Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hank Repeats Sounds

It's wishful thinking to claim that Hank is actually saying "da-da," but that fact that this kid is repeating sounds makes this mama happy!

The video is long, but around the 45 second mark he does a great job. Also Scott and I think it is hilarious when he moves his mouth but nothing comes out (around the 1:25 mark).

And please excuse my obnoxious "da-da-da-da's" heard consistently throughout the video.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Oh Hey, O!

The Gary Chapman 5 Love Languages saga continues...

Remember when Scott and I read The 5 Love Languages (here)...
and then we went to a Gary Chapman conference (here)...
and then we were taped for a video for his website (here)...

well it doesn't stop there, folks! Oh yah, our my secret very public fascination with Mr. Chapman and The Five Love Languages grew monumental proportions last week when Scott and I headed to Chicago to watch Oprah interview GC about his bestselling book for her new show, Oprah's Lifeclass. It was, as expected, an amazing experience. I mean Oprah is kind of a big deal, right? Admittedly, I did get sucked into the worship-culture that surrounds the woman (people were crying when she walked in the room.), and both Scott and I were disappointed that GC failed to mention any scriptures or biblical teachings from which the 5LLs were birthed. Sad.

BUT, the Hubster and I did enjoy some quality time together on the drive to Chicago (we started reading Mark Driscoll's Real Marriage). Hank stayed behind in Indy with Grandpa John and Grandma Jenny for an entire 12 hours. Baby steps, people. So, all in all, I'm going to chalk this one up as a win.

Speaking of chalkin' it up, when I asked told Scott we were going to be a part of the Oprah audience, I said that he could "chalk this one up as a nice favor for his wifey." He kindly informed me that that particular chalkboard had no more room for any more marks. #roo

In other very exciting news, our Big Guy is sitting up. Wowza.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hank's 2012 Montage

Oops. I got caught being an inconsistent blogger (again), but my excuse (this time) is that I have been busy snapping a lot of pics and taking lots of videos of our little man. Here is a 2012 montage of Hank:

psst: This video was inspired by my friend, Rachael, who has an amazing blog, The Pipeline, that you should probably follow. It's pretty incredible, and oh, by the way, she recently started incorporating giveaways!

Friday, November 30, 2012

My Sweet Boy.

Four months. Four whole months. Thank you, God, for this boy, our boy.

Our very serious, but precious, son.

Tis The Season To Say No

The following post is an article I wrote for my MOPS group last week:

I’m a ‘yes’ girl, and my planner proves it.

Last week alone, I said yes to two doctors’ appointments, a dinner with college students from our church, grocery shopping, a breakfast date with my cousin, a shopping day with my mom, and a double date night with friends. I managed to, in just seven days, cram all of these activities into my schedule while simultaneously performing my obligations as a full-time wife, mother, and student.

This week’s schedule doesn’t look much different.

Scratch that. Yes it does. On top of similar commitments from last week, this week I have added coffee with a girlfriend, babysitting my cousin’s son, Thanksgiving dinner, and, let’s not forget, Black Friday shopping.

So why, you may ask, do I shove into a seven day spread what many would plan over two, three, or even four weeks? The answer is simple. I can’t say no. In fact, I hate saying no. What if my friend never asks me to go to dinner again if I tell her no this one time? What if I disappoint my mom by telling her shopping this week just isn’t going to work? What if I do irreversible damage to my knee because I skipped out on physical therapy? And what if my husband has to eat peanut butter and jelly for dinner one night because I couldn’t fit in the grocery store?

Maybe you can’t relate to my ‘yes’ syndrome and these seemingly irrational fears, but my guess is that you probably can. Our society cultivates ‘yes’ moms which is why we will, no matter what our circumstances are, find a way to drop off our kids at soccer practice, meet up with a friend for a drink, run to the grocery store, get in a thirty minute run, and then return to get our sweaty kiddos…all in one afternoon!

We thrive on busyness. We love when we can no longer see the whites of our planners because we have penciled in baseball practices, dental appointments, mom’s groups, church activities, and lunch dates. We find value in eventful days, days that reflect our hard-working, active, diligent, and productive lifestyles.

Every once in a while, we will look down at our weekly schedule and notice an empty day staring us straight in the face. We immediately think of ways we can fill it. We frantically look for our phone so that we can call that old friend we’ve been meaning to have coffee with. Or maybe we can finally go furniture shopping that day? Or maybe we can fit in that 5 mile run we’ve been meaning to take all week. Or maybe we can…

But, wait. Then we remember that we’ve been telling our husbands that we can’t wait for life to slow down. We are tired and worn out. All we need is just one day of rest to refresh our minds, spirits, and bodies. Then, hesitantly and reluctantly, we say no.

Rest is good. In fact, God calls us to say no sometimes: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). In a culture that demands that moms constantly be on-the-go, we forget that we are most productive when we are physically, mentally, and spiritually refreshed.  When we are well rested, we are better wives, moms, friends, and daughters. Therefore, we should learn to—no, we must learn to— say no.

This next week, I challenge you to join me in saying that two-letter cuss word, ‘no!’ Our kids will look at as funny, and our husbands will think we’ve come down with something terrible, but stand firm. Take time to cherish a simple schedule, free of unnecessary shopping trips and breakfast dates. Relax, unwind, and for the first time in a long time, join me in being a ‘no’ girl.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Happy Anniversary! And A Few Thoughts On Marriage...

We all know there are tons of books on marriage, and I am in no way claiming to be an expert on the topic; however, I did take a little time yesterday and today (in honor of Scott and I’s anniversary) to reflect on my first year as a married woman.

If I shared everything I have learned, you’d die of boredom reading this post, so allow me to briefly share three themes that consistently surfaced during my reflection. (For some of my other thoughts on marriage, click here.)

Marriage is hard. Like, uh, really hard. What a disservice to friends and family to pretend that marriage (specifically, your marriage) is a walk in the park! It’s a walk in a park that is infested with poison ivy and free-ranging, man-eating lions. A bit dramatic, I know. But think about it. You put two different individuals together, with two different upbringings and two different perspectives on life, and put them under the same roof. Then, you add a dash of selfishness and a side of pride and you have a recipe for tough times. I understand that, as married women (or men), we walk through different seasons with our spouses, and some of those seasons are more enjoyable than others. Perhaps now you are in a season with your honey where you are experiencing great joy as you are learning to work through conflict in a healthy way. Perhaps you are currently in a season with your spouse where you are experiencing disappointment or hurt. Wherever you are—on a peak or in a valley—coordinating and sharing your life with someone else is just plain difficult. In my first year of marriage, I have had the opportunity to walk through several different seasons with Scott: good and bad, alike.

Marriage takes work. After considering point one, this should come as no surprise. Because we are marrying another individual, we must learn to understand their differences and compromise when necessary. Understanding and compromising do not come naturally. In fact, I would argue that quite the opposite is true. By nature, we have difficulty understanding and empathizing with ideas or values that aren’t ours. And compromising?! Compromising is for the birds. It’s my way or the highway! Right, ladies? So, we must learn to and work at these things. Scott and I love reading relationship books together (although, admittedly, we have been doing some serious slacking off lately), and perhaps my favorite thing to do when consciously working on our marriage is attending marriage conferences. We’ve been to three, and every time we walk away from them, we are so encouraged and motivated. You can read about our experiences here and here.

Marriage is rewarding. I love my husband. I have the privilege of waking up to my best friend every day. I have someone to parent with, someone to travel with, and someone to experience new things with. Life is tough, but I have someone to trudge the trenches with me, hand in hand. It doesn’t get much better than that.   

And, before I sign off today, let’s address the huge elephant in the room. For those of you wondering “has having a baby in your first year of nuptials made marriage more difficult?” My answer to you is “duh.” But it has also made it better than ever, too! Having a common goal—raising a strong, solid, and we can’t forget studly, man—is so fun when you have a partner to do it with!

Happy Anniversary, Scooter!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ask and You Shall Receive

Ask and You Shall Receive
"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Luke 11:9
Many of you who know Scott and me, or, if you have read our blog, Thirty Before Thirty (Four), you know that we swear by this guy. In our casa, Ramsey is a household name. We took his class together for the first time back in 2010, and Scott proctored the same class, Financial Peace University, at our church this spring. I won’t go into great detail about why we love him (you can read that here and here and here), but what I do want to share is how one of his lessons, “That’s Not Good Enough,” has been really helpful as we have transitioned from two incomes to one. Along with other great tips from this lesson (like the power of cash), Ramsey suggests that anytime you are making a purchase to ask for a discount or bargain.

We’ve adopted that idea, and for many of our larger purchases, we ask the service or retail provider for a discount. And guess what? Most of them agree! Here are a few things that we do when trying to save a few dollars:

·         Ask the seller and then shut our mouths. In other words, put the ball in their court. Ask open ended questions like “Are you able to help me?” or “Are you able to offer any sort of discount?” Then, be quiet! This shows that you are in control and not in a hurry to purchase.
·          Be specific. We try this if sellers respond to one of the above questions with a question of their own like “What’s your budget?” or “What kind of discount were you looking for?” Or, if they give us a blank stare that suggests “I can’t believe you really just asked that.” Scott usually does this in the form of percentages. Typically, he’ll ask for a 10, 15, or 20 percent discount (any more than that, and you can be borderline offensive). These reductions can be significant, especially if you are making an expensive purchase.
·         Be honest. Explain, without giving too much personal information, why you are asking for a price cut. This could be as simple as “I’m not willing to pay that.” In certain situations (like medical bills), you may need to give a few more details (“We’ve gone from two incomes to one.”).
·         Don’t respond right away if you don’t get the answer you want. By telling the seller that you need more time to think about the purchase, you are again showing that you are in control. We’ve found that by being patient, we end up getting very close to what we’d like to pay.

Since we have been asking companies for price reductions, we’ve saved a significant amount of green. When we moved into our house, we hated did not love the paint colors that the old owner had splashed on our walls. They were a bit ‘loud’ for Scooter, so in an effort to tone things down, we headed to Lowe’s to find neutral and less aggressive colors. Once we found our color babies, “Sautéed Mushroom” and “Mediterranean Sea”, the EXACT same colors Scott had in his old house (boy doesn’t handle change well), Scott asked the Lowe’s employee if we could get some sort of discount. The employee responded that if we signed up for the Lowe’s credit card (a HUGE no-no at our crib), we would receive a 5 percent discount. Scott then refuted, asking for the 5 percent without having to sign up. The clerk did not think he could do that, so Scott patiently said that he would think about it.
Scott and I slowly put some color cards back on the shelf, and wouldn’t you know it, not two minutes later, the clerk came back after “checking with his manager” and offered us TEN percent off of our purchase. Because we were painting our entire home, we needed a lot of paint cans, so that ten percent turned out to be the equivalent of one FREE paint can. Call me crazy for getting excited about saving thirty bucks, but, over time, our savings add up!

More recently, my window broke in my car, and we were quoted close to $600 in repairs. Scott initially forgot to ask for any kind of financial courtesy, but as we were driving back to pick up the car up, he thought he’d give it a try. By just calling and asking for a discount, the mechanic approved a 10 percent courtesy. Score. That saved us between $60-70.
I can ramble off several more examples (just last week, a friend told me that she was approved to have all of her medical bills written off and did so simply by making a phone call and asking for financial help), but I think you get the point. Asking for discounts can be humbling, but it is SO worth it. Even if you are told ‘no’, you can look at other places selling the same service or product. In this free-market, competitive economy, you are sure to find someone who will offer a little financial courtesy! It’s so easy, and the best part about it…no tedious coupon cutting involved (although I am interested in learning how to efficiently “coupon”…any coupon gurus out there?!).

And for all my blogsters, I want to leave you with this little treat (shared with me by a friend) called the Queen of Free. I recently started following her blog and have already scored a free iced pumpkin latte from Einstein Bagels AND a free dinner from Panda Express. #yum #um,awesome.

How do you all save money? What are your tips/tricks? Please share!