Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Update on Reece

After the bone marrow test yesterday morning, it was confirmed that Reece does have Leukemia. The good news is that it is treatable and they typically have great results with the treatment.  He will begin chemo on Thursday and should be able to return to school in a few days. 

Paige said he is still smiling his sweet little smile & totally has all the nurses wrapped around his finger already.

Thank you all for your continued prayers for this sweet little family.

To Make You Feel my Love....

Turn this song on tonight @ dance with your hunny in the kitchen.
Sometimes, you just gotta dance like nobody's watching.

Happy Wednesday.

Favorite Things Party!!

I sm SO excited to host a
over Christmas break!!!!

It's based on Oprah's show...

In a nutshell...
Everyone chooses their favorite thing under $7 and brings 4 of the same item, all wrapped up.  Then we all draw 4 names and exhange, so we'll each go home with 4 gifts.  You can read more about it here....

Isn't that a fabulous idea for a fun holiday party with the girls??

Do you have any fun holiday party ideas?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why do I blog??

I started this blog after Big Jon & I got engaged so I could document such a special time in our lives.  I plan to have a “blog book” made out of those posts, and I know some day my kids will really enjoy reading all about our engagement story and wedding planning.

I continued the blog because I fell in love with blogging. I really enjoy writing, and like having a place to “journal” through pictures and stories of our life.  I feel like I am actually accomplishing something through blogging, because unlike Facebook, Twitter, or any of the other social networking sites, this will allow my kids to look back on our lives and read stories and memories to go along with the pictures.  Sometimes I write about things I’ve learned, mistakes I’ve made, dreams I have, funny stories, pictures, trips, just whatever I feel.  I plan to blog about each different phase of our lives- newlyweds, pregnancy, new mommy and daddy, and little family. I love others’ sweet blog posts about their adventures in each of these different stages of life and am excited for my own.

This blog is also a way for family & friends (that I don’t get to see often enough) to keep up with us.  I feel certain that LOTS more people read the blog than those who actually “follow” it.  And that’s fine with me.  I know some people who don’t blog don’t get it.  They can make fun of it if they want to, but I for one am thankful for this little space – for the memories I will have documented some day for my family to read and to look back on.

The blog community is really a neat one. I have enjoyed getting to know many readers, reading their stories, and seeing where everyone is in their life. I love reading all kinds of blogs!

Anyway, for some reason today I felt the need to share that. So, thank you for reading my little ramblings.

I LOVE this little blog.

I love my readers and I love to read others’ blog. I think the “blog haters” are just jealous. Don’t you think?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Prayer Request for Reece

I believe in the power of prayer.

One thing I love about the blogging community is the willingness of others to pray. I know when I see prayer requests on others' blogs I stop right away and say a prayer for that request. I consider it a privilege to be able to lift others up in prayer in their time of need.

Today, I'm asking for prayers for a sweet little family I know from work. (I shared a classroom with Paige last year, and her hubby Jeff took our second wedding photo shoot.) Reece is one of the neatest little 8 year olds I've met! 
He is so full of life, witty, smart, and funny. He has been really sick for the past week, and when his parents, Jeff & Paige took him to Scottish Rite, the doctors told him they believe little Reece has Leukemia. He has one more test in the morning and then they will begin treatment if the results confirm that is what it is.  The good news is that there is a high success rate for treatment of this disease, particularly at such a young age.  It will be a long road for all of them, though.

  Reece is an only child, and as all children are, he is Jeff & Paige's whole world. I can't imagine the nightmare they are going through.  It is truly devastating when things like this happen, especially to children.  Thankfully the family is leaning on their faith through this and trusting God to get them through it. 
We are not called to understand why things like this happen, because God's ways are higher than our ways. I am praying for a peace and comfort that surpasses all understanding for Jeff & Paige; for wisdom and guidance for the doctors; for strength and courage for Reece; and of course for healing from the Great Physician.
Thank you for your prayers. I know this precious family appreciates them.

Jeremiah 29:11
Philippians 4:6-7

Our Christmas Décor So Far….

Christmas 026Christmas 027Christmas 030Christmas 034Christmas 036Christmas 039Christmas 040Christmas 041Christmas 042Christmas 043Christmas 044

I brought out a little pink & red in the kitchen.  I like non-traditional Christmas colors. Pink & blue? Haha, LOVE it!!

Christmas 045Christmas 046Christmas 047Christmas 048

And our little baby tree in our bathroom! It adds such a sweet little touch in there.

Christmas 049Christmas 050

Slowly but surely getting there….

Do you have your decorations up yet???

Financial Advice for Young Couples! A MUST READ!!

We were able to spend a fun night with some of our best friends over the weekend.  Ryan & Dana are just precious....
....and we enjoyed a yummy dinner (I made the spinach lasagna rollups from skinny taste!!), lots of laughs, and about seven hours straight of talking with our friends. The boys talked lots of politics while the girls talked crafts- of course! Ryan is an accountant and very smart with we hit him up for some financial advice before heading home.  He would make an excellent financial planner with his knowledge!  Here are the tips he shared with us combined with lots of my own advice...and I wanted to share with you all! 
Here's My Guide to Being Financially Savvy, Yo!

*Work on paying down debt, starting with loans with the highest interest rates. There was a time when it was smarter to keep your money in a savings account or investment opportunity and make the lowest possible payments on loans; however, thanks to monetary policy and the current state of the economy, this is no longer true. The amount we make off interest is a significantly lower amount than the interest we are currently paying for borrowing money. PAY OFF DEBT!! Debt-free is the way to be!

*If you pay extra on anything, always denote that you want the extra amount applied toward principal only. This is something I learned the hard way! When I had a car payment, I paid almost double the amount every month in attempt to pay it off early. I thought I was being so "good," but those sneaky little companies apply it to interest so they make more money. You have to call the company and specify on the payment that you want the extra payment applied directly toward the principal.

*Invest in an IRA (individual retirement account) or Roth IRA (depending on your current income & tax situation).  This should be done in addition to a 401K or other retirement plan.  I plan to do this soon with a local credit union.

*Invest in some whole life insurance. Term life insurance only pays out 2-3% of the time and is often called "Lost Opportunity Cost," so whole life insurance is the smarter choice.  This is tougher to explain, so you can read about it below from here:

{The company generally will guarantee that the policy's cash values will increase regardless of the performance of the company or its experience with death claims (again compared touniversal life insurance and variable universal life insurance which can increase the costs and decrease the cash values of the policy). The dividends can be taken in one of three ways. The policy owner can be given a check from the insurance company for the dividends, the dividends can be used to reduce the premium payment, or the dividends can be reinvested back into the policy to increase the death benefit and the cash value at a faster rate. When the dividends paid on a whole life policy are chosen by the policy owner to be reinvested back into the policy, the cash value can increase at a rather substantial rate depending on the performance of the company. The cash value will grow tax-deferred with compounding interest. Most whole life policies can be surrendered at anytime for the cash value amount, and income taxes will usually only be placed on the gains of the cash account that exceeds the total premium outlay. Thus, many are using whole life insurance policies as a retirement funding vehicle rather than for risk management.}

*Work on a budget and stick to it as closely as possible. I think many people just blow through life living paycheck to paycheck, spending whenever, hoping to have enough money at the end of the month. I don't know how people make it without a budget!  I suggest keeping track of ALL expenses and income for 3 months, then work on developing a budget.  It'll help you see where your money is actually going, and some of it may surprise you. (I know I was not thrilled when I realized how much we were spending eating out- so I started cooking at home 4-5 nights a week and saved some $.) This will help you not spend on things you don't need and become more aware of your spending.

*If you don't have the money, don't buy it. I do have a credit card, but I use it like a debit card and only use it to benefit from the points (I refuse to pay those big credit card interest rates!) If I don't have the extra money, I simply do NOT buy it. Sometimes that means I go without something I'd like to have, but it's worth it to have the peace of knowing we do not have tons of crazy debt.

*Save up to pay for something in a lump some rather than financing. I know this is not always possible, but if you are able to hold off on something until you're able to pay for it in full, you'll be way better off (unless there is no interest for a time period and you're 100% certain you can pay it off in that amount of time!).  I am just NOT down with paying interest.  I paid my degrees out of pocket and don't have to deal with any students loans that plague most people. (Thankfully my parents let me live with them while I was working on my Master's and Specialist's so I didn't have the expense of rent or a mortgage!  Definitely a blessing.).  I refuse to have another car payment, so I'm saving up until I can pay the leftover amount in full when I trade my car in.  You save yourself lots of money in the long run! I remember when we bought our house and they told us how much our house would cost us total, with interest, if we paid on it for the full 30 years.  Ummmm, I love our house, but it sure ain't worth all that!

*Pay one extra mortgage payment a year (to principal only) to cut YEARS off your loan period. Most people I know have no intention of ever paying their house off.  I don't understand that thought process! If we are disciplined now, we can eventually live life without a house payment!! Wouldn't that be suh-weet??? I know some people like to pay bimonthly, but I choose to do it the other way because teachers only get paid once a month and I pay all of our bills at one time.  Either way, it's a great idea!

*What can you cut out??  Most of us have a few things we can cut out of our expenses to save money, and it adds up big time.  Can you lower your tv package? Can you cook at home more to save money instead of eating out? Will couponing help you save on your grocery bills? Can you paint your own nails, highlight your own hair, or do any other things around the house to avoid having to pay for extra services (fertilize your own lawn, spray or bugs yourself, etc.)?  

*Make saving a priority. I put a certain amount into savings each month as soon as I get paid, and I don't even miss it. I put in extra when I can.  It's there in case of emergencies, but for the most part I have a "don't touch" policy with our savings.  It is recommended to have at least enough to pay for your "cost of living" for 6 months in case anything were ever to happen. 

*Find balance.  Determine what is important to you and your spouse. Dave Ramsey says to "Live like no one else now so you can live like no one else later." That is definitely a principle I agree with and we try to make smart, frugal financial decisions. BUT, I also believe you have to find balance. We are not promised tomorrow and we can't take it with us when we go.  We really like to travel, so to us it is worth is to spend the extra money to take a few big trips every year.  

*{Last but definitely not least...} Tithe 10% of your income. Don't cheat God. It's all His anyway.  He allow us to work and provides our jobs and resources. The Word tells us to give to the Lord and he will bless us and entrust us with more. I have always tithed and never gone without anything. Sometimes human nature takes over and I want to be greedy, but I don't want to miss the blessing from giving. I remember one time I was at church and felt the Lord telling me to give above and beyond my tithe. I didn't want to do it, but I did. When I went to the car after church, I had three voicemails asking for pitching lessons (extra money) that would pay me three times the extra amount I'd just given. It's amazing to see how God will multiply when you are faithful with the resources he gives you.
Well, there you go! I'm certainly not an expert, but Big Jon & I have researched & studied, read Dave Ramsey, and made some wise choices to get us in a pretty decent place with our finances.  As of right now, our only debt is our mortgage, and our goal is to pay our house off in 15 years while building up equity!!  Of course we don't have as much as we'd like in savings, (things come up!), but we are working on that little by little.  It'll get there.

I know times are tough right now and lots of people are struggling.  People are unemployed, can't find jobs, have had major setbacks, and other issues that make these tips difficult.  Jon and I are both very thankful for stable jobs and income.  We're grateful for the opportunities we've had that allow us to be in the position we are in.  I just wanted to share some of what we've learned in hopes to help others take it for what's it's worth.

  Hopefully you  learned something, and feel free to ask any questions!! (If I can't answer them, I'm sure Ryan can! P.S., if you're looking for an accountant, he's awesome!)

What are your favorite financial tips??

What is the smartest thing you've done regarding your finances??

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Come on hair, GROW!!

Don't you wish you could snap your fingers and your hair would be the length you wanted?? 

{I know I could get extensions, but the ones that actually look real & good are so expensive! Besides, it might freak my hubby out!}
I'm ready for some curls!!!

Food for Thought Friday: Spouse Before You Children

{I know it's a day late, but this article really sparked my interest today & brought some interesting thoughts up in my mind, so I just had to share.}                                                   

There was a great article on the Yahoo home page today.  It caught my attention and pleasantly surprised me.  Articles on the internet don't typically reflect Biblical views, so I was excited to see that although this one didn't include Scripture, it was at least a Biblical view.  Check out the parenting article called Loving the Husband More Than the Kids is Key to Good Life here.

God purposefully designed the family, and in doing so he told us that men should be the leader in the home, the spouses should come first, and children second

Many women in today's societies put their children first. I think society tells us we are supposed to do that.  We allow children to rule the home by trying to be friends with the kids instead of being their parents and disciplining and training them.  We allow them to act inappropriately and make decisions for the home.  Then, as the spouse is continually put second to the children, the marriage starts to be strained and marital problems begin, often ending in divorce. That is definitely NOT what is best for the kids, although parents often assume they are doing the right thing by putting their children before all else.

The Bible tells us that when we are married we become one with our spouse, and it is very clear that divorce is NOT acceptable.  Children are not to be the center of the home; the marriage is.  Children are a gift from God, on loan to parents, for parents to love, raise, train up, and teach to be God-fearing, responsible, productive, moral people.  When they leave the house eventually, what is left of marriages?  Unfortunately many couples have not invested into their marriages the same was they have the children, and once the kids are grown and gone, marriages fall apart. 

I know I don't have kids yet, so many may say I don't understand or won't be this way once I have kids. I am certain it will be a kind of love I have never experienced and I will love my children more than life itself.  However, I hope I always remember the Biblical design God has for our families.  I hope that Jonathan and I always keep one another first and the kids second, so they are able to grow up seeing what a wonderful, loving marriage looks like.  I know then and only then will I truly be doing what's best for them.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Edition: What I wore!

I pretty much stick with Marshall's & Target for all of my shopping needs these days.  And to be honest, even Target is getting a little expensive for my taste.  I dress fairly neutral with greys, browns, tans, whites, and blacks, and then use accessories to make myself look a little fancier than I really am and add a splash of color. I don't pay more than $19.99 for ANYTHING I wear....except workout clothes, of course.
Isn't my hair getting "long?" I'm growing it back out....I think the Biotin is helping!!
 He is always making me laugh.  
But time to get way too serious for a moment....
 And back to laughing!!
 Talk about overeating yesterday....we have BOTH family Thanksgiving meals on the same day. We stuffed ourselves for sure, but were able to enjoy a beautiful drive from one family's house to the next....
 I tried to talk Big Jon into heading into the Black Friday madness to see what it's all about because I've never been. He HATES traffic & crowds, so that was a big negative.  We are about to head out now though to get a few little goodies....we are decorating for Christmas today!! YAY!! Post to come on that, of course.

Where is your favorite place to shop?

Do you get into the whole Black Friday frenzy??

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why we got married...

Cuz he looks like this when he works out....
 And I look like this....

 And he loves me anyway. 

I enjoyed a nice 6 miler this am with these lovely gals...
 {She didn't wear the goggles while we ran....she was pickin' on me cuz I was horrified that I was running when there was snow, AKA frost, on the ground! Haha! Never a dull moment.}