Wednesday, March 27, 2013

the debt reduction diaries: march

alright, let's just get down to it:

the whining:
*I'm reeeealy sick of this grocery budget.
*I got another late fee this month.  forgot to pay Brielle's preschool bill.  SERIOUSLY...what is wrong with me.
*Trader Joe's raised the price of my very favorite item from there.  brown rice medley.  it used to be $1.99 and now it's $4.99.  goodbye you bag of wonderfulness.  see ya never again. :(
*I've gained five pounds, most likely from only slightly changing our diet. we're still not eating much of it, but some processed foods have crept their way back into our home, thanks to their lovely price tag.  boo.
*our list of 'things we need to fix but can't afford to' grew this month.  found out the computer will be $300 at least to send it in.  we can totally do without it, but it's the computer I was using for all my photography stuff.  so now I just have to figure out what to do.  (did you know I've been dabbling in photography???  every year I have a handful (or two handfulls) of families who ask me to take their pics, so this year I started charging $50.  cheap enough for most people, but it helps me cover my time that I could be spending sewing, which would bring in some money. so anyway, I have to figure out what to do without that computer, learn new programs, etc.) so yeah, that 'list' now consists of Steve's car, the back sliding door, the bathroom vent/fan, and the computer. but we're managing just fine without them all. :)  (and the dishwasher USED to be on that list!)
*my serger also broke. :(  so I spent a whole spring break day (when I could actually be sewing all day) trying to fix it first, because I wasn't about to shell out a bunch of money if it was something I could do.  so I wasted the whole day because it really was broke, and then I still had to pay to get it fixed.  that was one item that was NOT allowed on 'the list' because I really need it.  so that just stunk. but...the guy got it back to me the NEXT day.  last summer when I brought it in to another place, I had to wait like TWO freaking weeks to get it back.  so I guess I should just quit complaining about the cost and be thankful I got it back for the rest of spring break.  I got a lot done that week.
*I'm having a really hard time with the whole balance thing.  I actually did really well with the budgeting part this month.  we had $38 and two weeks left for meal planning this month (I realize that doesn't sound like I was doing good, but bear with me).  so I took a piece of paper and a pen, and wrote down all the random things that were in our cupboards.  a can of this, a half eaten bag of that.  and I put all that random stuff on our meal plan. and I got out my calculator and old receipts (so I could be SURE of the prices) and made my list of things to buy to turn the random things into meals.  by that time I had $31, and when I got to the register, my total was $31.77....BUT Josiah brought his own money to buy a candy for a dollar, so that means...UNDER BUDGET baby! :)  I was proud.  my master plan worked. :)  I have since spent about $4 of "other money" though, because I could NOT stomach the quick oats for one more day.  seriously, I'm a steel cut kind of girl, and I was gagging.  it was bad.  so I guess now I technically went over budget.  but it was worth it.  oh, and today I bought a can of beans for $.78. but I used change to buy it so I feel like it doesn't count as going over. :) ok, but staying focused on the budget, and working on pinkadink orders, and keeping the house maintained, all of which I did a pretty darn good job of this month, totally took over my life.  The things in my life like rest, and devotions, and other important things took a back seat.  more on that later, I guess.  but it just didn't feel like a very successful month, life-wise.

ok and now the blessings:
*we got a DISHWASHER!!!!!  our friends (who were not all that long ago in our shoes with the whole debt elimination thing) upgraded, and blessed us with their old (but perfectly functioning, just kinda loud) :) one.  and let me just say, that if you ever want to give someone the gift of TIME, that's the way to do it.  I cannot even express my gratefulness for that gift.  It makes me cry.
*the pinkadink orders continue to come in.  I agreed to do the whole daycare thing again because normally this time of year is slow for me.  But I've seen 2am three times in the last week, just trying to get caught up with orders.  at one point this month I had over 80 items on my list of orders, and now it's down to like, under 20 or so.  just in time for my parties next month!  I feel so blessed.  It's the type of thing that I feel guilty about, ya know, when people hand me a big check.  But my dear husband constantly reminds me that these people (God bless them!) are CHOOSING my business, and my work, and my style, and my effort, and my quality, because they want to. I need to remind myself that everyone else who works any job gets paid for their time and their skills too.  it's a constant battle, as I'm sure it is with any sell-what-I-make type of people. But I'm just so thrilled that people love my stuff! :)  and even when it calls for some late nights, I LOVE that it's really happening for me. that I'm able to earn a little money for my fam doing something I love so much.
*Miss Maddie (my little daycare friend) is someone that I haven't mentioned much on this blog series but she's the cutest little 2 year old girl you've ever seen, and she takes up a pretty big part of my life, and my heart. :)  I'm not sure you can ever love anyone as much as you love your own kids, but man, you can sure get close.  She spends every weekday with us, playing, reading, crafting, playing games, walking, talking, singing, you name it.  She and Brielle play so well together, and I'm just so thankful she's back in this house every day.  We had spring break and a few snow days when she wasn't here in March so it really made me realize what a blessing she is here.  Yes, it's a paycheck, which is helpful, but her.
*We have had a couple other sources of major 'blessing' this month too.  People just deciding to bless our family.  It's a hard place to be in, because I sure don't want anyone to think I write this all out here on the blog to encourage people to "bless" us.  That's certainly not it.  But everyone keeps telling us that God will honor our decision to be financially responsible and tithe faithfully (because man, that's a lot of money that could be going toward food or bills), and maybe this is one way He's doing that.  money for gas to go to OC for Easter.  a gift card and special treats.  people listen to God.  and I can't wait til it's our turn for that.
*my sister came to help me for a weekend!  Friday night was very non-productive, but we just hung out and browsed facebook together (do any other sisters do that?  we do it all the time) talking about "her" eyebrows, "her" house, "her" kids, "her" style, trying to figure out if "she" had a baby, or if it's her niece or what.  I don't know what we ever talked about before we could facebook stalk. :)  but isn't it just so fun to be with sisters? even when we're doing nothing. Then Saturday we WOOPED up on pinkadink stuff bc I could be like "can you cut this for me? and now iron this? now trace this.  and iron this.  now cut this out of that fabric," all while staying parked in front of my machines, cranking stuff out.   it made me realize that I need Lillian to grow up a little faster. or Maria to move to Omaha.  but I don't think either of those will be happening anytime soon.  which, in the case of Lillian, is a good thing. :)
*we just did our monthly budget meeting for April, and GUESS WHAT!!!  this is the month that we reap the benefits of an extra paycheck!  Steve gets paid every other week, so twice a year there's more than 2 checks a month.  we won't actually see the extra until the end of April, but we're so excited to finally be at this point.  so far we plan on paying off our van (we'll have around $500 left after we pay bills this month) and then, (cue drumroll....) our snowball will officially begin!!!!  plus we'll have the rest of the check to decide what to do with.  right now we're tossing around ideas such like fixing steve's car, or paying off some of our credit card debt which more than likely has a few other car repairs on it from before.  dumb vehicles.  ugh.  I"m going to STRONGLY encourage our children to work in the area of car mechanics.  or chiropractics.  or computer repair.  or back-door sliding glass creation and installation.  you get the point. :)  so anyway, it just feels so good to finally see the benefits of all our planning and skimping and trusting.  We still have to figure out how much of our "snowball" to use as a snowball, and when we should actually start budgeting for things specifically, like oil changes and new tires and home repairs and haircuts (seen Josiah lately?  I love it, but still...) and water treatment things and everything else that we KNOW we'll have to pay for somehow in the near future.  our $100 of "other" money doesn't get us much besides shampoo, toothpaste, random things like school pics and preschool deposits, and maybe some toilet paper.  so that should probably happen soon, but then I feel like our snowball that we finally created is just going to disappear again. :(  but I'm trying to focus on the blessing of actually getting there.  soon!!!

the lesson:
Being aware of blessings in my life is something that I've been working really hard at these last three months.  But today as I was reading my devotional (yes, the same one I talk about all the time.  I can't help it, it's that good.  I just LOVE it!) I was hit with a ton of bricks.  here's what it said:

"Be still in My Presence, even though countless tasks clamor for your attention.  Nothing is as important as spending time with Me.  While you wait in My Presence, I do My best work within you: transforming you by the renewing of your mind.  If you skimp on this time with Me, you may plunge headlong into the wrong activities, missing the richness of what I have planned for you. 

Do not seek Me primarily for what I can give you.  Remember that I, the Giver, am infinitely greater than any gift I might impart to you.  Though I delight in blessing My children, I am deeply grieved when My blessings become idols in thier hearts.  Anything can be an idol if it distracts you from Me as your First Love.  When I am the ultimate Desire of your heart, you are safe from the danger of idolatry.  As you wait in My Presence, enjoy the greatest gift of all: Christ in you, the hope of Glory."

--Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young

ugh, that was my problem this month.  I spent a lot of time being thankful for my blessings, but this whole money thing has real power over my mind.  My prayers are prayers of thankfulness, which is important.  but I was missing the adoration.  the act of WORSHIP that can be experienced in prayer.  thanking God for who He is, not just what he's done for me.  I needed that today.  I got lazy with my worship time, I got too busy with my "jobs," and I got too obsessed with my blessings this month. I was quite focused on ME, even though the things that I was doing were good things. 

so after the whining and the blessings the lesson learned, I have the challenge:
In April, coming fresh of the heels of Easter, my very most emotional holiday, I will strive for balance, recognizing that the only way to achieve it is by having priorities.  and number one will be "be still in My Presence, even when countless tasks clamor for your attention."  yowza, that'll be hard.  I just got done writing a whole blog post about how hard it is for me to be in this house day in and day out, surrounded by the millions of things that need my attention, remember? so this will be tricky. take the time.  every day.  and don't focus on me. 

that was a really long "summary."  but someday I think I'll be glad to go back and remember the struggles, and see the blessings listed out.  And I"m not offended if you just skimmed it. :)  it's for me, not you. :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

the debt reduction diaries: date night

One of my friends recently reminded me of the importance, even during this season of strict budgeting, to make sure I have a date with my hubby every once in a while.  So I promised that this month we would go on a date. 

I happened to have a couple extra daycare kids this month, so I had 50 bucks to spend.  and thus begins the date-night-on-a-budget decisions...

basically, we ate at the cheapest place we could.  $18, no tip, with a coupon. :) 

we passed on a movie because the one we really wanted to see was too expensive, ($9 per ticket when we knew it would be in redbox soon) but the cheap options got over too late, and our kids were at our friends' house.

so we did what we almost always end up doing on date night, running errands. we brought our broken computer into the apple store, watch the guy try this.....and then this....and then this....only to find out that it'll cost $300 to fix, which might even be more than the computer is worth.  so we add another thing to our "broken and unable to fix it" list. :)  and by that point it was too late to run any other errands.

so then we decide to get dessert. Steve suggests Paradise bakery, right around the corner.  I'm rather particular when it comes to spending money, so I say, well, is it like panera or is it like Wheatfields?  becuase i want DESSERT. and he says it's like Wheatfields.  so I say ok let's go.  but upon arriving, I see that the options are basically a cookie or a bagel.  so, keeping my 30-teen attitude in check, I just state that I don't want this and we leave.  (it was a hard day, ok? my sewing machine broke and our computer isn't worth fixing, and I was NOT about to spend my precious dollars on a cookie.)  so we head to Wheatfields.  it's 8:34 and we walk up to the door, only to find out that it closed at 8:30. 

At this point, I say, SCREW it. everything on this day is going wrong, so let's go to the Cheesecake factory and get cheesecake.  who cares if we have to tip, and who cares how much it costs.  ok, but wait.  if we each get a piece, that'll be like 16 bucks, plus a tip!  I can't do it!  should we share?  but then we'll both feel jipped, so that's not worth it either! 

ok, so then we decide to do what we always do and get a WHOLE frozen peanut butter pie from the grocery store while we pick up a few groceries, and a red box movie, so we can end the date in true Steve and Andrea form.  eating peanut butter pie in our sweats on the couch.

so in all, our food cost was $18 and our pie was (on sale!!!! for) $6. 

I figured I could put the rest of the money in our grocery envelope maybe, since I still have 2 weeks to plan for and $38 in the envelope.  but I went through the cupboard and wrote down the random things we had in there, and created a meal plan and a grocery list (I think I've heard it referred to as "reverse meal planning").  I even got out old reciepts to know exactly what everything costs, and we're under $38.  don't ask me how. :) thank goodness for our random stash of like 8 partially used bags of brown rice.

so I decided to use the rest of the $50 to do a couple fun things with the kids because it's spring break and Lillian is at my dad and Judy's house for the week being spoiled.  So I figured we could do a couple fun things with the ones who are "stuck" here with us, like go out for lunch one day and donuts on Sat. :) 

anyway, back to the date, of course I fell asleep on the couch during the movie, totally smashed into the wall on my way to the bed, and woke up the next day wondering if it was worth it or not.  I mean yeah, it was nice to be out with my hubby and no kids, but I HATED spending the money on our cafe type food.  but it also didn't seem worth it to go somewhere nice and blow the whole 50 bucks in one shot and not be able to do anything fun with the kids for the whole week either.

so, let's hear it.  are you other budgeting families finding the same thing?  that spending money is just so hard that it makes even date night seem less enjoyable???  what are your cheap date ideas?  somebody please help me!   (oh, and coffee shops aren't really an option because I don't drink coffee.  and we do that anyway on Wed nights after we drop the kids off at church, and then we have pinkadink business meetings at the coffee shop.) 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

the work-at-home mom

I always thought it was my dream to work from home. 

there are a lot of really really great things about it, like not having to figure out what I'm going to wear, for one.  but man, these days I'm realizing more and more (and more) how super hard it is.  for me anyway.

I"m the type of person who needs a deadline.  I work best under pressure. 

I don't spend a week packing for a trip. I pack the day of, usually.  I never studied much until the night before a test (except for the AP History class I took, and didn't pass that test anyway.  so why bother.).  I never clean my house more than a day before someone's coming.  We get our taxes done on like April 13, every year. I have procrastination DOWN, man.  it's almost like an art. I can be REALLY super productive...when I need to be.

if you give me a deadline, I can get it done.  probably like ON the deadline, but still, it gets done.

but this whole life of living and working in these four walls isn't my strong suit.  I'm surrounded all day and all night and the next day and the next with no fewer than a hundred things I should be doing at all times.  with no deadlines.  and it's so easy to just think that I'll do everything later, because I'm here all day and all night and the next day and the next anyway.  I'll do the dishes later, I'll sweep the floor later, I'll make my bed later, I'll work on that order tonight instead of during naptime.  I'll work on that order tomorrow during naptime instead of tonight.  I'll do that load of laundry after this.  ok, no wait, after THIS.

until we get to the weekend.  I get so much sewing done on Saturdays, because I can just do it all day, instead of a little here and there. but I'm pretty sure that if I had a separate space to work, outside of the house, I'd be more productive at work, and more productive at home.  I'm not talking about during the week, yet...because I'm doing daycare.  but like, on Saturdays, if I was GONE and sewing I'd get even more done.  I wouldn't hear the chaos above me as Steve and the kids work to get the house clean, with very different expectations of how long each task should take.  and I wouldn't feel so guilty about not getting ENOUGH done so that Saturdays weren't so miserable.

although I tried that whole working outside the home once, teaching.  and I was not productive at home.  I was passed out on the couch totally exhausted.  but that was probably the hardest time of my life, for a variety of reasons.  so I think I'd do better now. the grass is always greener, right?

I need SPRING.  I need to get out of this house.  and no, not to go sit at a mall playground area.  they smell weird, and it's a like a big huge mom competition.  who disciplines the best, who has the best behaved kids, who looks the best, etc.  maybe it's just me.  I compare myself to everyone else. and I feel guilty really easily. 

my neighbor friends have thier house on the market, so I'm always checking the new listings, trying to imagine them in a different house, which actually turns into imagining US in a different house.  The next house I live in doesn't have to be much bigger, just one more bedroom would be nice (I don't think my teenage girls will still want to be sleeping in their cheap-o bunk beds).  and maybe some windows in the basement.  because if I DO have to work in my basement, it would at least be nice if the light didn't come from bad overhead lights, a few lamps, and the t.v.

because seriously, these walls are closing in on me.  The fall was nice because I wasn't babysitting and I wasn't budgeting this crazy much.  So if I wanted to go somewhere, I just did.  but now on Tuesdays and Thursdays I'm here, in this house, all day.  and M/W/F I do preschool drop-off and pickup, but not much else.  maybe a QUICK trip to the grocery store or Hobby Lobby or soemthing after we pick up brielle and before the kids get dropped off at the bus stop.  but then it's back to these walls.

and in the spring we'll get back to walking to the bus stop, in the morning and the afternoon, just to get out and do something.  oh, it will be so nice.  Right now Steve's been taking them to the bus in the morning and I just don't feel like getting the girls all bundled up and walking in the cold and wind to get them in the afternoon.  So they just walk back together.  but that means us not leaving the house...

so, um...yeah.  I'm not really even sure why I wrote this long whiney post. I've been reading so many different posts and articles and statuses lately about working moms and stay at home moms and all that.  they all make me laugh, probably because I'm stuck somewhere in the middle of the two.  so I see the benefits and curses of both.  and it's hard.  (but perhaps it's just motherhood in general??) so I wanted to write about it. 

or, maybe, just maybe, I wanted one more thing to do before I sweep the floor...

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Quinncidence, March 12

She was that excited but slightly nervous freshman who moved in across the hall.  Blonde hair, super cute, bright eyed, and hilarious, from day one.  There weren't many of us on our wing yet.  Just the freshmen, the RA, and the orientation staff, and probably some athletes, but they were always gone.  Within days everyone knew who she was.  Alison, Ali, whatever you called her, you couldn't help but love her.

Ya know the people who like, TRY to not like other people?  I'm certain they were unsuccessful in her case.  She'd be the type that you want to not like though. All the guys love her, all the girls want to be her. yeah, that one.  She was so super sweet that you couldn't help but wonder if it was real.  but all signs pointed to yes.  every day. 

She was the one that, if you were seen with her at breakfast, praise and worship, class, hanging out, whatever, it actually meant that you were probably not seen at all.  Because everyone was entranced by her.  She had a sparkle (no bachelor reference intended.  PLEASE do not picture Tierra.) and she didn't abuse it. She was just loved.  by all.

last year she had a baby, and you could just tell that with parents like that, she'd have it too.  whatever "it" was.  Quinn Noel.  the sweetest looking, big huge bright-eyed baby you'd ever seen.  I remember messaging Alison to say "I didn't even know she was BORN!!!!"  She was only maybe a few weeks old, but in facebook land, that's forever to not know somebody's business.  But of course, Ali wasn't thinking about bragging to the world and posting pictures and baby announcements all over her page, because she knew there were people aching for babies in their arms like she had been.  And she knew the sting of seeing all the joyfilled pictures from the hospital and didn't want to add salt to anybody else's wound. see?  she's that kind of person. 

so when you find out that your worst nightmare has happened to HER, it breaks your heart.  It causes you to write facebook statuses that say "hug your kids extra tight tonight" and cry for days because it's all you can think about.  people all around the country crying for their friend, even if, like me, they hadn't seen her in almost ten years.

her pinkadink gift was never sent.  we had talked about what she wanted, and I was so excited to see this sweet thing in her pinkadink get-up.  but after I found out what happened, I just couldn't send it.  it would be too cruel.

The doctors call it SIDS because her little 4 month body seemed absolutely perfect.  You can read the little post on the side of their blog if you want to read her short account of what happened.  whatever it was, whatever you call it, it just seems so wrong.  so terribly horribly wrong.

Today Quinn would be one.  Alison is supposed to be hanging up her first birthday decor, after finally having decided on a theme.  She's supposed to be picking up the smash cake, and trying to figure out which spot has the best lighting for the pictures.  I remember Lillian's first birthday so clearly.  She didn't have decor or a smash cake or a theme, but she had a party (it was in the olden days before pinterest and ridiculously awesome one year old birthday parties).  I remember who was there, the cute little clothes she got, the way she did NOT want to touch that cake.  I remember it all, even though it seems like a lifetime ago.  And Alison is supposed to be making those memories today.

but instead we have "Celebrate Quinncidence Day." Tim and Alison have invited everyone to do random acts of kindness today, March 12, in honor of Quinn's birthday.  it's a way for them to see their daughter's life continue, and even bring "life" to others on a day where they just MIGHT rather stay in bed and cry.

I read about it a week ago, and have been wondering for 7 days what on earth could be my way of honoring this incredible family and the journey they've been on.  I've though about the whole starbucks thing, and paying for someone else's "something."  I've thought about donating books to the children's hospital or including an extra pinkadink something in any orders placed today.

but nothing felt quite right.  it still didn't make it seem okay that I have three kids under my roof and she has none. and that's when it hit me. My Celebrate Quinncidence Day wasn't going to be random at all.  it wasn't going to be random people, and it wasn't going to be random acts.  it was going to be here.  in this house.  with my kids.  and it was going to be very intentional.  no lucky somebody. no coincidences here.  but QUINNcidences, yes.

It started with little notes in the kids' lunches today, just letting them know how thankful I am to be their mama.  and for the rest of the day, my goal is to say YES instead of maybe later.  yes to playing barbies.  yes to playing ponies.  yes to making bracelets (again).  yes to snuggling up with you for naptime.  yes to playing the wii with you, and you get to pick the game. yes to reading a book to you.  yes to reading ANOTHER book to you.  because you're mine.  and I have you here.

it won't cost any money.  it won't use any unnecessary gas. (the two things that I have to consider with every decision these days.)

it will take my time. it will mean playing Barbies and My Little Ponies for way way way longer than you ever thought possible (did those already.  wow.).  it will mean NO PHONE CHECKING while I do it.  me. 100% of me. doing what THEY want to do.

and it will mean the world to them.

Sweet little Quinn, may your life live on in this house through intentional QUINNcidences.  not just on this day, but every day.  I'll do it for your mama, and all the mamas who have empty arms.  because no matter how tired I am, how overwhelmed I feel, how many bazillion things I "should" be doing, I have three little bodies that I get to hold, and three little hearts that I get to mold.

*if you want to read the incredible testimony of how God is working in the lives of Quinn's parents, here's the link.  you'll need quite a few minutes and quite a few tissues to get through it, but you'll be glad you did.

Monday, March 4, 2013

the debt reduction diaries: welcome, March. welcome.

it's about dang time.  March is here.
HA-LE-to the-LU-freaking-JAH!!!!

February didn't go so well...

it all started out with the stress of my pinkadink photo shoot, which was AWESOME and FUN but stressful to get ready for.  I had to head to the store for a few things to put with the pinkadink items because I couldn't really put my kids in a photo shoot with too small or grungy looking clothes paired with adorable pinkadink items and expect them to sell. so, it was like, some flip flops, a couple shirts, a curling iron to curl their hair, hairspray to make it stay, etc.   and since my friend couldn't be my scarf model, I had to do it myself.  which meant a haircut the day of, because I was looking a bit shabby to be put up on a website. and who wants to have your picture taken when you feel like you look like a stay at home mom who stays in her sweats all day????  I love that that's what I AM, but I don't want to LOOK like it for pictures!!!!

so that day was a financial kicker. I used pinkadink money for most of it, but the haricut came out of the "other" envelope.  so 40 bucks gone 5 days into the month.  and guess what.  my super awesome hair dresser (want her info?  she's great, the only one I let touch Josiah's locks) asked me if I wanted some curl in my hair for the photo shoot.  so I said yes.  but when she was done I looked more like I was going to prom than sporting some casual looking infinity scarves, so when I got home I had to straighten it all, which is next to impossible after having it curled in a salon. I maybe should have thought of that before I said yes to the curls.

anyway...I returned 90% of the stuff I bought for that photo shoot, which was really sad because some of it was STINKING cute.  but you can't return a hair cut, even if you only needed it for one day. ah, the gazelle life....

ok, so also, on that evening, the photo shoot went from 5-8:30.  we had a few snacks and such for the kids, but by 8:30 they were STARVING, up past their bedtime, and not in the mood to wait for me to make the black bean and zucchini skillet for supper.  so, we did what I've been avoiding for almost a year and food.  Burger King has a veggie burger, did you know that?  I have known for a LONG time and have not allowed myself to taste it because heaven knows I don't need that tempting me every time my lentils don't turn out, which is often.  I was almost certain that after a year and a half of not eating fast food, it would make me feel sick, and so glad for my new lifestyle.

I was wrong.

There's just something about warm iceberg lettuce and a more-white-than-red tomato smothered with mayonnaise that tastes SOOOO good, especially with fries.  why oh why oh why do fries have to be so good????  so anyway, even though we only got veggie burgers and waters and a few fries to share, that added up to almost 20 bucks, because, ya know, "health food" costs more. :)  I couldn't help but reminisce about the days that we could eat off the dollar menu and it was like ten bucks total.  those were the days, man.

so, if you're counting, we're FIVE days into the month and $60 gone out of our "other" envelope which started with only $100.  it wasn't looking good.  but that veggie burger sure tasted good. :)

and man, from there, Feb just got worse and worse.  I THOUGHT I had paid the bills, when in fact I had NOT.  I thought I did the math correctly when I did our "running total" to know if we had enough money in the account without waiting for Steve's next check, when in fact I did NOT.  we went overdrawn 4 times as the bills went through, all because of my bad math.  (how did I ever pass that calc CLEP?)  it only cost us $30 in fees, but still, i would have much rather used that unnecessary $30 at chipotle.  or burger king. :)

and then we found out that starting in March our interest rate on our credit card was going to skyrocket.  and then we figured out that the pinkadink check from the store, which I was hoping would be used to pay off our van (so we could finally have a snowball to put toward our credit card) would actually have to go toward our reserve line that saved our butts when we went overdrawn.  (but I will say I was very grateful that we had a big check to pay back our reserve line with.  I should focus on that part...)

then i went over our grocery budget like halfway though the month, because I was buying groceries for the final couple weeks, and had to take ALL THREE kids with me into the store.  I should have known that was a sure-fire way to go over budget because i just had to get out of there as fast as I could before I turned into 'that mom at the store' so I was just throwing stuff into the cart that wasn't really on my list because FOOD, GO.  (thankfully we made a trip to OC in those couple weeks and Steve's mom cleaned out her cupboards into bags for us.  seriously.  no joke.  she went grocery shopping in her own cupboards for us, because she's Carla and she takes care of EVERYBODY.) :)

and we also ran out of money for night-time pullups (yes, still dealing with that) by the end of the month so we ended up with a lot of morning baths and extra laundry. :)

and, just to top it off, on the very last couple of days of the month, my sister's friend's baby boy puked all over Josiah's bed (and his poor mama's shirt) AND our computer screen quit working (the used mac that we bought because we were just SURE our ancient PC was going to bite the dust).

and I was like WELL GOOD!!!!  that puke and the broken computer are the perfect end to this type of month, so GOOD.  let's just get it all over with!!!!  it's what I like to call my 30teen reaction.  a 30-something year old acting like a teenager whose whole entire life is falling apart all because of something very trivial. :)  I am really good at that reaction.  Let me know if you want the tutorial.  it usually just stays in my head and my heart, but on occasion it even comes out of my mouth.

but even in the midst of this totally cruddy month, I saw God do amazing things.  I've forgotten most of them by now, boo, :( but I was aware.  for example, when I realized Josiah needed new jeans for this photo shoot, and I should really keep them instead of returning them with the other stuff, I found an envelope with TONS of money on the top of the basement computer desk, which was basically the "catch all" area for the last 3 YEARS, and it was marked "josiah's bday money."  I kid you not.  the other kids had a little bit too in their envelopes, but Josiah had a lot.  and I bought him two pairs of jeans.  So, thanks for that bday money a LONG time ago, Grandma Shirley, because God knew exactly when I would need it. :)

and, the pinkadink continues to be blessed in ways I don't understand.  I don't even know what to say about it except that it's the most stressful blessing in the world to have a bazillion orders that I need to fill. :)

and...another huge blessing: steve and I committed to a mission trip with our church this summer.  together!  I felt like it was sort of a worthless thing to even dream about (us going together) but God worked it out! and I'm SO EXCITED because if I'm going to sleep in a church and miss my kids and not have a bowel movement for a week (bc that's how I roll) :)  and wear long skirts, and build stuff and play with other people's kids, then who would I rather do it with than my BFF????   The only thing is we have a lot of money to raise for support to cover the trip and airfare and passports and such, but I'm confident that God will provide, again.

and so, I welcome March.  I didn't care if it came in like a lion or a lamb, as long as it came.  and it did.  and it's amazing what a difference the name of a month can make in a person's attitude.  so, here's to counting my blessings, keeping my attitude in check, and thanking God that he continues to provide, even if it's with a few surprises here and there to keep me running back to him.  I guess he really does know what I need. :)