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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tightening our Belts

Most of you know that we Leipprandts (that's Lie-Prants remember?) are Dave Ramsey groupies.

We've been working the good old Baby Steps since July '07 and if you don't believe me I have a 36+ page spreadsheet of monthly budgets in Excel to prove it. (Dork. Huge dork here.)

It's almost comical for me to look at some of the funds we had allocated in this "budget"thing back in the day. Dave encourages folks (once they have wiggle room in their budget) to have a "Blow" category that is essentially fun money with no strings attached. The first month we ever stuck to a written budget, we had $500 in this category.


WHAT THE WHAT? Who were we??

I'm both completely jealous of that couple and totally embarrassed for them. I'm sure my husband is shaking his head in disbelief. Yup babe. $500 big ones. Enough to buy that kayak we're saving up for now. In one month. Oh to be DINKs again. (Dual-Income, No-Kids) This wasn't some totally irresponsible allocation of money either - I checked. In the same month we socked away the recommended amount for savings and tithed. Oh yeah and we ALSO had a clothing budget. Like, for EACH of us.

These days we are lucky to have $20 left over after giving, saving and then paying for all our first world "needs." (Yes, DVR is a need for us. Don't judge.)

Last night when we sat down to create our September budget we were stoked to find that we had enough money leftover to actually allocate $50 to "BLOW" ...AND then we remembered an upcoming commitment that would in fact cost us exactly that much. -Sigh-

But don't go throwing any benefits for us. (Remember , we DO have a DVR.) I have enough foresight to realize that these lean years are going to be looked back on quite fondly when we're putting kids through college, paying for our daughter's wedding or helping our kids put together their first baby's nursery.

Until then...

I'm soaking up the nights when we have neighbors over for leftovers because going out isn't in the budget.

I'm savoring the quality time B Daddy and I spend pouring over our budget and deciding together how best to divide our extra $40 each month.

I'm realizing that the Squirt has just as much fun with an old wrapping paper tube and my hair brush as he would with a real t-ball set. (At least for now...)

So my question to you dear readers:

What are your fondest memories of being "broke"?
Or...if you're feeling like you're there right now...what do you love best about your "broke" lifestyle?

To read about our Cash Budget system and the time I spent the whole grocery budget in 19 HERE.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Eating of Eggs

I've never been so excited about being a short-order cook in my life. Saturday morning we busted out our egg basket (5 eggs in 5 days!) and prepared breakfast for the three of us - courtesy of our girls Hester and Charlotte.

B Daddy decided (after much deliberation and perusing both comments and emails from you) that he would have an omelet. I could find no fault with such a classic choice and prepared it with tomatoes and basil from our garden as well as a little sprinkle of parmesan.

Please ignore the freaky looking hand and my crazy PJ combination. I'm pregnant.

The Squirt wasn't too sure what his options were - but he happily gobbled up the plain old scrambled egg I gave him, as well as a good third of B's omelet.

As for me - I decided on two eggs over-easy, served with a toasted bagel. Mmmmm. There was something so satisfying about breaking into those yolks and watching them run down the sides of my bagel.

The verdict?

Everyone walked away from the breakfast nook nourished and happy. I think we've found a new Saturday morning tradition!

For a re-cap of why this suburban mama is so excited about eggs for breakfast - catch up HERE.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Last Name

It makes me sad occasionally that marriage meant trading in my perfectly pronounceable (AND easily spelled) maiden name - Brock - for the way more confusing Leipprandt.

I thought I'd give a little tutorial for those of you reading this blog who have no clue how to pronounce our name.

It's Lie - Prant. That's all. Much easier than it looks.

P.S. We now have THREE home-laid eggs. : )

Monday, August 23, 2010

Eggciting News

Just an ordinary Monday.

I headed out this morning to tend to our girls - filling up their water and feeding them as usual. And I have to admit, I was more perturbed than usual by the task today.

Everyone and their mother has asked me over the past week how the chickens are doing. "Fine," I would lie. "No eggs yet!" I would say with a sarcastic smile and an eye roll added for good measure. Yesterday I unloaded on someone, "LAZY. They are good-for-nothing, lazy free-loading birds and they don't even make us laugh like Big Brown."

Today I take it back. I take it all back and beg forgiveness from my beautiful little chickens who worked so hard to give me the surprise of my life this morning. When I set their water back into the run, I peeked my head inside the coop, honestly thinking, "why do I even look anymore?" when I saw them...EGGS!

"EGGS!!" I squealed!! I looked around for someone else to squeal with and on seeing no one (imagine that) I ran and got my camera.

Hello beautiful petite speckled brown eggs.

Not just one of you, but two.

I documented the occasion quite thoroughly and then texted B Daddy with the news. You would have thought the Squirt just peed in the potty without any instruction. We are both so proud and in such disbelief.

And of course now I have a dilemma - what does one make with the first two eggs their very own backyard chickens have gifted them with?

My first thought was to poach them. It seems like a very respectful and elegant way to prepare an egg. Then I remembered I don't know how to poach an egg. But I refuse to make anything that would be less than honoring to our girls and these gorgeous little eggs. B Daddy is not getting a breakfast burrito where the egginess is obscured by cheddar cheese and sausage. I want something pure and simple.

Any thoughts!? I'll let you know what we end up doing with them. B Daddy is actually excited about the thought of eating one.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Help! I'm in a Blog Rut

Where have all my favorite bloggers gone? Everyone seems to be taking a summer break from blogging. I might have to start being productive during the Squirt's naps if the situation doesn't turn around soon.

Apparently these bloggers don't realize I depend on them to keep me from becoming a Bravo junkie.

So I need your help. What are your favorite reads? Which bloggers keep you from watching Real Housewives re-runs? Help!


P.S. After posting this I found a gem I had never read before called Clover Lane. Check it out...fabulous.

Monday, August 16, 2010

How the Leipprandts Roll

You might be curious as to why my bi-weekly kitchen renovation posts suddenly stopped coming. That would be because the renovation ground quickly to a halt as soon as we had a functional space again. And also once all the professionals stepped out of the picture.

Herein lies one of my husband's and my greatest weaknesses: 90% projects.

It is a disease I brought upon this household. My dear perfectionist of a husband loathes all things half-assed and half-done. But apparently early on in our marriage I must have convinced him to sit down and enjoy a glass of wine while appreciating the great start we had made on some project...and then we went promptly to bed and forgot the project for several months.

A partial list of currently unfinished projects around Casa Leipprandt:

Crown molding in two bedrooms that is unpainted (3 years after installation)
Tree mural in the Squirt's bedroom with pencil outline still showing (15+ months)
Rod and curtains for dining room purchased but un-hung (Going on 3 months)
Showerhead with a large unpainted swath of primer behind it awaiting touching up (5+ years)

And the kitchen comes in first place with the longest list of unfinished projects of any room in the house. Here's what we've got left to do:

Prime and paint the floating shelf
Seal grout on new tilework
Re-paint trimwork
Paint crown molding
Paint new window seat
Make cushion for window seat
Purchase/hang curtains over large window
Purchase/hang blinds over small window
Paint built-in fridge cabinet
Paint ceiling
Touch up cabinet door paint

UGH! I knew I was doomed once B Daddy installed the microwave and I could not only cook dinner but warm-up leftovers to boot.

Any guesses on when we'll wrap these items up and be ready for a big blogger-style reveal??

Friday, August 13, 2010

Telling Stories

I got back from visiting my grandparents in Savannah recently and had one of my most favorite times yet with them both while we visited.

The night before we left, my sister, mother, and I were sitting around playing cards with the Grans (that would be GranAnn and GranStan) when my grandfather and I started a ring spinning war. After several rounds it was determined that his wedding ring spun the best of all ours and that got us to talking about his and my grandmother's wedding rings.
His = original. Hers = upgraded. : )
Note to husbands: after close to 60 years of marriage I think your wife should get an upgrade too.

GranAnn began telling us the story of where her current ring came from and what had been done with the original ring and that prompted GranStan to tell her to go grab all her rings and tell us their stories. I practically squealed with excitement when GranAnn returned from their bedroom with The Pin Cushion.

The Pin Cushion has always (as far as I can remember) made its home on GranAnn's dresser. It is a silky square of a pillow, studded with long pearl pins. Encircling the base of each pearl pin is a HUGE ring. When I could barely see over the top of her dresser I remember thinking The Pin Cushion was an exotic way to hold jewelry. I loved going and staring at all of those crazy rings, so daringly displayed out in the open.

So to have a chance to hear the story behind each piece was truly was gift.

GranAnn sat and showed us each ring as both she and GranStan (never at a loss when it comes to telling a story!) told us its history.

If you have a grandmother with a taste for the finer things in life - ask her to tell you their stories. It was a priceless conversation. I'm so glad my sister thought to take a few pictures.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Accepting the Unperfected Life

As I sit down to type this, my child has just decided to wake up - one moment please...

....that moment just turned into 6 days. That my friends is the essence of this post. You can quit reading if you like and you'll still know exactly what is going on in my world these days.

For those of you soldiering on -

Being a stay-at-home mom has led me down all sorts of interesting introspective paths over the past 6 months. Granted, I've "stayed-at-home" since Elijah was born, but prior to February I also had a job that brought in income and I prided myself on the fact that I was doing it all. Look at me! I have a JOB. A real job. The kind that people worldwide would recognize as a JOB. AND...I have a BABY. I have it all together people.

Never mind the fact that I dreaded starting each day...I was figuring out raising a child, keeping up our home and bringing in a paycheck. Ta Da!! Where was my medal?

But as you know, since February...I've ceased doing it all. B Daddy and I accepted the fact that doing it all meant not doing it all very well, or at the very least not enjoying many (most) of the things I was doing and so I quit the JOB.

P.S. I think it was pretty classy of my former employer to ask on my way out, "Are you pregnant again or something?" Ha! I laughed. No way! That would be CRAZY. INSANE. RIDICULOUS.

Quitting meant I was free to enjoy the Squirt wholeheartedly. To throw myself into the life of a stay-at-home mommy. Hitting up the library and the park, making homemade dinners each night for B Daddy to come home to and self-actualizing through blogging, crafting, reading and the like.

Fast Forward to August 2010 - the Squirt and I have been to the library exactly twice since he was born. I try my best not to step outside between the hours of 8am and 8pm ever since June arrived and brought with it this disgusting onslaught of unrelenting humidity. Homemade dinners are a semi-regular occurrence, but they rarely, if ever, hit the table before the child is in bed. I don't craft. I blog only when I can steal this morning hour away from the Squirt. I still manage to read voraciously and can be found neglecting reading to my child if there is a good novel within arm's reach.

So all of that to say - staying at home is not all it's cracked up to be. It's WAY different. Different good and, well...just different. I am occasionally terrified of what is heading my way in December when #2 arrives. After all, I like to think I'm in control of my life most days - regardless of what life experience and my faith tradition have taught me to the contrary.

But I'm not in control. And I have to remind myself that I wasn't at my "real" job either and I'm convinced that doing this stay at home thing well will reap far greater benefits in both my children's lives and mine than would the 9-5 gig I was busy with before.

So I'm working on accepting the unperfected life. I have a sneaking suspicion life might just be more interesting this way...

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