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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Baby Talk

It's the last day of April and I've only managed to post 3 times this month...what in the world? Life is full and I guess getting on the computer is the last thing I want to do at night or nap time (unless I'm getting on to troll Pinterest, because that, that I have plenty of time for.)

Blue Eyes turned 1 at the start of the month. His first year flew by so quickly. He is an (almost) constant delight. A happy mister who loves to climb, eat, snuggle with Mom and wrestle with Dad. I completely ignored his big day on the blog. A blunder I will now rectify. We did in fact host a fete for the man here at the house with our family.

I've managed to maintain the tradition of making a video for each kid with highlights from their first year of life. Here it is - warning: watch only if you're really into our kids. :)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Around the Homestead

The arrival of spring always beckons me outdoors with an eye towards improving our little homestead. This year has been no different and over the past few weeks we've spent our Saturdays sowing, gathering, digging and dreaming in this slice of suburbia.

We planted a veggie garden out front, which has become something of an annual tradition. B Daddy built a lovely raised bed for us and between it and some odd and end containers we are the proud caretakers of 5 tomato plants (four started from seed - fingers crossed they thrive), 4 string bean plants (also from seed), 3 pepper plants, 3 cucumber plants, some lettuce and carrot seedlings as well as rosemary, basil, mint and cilantro. The kids enjoy watering everything and harvesting mint leaves daily. We shall see if I have enough tomatoes to keep us away from grocery store tomatoes this summer...that's the goal!

This past weekend we embarked on another DIY endeavor in the backyard - a treehouse. It's quite obvious that B Daddy and I are more excited about the prospect at this point in time than the kids are. I have been Pinning and researching treehouse structures like mad. B Daddy texts me in the middle of the day with new thoughts on zip-line extensions and ladder options. In my head it's a glorious hideaway and adventure base for the kids - I hope it's well-used and well-loved in real life.

Spring also means the girls are laying again! Well - Hester is laying. I hope the new chicks follow her example soon. Check out the size difference between her egg and a "large" grocery store egg - incredible.

And thanks to those of you who took the time to comment or email me about the college post from last week. I was so encouraged by your thoughts and perspectives. The treehouse project is how we are using our new found "fun" money this month! ;)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Money Money Money Maaaaahnaaaay

It's been a L O N G time since I talked about anything financial around here, and I need some advice from my most favorite people.

If you've been reading LVL for any length of time you'll know we are Dave Ramsey devotees. We are debt-free and dutifully attempt do a monthly budget to keep ourselves that way. It's one of the many reasons I get to stay home with my feet up and eat bon bons all day.

The last time I wrote about things on the blog it was December of '09. We had just opened up a college fund for the Squirt, which meant we were finally on step 5 of the Dave Ramsey plan. If you're not a devotee the steps are:

#1 Create a $1000 emergency fund
#2 Pay off all debt (except a large mortgage) in snowballing order (from smallest to largest debt)
#3 Build up to a 3-6 month emergency fund
#4 Put 15% of your income away for retirement 
#5 Establish college funds for children at home
#6 Pay off your mortgage
#7 Build wealth and give generously! 

And today, over 3 years later, we are still sitting at Step #5. I was listening to Dave on a run this morning and I found myself getting really frustrated. We moved through those first few baby steps relatively quickly but this college fund thing is HARD. Since the Squirt's birth we've had fits and starts with college savings. Some months we'd have extra and put a bit away, but it wasn't a given. Then Sweet B and Blue Eyes came on the scene and that extra dwindled even further.  For about 6 months now we've consistently been finishing out the month with extra cash on hand. It feels AWESOME. But it's a drop in the bucket compared to what our kids will need.

I've played around with online calculators and the general consensus is that we need to be saving $1800 each month in order to put our 3 kids through 4 years at a public university by the time they are 18.


WHO HAS $1800/month TO SAVE FOR COLLEGE? Don't answer that - I probably can't handle it.

We don't have $1800...but we definitely have enough to have some fun. :) Regular date nights, a vacation now and then, highlights when I want them (instead of when my good friend and hairdresser sweetly tells me it's time). If we put it all into the (still woefully underfunded) college accounts, we're back in the world of cash envelopes and strictly drinking water at restaurants (#firstworldproblems) and I imagine we'll be living that way for quite some time until the "extra" comes up to the $1800 marker.

I'm wondering what your thoughts are. Should we forgo all fun and strive to reach the $1800/month point before loosening the reins on the budget (in twenty years)? Or should we establish our own college savings goal regardless of what the expert calculations tell us and work towards that goal before having fun with any leftover? The progress minded girl in me HATES staying stuck on this Baby Step for so long!

Please give me some encouragement!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Seriously Disturbed

I'm disturbed by something I learned this past weekend and I've just got to share.

An old friend of mine was in town - he has a super cool job out at Google and so he knows lots of things about the internet and technology and magic. As B Daddy, me, and my friend were driving to dinner together somehow the topic of emoticons came up.

I just jumped over to Wikipedia to make sure "emoticons" is actually the correct term and it is: according to Wikipedia, an emoticon is a pictorial representation of a facial expression using punctuation marks, numbers and letters, usually written to express a person's mood. 

We're talking about emoticons for some reason and he's all, so hey how do you make a smiley face when you text? 

And I, thinking this was some sort of lead up to a hysterical Googleian punchline, responded, uh with a colon then a parenthese*.  :)

And very casually he goes, oh - have you ever paid attention to how your high schoolers do it? (The high schoolers we work with at church...maybe we were talking about them before this came up...not totally sure.)

I'm all, what are you talking about? :(

He answers, pay attention next time. They probably do it like this. (:

So then I started thinking and looking back through texts and it's TRUE. The little whippersnappers do it backwards.

Reeling with incredulity, I was all, why? WHY? why do they do that?:((

He shrugged and nonchalantly replied, who knows. But it's more common among younger users now. 

I don't know if this disturbs you as much as it does me. To me this is a loud and clear signal that I am no longer a part of the trend setting generation. Things are changing and I'm no longer the one who's up on the latest changes. The old codgers are being left behind. And we're not even noticing. Pretty soon I won't be able to keep up and then I'll be just like my (not to be named) family members who are still trying to figure out the cut and paste functions on the computer. I don't know if I can handle it. I'm torn between being old enough not to care about not being cool and being young enough to desperately want to know what all the cool kids think is cool.

I'm curious if anyone else has had any similarly disturbing experiences lately. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around it.

*I just learned via the internet that the proper term for a single parentheses is a parenthesis. Mind is being blown all over the place today. 
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