticket item this year is definitely this LeapTV Educational Gaming System.  I absolutely hate video games, however Alex loves them!  So I set out on a mission to find something he could learn valuable things from and it wasn't long before I found this.  We ordered him 2 games to with it, and I believe one of his grandma's ordered him some more games and another controller.  Now I would never pay $130 for a game for a 3 year old but I found this 50% before black Friday at Target! I really think he will love this and hope it makes learning as fun as it looks in the promos for it!

Now this LeapFrog Epic 7 tablet was defintily at the top of our list to get Alex this year, but it is also $130.  But seeing as though  I have been off work and not getting paid even a 1/4 of my normal pay we weren't able to make it work, but don't tell Alex, this will be his potty training gift when finally gets potty trained!

We have gotten him a few other little things but I figured these would be the big ticket items I would share.  I hope this helps you out in some way, and if you have other cool ideas please let me know in the comments section!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Making Our 2016 Budget

As 2015 is coming to a close is has become very apparent that Chris and I need to sit down and make our preliminary budget for 2016 in place.  Budgeting is a relatively new thing for Chris and I.  We sat down at the end of 2014 and made a month by month budget for 2015 and stuck to it hardcore until about July-ish.  Of course our intention next year is to make it through the whole year using the budget, but at least this way we have a basis to return to.  

What I like to be sure to include in the budget are:

Our scheduled paydays
Our monthly bills
Debts we are paying off
Bi-Weekly expenses
Weekly expenses
Our tithing for church biweekly

I make sure to make a column for our anticipated expenses and what we actually spent, and when a bill gets paid it gets crossed off in blue, if it does not I put a red star next to it.

I place all of this info into a very small notebook and that book then comes with me EVERYWHERE!  It stays in my purse or work bag and it is used not only as a visual reminder to stick to the budget, but when I pay a bill or a bill pops up I am able to look and see immediately if we need to adjust the budget or if it will be in the budget to pay it this pay period or next.

Now this may not seem like a lot of sense to you, but it makes perfect sense to us, mainly me since I sit down and pay the bills monthly.  Chris and I do not make the same amount of money every month, we have chosen to save money in the grocery department and time in the convenience department and buy our lunches at work, this may not be the most economical thing to do but it works for us.  

This year we are planning to do something a little different.  I am sure you have seen it on Pinterest, but we are going to do the weekly savings plan, but on a bi-weekly basis, and starting with week 1 & 52.  Since we both get paid on the same day that would get really expensive.  This year we will not both be doing it, but only 1 of us will be.  2017, if this works out in 2016, we will both do it.

So next Wednesday, I will give an update on how far into the budget we got!

Now I am no CPA, but if you have questions with how I make this work or if you would like tips on how to budget for yourself just let me know in the comments below!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Our Visit With Santa & The Festival of Lights

Every year for the last 3 years we have gone to The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens to visit Santa Claus.  In my opinion he is the best one in Cincinnati and I won't waste my time in the mall Santa's line ever again.  Now Alex has only cried once with a Santa but never the one at the Zoo.  He is just simply magical and makes grown adults like myself believe again.

This year Alex told Santa he wants candy and pow-pows.  Santa replied, "I know we have plenty of candy in the North Pole, but I will have to see what I can do about those pow-pows."  Alex was waving to Santa the entire time we were in line and couldn't stand still when he was next in line.

 These will forever be some of my favorite photos of Alex.

After we finished our visit with Santa we went around the rest of the zoo and looked at the lights and Alex and Chris rode the train.  Since I am still non-weightbearing on my foot we borrowed a wheelchair from a family member Chris pushed me around in that without a word of complaint.  I truly have an amazing husband.

Aren't my boys so handsome?

Just checking on Santa's reindeer, making sure they are in tip top shape.

 He is so stinkin' cute!  And that hat on his head, we have had for the last 3 years, it still fits his head, and dare I say it might be a little big.

Every year Alex and I have taken a picture on this trail, The Twinkling Trail, at the zoo.  They are some of my favorite pictures of us together. 

Alex saw this Gingerbread Man and said, "Mommy, I want to take a picture with him and then I want to eat him!"

He had so much fun looking at all of the lights and riding the train.  He is the sweetest little boy and I am blessed to call him mine.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

How I Organize My Planner Supplies

This week I thought I would choose to use Wife Wednesday to share my planner supply organization system.  I know I am not the only one with this problem.  You start into a hobby and as you accumulate things you run out of space to put them, or they begin to take over a certain room in your house.  Well I have organized my "stuff" into one little cart in my bedroom.  But what I have done is organized my most used things into this bag that I can just pick up and go.

I found this bag at Hobby Lobby and waited until it went on sale since every other week things are 50% off.  It is made by The Paper Studio.  And needless to say it is grey chevron so it is perfect!  I think I scored it for $20!

Now to delve into what's inside.

I found this date stamp at Target in the Dollar Spot, before it became Bullseye's Playground.  I use it to mark on my calendar when I plan out the next week.

This is the pouch where I keep all of pens and Papermate Flairs.  It also holds my scissors and exacto knife that I use to cut out my own homemade stickers occasionally.

This is my church journal/devotional journal.  When I don't have it out on Sunday's it stays in this bag so it is easy to find since I am in it almost daily.

I also keep my Bible in this bag as well, it just goes hand in hand with my devotional. This was a gift from Chris and I absolutely love it.  He got us each one the day we were baptized.  On top of it is one of my Erin Condren bookmarks, it is an extra that I will use to mark my spot I left off at in my Bible.

Next is my planner.  I got my Christmas cover in the mail last week. I got this for free from Erin Condren with using my 5th order code!

Next I have a 31 zipper pouch I use to store all of my planner covers. I love the little collection I have accumulated and I love it even more that I only really paid for one of them, the others were bought with coupon codes or gift cards.

Next I have my accordion files I bought at Target from the dollar spot and office supply section I have them organized in a way that makes sense to my brain, I will go through that at another time. 

And in one of my side pockets I will often keep my most recent GrooveBook so that I can coil clip in some of the most recent cool memories.

In another side pocket I keep these booklets I got from Michael's.  I like to use them mainly for my monthly spreads to mark important things or full day events.

And lastly I keep a business card for one of my favorite Etsy shops Finch & Sparrow Prints.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Our First Week With Christopher Pop-In-Kins

Our elf Christopher Pop-In-Kins has returned from the North Pole!  

Let's take a recap on his shenanigans for the last week!

On the first night, 11/30, we opened our first gift from our advent calendar.  And it was our Christopher Pop-In-Kins book!  Alex loved listening to it for the first few minutes so we highlighted the important parts for him.

When Alex woke up the next morning, 12/1, Christopher had made the long journey from the North Pole!

He brought him a super nice note, which Alex carried around the whole day!  He even took it to bed with him!

The next morning, 12/2, we found Christopher in a bit of a predicament.  It appears as though he was looking for a DVD, or maybe a particular picture?  He got trapped in under this cover in my old picture storage discs.  

The next morning, 12/3, we found him on a zipline of Christmas lights. Our mistletoe is at the end of the line.  Maybe he was wanting a kiss?

On the morning of 12/4, we found Christopher on our tree.  On Thursday Alex and I spent the day shopping with my mom and grandma.  My mom bought me this beautiful Christmas tree topper and we got home too late to be able to put it up that night, well it seems Christopher knew how much I wanted it up so he it took it upon himself.  He can be so helpful!

On Saturday morning, 12/5, we woke up to find Christopher in this position.  He must have heard how scared Alex was of the noises the dryer was making the night before. He found my washi tape and taped the door shut but also sat and stood guard with one of Alex's mini nerf guns.  (PSA: If your son is obsessed with nerf guns like mine, he may have a massive freak out to find his elf playing with his "pow-pows.")

And Sunday morning, 12/6, as we were getting ready to walk out the door we went to pour Alex a glass of chocolate milk and found Christopher in the fridge hooked onto the chocolate milk.  I think he was thirsty.  

It has been a super fun week! We can't wait to share the next week with you!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Simple Prayer

Today I just want to share a small prayer with you that I have prayed during my recovery period and in the pre-op room prior to going in for surgery.

I would deem myself a generally anxious person, and although I have a medical background it is still rather overwhelming to be put under general anesthesia.  Perhaps the most anxiety provoking part for me is not being in control of every aspect of the surgery, the recovery period as well as my body. 

To say I am independent is an understatement.  I have never been one with a need to rely on others.  As I posted a few weeks ago, here,  it is incredibly hard to hand over all control to God, but once Chris and I did this we experienced so much in the way of life change.  But as I also said I still have trouble doing this and remind myself almost daily that His plan is the best plan.  I do so with this prayer.

Heavenly Father,

I seek you with all of my heart.  I ask for your guidance and strength during this difficult time.  For although I find it difficult to hand over full control of my body, I will place my full trust into your more than capable hands for you can do all things immeasurably more than I.  I know that you are the ultimate physician and the ultimate healer.  Your plan for my life was designed for me long before I was born.  Please guide me to you in all things and lead me towards a path of patience and understanding. 


Friday, December 4, 2015

Letters to Santa

 We are officially into December!  This officially means it is ok for me to start decorating my house for Christmas, now if only I could find that last missing tote that has somehow disappeared...

However with it being December that also means that it is time for a visit with Santa!  We are making a visit this weekend so I thought this would be a perfect time to write a letter to our good friend up north.

I thought it would be fun to hand over the reigns to Alex and let him write to Santa with what he wants for Christmas.  Well instead of drawing pictures of what he wanted, he drew a picture of Santa and his reindeer.  

Beautiful isn't it?

I then helped to write out his letter to the big guy.  He asked for games like daddy's, legos, pow pows lots of candy.   Alex loves technology and playing on Chris' phone, but it drives me bonkers.  So I have been doing a little collaborating with Santa and we have something game-changing coming, pun intended.

I am quite proud of my little Picasso.  

And now here are a few pictures to reflect on from the last 2 Christmas's and Alex's visits to Santa.  We can't wait to see him again this Sunday!  He is the real deal!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Our Couple's Massage Date

A little over a week ago Chris and I went on a day date.  Going on a date is a rarity for Chris and I, and to have such an extravagant date was incredible.  We are extremely blessed that we were able to spend this time together and it wouldn't have been possible without our amazing babysitter.

Now I am not a stranger to getting a massage.  Chris spoiled me while I was in nursing school and would reward me with an hour massage at the end of every semester. I love them!  I find them extremely relaxing and rejuvenating.  Chris has never had a massage and to say he was anxious leading up to the massage would be an understatement.  He would try to pawn off the massage on everyone in our close family circle.  For him I think he was more so nervous about a stranger touching him.  (Chris's personal bubble extends further than arms reach.)
While we were waiting in the lobby for our appointment time Chris was visibly nervous, he even knocked over a pamphlet holder that was filled with tons of pamphlets.  When we got into our room we both picked our tables and prepared ourselves for the massage to start.  Chris was fidgeting and talking a mile-a-minute.  

Then the massage started, Chris has a male masseuse and mine was female.  I found it so hard to relax because I was so worried about Chris relaxing and enjoying himself that my mind just couldn't relax, but the massage itself was great.  Then all of a sudden I heard an extremely familiar sound, Chris was snoring!  He was relaxing enough to fall asleep, he was loving it!  And just like that I was out!  Fast asleep while my new best friend Brittany massaged away at my legs. And just like that our massage was over.  

Ultimately Chris loved it!  He told me as we were leaving that he wants to have one of these dates every month!  Keep dreaming brother!  

After our massage we went out to lunch.  We decided to go to lunch at The Cheesecake Factory. We have only been there 2 or 3 times but after this visit we both came to the agreement that the food is just not good enough for the price.  It's a nice place in theory and the atmosphere is nice but not worth $58 for 2 entrees and 2 desserts.  Although it was extremely refreshing to sit at lunch by ourselves and just talk. It's usually while on a date that you realize how important it is to continue to date your spouse.

Here's to dates becoming a more regular thing in our household.  (Maybe that should be a New Year's Resolution?)

Monday, November 30, 2015

Welcome Back Christopher Pop-In-Kins!

Tomorrow is the big day!

Our elf Christopher Pop-In-Kins will return from the North Pole tomorrow.  We have been talking to Alex and showing him pictures from last year, he appears excited and has been looking for him around the house already.  We have talked to him about not being able to touch his elf or that his elf will lose his magical Christmas powers.  We are not much to threaten the whole "Santa's watching" but instead that Santa travels the world to give one gift to each boy and girl to celebrate Jesus' birthday.

Last year I wasn't able to keep up with that sneaky little elf and wasn't able to catch him in all of his sneaky trickery.  But this year Santa and I have discussed and it and made plans, even put them into my planner, and we are confident we will be able to stay on top of it this year!!

My plan through the month of December will be that Momday Monday's will be our weekly recaps for Christopher Pop-In-Kins and all of his antics.

To help you get excited for tomorrow being December 1st here are some photos of Christopher from last year!