Well, this week we were supposed to be posting our favorite fall pictures. Funny thing is, I am the only one who is not really busy preparing for Thanksgiving. We will be going to Gretchen’s house because our baby is due any day now and we’ll have to take off to pick him up. The other funny thing is that we have hardly any good pics from the fall. We were sick almost the whole month of October, so we didn’t get to take multiple trips to the orchard like I’d hoped. Oh well, here are a few pics to make you laugh.
Budget: A four lettered word? October 6, 2009
Yes. I hate the budget. I hate most everything that the budget represents, except the part where it helps us to save money. :-) There are several reasons I dislike the word “budget!” so much:
1. I am the spender in our marriage, so it’s HARD for me to stay within a budget. It almost always feels much too confined/restrictive.
2. I am also slightly Type-A. So breaking the budget month after month is very frustrating and feels like I’m constantly failing.
3. I strive for efficiency by nature. Taking the time to outline a budget – just to then break it pains me to no end.
So, where does that leave us? Well, it left us in a state of almost total disfuction for the first 6 years of our marriage. We have never bounced a check or overdrawn an account, and rarely have carried a balance on a credit card. But nonetheless, it’s been a struggle. That is until we attended an FPU class this last winter. Several thing happened during that class for me- only one of which was moving to a cash system. We’re almost a year in and it’s worked GREAT! We have paid down almost all of our van loan and put more into savings than previous years as well. (That’s a small miracle when you keep in mind that my husband recieved what amounted to a 9% paycut last school year.)
In reality at this point our budget looks daily like any other envelope system out there. We virtually spend all of our money on payday and assign it to different areas for that month: Christmas, Car Loan, Savings, Food, Utilities, Gas, Haircuts, Gifts, Household, Entertainment, etc… Some areas empty out to zero each month, others accumulate and then when we need the $ for that area, it’s already there. It’s amazingly simple…and amazingly brilliant. Why don’t they teach this stuff in high school?
Chill Time August 24, 2009
This week we are talking about how we refresh as a family. Here’s a recent picture of my kids chilling out.
As you can see, we like to go hang out in the great outdoors. We just returned from 3 days camping at our favorite state park on Lake Superior. There is something refreshing about being out of the city where the kids can run and not hit a fence or a street for quite awhile. It is also a relief just to be with our family for a period of time where we aren’t trying to get anything done and don’t have any engagements or deadlines.
Not just on vacation, but in everyday life we find it helpful to purposefully have down time. Andrew and I tend to be project-oriented people, but doing non-stop projects wears on us all after awhile (i.e. the kitchen project). We have found that it’s important for us to spend days or evenings with the simple goal of being together. The time doesn’t have to be elaborate. Grilling in the backyard is one of my happiest family times because everyone is there, we’re outdoors doing low-maintenance cooking, and we can be together while we’re doing it. Plus, it’s fun for the kids because we call it a picnic.
The wonders of the Mall of America July 28, 2009
Kate and Leah amazed at how much larger Dora is than they had imagined.
Nonstop excitement for Kate and Andie on the ferris wheel.
Andie checking out legoman’s muscles.
At this point, Gretchen and her family were still in the car (11 hours for the second day, AFTER having had stomach flu on a trip) so she missed out on the MOA trip.
Remembering… June 10, 2009
This month marks a strange anniversary of sorts for me. It was 2 years ago this month that I was sitting in a chair looking at my unborn baby in 4D. She was precious! We had previously found out that our baby had several “markers” for down syndrome and had enlarged kidneys which may have required surgery upon birth. Thus we were monitored more carefully and had a ton more ultrasound shots at a hospital. This was the first level 3 ultrasound with this pregnancy (I had had one with my 3rd with no problems). I got to gaze upon my baby for almost a full hour – it was wonderful! I was there alone as my husband was out of town. The specialist doctor called me in after the ultrasound to go over the findings. The first words out of his mouth to me were “Well you will have to come in tomorrow for your abortion because of how far along you are.” I was utterly shocked and devastated. All I could do was mutter “What??????” He then proceeded to tell me that my baby had more “markers” for down syndrome and it didn’t look good. I was more shocked that his automatic assumption was that I would abort my baby. I almost couldn’t comprehend what he was telling me in that office. All I wanted to do was run as far away from that man as possible.
As soon as I was able to speak again I called my doctor. He was able to calm me down and after talking to him I decided against the amnio to find out for sure and thus my pregnancy went on not knowing whether or not I was going to have a baby with down syndrome. For me at that point the risk of miscarriage outweighed the need to know. What I did do was to research as much as possible about down syndrome to prepare. What I found out is what I want to remember and never forget. I do not know what the implications of this knowledge will be for my life but I am confident that this ordeal was not an accident. I found that over 90% of babies that are diagnosed with down syndrome are aborted. Those words the doctor spoke to me were for a reason and out of his experience. This has chilled me to the bone. Another fact I found was that even if your baby is diagnosed with down syndrome there is no way to tell what function level the child will be at. Some children with down syndrome go on to graduate from high school and lead independent lives. Others will require continual care. The point is that they can not tell you what the function level of the child will be. Having a special needs child is hard. It is life changing. It alters the family in ways that are not predictable. But who are we to judge who lives and dies?
Our fourth daughter was born in August with no physical problems. Her kidneys were fine and she did not have down syndrome. What my heart went through in the months of not knowing I hope and pray will never leave me.
Christian + artist May 26, 2009
If Leah is Practical Polly, it’s possible that my name should be Impractical Inez. Thankfully for me, I already have a name: Artsie Andie. This week, I’m going to be sharing a bit of the process God has been leading me through in seeking to find out how to live out His call on my life as a Christian Artist.
This combination has not always resided peacefully within me. I think it started to coexist more happily my senior year of college when a friend told me that I must start taking art classes again. I had stopped several years earlier under the mistaken understanding that my time as a Christian was better spent “serving the Lord” than in the art room. Due to my friend’s encouragement, I began to understand that being who I am, rather than who I am not, is the way I am called to serve him.
Around that time, I read an article that completely encouraged me written by my current pastor (only God knew at that point I would be moving to Minneapolis!). The article is entitled God is not Boring. It was a sweet reminder of the fact that God is the Creator; To be creative is imitating Him! This article was also part of what helped my analytical husband begin to embrace and enjoy my artwork more fully. He is so supportive of me as an artist now and that gives me freedom to develop this part of my life all the more.
More on the intersection of artist + wham later….
Just say….YES! September 10, 2008
Who’s the optimist in your house? The optimist in ours tells me that I am the ‘realist’ (err, pessimist- for your other ‘realists’ out there!). During the week, when the optimist is at work, my kids are left at home with their ‘realist’ mother. It becomes very easy for me to focus on the things in my kids’ behavior that I would like to see fixed….in other words, they hear a lot of “No, Sam…” and “Stop doing that, Maggie….”. I have to make a choice in my day to fight my negative impulses and seek out ways to encourage my kids. I want them to hear more “Yes you may, Sam!” and “Good Job, Maggie!” – than “No!”. SO, Mom’s who forget to say “Yes!”- step out and do it! Encourage your kids (and maybe even your spouse too!) and be blessed by the change it makes in your home that day!