Saturday, August 22, 2009

You're gonna drool on the keyboard

The results of a Saturday morning in the kitchen with my mom. Wish you were here!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Don't sell yourself short. No debt is possible.

Those of you who know us well will remember that we are fans of Dave Ramsey’s methods and that a couple of years back we succeeded in paying off all of our debt except for our home. Shortly after that we managed to fully fund our emergency fund. So, we were driving 2 paid for cars with enough money in the bank to help us in time of crisis. Not bad.

Since then though, Rockstar's older model Jeep has broken down multiple times. It’s a 97model with over 200,000 miles. Each time we could have said, “Enough! We’re going to buy a something new!” We refrained each time though, paying for the repairs as we went. The fact that we realized was that even if we had to put a grand into his old car that still wasn’t near as much money as a new car would cost and we weren’t willing to wipe out our emergency fund for a vehicle.

Then real trauma struck. A couple of weeks ago Luke and I were driving to town when another driver turned in front of us and totaled our Trailblazer. Now we were looking at replacing a vehicle for whatever the insurance company would give us for it. Not to mention, other serious issues had recently forced us to deplete our emergency fund to the very bare minimum. (Good thing we hadn’t decided to use that fund to replace Rockstar's car!) Considering those factors it was easy to think, “Oh well, time for a new car. We’re going to have to borrow again.” Not so.

Through some thorough searching we found the car pictured above (except ours is black) in great condition that only had one previous owner and it happened to have 80,000 miles LESS than my Trailblazer had on it. Not to mention it has quite a few more amenities like heated leather seats and a sunroof which we have never had before. Best part about it is that the car sold for less than what we were getting back from insurance for our trailblazer. Have you ever purchased a car without having to go through the financing paperwork? It is GLORIOUS! The whole transaction took less than half an hour and we drove off the lot with nothing owed.

I guess I say all that to show that it is possible. Rockstar and I long ago gave up status symbols, so the fact that the new car happens to be a station wagon bothers us none. We have a family and this serves us perfectly. We also aren’t ashamed to drive an older model like he does. Honestly, his car is a piece of crap (doesn’t even have a working A/C) and we will jump for joy the day that we are able to replace it with something much better, but for now we are content until we are able to do that without borrowing. So next time you are tempted to throw in the towel and borrow again, remember that often times there is a way out if you are just willing to look for it.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A few of our reasons to smile

We love our babies.

Duck Tales

Not the old cartoon that so many of us grew up watching, this is a true duck tale.

Yesterday the dogs and I were walking across the pond levee that connects my parents’ yard to ours when all of a sudden out of the tall grass fly two ducks about 5 yards ahead of me. They apparently had nested in the grass but sensed the presence of the dogs and knew that their best bet for safety was to be on the water. This, in itself, is not unusual at our place. We have many ducks and geese on the pond at various times throughout the year. However, as I neared the spot where they took flight from I still heard rustling in the grass. I quickly scanned for the dogs and realized that they were up ahead of me so they weren’t the reason for the scurrying sounds coming from the tall grass, but I couldn’t spot anything. After a few seconds I kept on moving. After all, anyone who’s lived in the country even a few days knows better than to go wading through tall grass beside a pond in the middle of the summer with flip flops on. It’s the perfect environment for no-shoulders (you might call them snakes) and I just assumed that what I heard was probably a snake or some small rodent.

As I started walking, the dogs circled back to investigate the situation and headed into the grass to roam. I paid them no mind. They spend most of their days roaming the countryside sniffing and finding all kinds of lovely prizes to bring back into the yard (usually decaying cow bones…yum). This time, however, I made one last call to them as I reached our yard and Fenway, the golden retriever, came bounding out of the grass with a a very dead looking baby duckling in his mouth. Apparently the scurrying in the grass hadn’t been a no-shoulders after all.

I took off running toward Fenway scolding him and telling him to drop it. Poor guy was totally confused, I’m sure. He’s a retriever after all…born for hunting water fowl. I’m sure he thought I would be proud of him for his catch. Despite the confusion, he dropped the duckling and I reach down to see if there was any life left in the little guy when all of a sudden it jumped up and took off running toward the pond. Then Tango, the rat terrier, got in on the game. She had no wish to eat the little one but ran along with it nudging it with her nose and knocking it off its feet each time. All the while I had Fenway by the scruff of the neck trying to keep him from chasing. When the duckling finally reached the edge of the water I lost my grip and Fenway bounded to the pond and leap into the water. Then the oddest thing happened. The water settled and there was no duckling. Fenway turned around in a complete circle looking at least 3 or 4 times. By this time I was convinced that the poor duckling was so weak from the prior events that he simply drowned when Fenway landed on him.

Dejected that I wasn’t able to save the little one I called for Fenway and started to turn toward the house when out of the corner of my eye I see the little duckling pop up out of the water about half way across the pond. What a fighter! This little one had swam completely under water at least 30 yards to get to safety! I swear I almost cheered aloud standing on the pond bank! Within moments he was back with the two larger ducks swimming around like he was none the worse for wear. I think I’ll name him Rocky.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I heart Microsoft Excel

Yes, Ipods, Iphones, Kindles, and all those other techno gizmos are cool, but they are NOTHING compared to the absolute beauty of Excel. Ok, so maybe it’s not quite cutting edge, but Excel always has had and always will have my heart.

Just take a moment to wrap your head around the unsurpassed versatility of it! There are very few things in life for which I don’t use Excel. I make my grocery lists with neat little check boxes for use as I shop. I create our month budget with it. I calculate and store our long term savings plans and goals in it. I even keep my check register in it…ehem…when I actually decide to keep up with a check register. (Shh! Don’t tell Dave about that last little tid bit!) How did we ever live with just legal pads and calculators?? I have a spreadsheet for my “weekly routine” at work as well the same for our home routine. And oh the beauty of packing lists all itemized and, of course, with those awesome little check boxes so that I ensure that we have each and every last sock and pair of underwear that we need for our trips!

Sums, sorts, charts, tables, cells, columns, subtotals, workbooks, worksheets…be still my heart! It’s almost more than I can take.

And now that I’ve confirmed that my nerdiness exceeds even the pocket protector, horn rimmed glasses, highwater pants with velcro shoes guys from high school, I’m going to sign off and pretend it never happened.