Saturday, June 27, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Up for grabs is this fabulous Bowler bag from Vera Bradley in Citrus. Citrus is now retired, but it's an uber fun summery pattern with some cool blues and lime green. The interior pattern is a super cute blue paisley with elephants.
The Bowler is one of my very favorite styles... I have several bowlers in different fabrics. It's a great bag because it holds deceivingly more than you think it can. It has a million little pockets and zipper hideaways - love it! Plus it opens up very wide so you can SEE what's in there (always one of my issues as I like to carry my entire life in my bags).
The current Bowlers retail for $72, so this is a great lil prize, y'all! So what do you have to do to get in on this giveaway? Easy...
1. Leave a comment on this post, you get one entry.
2. Become a follower (or tell me if you already are), you get a second entry.
3. Become a follower (or tell me if you already are) over at my other fab site, Make Room for Style, you get TWO more entries! Shazam!
4. Post about this giveaway on your own blog, another two entries.
5. Finally, if you're feeling a little crazy... in honor of the late pop legend, please give me your favorite Michael Jackson memory! Mine would be sitting on the lawn at Fulton Co. Stadium for his Thriller tour. (I had a huge thing for MJ when I was a kid... oh man... that Thriller LP with the white tiger photo? Yeah.) So give me yours, that's one more entry.
If I'm counting right, that's a total of 8 chances to win, girls! Super fun. OK y'all have till Friday, July 3rd at 5pm to get those entries in. Good luck!!!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
We have three dogs, but this would be our neurotic one, Belly, having a battle with the garden hose (one of her favorite summer activities). The hub would've preferred we film this in an area of the yard "with no pee spots," but I told him no one is gonna care. So nobody look at the pee spots!
Friday, June 19, 2009
Happy Friday! I'm off to check out a fab new baby boutique right here in Buford. Chic finds OTP (that's "outside the perimeter" for the non-Atlantans) are few and far between, so I get excited when I stumble upon new ones. I'll give a full report on the other side...
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I thought it was a rather brilliant plan, but soon the fine line between those two accounts ultimately disappeared. I partly blame Bank of America for this by allowing me to transfer money simply by wiggling my nose. Damn technology! So we later set up a third account - a supposed-to-be savings account - at a local bank, which would require some real "effort" to withdraw money from. Well before you know it, cash is being transferred out of the "bill" account more and more to cover over-spending in the other account. And eventually that "savings" account became life support for the spending account.
You see, the hub and I are both spenders. It's lovely when you have a happy marriage of one spender and one saver to balance each other out. But oh no... recipe for financial disaster here: two spenders. Getting the financial kinks figured out has got to be one of the biggest (if not the biggest) challenges in marriage. People always tell you the first year of marriage is really tough - and it's true. People that say it's all rainbows and butterflies are either smokin' crack or more likely, they're just not real with each other. That's not to say it's not great... but you can't sow a good crop without breaking a real sweat. While we were both big spenders, we spent money on different things. Me? Hot new Kate Spade bag. Hub? Some stupid computer equipment that takes up space. Ask him and he'd tell you: Her? Some stupid overpriced purse. Me? These awesome speakers that will allow me to shake the very foundation of our home while playing flight simulator. And that was one of our issues... we didn't understand why the other spent money on the stuff they did.
So yes, the lines got blurred and we'd just spend money as we pleased. Fortunately, it was mostly done with cash over the years. That's not to say we don't have some credit card debt in our debt snowball, but we were never really ones to whip out the plastic for everyday spending. Neh, we were sensible and saved the credit cards for the bigger "emergencies" (insert big eye roll). But even when you have good income, if you're just paying bills and spending money left and right, you don't have much to show for it. No real direction... we weren't hurting, but we weren't getting anywhere either.
But then, 2008 (one of my not-so-favorite years, if you recall) came and kicked our pretty white asses. Without boring y'all with the bitter details, we were pretty much forced into doing a complete 180 on our personal finances. The hub had a really shitty year work wise... he was in the middle of a lawsuit with his former company and he made a couple of job moves during the year. So our income took a big hit. Bad financial decisions made in the past came back to haunt us. And the ultimate turning point came when we were finally able to sell our townhouse (our first home that we had not been able to sell for 2+ years). The buyer wasn't the only one who ended up cutting a big check that day, but we were just glad to see it go. That very same month, Dave Ramsey was on tour in Atlanta and we decided to go. We were familiar with him and had once attempted to follow some elements of his program - a very wimpy attempt I might add, as it got us nowhere. But this time, he reeled us in and our lives haven't been the same since.
Now I've gone into how his program works before - it's basically a series of baby steps to financial peace. Though I need to update my numbers, you can see where the hub and I are on my sidebar. We're currently on baby step #2, the debt snowball (where you pay off all your consumer debt - everything but the house). We'll be here for a while. Our goal is to be done with this step by the end of 2010. A lot's gotta happen between now and then, but it's definitely doable. If you're not familiar with Dave, he's not some genius financial guru who's come up with some miracle method of winning with money... his methods are common sense. He often calls it "grandma's advice." But he's blessed with this uncanny ability to deliver the message in such a way that gets your blood pumping. He makes you want to drop kick your debt and change your life. That's the other thing - he's completely against debt. So part of getting on his plan is refusing to go into debt ever again. The one exception he makes is for a mortgage (one you can afford, that is). He won't personally do a mortgage, but he's OK with you getting one to purchase a home if you're otherwise debt-free, have an emergency fund and all that.
So yes, he's got such amazing wisdom and tough love when it comes to money - I could go on and on about it all, but what I really want to focus on this go-around is the budget. Learning to live on a budget is one of the biggest things I've taken away from all of this, so it's only fair that I share it with y'all. The overall purpose with Dave's whole program is having a PLAN. Having a plan is what financial peace is all about. And that's really all a budget is - a plan. I always thought of a budget as something restrictive, something only people with lower incomes needed, and basically something NOT FUN. But I gotta tell ya... the monthly budget has become my best friend. It's all about telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. You give every dollar - every dollar - a name before it comes in. Whether you've got $2,000 a month coming in or $20,000... you give it a name and you tell it where to go.
There are all kinds of "budgeting" tools out there... different software applications and web-based programs. Most of which will budget your inflows, minus your outflows, leaving any surplus at the bottom. But Dave uses what's called a zero-based budget. This means that every last dollar of your monthly income is allocated to some category, so that your net result (income minus expenses) is zero. If you have a big surplus after paying out your bills, that's great - but you gotta give it a name. Where is it going? On this form, you'll also notice the ordering of expenses. The first item on the list is charitable giving, followed by saving - before you ever get to your monthly bills. This reordering of how we paid out money each month has had a HUGE impact on our personal finances. It may look simple on paper, but it's a hard pill to swallow at first... especially for two people who paid bills, spent and spent, and then oh yeah if there's anything left we *might* save or give. When I said we did a total 180, I wasn't kidding.
We now tithe and it comes out first on our budget. We would give to our church here and there before, but not like this. We had never actually tithed. I mean 10% y'all... that's HUGE. And if you looked at our budget, even now, you'd be like what the hell? Y'all can't afford to be giving away that much! I sure would've said that this time last year. But now I say we can't afford not to... it has absolutely opened my heart to trusting God with our finances. And that's what tithing is all about. God doesn't need our money, hello. He needs our hearts. So yes, this whole new way of ordering things has changed our lives. Most simply put, the gig goes...
I'm telling you, it'll rock your world. When we put together our first zero-based budget, we decided to jump in head-first. We ripped off the band-aid and started giving, saving, and spending in this new way. Putting together that first budget took a LONG time. I remember saying out loud at my computer, like five times, "this is hard!" And hello, I love spreadsheets. But getting it all to balance and making sure we accounted for everything took some time. But once you get the first one done, the months that follow are pretty quick to set up. You just tweak it a bit for what you have going on in any given month. The hub and I will sit down and literally go through the calendar to see what we have coming up the next month that we need to plan for financially. It's not always perfect, and of course things pop up and you have to juggle things around a bit when they do. But I can't even put into words the peace of mind this way of budgeting brings me! Right now we're probably making the least amount of income together since we married, but I've never been more at peace. I know where everything is going... I know we have money for the things we need - because we planned well. So you get a budget put together... But how the heck do you actually stick to it?!
This is where Dave's cash envelope system comes in, which to me is the true cornerstone of the budget. It's a hard, hard thing for some people to transition to, but it is SO freeing and I believe it's the real key to making the budget work. Once again, this is something I've gabbed on about before... but this is big. Old method for spending? Separate checking account for "discretionary" expenditures... used whenever, however, and not really accounted for in any way. And as I mentioned, we often started pulling from that "bill" account to cover our expensive asses. New method? We come up with categories for monthly spending and divvy up actual CASH into envelopes for each category. Once the cash in any given envelope is gone, it's gone. In short, we use cash for all our spending. Bills are still paid electronically or by check or whatever, but everyday spending? Cash. We only use debit cards for the rare big expense like a doctor visit or vet bill. Everything else is cash, cash, cash. So what's the point?
The point is... well my favorite point is that all our spending money is already out of our account and I don't have to worry about who's spending what. That equals peace of mind. But another biggie - using cash hurts more. It's like "real" money. Think about the last time you went to the grocery and swiped your card. Do you really even pay attention to the total? Do you have any idea how much you spent as you're wheeling your cart to your car? If you were counting out bills I guarantee you could tell me exactly how much you spent. Cash is pretty and we want to hold on to it. It hurts more. Translation: we spend less when we're using cash. Need some proof? Do a little research on how much profits went up for fast food chains like McDonald's when they started accepting plastic. It's unreal.
Being on cash for the last, gosh... 9 months now has TOTALLY taught me the value of the dollar. I just spent money blindly before. I was not a huge, over-the-top spender - I mean we certainly didn't have endless funds, but I just didn't pay attention. Just as a simple example, I used to hit Starbucks 2 or 3 times a week when I'd get a craving. A quick, thoughtless swipe of the debit card and I'd get myself an afternoon pick-me-up. Well now, I seriously couldn't tell you the last time I was in a Starbucks. Still love the place, but hell if I'm parting with $4 for a damn coffee. It's like I'm looking through an entirely different set of eyes, and I love it. Yep, this big spender loves being on a budget. It's not about restriction, as I once thought. It's about freedom.
And that freedom allows us to set goals and make things happen. Like Dave always says, today we're living like no one else, so that one day we can really LIVE like no one else. I recently got a great email from a dear reader who also had the Dave bug. She was about to call in to Dave's show to make her debt-free scream. Can I even tell you how much I am looking forward to the hub and I doing this? On Fridays Dave takes callers who have dumped all their debt and has them scream, "WE'RE DEBT FREEEEEE!!!!!" I seriously tear up listening to these people and the amazing things they have done. One couple last week called in who had paid off $180,000 in debt in 3 years on an average combined income of $110,000. And they have 4 kids. Such amazing stories and so encouraging... So I wanted to share Jane's email with you and hope that it encourages you like it did me. Thanks so much, Jane, for allowing me to share your words and I hope they'll help light a fire under someone!
Hi, I've been reading your blog for some time now & I notice you too are a Dave Ramsey follower. Yah! Anyways, I'm emailing my friends & fellow Dave Ramsey peeps that would appreciate that me & the hubby have made it out of Baby Step 2 today!
I'm holding off telling anyone the total amount we paid off until we tell Dave first (it's a shitload though to be crude about it), but I just want to tell other Dave blogger fans that it really can be done!
Hope to hear of you & your husband becoming debt free soon too! AND hope to hear you announcing a baby on the way too! Happy thoughts!!
So anyway, I'm just giddy right now & wanted all my fellow Dave bloggers to keep at it!
Sincerely, Jane :)
This stuff really works, y'all. And just like Jesus, it's for everyone! If you have any questions on how we do the zero-based budget or the cash envelope system, ask away! I certainly don't have all the answers and we've got a long way to go, but we've come a long way too.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
For now, take a peek at these fab slings I posted about over at Make Room for Style! I totally want one even though I don't have anything to fill it with just yet.
Alright, peace out for now, girlz. Back soon!
Monday, June 8, 2009
I gotta tell you, I have a whole new appreciation for our football players. Ninety minutes outside in the heat and I was done. Like forever. After some fun on the field, we walked up campus a bit to the stadium and got to go out on the field to get a player's view. Pretty wicked, indeed. Probably a lil different when it's filled with 100,000 screaming fans, but yeah.... still cool. And we also got to peek inside the boys' locker room at the stadium. Which is cool, because now I can actually picture where they are at halftime when Coach Richt is
Waiting in line for a photo opp and autograph from Mark Richt - UGA's head coach.
This was a video viewing room where the players watch... videos. Loved the giant Uga! And that "Finish the Drill" motto was EVERYWHERE.
The locker room was seriously the coolest part. Pretty damn swanky. This was one of many "halls" of lockers.
This is the ceiling in the center of the locker room. The halls of lockers extend from every side and this open area is in the middle.
They had countdown clocks to all the big rival games. This one was my favorite.
Looks a little different without all the fans!
Thursday, June 4, 2009
So yeah, tonight is like my Friday night! Gotta love it! Well, today we went to see Dr. Toledo for our first consult after the miscarriage. (Oh and by the way, Flo has freaking come on with a vengeance and she brought her three sisters along - holy hell.) It was great to hear some encouraging words and he was very concerned about how we were doing emotionally and all. He told us that when the nurse called him Monday with the news, it ruined his day. He said the only way to describe this is "shitty." I concur! BUT the silver lining being, as I stated, that the procedure did work and I did get pregnant. He was telling us this pregnancy was very real and it was just a spontaneous early miscarriage... a chromosonal thing. It had nothing to do with my high maintenance girly parts or anything we did wrong. And he has full confidence that we can get knocked up again and carry full term.
He wants us to sit tight this cycle and let my body kind of get back on schedule. I was on a lot of meds and he just wants me to chill this month before starting up again. So we'll do just that. I should start my next cycle (assuming it's not overly wonky) in early July and we'll go for round #2 then. I don't mind waiting at all, but I gotta tell you - that first pregnancy had some kick-ass timing because I'd basically get out of tax season entirely - hahahaha! Now it looks like I'll have an early/mid April due date at best going forward. Oh well... it was a nice thought at the time. Oh AND I ordered my dress for Lucky's wedding 3 sizes bigger thinking I'd be 8 months pregnant... I actually wanted to wait to order - the dresses are J. Crew so I figured I could, but the particular style I picked is being discontinued this summer so I had to go ahead and order. I'm going to have to find one freaking talented seamstress... because now I'd be no more than 6 months pregnant at her wedding.
OK so that's a good question for you mommas... I know everyone's different, but I would think if you swelled a lot, that probably didn't happen till late in your pregnancy. I'm totally guessing and have no experience with this, so call me stupid if you must. So at 6 mos, I would think (er, hope) I'd just have a decent little belly and not much more. Bigger boobs I'm sure - and really that's the main concern with the dress. Here's the dress...
Our dresses are black though. It's actually a great dress for a baby bump because the box pleating creates a very roomy skirt. It is super cute on. So the bump is not the concern - it's the boobage. OK so just tell me what y'all think I should do - I'm considering exchanging for a smaller size. Now like 85% of my wardrobe is J. Crew or Banana, so I know how J. Crew stuff fits me. I wear a 2 in most every dress of theirs unless it's some off the wall fit, but this is not. So a 2 in this dress would be my normal everyday size. I ordered an 8. I'm thinking now at 6 months prego (at best), that's gonna be too big, but I don't know. I hate to get one that's too small... I mean what if my boobs DO get huge? I'm like a 34B. And I do not have like a tiny frame... I have a very muscular build, so don't think I'm like this teeny little thing that doesn't gain weight - heck no. Point being - I could very well swell up like the Michelin man when I get pregnant! I just don't know. So what do y'all think? I need to make a decision soon and really cannot wait much more than a month. The style is scheduled to be discontinued sometime in July. Should I keep the 8 just to be safe and alter it? Or exchange for a 6? My concern is the bust on the 8 is going to be so big that when altered it won't have the fit it should - you know what I mean? Ugh. Help! I really do love the dress and would like to be able to wear it again, so I'd like it to look good.
OK enough of that... so hey do y'all know what I'm doing Saturday? I'm SO excited... I scored 3 free tickets to the Football 101 camp for women up at UGA that the coaches put on every year. OMG - so fun. It's an all day thing done by the football staff where we learn about the game and get to get on the field and play. Kuntry bride and my friend, Paige, are going with. Lucky was supposed to go but she had to bail last minute to go out of town. It's gonna be awesome. And maybe my pale stems will get some much needed sun. SPF-style, of course. (But for real, my legs glow in the dark right now.) I was initially thinking I'd have to kinda take it easy on the field since I was prego, but not now!
That's pretty much all we have on tap for this weekend... hope the weather is nice! And girls, I can't leave ya without saying once again how awesome all your sweet comments have been! Every word of encouragement is heartfelt and I thank you so much! So glad to have you all along on this journey!
Have a fabu weekend all! Mine starts like right now - hehe! ;-)
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
The news is my HCG levels were almost nil yesterday (whereas they were over 100 on Thursday). In a normal pregnancy, they should be doubling about every 48 hours, NOT going backwards. They said I had what's called a chemical pregnancy - basically just a very early miscarriage. A lot of women have them without ever realizing they were pregnant... it can just look like a late period. Kinda makes me wonder if I've ever had one before. I've definitely had a strangely late period here and there, but never a positive pregnancy test. Who knows... Anyway, they said if I hadn't started spotting/bleeding yet (which I hadn't), I should soon. And then we'd go ahead and move on to round #2.
So yeah, yesterday was a big let down. I absolutely hate crying in public, so at about 2:15 I left work without saying anything and drove over to my parents' house. They live super close to my office. I just sat with my mom and we both cried it out. I just needed to get in a good immediate cry... I really hadn't cried AT ALL about the actual pregnancy and it just all came out. Flood gates open. It was good though. I went back to work afterwards and was able to hold it together the rest of the afternoon. And I promptly informed the hub that we would need a calorie fest and a movie marathon last night and he of course obliged. Yeah, here's what I ate...
- McD's double cheeseburger value meal with diet coke
- plus 1/2 of the hub's fries (that's right - in addition to MY fries)
- plus 2 of the hub's McNuggets (which are pretty grody but I didn't care)
- Cookies & Cream milkshake from Chick-fil-A (and I ate the whole damn thing.)
Oh but girls, I'm watching my waistline - so I said 'no whip' on the shake. "Dodgeball" was on TV so we watched that. Then I caught what will be one of the 500 replays of the MTV Movie Awards from this past weekend. And I did absolutely nothing else. There's a pile of laundry calling my name, but I didn't care. I just needed to veg - something I RARELY do. But it's just what I needed.
I woke up yesterday thinking I was pregnant, and went to bed last night knowing I wasn't. It's so weird how our realities have changed back and forth so quickly over the past few days. I of course am heartbroken, but we knew very well that this was certainly a possibility. And honestly, if it wasn't going to be a viable pregnancy, I rather lose it now than several weeks down the road. But no matter how you rationalize it, it still sucks. It still hurts. I hadn't yet let myself get too excited about being pregnant since it was so early, but I still wanted to believe.
But either way, knowing we can GET pregnant is still such a huge hurdle for us. It puts us in another league, and that is definitely reason to celebrate. With every prayer asking God for this baby to stick, I first thanked him for getting us this far. Every day was progress, even if it was the last. So while our hearts are heavy right now, we're still so grateful and I feel so loved by God right now. I can just feel his arms around me - when I need him the most.
This morning after making my (still decaf) coffee, I went in our guest bedroom and shut the door to pray. I STILL had no signs of any spotting, so of course I prayed that if there was any chance of a healthy miracle here, I'm in. But if this bird is getting kicked out of the nest, let's just get it done so we can move on. And I thanked him again for getting us where we are.
A few minutes later I sat down to spill this all out to y'all. Then I had to run to the bathroom mid-sentence and sure enough... there was Flo making her way in the front door. I just kind of laughed. That's got to be record timing for an answered prayer.
We're due to see my doctor later this week to make sure my HCG levels have gone all the way back to pretty much zero and we'll get started again. So just keep us in your prayers! It's a rough week, but we're definitely OK. The love and support we've gotten from friends and family is tremendous and so humbling. Thanks again for ALL your sweet and encouraging words. I will certainly keep you posted as we progress. xoxoxo