Thursday, January 22, 2009

Reader Question: What happened to that social life?!

Happy Thursday, all! Hope your weeks are going well. We've already gotten really busy at work with tax season... so I'm pretty much chained to my desk chair till mid-April. Though I'll still manage to steal a minute or two to hop on here and keep up with y'all - promise! Anyway, a couple of things... big news on the car front! We got a second car this week!!! And let me tell you, it was meant to be. The hub answered a craigslist ad for a 2000 Lexus this past weekend. (Don't ask me what model... I don't really speak Lexus, but I think it's just the glorified Toyota Camry version.) The guy selling it lived very close by, but the hub didn't hear back from him that day. The price was a little more than our budget, but we figured it was worth a look - and you never know, right? Maybe we could talk him down on price some. Well, we figured someone else snagged it, but the seller actually contacted the hub the next day. That same day, I relisted our Restoration Hardware chest on craigslist (which had been on there for months with not much interest). That very day, the hub got a response from a very excited buyer for the chest. They wanted it, at our asking price, and they wanted it now! Sweeeet! So long story short, the hub got the new car for $3,800 (a killer deal, by the way - it was listed at over $4,200 and is worth even more) and we were able to snag it easily since we sold that last piece of furniture. The timing was beautiful.

But that's not the best part... the couple that came Tuesday night to pick up the chest was SO great. While the boys moved the big ass chest out, the wife and I got to talking about kids, which quickly turned into a conversation about infertility. She had a great story of her own... she and her husband tried for years and years to get pregnant and they finally adopted a baby girl. Her doctors told her she'd never ever get pregnant. Eighteen months after adopting... she's pregnant. Even at delivery, her doctor told her she shouldn't be having this baby - it just wasn't physically possible. She set him straight and said, "God can do anything." Her kids are now 18 and 20. And I have to say she was one of the sweetest most understanding women I've talked to about all this. She knew my pain and she knew it well - she still teared up thinking about it, even 20 years later. I've often wondered if you eventually forget that pain and longing once you finally get there, but I guess you never do. Maybe you're not supposed to... so you can comfort others in their own journey. She paid me for the chest and gave me $50 more than our asking price, but she wouldn't let me give her any change. And she told me, "not only do I have a great new piece of furniture, I have someone new to pray for!" And we totally hugged when she and her husband left... hahahaha... isn't that crazy?!

Yes, so NEW car and our last piece of furniture we had up for sale is gone! Woo hoo! And while we're glad to have two cars again, both the hub and I kinda missed carpooling yesterday. He called me as soon as he got to work and told me it was awfully quiet in the car. So we decided we'll still carpool a couple of days a week. No reason not to... saves gas and whatnot! Ahhh and the second thing... I got a great comment from Jenny yesterday on a previous post with a fabulous question...


Just found your blog. Love that you're following DR with success. Had to ask though- how is it impacting your social life? It looks like you were kinda big spenders before. How have you helped your friends adjust to your new (smaller?) entertainment and dining out budgets? My DH and I struggle with getting together with our freinds because everyone always wants to go out and those nights out (restaurants, theater, bars) get expensive FAST.

Any advice?


Awesome question, Jenny - and something I haven't really mentioned on here! Yes, I'd have to say going hardcore on Dave's plan initially cramped our style a bit. For us though, it was a rather gradual process. We had already started to really cut back before we were officially on a budget and whatnot, so it wasn't as if our entire social life suddenly came to a screeching hault. But yes, we certainly used to eat out a lot, go to concerts and shows, and shop without thinking twice about it. And I can definitely remember some recent occasions when we found some "convenient excuses" to get out of going out to dinner with friends, etc where we knew it just wasn't in the budget. But we're very open to our close friends about what we're doing. They all know our situation and actually, a lot of our friends are on the Dave train too. Or at least budget-conscious if nothing else. So I have to say for us, it really hasn't been too big of an adjustment. Instead of going out to some swanky restaurant for dinner, we've been getting together with other couples and friends at each other's homes. A few weeks ago we went over to visit some friends who recently got married. They cooked dinner, we brought the wine, and we played board games. It was seriously tons of fun!

And really all my girlfriends know I'm a budget nut now. The hub and I really don't go out to eat at all - it's rare if we do. But I'll occasionally meet some girlfriends for dinner out, and we'll always pick cheap eats. None of us has any problem saying, I'm broke - let's eat on the cheap! And two of my best girls, Lucky and kuntry bride, and I have (don't laugh) slumber parties. Yep, slumber parties. In fact we just set the date for our next one this week. We take turns "hosting" and we just gather at one of our homes, get in our jammies, cook a fun dinner, watch girly movies and hang out.

So I guess the answer is, let your friends know where you stand, and get a little creative with more budget-friendly ways to get together. It's definitely tough to put up a hand and say, no I can't do that - it's not in the budget... but it absolutely gets easier, and a lot of times I think you'll find that when you start making more frugal plans, your friends just might wise up and follow suit. I hope that helps a little! Great question!

Alright girls... I gotta dry my hair and get going. Long day ahead... Hope y'all have a wonderful day. Don't forget to keep praying for sweet Harper!!! Things are looking good, but she still needs your prayers! Kelly has lots of great pics up, so go see check it out! XOXOXO!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Prayers for Harper!

Girls, please take a minute to stop in your tracks and lift up Kelly from Kelly's Korner and her new sweet baby girl, Harper, in prayer. Hop on over to Kelly's Korner for the details, but Harper was born yesterday and is now in critical condition. She was airlifted to another NICU center and her family is of course terrified. All they can ask for is your prayers, so please join me!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hey, Sparky.

So did you know? Today is *Spread the Spark* day! Aren't you excited? Or wait... is it SHOW your Spark? Right, right... anyway, I've mentioned SparkPeople on here before, but given that it's official *Show your Spark* day and whatnot, I thought I'd bring it up again.

Actually, I joined SparkPeople back in November of 07 after googling online daily calorie counters. I found some that wanted to charge you (no thanks), but I eventually stumbled upon SparkPeople's awesome site. It's this ginormous online community dedicated to health, nutrition, and fitness and it's entirely free (remember, we loves free). I initially wanted to start tracking my calories because (a) I never had before, (b) I had just turned 30 the month before and was a bit freaked about it, and (c) I was trying to get pregnant (duh) and wanted to pay more attention to what vitamins and nutrients I was getting.

So, I counted every single bit of food that entered my mouth for about 9 months. Every bite. Every sip. Every calorie. Tedious? Yes. But did I learn a lot? HELL yes. And without even really trying, I lost those 10 pounds that I thought were permanently stuck on me since college. I had grown to accept them, so I really had no intention to lose them. But guess what - I don't miss them! It was all about my eating habits... I think the biggest problem is people really have no clue what all's in the crap they're eating. A lot of people drink their calories. My weakness? Margaritas. Might as well call it liquid ass. Because that's right where it's goin'.

I also fell for the blended coffee drinks... the occasional milkshake... stuff like that. Munchkins from Dunkin Donuts? I mean, they're so small... they can't be... 80 calories EACH?! What?! I used to pop those babies like no tomorrow. Hahahha... no really, the name of the game for me was getting a grip on how many calories I was consuming - putting a number on everything. Because not knowing is where you get hurt. Restaurants especially will kick your ass. Most of those salads on dinner menus contain more calories than we should have in an entire day, let alone one meal. But if I can put a number on something, I can stop and think, OK is this really worth it? Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. I don't deny myself any particular foods - I love food too darn much! All things in moderaton. And for me, the biggest key was finding smarter ways to satisfy my cravings. My Frappuccinos turned into non-fat iced lattes.

I don't believe in fad diets whatsoever. Sure, they may give you results initially, but to get real, permanent results, you have to make a lifestyle change. You have to change the way you think about food. Doesn't this sound a bit like my thoughts on money?! Well, calorie-counting is very much like being on a budget. With SparkPeople, you set up a profile and they ask you some initial questions to help you figure out what your daily calorie range should be. It's based on your size, your activity level, and what your goals are (whether you're trying to lose weight or maintain your weight, etc). They've got all kinds of tools you can take advantage of - they'll even put together meal plans for you and send you off with a shopping list if you want. They have a huge food database to help you track your calories, but you can also add your own items easily. Like I said, it's definitely tedious, but you learn SO much from doing this. And it's not something you have to do forever. I did it everyday for 9 months, then I decided to drop weekends. Weekends are tough for me. My weekdays are very systematic and predictable, but my weekends? Not so much. So I did just weekday counting for another couple of months and then I ultimately stopped counting altogether. I felt I had learned how to ride and I could drop the training wheels for good.

Well... first weekday of 2009 and I'm back on it! Hahaha... I did gain a bit of a Christmas arse over the holidays, but really I just noticed that I'm not paying attention to my fruit and veggie intake and vitamins and nutrients like I was before. That's the other kicker to this daily counting - you really see what you're getting, and what you're NOT getting. I really have to consciously put those 5 fruits and veggies in my diet each day - I do it best by incorporating them in snacks (I'm a big snacker - I only go maybe 3 hours at a time without eating). And you know, with us being back in high-baby-making-gear in 2009, I really need to make sure I'm getting my iron and folic acid and whatnot. And I can monitor all of that through this site, so that's why I got back on the calorie counting bandwagon.

Another cool thing they have on the site is a fitness tracker. You set a fitness minutes goal for the entire year. It's weird, because I don't really consider myself a competitive person, but seeing that minutes goal on my screen everyday really makes me want to rack up some more minutes. Don't know why, but it definitely does. And there's something really satisfying about logging on and entering in my minutes when I get back from yoga or from a run or something. Love it! Really the calorie counter and the fitness minutes (SparkAmerica) are the two features I use, but there are TONS of great resources on there, not to mention a huge community of people. Lots of message boards and different groups on there. Bazillions of groups... everything from infertility support groups to Boot Camp Brides.

So check it out if you so desire. And if you create a profile, feel free to come find me and be my buddy (AAZ106)! Alright, I've officially showed my Spark. Hope y'all have a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend to follow!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Definitely Something.

So yesterday the hub and I were coming back in town from a weekend trip and decided to go to the 11am service at church on our way in... it's sorta on the way home and we just started a new sermon series last week that we didn't want to miss out on. Well, we normally go to the 9am since it's a bit of a drive for us. We used to live really close to the church before we moved to the boonies, the sticks, BFE.... whatever you wanna call it.... the 'burbs! But we love our church so much and the vibe there that we still trek down there on Sundays. I mean it's only like 30 minutes away, it's not that bad. But with the 9 o'clock, we're normally back home by 10:45 or so and have the rest of the day to do whatever.

Yeah so we timed our traveling just about right - we were getting off 400 right at 11am and we're thinking we're totally golden. Yeah, we'll miss a song or two, but we'll be fine... Wrong! Traffic came to a screeching hault on Lenox Road. Crap. Apparently the entire city decided to attend this same service. Cops were everywhere directing traffic, but it was still a mess. We texted our friends already inside and told them to just give up our seats (they had been saving two for us) because we knew people had to be asking them for our seats every 2 seconds (thanks anyway, Pammy!). We weaved our way around to our "secret" entrance. OK it's not really a secret, but not a ton of people are aware of it. Had to park way farther away than we normally do - a part of the deck we'd never even been to... finally made it in the building (about 10 minutes after 11) only to find they were turning people away from the auditorium. Crap. People were standing out in the lobby and sitting on benches and whatnot... they've got TV screens set up so you can see what's going on inside. And then I noticed the Kidstuf theatre was open for overflow, so we made our way over there. We ran into our friend, Andy, while wondering around so we all ended up sitting together on the floor in the back of the Kidstuf theatre. The overflow areas were overflowing.

I knew the 11am was always crazier than the 9am, but this was madness! I've been in the car for hours and here I am sitting on the damn floor. But my annoyance quickly turned to... WOW. Look at ALL these people at our church! Seriously... what's going on? New Year's resolutions? Have people heard so much about this money series already? Wow. I remember when our church was a 500-seat auditorium in an old Harris Teeter. I don't know how many we seat now... 3,000? Not enough, apparently. And then this morning on the way into work I heard the Bert Show talking about our sermon from yesterday. And I saw this new post on our church's official blog commenting on church attendance craziness all around. Are any of y'all having crazy-awesome church attendance since the new year? God's definitely at work here... something amazing is going on. I'm not sure what it is, but I do know we'll personally be sticking with the 9am service so we can get a seat!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tory's #1 Fan.

So I know we all have our favorite designers and whatnot, but today at lunch I do believe the hub and I came in contact with Tory Burch's biggest fan. Well, I did. I don't think the hub knows who the hell Tory Burch is. This chick and her family were getting up to leave their table when I first noticed her bag... a cute little brown shoulder bag with Tory's signature logo. Then she crosses and I see another big ass Tory logo on the back of her hoodie (as in covering her entire back). Hmm. Then she passes our table so I of course look to her feet. Yep, revas with big ole Tory logos. Damn, girl! Tory much? I actually was wearing my silver revas too and I feel sure that if she'd noticed them she would have run over to me gushing about her undying love for all things Tory. And then I would've been like, "oh really? I couldn't tell." And then she would've been like, "um whatever, I have way more Tory Burch than you do." And I would've replied, "yeah I'm thinking you're right." And then she'd turn around with one last flash of the absurdly large Tory logo on her back as she stormed out of the restaurant.

These are the kinds of off-the-wall things going on in my head when the hub notices the weird look on my face and asks me what I'm thinking about. How do you explain that to a guy? "Oh nothing." It was a really dramatic conversation in my head though.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Million Dollar Baby.

You can't put a price on a baby, or on love... but please check out this wonderful post from one of my favorite blogs, Chapters. Her mom hijacked her blog to publish this post - I love it! Times are tough, but we can all spare a dollar! Shoot, even send it out of your online banking so you don't have to use a stamp! (You know I like a bargain in any form.) Here's the text from the post...

A Dollar For My Daughter...

Amy has reluctantly allowed me to GUEST POST today. While she is somewhat uncomfortable with what I have dubbed the “harebrained idea,” she has agreed to let me present it to you, as I have previously done to my friends and family, with the hope that together we can make a huge difference in two deserving (that's subjective, Mom :-P) people’s lives.

I ask that you consider helping me with the following project: My daughter is among the seemingly growing number of young women who long for a baby and cannot conceive without fertility treatments. In her case, as in many others, none of the expensive treatments are covered by medical insurance...and it's both an emotional and costly process. My request is that you please consider the following 2 options to participate in "A Dollar For My Daughter":

1. Send a gift of $1 to the following address:
c/o 5085 W. Park Boulevard
Suite 300
Plano, TX 750932

If you feel comfortable doing so, forward this request (go to the envelope icon at the bottom of this post to forward via email) to any of your friends, family and/or business associates if you want to encourage them to participate...or you could even add a link to your blog about this if you feel called to do so.

I feel like it's important that you "know the facts" as you consider partnering with me to help Amy and DW in their journey - so I've asked her if I could share some personal details with you about the financial costs of infertility. The initial treatment (which they had savings to cover) consisted of the fertility injections with cycle monitoring costing $4,897. It was, unfortunately, unsuccessful. The second and, possibly, third rounds will cost approximately $2,500 each. In vitro fertilization (IVF), if ultimately required, costs approximately $15,000 per procedure. At the end of each phase, there is the potential for pregnancy and, therefore, treatments would then cease.

The idea is that your small gift, combined with those of others, will make a huge difference…just $1 at a time. If you would like to include your e-mail address with your gift, I will provide a periodic update. 100% of all gifts will be used for fertility-related medical bills only. If by some chance this request takes on a “life of its own” and there are gifts beyond her medical bills, all excess funds will be donated to a scholarship foundation for use by another couple requiring fertility treatments.

Many thanks in advance for your help,

Donna Metz

97.77 Degrees.

Yep, that's how HOT I am! Hahahaha... I successfully got my first reading today, but I must say I didn't sleep well at all last night. I was anticipating my alarm going off and then carefully having to take my temp. I woke up several times during the night... How many hours left? Is my thermometer within reach? Where's the chart? Wait, does it light up? How am I going to be able to read it? Shit.

I even dreamed I took my temp at one point and then forgot to write it down. Oh the horror! I'm usually a heavy sleeper but I occasionally have these nights where I wake up time after time anticipating something. I specifically remember the night in high school when I went home with Baby-Think-it-Over and I got no sleep at all because I was just waiting for that darn doll to cry and wake me up. Sure enough, he did and I was on that baby in 2 seconds flat. Shoot... am I going to get any real sleep when I have an actual baby? Hmmm...

Well hopefully now that I've figured out how to get a reading I'll chill out about it and get some sleep! And thanks for the site info, girls... I'm going to take a look at all these today and see what I find.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Basal basics?

OK so tomorrow a.m. I'm going to start this whole Basal Body Temp tracking thing. I've got a kind of timeline laid out for slowly getting back into baby-making gear. My next cycle is due to begin this weekend, so for this first cycle of '09, I'm just trying out the BBT tracking. Next cycle I plan to get back on my meds (one of which I only take in the second half, so I kinda need to know what's going on - hence the tracking). Then in April I plan to start acupuncture. I'm excited about that! Not sure how often... maybe a couple of times a month? No idea... but we'll figure that out later.

So for now I've got to conquer this BBT nonsense. I've never done it before, so if y'all have any hot tips, please enlighten me! I've got the special thermometer, which came with a chart. But being the nerd I am, I'd love to dump my readings into software or something that makes the charts for me. I know I can find some online, but do y'all have any sites you've used that you love? I'll be on the hunt for that soon...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Reader Question: Saying buh-bye to car payments.

Racheal left a comment on a previous post that I thought I should share... she had some great questions!

"I have been following your blog for a few weeks and I wanted to ask you about the debt paydown - especially how you sold your cars and bought new ones free and clear? My husband and I are thinking about this and don't really know where to start but we know that we need to do this! Any advice would be great! Thanks so much!"

Yeah, if y'all remember, we sold our 2005 Toyota 4-Runner last fall for the sole purpose of ditching the loan. Luckily, we were able to break even on it and weren't upside down on the darn thing - I know a lot of people are in that situation. So right now we've just got Phoebe, my sweet 1998 Honda Accord. We got her a new paintjob recently and she's looking fabulous. She's been paid for now for nearly 7 years... I bought her brand new (something I'll probably never do again).

ANYway, yeah the first the question Dave Ramsey asks his callers is how much they owe on their cars. His first advice is usually "SELL THE CAR!" He thinks car payments are completely stupid and now that we have a clue, so do we. We tried selling on craigslist at first... got some interest, but weren't getting our asking price. So after a few weeks the hub put it on Auto Trader. It cost about $50 to list, but within 24 hours it was sold at our asking price. We were thrilled! So I highly recommend going that route. People on craigslist are really looking for a bargain, so I think that' s why that didn't go in our favor. That's where we're currently looking for our new car. And by new, I mean something the $3,000 in cash we've saved up over the past couple of months will buy. So we're currently on the hunt!

So to answer your question, Racheal, I'd say go ahead and sell one of the cars so you knock out one loan while you're saving up the cash to buy a new one. And you can get a decent, reliable car for $2 or $3k. Once you've saved up enough to get a new one and buy, then you'll have the freedom to rid yourselves of the 2nd. And that freedom is awesome - freedom from the payments. That hot new BMW next to you at the gas station will suddenly just look like a big-ass car payment to you instead of something desirable. It's really nuts how all this changes your view on "stuff." Really the biggest thing with the whole debt paydown is you gotta get wicked fierce about it. You have to get pissed off and get aggressive as hell. That's when you start winning. From your post, it sounds like you and your hubby might really benefit from joining an FPU class near you. There are a bunch of new ones starting this month. We loved it - ours wrapped up this past November. Hope that helps, and best wishes to ya!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Lucky finally gets lucky.

I've mentioned my friend Lucky on here some... she's one of my best girls. She's my crazy Irish yankee friend with a sailor's mouth. Probably my funniest friend. Yes, most definitely. She's the best storyteller. And she always has stories. Or is it just that she can make an everyday happening sound so intriguing? Either way, she's hilarious. I've nagged her about starting a blog, but yeah that never happened. It would've probably been made up of dating horror stories (she's had so many she could write a book) and tales from her crazy family (some of the funniest stories ever). But I think her horror stories may finally be coming to an end...

So Lucky, our friend kuntry bride, and I are like three peas in a pod. We met at work about nine years ago. We've all moved our separate ways in our careers, but we'll always remember that first job and the best friends we scored from it. Kuntry bride and I were always attached - I started dating the hub my freshman year in college, and kuntry bride and her hubby had been together forever too. So Lucky, as long as we've known her, has been the single gal. She's always dated a lot. She even had a few that hung around for a while, but as she phrased it, they'd all ultimately "crash and burn." It got to where it seemed like everytime the three of us got together, Lucky had a new man to tell us about. But then, before long.... crash and burn. After this happened multiple times, she decided that kuntry bride and I were bad luck. She spills the beans to us and BAM... it's over. Well that, and taking the guy in question to eat at Six Feet Under. That was also cause for ultimate crash and burn. For whatever reason, after dining there, that guy would hit the road within days. And she frequents that place, so one of the wait staff would often come up and ask her, "so what happened to that guy..." She put the kabosh on taking guys there. BUT, after what she considered a necessary "waiting period," she told kuntry bride and me... that she's met someone.

This was... December 16th that she told us. She met this dude on e-harmony and things were moving fast. Long story short, she and her new man came up to our house last night for the official meet-n-greet and she had a honkin' huge diamond solitaire around her neck. Uh huh. He gave her a huge ass diamond solitaire for Christmas. He's already dropped the L-bomb on her and it freaked her out a bit. But they're already talking marriage and kids and houses and OMG. (Which means the three of us are talking weddings and bridesmaid dresses and flowers and wedding gowns.) He met her parents this past weekend and that is a HUGE deal for her. She's always been majorly, majorly reluctant to introduce any boys to the 'rents. I think they've only met one or two in her entire dating career. So the fact that she took that step - so soon - is mayjah.

So kuntry bride and I are just loving watching this all unfold - and most definitely, loving seeing our friend so happy. Lucky always joked that she'd be the eternal single gal. She always made light of the fact that she wanted a husband - she'd joke about how her eggs were drying up as we spoke. Her emails would often begin, "Have you found me a husband? Hurry up, fool!" So I truly hope this is what she's been looking for. Kuntry bride also spent some time with the new guy this past weekend and we both totally loved him. They "look" like they go together and they seem so darn comfortable with each other. Way more "at home" with each other than I've seen her around other guys. I am SO excited for her... I know she has wanted this forever. We'd often compare my wanting a baby and her wanting a husband. It's very much the same suffering. Wanting something so bad - something everyone around you seems to have or get so easily. Yet there's nothing you can do or control to make it happen for you. She's always used humor and faith to get by, but I know her heart's been hurting for a husband. So I'm praying this guy is her answer!

So I don't know if that's encouraging to you single ladies who feel like Mr. Right is never going to freaking show... or if you're like, whatever shut up. Because I would totally understand if you felt the latter. That's how I often feel when I hear those fertility success stories, you know? Not that I'm not totally happy for whomever, but it's like yeah, yeah, that means nothing for my situation. But either way, it's amazing how fast your life can change. Not even two months ago she was still joking about joining her aunt at the convent up in New York...

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hello, 2009!

I am SO glad to see you! I know I hinted toward the fact that the hub and I are glad to give 2008 the boot, so yeah... this New Year's Day is extra *happy*. We had our fill of black-eyed peas today and also some yummalicous cabbage over at my parents'. I know most people do collards, but we've always done cabbage for some reason. Glad to see the Dawgs get in one more good win to close out the season. Wasn't so sure at first, but we came through in the 2nd half. And I was equally pleased to see Georgia Tech get slaughtered at the Chick-fil-A bowl last night. Makes our loss to them this year sting a little less (just a lil).

Anyway, so while I won't dwell on the crap that consumed 2008, it was a big struggle for us financially (like many people) and emotionally (having to put baby stuff on hold while the rest of the world continued to spin). We also had some wrenches thrown at us... the hub getting sued by his former employer (all fine and settled now, but a huge source of stress for us over several months), and losing my sweet gpa in late February... those were a couple of big ones. Getting our townhouse on the market and finally sold made for a VERY long and grueling summer. But we made it out alive, and we're better for it! 2008 had a lot of hardships for us, but we are starting 2009 in what I feel like is the best spot we've ever been in together.

I know I've bored y'all to tears by raving on and on about Dave Ramsey and our Total Money Makeover, but really, jumping head first into his program has changed our lives. I'm such a geeked-out nerd over his whole program. I've gotten several friends on the debt-free bandwagon with me and so has the hub. The funny thing is, he gets more pumped up and geeked out than I do sometimes! But it's truly awesome that we're on the same wavelength here, because that's what will make this work. I've explained Dave's teachings several times, but if you're just catching up, he is all about getting out of debt and living on cash (hmm... what a concept!) and building wealth so that you can live like no one else, give like no one else, and ultimately "change your family tree." His enthusiasm is absolutely contagious and it's pumping hard through our bloodstream right now. Our debt snowball officially starts rolling this month! By getting our butts in gear and getting on a budget (three months now, and going strong!), we've truly learned the meaning of "financial peace." We have done a complete 180 on how we look at money. We've totally relearned the value of the dollar. And the thing is, given how tough this last year has been, we're currently making the least amount of money we've ever made together. Though, I can honestly say I've NEVER been more at peace financially than I am right now. And it simply comes down to the fact that we have a plan. Up until the past few months, we never really had one. But now, every month, we're telling our money where to go instead of wondering where it went. And I cannot even explain to you the tremendous sense of peace that gives me.

And along those lines, it seems that the true *lesson* - if you can call it that - for me personally, all throughout 2008, was this idea of peace. That's one of those words that gets tossed around so haphazardly that we forget what it means. We just got through Christmas... you get all these cards wishing you "peace" and whatnot. We sing about peace for all mankind... but I never really got it till now. It's not about "world peace" or holding two fingers up... it's about inner peace. The peace that passes all understanding. Peace that only Jesus, aka the Prince of Peace, can give us. And it's not just with the money thing... it's with all our current struggles. I feel like 2007 was about learning to put my complete trust and faith in God - with the whole baby thing. And uh, not all my calendar years have been full of themes and lessons in life, by the way... ha. But these last 2 or 3 have been quite a journey for us, so we're soaking up whatever wisdom we can. I had to surrender my infertility struggles over to God because I was starting to lose it on my own. I've never had a hard time trusting in God in general, but I also never had such a really big issue that I tried so hard to control. It's really the first time I can ever remember having to stop and ask God for real help...

So I handed over that burden a while back. That didn't mean I didn't struggle, but I knew it wasn't just my struggle. And now this past year, I feel like I've really come to a peaceful place with it all. The Jesus icing on my God cupcake, I suppose. And yeah, I still struggle - daily. But then I read something like this, and my heart simply bursts...

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

Sometimes I need a little reminder of just how *big* our God is, you know? And though I can hardly compare my little worries with all the suffering that goes on around the world, I've always loved this quote from Mother Theresa...

"In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth, a life full of the most atrocious tortures on earth, will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel."

So yes, while we gladly kicked 2008 to the curb last night, we came out of it having learned so much. A peaceful exit to a rather tumultous year. And we're super excited for what's to come in 2009! As I mentioned, our debt snowball starts rolling this month and we're getting a really good jump start on it. And we'll be getting a fat tax refund this year, so that'll help us kick some major ass on our snowball in the next couple of months! That is definitely our main focus right now, but also we're finally getting back into baby-makin' in 2009. We're going to start our first IUI (turkey baster) cycle right after tax season (probably early May). We've got the money end worked out for 3 rounds of IUI - so we know we're good to move forward on that front. I'm planning to get back on my meds and vitamins in February and I've also got to start monitoring my cycles and whatnot. Yeah, when I say we took a break last year, we really took a break. I just got to the point where I didn't want to bother with the meds or monitoring or anything. I needed a true break from it all. We both did. Anyway, so back on meds and I think I'm going to try the whole basal body temp thing for tracking ovulation. I'm totally over the pee sticks. Not to mention how freaking expensive they are! Then I'm also wanting to do acupuncture alongside IUI, so I will probably go ahead and start that in April. So yes, back in gear!

Now if IUI doesn't work after 3 tries, I will need a third surgery to get my oven in the most *perfect* shape as possible before we move to IVF. And honestly, in my heart of hearts, I just think that's probably where we'll end up. Just a gut feeling. The hub thinks I'm totally being Debbie Downer thinking that, but I'm not - it's just what my gut tells me. And where in the world will we get the money for in vitro? Heck if I know! Well, today I certainly don't know. But right now, I do know three things: We're not borrowing money to do it (*peace*). Our hearts are pulled towards putting all our disposable income toward our debt snowball right now (*trust*). And, we'll figure it out if and when we get there (*faith*). :-)

And then, to wrap up, what would a New Year's post be without resolutions? Alright, mine are kinda general, but they're a big deal to me...

  • Raise the bar for myself at work... do my job as though I'm an investor in my firm and not just an employee collecting a paycheck.

  • Be consistent with spending time in the word and in prayer in the mornings (something I've always struggled with, but always find rewarding when I do it).

  • Get back to a consistent workout schedule (totally slacked off on that in the last few months!).

  • Run more and run farther! I'm doing my first 10K in March and yikes, I've got a lot of work to do!

  • Be more proactive in general... I can procrastinate with the best of 'em. I need to seek out that most dreaded item on the to-do list each day, whatever it is, and do it first.

  • Be more timely with gifts. I'm horrible at this! Instead of saving a gift (whatever the occasion) for the next time I see someone, I just need to mail it to them so they have it on time. That procrastination thing again!

And of course too, to just keep doing what we're doing! Thanks for hanging in with this long-ass post. Phew! I really hope the new year brings along many blessings to all of you. Do you have any major resolutions or goals for '09? May it be a GREAT one for us all!