Monday, August 20, 2012

Opening Up About My Journey

I have anxiety.  I don’t know if it’s postpartum anxiety, my-children-have-special-needs anxiety, or regular old anxiety.


But I do know it became a problem.


Since Monkey was born my anxiety has been heightened.  Like any new Mom I was super careful holding my baby so his head didn’t flop, gently loving on him and being vigilant that Bear didn’t accidentally trample him.  However, something changed.  It’s been slowly getting worse.  I’ve been having heightened fear of death and thinking of it more.  I also thought, maybe it’s just because now I’ve got two kids to worry about once I’m gone.


After Monkey’s diagnosis Hubs took a leave of absence from work (for 4 days) and we headed to visit family.  We just needed some emotional support and a short escape.  I was driving on the return trip and we passed through a “Falling Rock Zone”.  All of a sudden all I could think of was those stories you hear about people killed by falling rocks.  I imagined what that must be like, to be driving along and the next thing, you’re dead.  You can’t even see the rocks coming.  I drove with a death grip on the steering wheel through that falling rock zone.  For the rest of the drive I was couldn’t get my mind to stray from vehicular accidents.  I had images of tires blowing out, people coming across the median, rain, ice, etc.  I was short-tempered for the entire drive because it was taking everything in my body to remain calm and not freak out about the dangers outside of us.


When we got home my anxiety seemed a little better and I did fine for about 5 days.  Then Hubs was at work and Bear was having a fussy day.  It was nothing extreme and I was doing okay.  Then Monkey woke up.  He screamed for 5 hours.  I couldn’t do anything to make him stop, I tried shushing, swaddling, feeding, changing, bathing, and more.  You name it, I tried it.  Finally, after about 5 hours I hit my limit.  I was done and so stressed out I actually had a panic attack. I had sat on the couch to try to give him a bottle and I realized I was kind of out breath.  This quickly escalated to feeling like my heart was going to beat out of my chest and that I couldn’t breathe. Thankfully, I recognized it as a panic attack and breathed through it.  In for 2, out for 2, in for 4 out for 4, in for 6 out for 6, in for 8 out for 8 and so on.  It took me about 5-10 minutes to get the panic attack under control but that didn’t change how I felt.


I started thinking back and realized that in the past couple of weeks I had barely slept.  No matter how tired I was my mind would be racing.  It would take me at least an hour to fall asleep and I would wake up frequently  with nightmares or just unable to stay asleep. I even contemplated taking Benadryl but it leaves me  zombie-like the next day.  I constantly felt like I had drank 5 cups of coffee, I was jittery and short.  My memory was awful and I felt terrible.


I called the OB and they fit me in the next day.  Thankfully, she listened to me and agreed that I didn’t sound depressed.  I have no thoughts of hurting myself or my children.  In fact, I was so anxiety ridden over someone getting hurt that I can’t handle going anywhere because of all the hidden dangers.  She originally wanted to prescribe something as-needed for my anxiety but after expressing that my anxiety was pretty constant and that I was exhausted she said to try Zoloft.  It is an anti-depressant but also has great anti-anxiety properties.


I noticed an improvement in about 48 hours.  It does make me a little sleepy while my body adjusts to it.  I still have LOTS of awful thoughts.  However, they used to be marathons.  Once a thought would penetrate my brain, it wouldn’t leave.  It would just continue to play and grow and morph into more awful thoughts.  Now, they’re like commercials.  They come, they play and they leave.  I can move on.   I’m hoping that once I’m at the full dose and it’s had a few weeks to fully kick in that the thoughts start spreading out further and further.  I haven’t had a panic attack since and I have a lot more patience.  Yesterday Monkey screamed A LOT.  And for the first time it didn’t make my brain spin and didn’t evoke that sense of panic in my body.  It literally used to make my brain feel like it was going through a salad spinner.  My thoughts would jumble, I couldn’t hear right and I just struggled.  In turn, I would get panicky, my heart rate would increase, my palms would go sweaty and I was ready to fight or flight.  I was panicked that I wouldn’t be able to get him to stop crying, that I was a horrible mother, that something was wrong that I would miss.  You name it, I was anxious about it.


But now, I can breathe.  The mind jumbling fog is starting to thin and I feel focused.  You don’t realize how out of control your life is, until it’s too far gone.  I didn’t think my anxiety was that out of control until I was sitting on my couch, holding a 2-month old with my 2 year old on the floor and having a panic attack.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The News You All Have Been Waiting For

Throughout my pregnancy with Monkey we always noted how DIFFERENT he was than Bear.
He kicked.  He moved.  Bear had an echogenic focus in heart that appeared at 36 weeks, while Monkey had a Single Umbilical Artery.  Both soft markers for chromosomal issues, however, by themselves they don’t really increase your risks.

After Monkey was born they noted that his legs were “a little stiff”.  And he has micrognathia, which Bear also has but no one ever mentioned it, much less that it was a dysmorphic feature.  Also both his middle fingers are bent like when you make a fist.  He CAN straighten the right one, but it isn’t easy for him.  The left one is stuck.

Our pediatrician planted the seed that we might as well test him.  I had been dead set against it for a few months because of needle sticks and taking more blood, etc.  I ended up calling the geneticist and she wrote the order for the blood work.  I had no intention of having it drawn anytime soon.
We headed to the orthopedist for some checkups.  We wanted to check on Bear’s hips. 
Hypertonia, especially as severe at Bear’s, can cause the hips to not locate correctly as he grows.  Couple this with his minimal weight bearing and it’s a recipe for hip dysplasia.  He also has a large lump on his rib.  So we also went for peace of mind about whether he has signs of my bone disorder.  We decided to take Monkey and get his hips checked as to whether there was any anatomical reason for his “slight stiffness” and check on his fingers.

Finally, good news!  Bear has no evidence of hip dysplasia.  The orthopedist was shocked and said his hips look beautiful.  And, he has no evidence of my bone disorder as of now.

The orthopedist straightened Monkey’s fingers right in the exam room.  He said there is nothing orthopedically wrong with them, they’re contractures.  After a hip x-ray he also ruled that there is nothing wrong with his hips.  He said it’s just with his really high tone (aka hyperonia) that this has happened.  Both Hubs and I were shocked. I really feel like everyone was trying to lessen the blow and completely underplaying how bad his tone really is compared to typical.  We only have Bear to compare him to and he seemed totally different.  He had a newborn head flop, he needed support from both hands when holding and moving and he moves all his limbs.

And then it was just smacked across our faces by the orthopedist.  On the way home Hubs and I determined to have the blood draw.  We dropped Bear and my Mom off at our house and took Monkey by ourselves.

Fast forward 4 weeks and we call the geneticist to check in.  Hubs goes to work and calls me about 3 hours later with the awful news.  He says “The geneticist called back”.  Insert a really long pause here.  I knew. I just knew. My stomach dropped.  Literally.  I had just put Monkey in the swing to nap. I was still half bent over placing the burp cloth across his tummy.  I lost it.  I collapsed to my knees and sobbed so hard it physically hurt.  “Monkey does have it”.  It hurt so badly to hear those words.  Hubs asked me if I wanted him to come home and through my gut-wrenching sobs I managed to choke out “It’s up to you”. 

He thankfully said he was coming home and I picked Monkey back up and snuggled him on the couch.  I buried my face into his tightly swaddled body and sobbed with my entire body and heart.  It really felt like I was turning inside out in pain. 

This wound is still fresh (only a few weeks old) and it’s really deep.  It’s taking a long time to heal and stings every time I mention it.  Evidenced by the tears I’m wiping away as I write this.

My heart hurts so badly that I’m afraid it will never heal.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Frugality and Ethnicity

I really feel that a lot of my frugalness has been handed down to me from prior generations.  My grandparents emigrated to the US in 1949 with my Aunt who was just a little baby at the time.  The three of them got on a boat and headed for a new land.  They were sponsored by a current US citizen so they got to skip the long lines of Ellis Island and landed straight in a big city.
Scan001, September 05, 2005
My Grandfather picked celery for a short time before landing a job working with boilers (I’m not really sure what he did, he retired long before I was born).  My Grandmother stayed home and they added to their family with 2 more little girls (the youngest being my Mother).  Once my eldest Aunt turned 18, she and my Grandmother got jobs and took citizenship classes.  My Grandmother had to wait till my Aunt was old enough to get her license because she couldn’t drive.  For some reason, that whole cars-coming-at-you thing was WAY too much for her to handle.

I couldn’t imagine packing up my things and leaving my entire family (including 8 brothers and sisters) and everything I’ve ever known to go an ocean away to a new continent.  And this was 63 years ago, before cell phones, internet and Skype.  Now we can just turn the computer on and hit “Video Call” and see our loved ones from all over the world, almost instantly.

What does my long family history have to do with frugality?  Everything.  My Grandparents didn’t have money to throw away (even if it was the wrong currency).  My Grandmother raised 3 little girls by sewing their own clothing, cooking all things homemade, providing my Grandfather with his comfort foods in a place far away from home, and saving money anyway she could.  They lived in a city and walked everywhere. Their home only had a wood burning stove in the kitchen.  So every winter, they would all move their beds downstairs and sleep as close to it as possible.

My parents have held strong to their roots.  Growing up I can count on my one hand the number of times I had jarred spaghetti sauce or Jell-o.  And if we did have Jell-o, it was dessert with whipped cream, NOT considered part of meal.  I didn’t realize how ethnically I grew up until I got old enough to go to friends’ houses for dinner.  They ate spaghetti with Ragu and Jell-o with carrots in it, and they never would have had bread pudding for dessert.

I’ve been trying to carry on the traditions that my Grandparents worked so hard to hold onto, despite their long journey and tiresome life.  I’ve learned how to make recipes the way my Grandmother did, without lavish ingredients but overstuffed with love (and a little bit of elbow grease).  I’ve been living by my Grandfather’s stingy rule of BUY NOT WANT NOT.  He always preached that once you started buying stuff, you needed to keep buying more stuff.  He was a minimalist at heart.  If he needed something he bought it ONCE.  Meaning, he saved us his money and bought a new car so that he could drive it till it died.  Nothing he bought was disposable.
I’m trying to live this way.  I challenge myself to use as many reusable things as possible.  We try to throw as little out as possible.  I try to handmake gifts instead of just buying some cheap novelties.  I try to use as many cloth diapers as possible and we try to make as minimal trash as possible.

Have you ever tried cloth napkins instead of paper?  I bought these napkins in white when we were first married.  Once we use them we throw them in with the whites (and some bleach for santizing).  I even use them as burp cloths occasionally and they’re great to clean up Bear’s face and hands after eating.  I never have to worry about running out of napkins or needing to buy more.  I’m sure they’ve saved me money but they’ve also saved a LOT of paper products from being in the landfill.

How about rags for the kitchen instead of paper towels?  I do use paper towels.  I bought one pack of Small Steps over a year ago and I still have half a roll left.  Instead I use stained washcloths, microfiber cleaning cloths, retired burp cloths and any other clean rags.

Try taking your own reusable challenge.  It will save your wallet and our landfills.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Welcome to our little Monkey!

Warning:  Long, detailed birth story ahead

Bear's 2nd birthday was June 1 (one week before my due date).  We closed on our house that morning and had lots of errands to run.  I just felt off all day.  I kept having a tummy ache that would come and go.  My parents arrived around 3 PM to celebrate Bear's birthday and we all went out to grab a quick dinner while Hubs was at work.  All my crampiness died off in the evening, although I woke a few times during the night because I think I was in pain.  I was so tired though, that I just fell right back to sleep.

Saturday June 2, I had lots to do. I had to refill Bear's medication so that if we went into the hospital he wouldn't run out.  My parents were planning on staying until our Monkey joined us.  We also had to make a stop at a grocery store afterwards to fill a prescription for my Dad.  While walking around for the 20 minutes we had to wait for them to fill it I started having pretty noticeable contractions.  One I had to stop walking through and just breathe.  However, they were extremely irregular in time and intensity.  I went to the bathroom and realized I had lost my mucous plug.  All day long the contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart.  But, they weren't extremely intense or regular.  Occasionally I would have to stop and breathe through one.  Hubs came home around 5:30 from work (he was making it up from the day prior).  My contractions seemed to completely stop so we all went to a local restaurant to celebrate Bear's birthday.  Saturday night is polka night after all.  On the way home we ran to Dairy Queen to get Bear a birthday cake and came home to sing Happy Birthday to him and Granddad.

Around 8PM I was overwhelmed by a sudden wave of exhaustion.  I excused myself and went and laid in bed and watched some Teen Mom on while the contractions returned..  Hubs put Bear to bed around 9:15 and came in to check on me.  The contractions seemed to be coming stronger however were still only about 5-7 minutes apart. Hubs decided to shower in case this was it.  Around 9:45 we decided to try to get some sleep since they weren't getting any closer together.  I was panicking that I couldn't see the clock from my side of the bed so how was I going to time them.   He said if I told him when I was having a contraction he would watch the clock.  About 30 seconds later I was moaning through a contraction.  5 minutes later another one.  5 minutes later another one.  Hubs decided to call the doctor since they were only about 5-7 minutes apart and lasting 20-60 seconds.  The doctor said it sounded like a false alarm but if we wanted to head to the hospital and get checked out it was okay.  The hospital is 30 minutes away so I was scared to go and not be in labor and I was scared to wait too long.

Finally around 10:45 we decided we should go in.  They seemed to be getting stronger despite not being anymore regular.  The car ride was intense.  They were lasting about 30-60 seconds and coming every 5 minutes.  It was strange, every time one would end I would breathe a sigh of relaxation.  After 3-4 minutes would pass I would convince myself that this was a false alarm and they were just going to stop.  Then a minute later another one would start.  At this point I was doing anything to get through them, more so because I HATED being in the car, strapped down under a seatbelt than because of how painful they were.

We arrived at the hospital at 11:22.  I had a contraction as soon as we got there and had to bend over and lean against the car while Hubs got our bag.  The ER clock said 23:22 while I sat in a wheelchair waiting for someone to take us to L&D.  We finally got up there about 10 minutes later and the nurse had me change into a gown.  About 15 minutes later she hooked me up to a monitor and left.  I had Hubs tell me if the numbers were going up on the contraction monitor.  When he said "YES!" I finally felt myself relax.  Somehow, I had been convincing myself these weren't real contractions (I had just had an NST the morning prior and didn't have one contraction while there).   The on-call doctor came in check on things and do a quick ultrasound to ensure baby was definitely head down.  Since I had declined prior cervical checks he was a little short with me.  However, he nonchalantly let me know I was already 5cm and would definitely be staying.

I finally got moved from triage to a room and the nurse started my IV.  She was very supportive of me going "natural" (I always hate this term, how is birth unnatural?).  She kept telling me "If that's something that you want, then you can do it".  After monitoring me and the baby and starting my IV she said I could walk the halls if I wanted for 40 minutes.  So DH and I took off, if not for anything but something to do.  After about 20 minutes I just couldn't walk anymore.  I was so tired, it was so late (about 2AM at this point), and my legs were feeling so shaky.  I tried laying down in bed which was fine and I would doze off inbetween contractions.  This was AWFUL!!! The contraction would wake me up and I struggled to catch myself mentally with the pain.  I just couldn't center my focus and decided to put on the TV to stay up between contractions.  Around 5AM I started bawling to Hubs that I couldn't do this.  I had a lot of pressure (although I didn't realize that's what it was at the time) and I was struggling to get through the contractions.  I had hit a wall and hadn't tried to find a more comfortable position to labor in.  I asked to be checked.  Like I said, the nurse was very supportive and said she wouldn't check me, unless I asked.  I told Hubs I couldn't do this, I would be way too tired to push.  So, if I was only 6 or 7 cm then I was getting an epidural.  I cried my eyes out.  I wanted so badly to go naturally and I felt like a failure.  Hubs was so encouraging saying, it didn't matter and no matter what I did my best.

The nurse checked me, I WAS 9cm!  Well if that wasn't a boost of confidence.  I tried laboring standing up, but I was too shaky.  I found sitting cross legged in bed while holding Hubs' hand I was much more comfortable.  Around 5:45 it was getting intense. I had to squeeze Hubs' hand hard to send all my pain and tensing out that way so I didn't tense my lower half.  I had him continuously talk to me through a contraction telling me "you can do this" "you're almost there" "you're doing so well"  "you are so strong" meanwhile I was breathing like a crazy woman. As soon as the contraction peaked I would have him tell me so that I knew I was on the downhill and had made it through.  I had a lip of cervix left so the doctor broke my water (she had shown up at around 5:30).  She offered to check me and I declined because I was so uncomfortable.  The contractions were torture now because I wanted to push but they told me not to so fighting the urge was PAINFUL!  Finally I asked if I could push a little and they said yes, I just couldn't not push at all.  It was such a relief even to push just a little. It was like I had direction for the pain.  Instead of holding it in and spreading it around my belly I could focus it a little bit.  I did that for about 3 contractions and the next thing I knew, I HAD TO PUSH.  I COUDLN'T STOP IT.  Literally.  It takes over you.

After Bear's difficult birth and possible birth injury I was panicked through the pushing stage.  I just pushed.  As hard as I could.  I screamed through the first ones.  Another nurse had come into the room (I have no idea when she just appeared there) and said I needed to grab behind my knees (my hands were death gripping the bars on the side of the bed) and curl around the baby and push.  And to hold my breath.  I frantically told her I can't.  My nurse (amazing woman) calmly told me that I could, that I was doing this.  That I was so close, and that I had come too far to lose it now.  I have no idea how I did it, but I moved (I really don't remember it, I just remember that the next thing I knew my hands were around my knees).  I pushed and pushed and pushed and SCREAMED (Hubs look petrified, but hey, it hurt!!!) and Monkey was born at 6:04AM.  About 7 minutes of pushing.  They always tell you that pushing is 2 steps forward one step back.  The baby moves up and down the birth canal.  Not Monkey.  I pushed and when I stop pushing I was squeezing so hard that he never went back up.  Like I said, I was frantic.  We know too well the fears of birth injuries and the damage that can occur.  I pushed like his life depended on it and ended up with a 2nd degree tear because of it.  I didn't care it was worth it.  All in all, the labor part was pretty easy.  It was the delivery I was NOT prepared for.

They placed him on my chest while I delivered the placenta and got stitched up.  Worst part of unmedicated deliveries?  The numbing shots and feeling all the stitches.  I got to love on my baby while panicking that I could feel the needle stitching me up.  After about 40 minutes they weighed him and cleaned him up.  He was 8lb 9oz and 19in long.  Ultrasound had estimated he would be 7lb 13oz so we were surprised he was as big as he was. However, Bear was even bigger (8lb 14oz) at birth at a similar gestational age.  After a few hours we were transferred to our postpartum room.  They took Monkey for his exams and a bath and Hubs and I got a GOOD, well deserved nap.  I think his hand hurt more than he let on.

Welcome to our little Monkey!!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

My battle song

This song is constantly cycling on my Itunes.  I keep adding it to playlists so that I hear it every few songs.  It's the song that gets me through the days and gets me moving.

Stand Back Up by Sugarland
Go ahead and take your best shot,
Let 'er rip, give it all you've got,
I'm laid out on the floor, but I've been here before,
I may stumble, yeah I might fall,
Only human aren't we all?
I might lose my way, but hear me when i say,

I will stand back up,
Youll know just the moment when ive have enough,
Sometimes im afraid, and i dont feel that tough,
But I'll stand back up,

I've been beaten up and bruised,
I've been kicked right off my shoes,
Been down on my knees more times than you'd believe,
When the darkness tries to get me,
Theres a light that just wont let me,
It might take my pride, and my tears may fill my eyes,
But I'll stand back up,

I've weathered all these stroms,
But i just turn them into wind, so i can fly,
What don't kill you makes you stronger,
When I take my last breath,
Thats when I'll just give up,

So, go ahead to take your best shot,
Let 'er rip, give it all you've got,
You might win this round but you cant keep me down,

'Cause I'll stand back up,
And you'll know just the moment when ive had enough,
Sometimes I'm afraid and I dont feel that tough,
But I'll stand back up,

You'll know just the moment when I've had enough,
Sometimes I'm afraid and I dont feel that tough,
But I'll stand back up. 

The part that goes  "Been down on my knees more times than you'd believe, when the darkness tries to get me, there's a light that just wont let me, It might take my pride, and my tears may fill my eyes, but I'll stand back up" was written for me.  Or at least that's how it feels.  This song is so cathartic, I can't help but feel empowered every time I hear it.  It acknowledges the hurt, the collapse, the breaking point but it moves on.  It recognizes that you can't stand back up unless you've already fallen.  That place on the floor, the one with my knee impressions on it from where I've fallen so many times, that's just my battle scar.  The true victory is that I'm standing back up on my feet despite the viciousness of the attacks upon me.  I'm beaten and bruised, my struggle is clearly written upon me, but the tears that wash down my face don't weaken me.  They are my strength.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Follow up

Back in August I wrote a wish list for my son. They're all things that his hypertonia and genetic disorder make difficult and possibly impossible.

Well, I'd like to update that list today because I feel I owe it to Bear to show how he has proved everyone wrong.

The Wish List of a Special Needs Mom

1) To see my son take a step, even if it’s assisted in a gait trainer. I'm happy to report that Bear has taken off walking in his gait trainer.  We walk around the complex, around his school, and he is just on the go.
2) To hear the word “Mama” even if it’s not directed at me.
3) To be able to pack cute Bento lunches for him because he still hasn’t figured out chewing.
4) To have him develop separation anxiety because sometimes it feels like he doesn’t know I’m Mama.
5) The only needles my son will endure are vaccines.
6) To be able to use a restaurant high chair, because he still cannot sit unsupported.  Bear now sits in shopping carts and restaurant high chairs.  We only use ones with buckles or straps because he doesn't do very well with righting himself and catching himself.  He also sits completely unsupported and crawls and is starting to cruise furniture.
7) To not have tears at the scariness of the unknown future.  

Number 7.  I wish I could say the tears have stopped.  But they haven't.  However, they've changed.  They've grown, they've matured, they've found new homes and new paths.  I'm not crying at the fear of future although I still cry at the unknown.  I'm crying because my son has sat up for the first time at 18 months.  I'm crying because I've got 2 awful genetic mutations that have done this to him. However, I'm unscathed.  I cry because I would do ANYTHING to take the suffering Bear goes through away and bear it myself.  I cry because no matter how hard I try, I can't take it away.  I cry, because that little boy is mine.  That stubborn little boy who they said would never sit or crawl, and probably never walk.  That little boy that is proving them all wrong.  I cry because he's teaching me to move mountains, to push my hardest and to never give up even when the odds are stacked against you.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Money Management, our beginning steps

Is it ironic that I'm in some pretty deep debt and yet writing a post about money management? Well maybe, but I've learned a lot from being in debt. Especially, when it seems easier to pull the towel over your eyes.

RULE #1 That heinous B word....No not that one!
Unless you know what money is coming in and going out, then you'll never know how much to spend or save. And if you're spending more than you're bringing in, you'll never get out of debt.

For the past 3 months I've been saving every receipt and recording everything we purchase. I just use a simple excel spreadsheet and record how much our rent is, car insurance, average utilities, and any other fixed bills (I pay $100/month to the hospital for Monkey's Delivery). Every paycheck I take out half of those costs and send it to savings so we don't accidentally spend it. When we get Hubs' 2nd paycheck of the month, I add that lump back into the checking account. From there I've follow the 10% rule. I try to send 10% minimum to each medical bill to stay in good standing. But they don't accrue interest and don't report to credit so it seems silly to pay them off fast while paying 16%-17% interest on a credit card. Then I pull out $50/week for Hubs' fuel for work, $65 biweekly for my fuel, $70/week for Monkey's formula and $50/week for groceries.

For us, we don't use paper towels or napkins, we use cloth and rags. We do have paper towels but I haven't bought a pack in almost a year. They're for the occasional cat mess or traveling. We also cloth diaper. We do use some disposables but they've all been gifted to us, or I only buy them once in a while and save some money from something else to pay for them. I buy kids clothes on sale and again, a lot were gifted. Bear doesn't really need many clothes, he hasn't grown very much in the past year. Monkey on the other hand is growing like a weed. He's already in 3-6 month clothing at the 8.5 week mark. We'll have to buy him new clothes as he keeps growing. I try to buy them off season at a deep discount (think $0.99 for a onesie with an adorable appliqued airplane from Gymboree)

RULE #2 Cut back...way back.
Since having Monkey my fuel costs have plummeted. I'm so exhausted and taking the two kids out is impossible, so I don't go anywhere. We now have central air so we're trying to keep it set high in the daytime. We've also closed most of the vents on the first floor and turn it down lower at night. In the winter our heat is set to 64 and we wear warm clothes. We have bundled cell phones and my mom is on our plan too. We just changed our car insurance to Geico and cut our bill by about $40/month. And now that there are 2 kids, going out to dinner is not fun so eating in has saved us so much money (and headaches). And because we don't go anywhere, we don't really buy much outside of food.

 RULE #3 Acceptance.
In our materialistic consumer based society "I want" is always at the forefront of our minds. Newer cars, newer stuff, newer clothes, newer toys and clothes for the kids, the latest restaurant, cute cloth diapers (okay so maybe this only for the fluff obsessed), and the list could go on and on. Learn to look around and be happy with what you have. Our main car is 3 years old. It's small and fuel efficient. Sure it's a pain to squish everybody in, but seeing the 35.8mpg on our trip a few weeks ago was more than enough incentive. Monkey has minimal toys or clothes that are new because Bear's stuff is more than enough.

One thing that helps me is to calculate how long I'd have to save up to buy something. Think of the cost PRIOR to purchase. Sure, you buy the car and pay $200/month for 5 years. Well, this doesn't seem so bad, you're basically paying to use a car. But if you calculate the payment plus interest you pay about 1.5-2times more for it than the purchase price. However, if you had to save $200/month for 5 years to purchase that car you would probably choose a cheaper model or one with a few miles one it to save some money. Sure, I may want an Ipad, but $500 is a half of a thousand. Which is a huge percentage of our debt. And even once we're debt free, $500 is a half of a thousand, which is a huge percentage of a down payment on a new house.

RULE #4 Combine your faith and your finances.

Matthew 6:24 says "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." When we're in debt we are serving a master that takes away from our faith in God. We cannot tithe because we're in debt payoff mode, we cannot give to others like we should. We need to commit to God first, family second, ourselves last. Nowhere in there is money.

RULE #5 Create shopping rules.
     Our #1 rule for any shopping is...NEVER go when hungry.
     Create a list and stick to it (but make sure there is always a family treat worked in so you don't    
     feel deprived).
     Choose a meal planning method that works for you.
     Don't impulse buy large purchases.
     Always research and get a few price quotes.
     Ask about price matching.
     And our last steadfast rule is "Before you buy always ask why" Why am I buying this? Why do    
     I feel I need it?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Since I've been gone

I've put 3 offers in on a house that were all rejected
Sold a house
Rented a condo
Gave birth, unmedicated!
Had my 3 week old go into surgery and land in a 4 day hospital stay
Received horrible, mind bending information (I will elaborate later)
Formulated a plan for the future (I will also elaborate on this later)

Hubs and I found a beautiful house that was foreclosed on and needed minimal work. It had a laundry room, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, 2 car garage and an acre of property. Oh and it was only 6 years old! Compared to our home with 3 bedrooms, 1.5 bathrooms, 5 acres and 60 years old, it was a huge improvement. Our first offer was thrown out. We put in a second offer and it was rejected. We put in a third offer and the house went to a higher bidder. A few months later we found the house back on the market. Before we could even get to put in an offer, it was under contract. We were devastated, so we went and found a condo down the road and rented. It's a $300 month savings on our mortgage/taxes.

 We sold our house. Unfortunately, our real estate agent was a crook. We asked her time and time again about closing costs etc and she repeatedly quoted us a number that was $6000 lower than it ended up being.

 We're not debt-free anymore. We racked up debt getting the house ready for sale (installing our new furnace, painting, finishing trim and flooring, cleaning, inspections, etc). On top of that we had to purchase things to be ready for our new little boy. And then we had some medical expenses that cropped up. And then, we had to put a security deposit down on the condo. Needless to say, our credit cards crept up and we're once again in debt payoff mode.

And then, we had a beautiful baby boy. Monkey was born 6/3/2012 at 6:04 AM. I'll post a birth story in the near future. And things have been crazy since.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Long time,

A lot has happened in the past few months. More than my brain, heart, and faith could handle. I had to take time away and focus on my family and myself. But, I think I'm back. I look forward to sharing with everyone. Be prepared for big things!
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