Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ode to Fabric Softener

(My Mother never used fabric softener... never. So this is a new world for me! I used fabric softener for the first time in May. I'm so happy it doesn't bother the girls skin!)

Oh how I LOVE the scent of you...
I feel all fuzzy inside when I open the cupboard to see your sleek and sexy curves.
You are called 'simple pleasures', and you live up to your name.
I think I could just sit and smell you all day.
They should make you into a candle... or a lotion.
I must admit... I can't really tell what you do for my clothes... but it doesn't matter.
You almost make me want to do laundry... almost.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Thanks for noticing me"- eeyore

I haven't written in a while because I've nothing positive to say. I've been stuck in a slump the last bit, and I can't quite get out of it. I feel like Eeyore... pessimistic and down in the dumps.
I've had plenty of things to pull me out, but I can't pinpoint why I got so down in the first place.
So here is what's going on...

The budget thing is pluggin' along. I'm not sure if it's contributing to my depression, but I'm hanging in there. I've stayed within my cash allowances, and I'm learning to go without some luxuries. I'm learning that I HAVE to make a plan before entering any store, and I have to stick to my list. I have to calculate as I go... so I don't end up with a cart full of things I have no money for.
The girls used their allowance to buy themselves desks, so I was proud of them for being so wise with their spending.
I think I've realized that being upfront with them about our change in finances is good for them. I've just said... "No, we don't have money for that" or "Sorry, it's not in the budget" A few times it has concerned Cori. She said "Are we going to run out of money or something?" and it gave me the opportunity to tell her that even if we had the money to spend, we really need to look at if it's worth spending it on. I feel like this budget is forcing me to stop and think about things more. I have to really consider if I want to buy something extra, and I have to consider what other things I might want to spend it on instead.
Anyways... just my own learning process. I never thought running out of olives would cause such insight in my life. I found myself mulling over a decision of whether I buy the olives... even if they aren't on sale... or wait for the sale... or just buy one can now... or buy five cans, because who knows when they'll go on sale? It's not like milk, bread or eggs! The fact is... I didn't realize what a staple olives were at our house! Olives... a luxury or a necessity?!

The kids are back in school. My baby goes to Kindergarten on Wednesday... crazy! The girls all have good teachers. School supplies only cost me an arm and a leg. SERIOUSLY! Between their individual needs, classroom cash donations, and donated classroom supplies... it added up. I need to make a note for next year, so I can set aside some extra cash.
I had great plans before school started... getting organized and ready for everything. Didn't happen. Then I imagined that as soon as the kids were gone all day... I have the house immaculate! Yeah... fat chance. I can't figure out what I'm spending all my time doing... but I have no time... and a messy house.

I ran a 5k race for Wasatch Mental Health. Heaven knows we all need better mental health! But it was a great cause and a beautiful morning up the canyon.
I've had a 'girls night out' with my old High School basketball team. And an evening on the lake with another group of fabulous women. (On a side note... I was tubing, going fast enough to flip the tube and hit the water hard enough I lost my swim bottoms! Luckily they were still around my ankles, and I was decent by the time the boat came back around.)

Life is good. I just need to pull my head out and cheer up. I think that summer ending is harder than I expected. I'll get over it, it's just a cycle I gotta get through.
When I get depressed I get mad at myself. I'm angry because I feel like being aware of my cycles should mean that I can combat it. Like I should be prepared for the battle. I get down in the dumps and look back to July and think... "how did I do all of that?" and "how was I running on 4-5 hours of sleep a day" because now I can't get enough. I force myself out of bed after 10 or 11 hours and try to get enough caffeine in me to get through the day.
But I try and put on my 'happy face'... one day at a time. Can't wait for another high.

"Good morning, Eeyore," said Pooh.
"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily. "If it is a good morning, which I doubt," said he.
"Why, what's the matter?"
"Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it."
"Can't all what?" said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
"Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush."
(A. A. Milne...from book Winnie the Pooh)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Show me the money!

Oh me, oh my!
The past couple weeks have been eye opening... pretty much a good slap in the face. I didn't think I was blowing money out of my butt, but I totally was.
I'm doing the 'cash envelope' method. So every two weeks (when Mike gets paid) I get a set amount of cash in 5 different envelopes...
Food Storage
We have done the cash method in the past... but not specifically divided. So things would come up and I would have a good excuse to throw my debit card at it if the cash was gone... because it wasn't 'grocery' related. I've decided that it's better to be realistic about the amounts we need in each category, or I just end up over spending anyways. Mike puts gas in the vehicles every two weeks... or more often if I've had to drive more than usual. Everything has to be categorized, or I have to pull it from somewhere else.
I started the first two weeks with regular paper envelopes... but...

I spent $3 at Wal-mart and bought an organizer... this one is the same as mine, but it's been covered in cute fabric, maybe I'll do that this week... instead of shopping.
It's nice because I can keep it all in one place, and it will hold any coupons too. The only thing I've noticed that really sucks is coin change... I have no where to put it. I thought maybe I'll just start keeping it in a jar by my bed, and when it looks like there's a good amount in there, I'll use it to treat myself with something!
As I spend the cash in each category, I put the receipt in it's place. That I way I can look back and see what I spent the money on... I also have it handy if I need to return anything.
I have surrendered all my cards... ALL OF THEM... the only plastic I get to comfort me is my pretty little Costco Card. (Which I've decided is the devil!) I'm embarrassed to admit that this is like taking away my security blanket. I feel like I'm standing naked on the street corner!
I think that shopping and eating are my challenges in this life. I wouldn't trade them for other trials or temptations... but the deeper I look into myself, the more I realize how much I comfort myself with these things. It's not healthy that a pair of new shoes can make me feel emotionally better when I'm having a bad day. Or a great deal on a new shirt can make the world a better place to live!
I wish this was an easy problem to fix. I know that like dieting, spending money will be a battle forever. Just keeping my mind in a healthy place as far as what are 'needs' and what are 'wants'.
I must say that it feels so empowering to have some control over things... this week at least. I realize there will be times that are harder than others. Expenses come up that are not planned, emergencies and such. I've already realized that there is always SOMETHING that comes up. Anything from bringing food to a party... to Lexi's toes coming through the top of her tennis shoes! There's always something! The only way to plan for the unplanned is to not spend everything in the envelopes. Those sayings about 'burning a hole in my pocket' are accurate about me... if I have it, chances are I'll spend it. Now I'm learning that my new security blanket is knowing that I HAVEN'T spent everything, and there's something there if it's needed.
So the envelopes are good. When the cash is gone... it's gone! If something else comes up it will take some thought and discussion.
My coupon clipping and bargain hunting skills are coming in handy. I just gotta keep it up! (Just like dieting!)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Knowledge of his plan

It's been a tough week.
I attended a funeral for an 8 year-old boy Friday, and a baptism for an 8 year-old boy Saturday.

August 7th we had our Fife Family reunion. I helped my grandma plan, and carry out, a reunion for a grundle of us... some local, some coming from Idaho and California.
It started early, picking up things needed, taking everyone to the lake... and ended in my grandparents backyard that evening with a movie under the stars.
I decorated, set-up a bouncy house, made snow cones and cotton-candy, and truthfully I was exhausted!
Our family is the same as any other, we have our share of 'crazies'. The dynamics of different people is always interesting and I have to admit... there are people I love to see, and others I have to prepare myself to tolerate. (thank goodness for prescription drugs!)
After a crazy day, I was ready to write a post about my frustrations and vent about those family members who make me want to never attend a reunion ever again... but then all the petty and trivial issues were put into perspective.
Sunday I received a phone call that there had been an accident, and my cousin Jacob was being life-flighted to Primary Children's. A couple hours later I received the call that he had passed away.
I drove up to the hospital to pick-up my Mom and Grandma, who had been up there with my Aunt and Uncle.
Their sweet little 8 year-old had been playing in his room and accidentally got himself tangled up, and had strangled himself. The same little boy, so full of life the day before! I couldn't even imagine... it could have been one of my girls. It all seemed unreal.
When I got to the hospital, my Uncle wanted me to see him. All that could come out of my mouth was "I'm so sorry". Their pain was beyond comprehension.
My Aunt and Uncle have four boys... Jacob being the youngest. Their oldest two sons are both on missions, one in California and the other in Brazil. They are one of the closest families I've ever known.
Friday was the funeral. My cousins were both able to come home, and both spoke at the funeral. My Uncle also spoke. It was so powerful and so sad. They kept it positive, but I think that anytime you see parents having to bury a young child... it just doesn't seem fair.
My Uncle said something I will never forget. He said "I have no regrets. We laid it all on the table." And they really did. They are a family that doesn't hold anything back. Jacob knew how much he was loved! His parents and brothers showed him love everyday of his life. I really want to live my life that way. If I were to lose one of my children, I would want to be able to say that... no regrets.

My sweet nephew decided to become a member of the church today.
It was bittersweet to think that the two boys were only months apart... one now in heaven, and the other receiving the gift of the holy ghost.
Nate has been Cori and Lexi's best friends since the minute he was born! They are three pea's in a pod, and he used to call them his "grills".
I'm so proud of him, he is such a great kid!
I felt honored to be a part of this special day, and I know he will bless the lives of so many.

I just have to express my love for my Father in heaven. I don't understand why things have to happen the way they do. It doesn't make sense... I wish I could have more answers.
All I know is that I'm grateful to have the knowledge of the plan of salvation. To know that Jesus Christ died for us, so we can live again.
I know this life is not the end... that we will see our loved ones again... and what a great day that will be.
I'm so grateful to be a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. To live in a time when the gospel is here in it's fullness. I'm so thankful for a prophet to guide us.
I feel especially blessed to have my family... my sweet children. I don't know how long I will have them, but I'm reminded that they could return to their Heavenly Father at anytime.
I'm thankful that Cori and Lexi have chosen to be baptized, and have the desire to live righteously. I'm thankful that 'families are forever'.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The best 12 years of my life!

Mike and I celebrated our 12 year anniversary... man does time fly when your having fun.
In so many ways I feel that my life really started when I met Mike. He has been my 'rock' and has taught me to love... and how to be loved. I hardly remember life without him... and yet I feel our actual wedding day was only a couple years ago.Not a week goes by without me still wondering how on earth I deserve this man!
I didn't grow up with much of an example as far as husbands and fathers are concerned. I never would have imagined that I could find someone... let alone be married to someone so amazing.Mike and I are as different as night and day, and yet we fit like two puzzle pieces. My weaknesses are his strengths and he has a way of 'handling' me... which says a ton.
I pride myself on being strong and independent. I feel the need to never 'need' or depend on anyone! Mike has a way of breaking down my walls and showing me I can depend on him.
He has taken such good care of me for the past 12 years, and given me a life I never dreamed of. He works so incredibly hard for our family, and couldn't be a better father.
He is that 'tall, dark, and handsome' man... athletic, strong, super smart, hard-working, spiritual, kind, gentle, loving... man of my dreams. Actually much better than I ever dreamed!
Mike and I have been blessed with many opportunities to travel. Over the past 10 years we have seen so much of the world together. There is not another person I would want to share those experiences with. I love spending time with Mike, just the two of us.He is my best-friend, and my eternal companion. I look forward to the years ahead... as our family grows and changes. There's nobody I'd rather grow old with.

Monday, August 2, 2010

My new quest...starting at Qwest

So anyone who knows me me well, knows how hilarious this is for me. I have an idea...I have a new itch.

I've always considered myself a somewhat frugal person... well, maybe the word frugal isn't right... thrifty. I've been rather creative with saving money, especially with my home decor and clothing. I will admit that my saving money on clothes helps with the fact that I buy twice as many clothes (or four times as many) as I should. I got on a coupon kick last year and LOVE (and obsess) over saving grocery money.
So I've been inspired by so many others over the past year or so. People who have really cut back and simplified their life. I know some change comes from necessity, but I truly believe that everyone could find ways to cut back.I told Mike that starting Jan 1st 2011... I'm taking a challenge to really cut out ANY and ALL unnecessary spending. I started telling Mike all the 'fluffy stuff' we were going to go 365 days without. We've talked about everything from getting rid of TV to cutting out fountain drinks. (only the 75 cent 2 liters... don't worry, I'm not cutting soda totally out... I'm not really for that yet!)There was an Oprah re-run on Thursday that I took as my final sign. Why am I waiting until January? If I'm really going to commit... why not start with things I can change now?!I want to keep a record of everything I'm changing, goals I'm setting, and progress along with set backs. I realize this means airing a bit of our financial 'dirty laundry'. Mike and I have been real smart in some areas of our finances... but not smart in others. We are far from perfect, and I won't pretend that we have anything figured out. What seems like 'frugal living' to some may be total excess to others, this is a personal challenge I'm taking.I know the road will not be easy... I know that there will be times I breakdown... and I know there will be times I absolutely HATE it. I'm excited to see the kind of accomplishments we can achieve with some discipline and dedication!
So I'm happy to report my work today...I called Qwest this morning and talked to the nicest lady... Betsy. I told her I was looking to cut back our month-to-month expenses. She was so happy to help! She didn't try and talk me out of anything or try and sell me anything new.
(Now... first off... I will admit that I have not been involved in our family's finances. In fact, I haven't known Mike's salary for the past few years. He pays the bills and I get an allowance. The allowance works fine... except when I keep a debit card in my wallet. So this is a world I have not been a part of for a long time. I'm rather upset with myself for going all these years without being involved... but the truth is, I'm not good with managing money. But that's got to change.)
We 'bundle' with Qwest... which saves us a bit. Mike's work pays for our Internet and I was under the impression that we had the basic home phone service. We canceled long distance because we can use our cell phones... so I didn't think there was much to cut back. I was wrong.
A basic land line in Utah is $12 a month. Now add taxes...ridiculous...and it's actually $20 a month.So our $25.99 a month service (before taxes) was NOT basic. I asked for the basic package, and only added caller ID for another $9.
Betsy was awesome... and said that she could give me a couple loyalty promotions (to which I thought "what the *#$! are loyalty promotions?! and why have I not gotten any before?!!!" but it came out of my mouth to Betsy as "thank you so much!") 50% off our home phone bill for the next 4 months... AND... $30 off our TV for 3 months. (our TV is through Direct TV, but the discount comes from Qwest) WHA-HOO!

Now speaking of TV...
I called Direct TV... and I talked with Jared... who was no Betsy! He was bothered with me and kept trying to talk me out of things.
We had a package that is no longer offered, so it was a pretty good deal... but... there was still a lot we didn't need. I dropped us to the lowest package that still had ESPN and HGTV. We dropped the additional sports package (big sacrifice for Mike) and canceled the protection plan. I also stopped service on the DVR in the basement and have to send back the receiver (they send you all the stuff to send back the receiver... prepaid shipping label and all!)

Qwest home phone service: from $40.61 a month... to $29 a month Direct TV: from $99.92 a month... to $61.99 a month
Loyalty discounts: total over the next 4 months... $58 for phone and $90 for TV

GRAND TOTAL :$49.54 a month... that's $594.48 a year. And an additional $148 for... loyalty.

I'm not going to pretend that we are making huge sacrifices around here. I realize that many people live without caller ID and HGTV. I'm just cutting back the things we really don't use anyway. I was SHOCKED at the things we were paying for... things I didn't even know we had... let alone were paying for!
We still live in excess... I know that. There's lots of work to do... lots of learning.

So there it is... my progress for today.