Monday, February 25, 2013

{-3 pounds}

It's a good day--a good weigh in! And it makes me motivated to keep working hard and eating healthy! :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

7 Hours Later...

After sitting through our 7 hour class, I learned a few things.




1. We absolutely have the BEST Real Estate Agent ever!!! Seriously. During the class, a realtor came and presented about 2 hours of the class. Not that anything was wrong with her, but the more she presented, the more I knew that I was grateful that we went with the one we did! Wow. Our realtor is absolutely Ah-Mazing!! And so patient with us. And so understanding. We have a very, VERY limited housing requirement list/ location. And he works with it-- not only that, he is supportive of it! 





2. We really want to have our real estate agent and our mortgage lender on the same page. It would be fantastic to have them be communicating with each other outside of us. Because of this (and a few other complications with our other lender) we are in the process of getting pre-approved again. We will meet with a new mortgage lender on Monday and go through the whole process again. It is to our advantage to have at least two choices of companies to go with then we can choose between them (probably which ever one gives us a better interest rate, has fewer fees and who we feel more comfortable with). The one we are going to on Monday works with our Realtor frequently. He recommended them to us. Perfect. I know that the two of them will be working together for our best interest because they already work together!

3. I was reminded of the importance of savings. I know. That sounds kind of silly because we are in the process of making the largest purchase of our lives. We are talking a 6 digit figure purchase. And all of the sudden we are talking about saving money. Its true though. And thankfully, we are really good about saving. But it was a great reminder.

4. We are one step closer to applying for the down payment assistance grant. :) And really, this was the only reason we were taking the class! We have to have the certificate of completion to attach to our grant application. However, we do not have our certificate yet. We have to go back for a one-on-one counseling session and then we will earn our certificate. 

And now the big question... would I recommend this class to others?

I have mixed feelings on the matter. Maybe. If you are applying for a housing grant, yes! Definitely. If you have struggled with money/ bankruptcy in the past, yes. If you are at the very beginning of the home buying process, yes. I felt like so much of the information was in the past for us because we are 2/3 through the housing buying circle. And I took a semester long class that taught this same thing at BYU. So most of the information, I already knew because of the class while a college student and because I have asked questions like crazy to find answers specific to buying a home.

If you live in Utah, I would at least look up the Community Development Corporation of Utah and consider looking into the class and some of their services. I would definitely look into it if you are a first time home buyer! So many people would qualify for the down payment assistance, they just don't know it is out there.

Headed Back to Class


I absolutely love school. And I miss my college days. I loved opening a new text book and flipping through it, trying to get a glimpse as to what I would be learning that semester. I loved the seeing my score at the testing center after I had studied extremely hard. And I especially loved meeting my husband on campus for a lunch date.

So I am pretty excited to relive my school days today.

Well. Sort of.

Casey and I are required to take a Home Buyers class in order to qualify for the grant. I have no idea what this class will be nor do we have any idea if it will be beneficial or not. I'm hoping it won't be a complete waste of time. But even if it is, I keep reminding myself that jumping through this hoop is a long term investment as the grant would greatly help us with our down payment. I do know that the class is designed for first time home buyers and I already know that there are about a million questions to ask when buying a home. So I am very hopeful that the class will provide valuable insight (and hopefully answer some of my questions or at least get me thinking so I can then know better what questions I should be asking).

Is it worth it? Would I recommend it? Was the housing class helpful in our home hunt? (Or did we sit and secretly play games?) I don't know yet but we are about to find out.

But I already know one wonderful thing about an all day class-- we get to be together!! The people presenting the class made it very clear that children were not allowed. So here is to enjoying our unchaperoned all day study date!! (Maybe we can even play footsie, hold hands and pass notes. Heeheehee.)

And we will definitely be enjoying a lunch date! Together. :) :) :)

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Learning to Budget

We have tried various budgeting methods in the past. And while they each worked because we were able to live within our means, I didn't love them.

Quite opposite in fact.

I hated recording receipts once I arrived home after running errands. I had groceries to put away and other things to do so I would just skip it. And my pile of receipts would continue to grow in my wallet. We will call this the "Good Intentions" budget.

Once I realized that stack of receipts was out of control and made it difficult for my wallet to close, I would take them out and leave them for Casey to find. I didn't want to deal with them. But I knew Casey would be annoyed if I just threw them away. So I turned it over to him and he would spend hours trying to decipher what I bought. We will call this the "One Does All" budget.

And then there is the "Look at Your Bank Statements Once a Month" budget, "Make a List in Excel" budget, "Pay with Plastic" budget, and "Sit for Hours to Discuss without Making Progress" budget.

Yup. We have tried them all. Casey even created a program to help us budget better. Yeah-- he is amazing and designed a computer program from scratch. But it still wasn't working for me. The program was amazing. I just hated having to spend time with my receipts typing everything in.

So one day I opened the App Store and just searched for budgets or finances. If it was free, I downloaded. I was not willing to pay money to find another budgeting method that I did not like and was not easy to use. I downloaded a handful of different apps and figured none could be worse than previous attempts.

To my surprise, I found one that I love. And it is available on the apple market, the android market, and we can log into it from a computer. Casey and I share one account. Any time either of us spends money, we record the transaction immediately so there are never stacks of receipts and it automatically synchronizes. We each know exactly how much money we have left and where all of our money is going.

If any of you find yourself in one of the previously mentioned (or similar) budget experience, allow me to introduce you to EEBA.

Easy Envelope Budgeting Aid.

Basically you make electronic envelopes for your pay period. You can choose how often to fill the envelopes. (For example: if you are a teacher and only get paid once a month, you might choose monthly. Or if you could divide your monthly paycheck in half and then set it to every two weeks, bimonthly, weekly, whatever you decide.) Each envelope is designed to be used for a different expense-- like one for groceries, one for rent (soon-ish to be mortgage for us), one for clothes, car, household items, eating out, etc. Then you take your total income and divide it out among the envelopes you created based on your needs and budget. Make sure that the total amount in all of your envelopes is equal to (or less than) your total paycheck.

And then it is simple. You can only spend money when it is in the envelope. If the envelope runs out, you stop spending until your next pay check. In my family finance class, the envelope method was definitely my favorite budgeting system. But it was not practical because no one carries cash stuffed in envelopes everywhere they go. Shoot. I basically never use cash. But this combines my favorite (and easiest to use) budgeting method with technology. (Watch THIS video for a more detailed explanation for how EEBA works.)

So if you are trying to pay off a loan, save for a dream vacation, or save for a down payment on a house (and then painting the house once we buy it, cleaning the carpets, buying some furniture, etc), this is still the perfect budget. Just have the total amount in the envelopes be less than your total income. And ta-dah. It is easier to save/ pay off debt with that money when you basically don't even see it.

(No, I am not being paid by EEBA in anyway. I just loved this app and thought I would share.)

Monday, February 18, 2013

{-1 pound}

So it is not the greatest weigh-in. But seriously, I'm just grateful it is negative and I'm at least making progress again!! :)

And... yesterday my grandma said it looks like I have lost weight! Whooo!! She doesn't have internet and does not read my blog to know that I'm trying to. So her compliment was totally genuine! Yeah! :D

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Valentine Memory --my favorite one


It was my senior year of high school. Valentines was rapidly approaching. And I was not looking forward to it! All of the girls with boyfriends would be carrying around stuff. You know. Chocolate, flowers, balloons, teddy bears, etc. All pink and red.

And while I had tons of friends and went on several dates, I was not dating anyone. I was preparing myself for valentines to be lonely. I knew my parents would give me some lovey gift and candy. I was tempted to hide some of their valentines in my back pack before school and then take them out once I got to school.

That way I could carry stuff around with me too.

It was tempting. But I resisted.

And I'm grateful I didn't! (Besides... Who would I claim they were from?! A secret admirer?)

I remember arriving at school and heading to my locker, just like it was an ordinary day. I got my books and took off my coat. And tried super hard to focus on anything other than my empty hands.

I went to meet my friends in our hallway spot before school started. And to my complete surprise, I was given a box of chocolates. Heart shaped and all. My heart melted. I felt so special and important. I could have easily put it away in my back pack. Oh no! I treasured that chocolate box and carried it with me the whole day and kept it on my desk during class. (Keep in mind that I was in high school... Of course I kept it out because I was no longer one of the empty handed girls.)

And the best part is it was from a boy! And it was totally his doing--I still remember staring in disbelief and total shock. It didn't mean I had a boyfriend. It didn't mean that this boy and I were going steady. It just meant he cared about me. He wanted me to feel valued.

I knew right then that someday I wanted to marry someone just like this boy. Someone who cares about me and shows it. Not because it was expected or because he should but because he just wanted me to he happy.

What I did not know then was that about three and a half years later this boy would become my eternal valentine. My forever best friend!

And still to this day, that heart shaped, small box of chocolates made that Valentines Day my very favorite!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Measuring Success


 I love making a to-do list in the morning and then checking things off as I finish them. I feel like I accomplished something. I feel success for the day.

But how do you truly measure success as a mother?

Devin is still alive--never mind the fact that he has breakfast still smeared in his hair at dinner time and I just barely got him out of his pjs right before Daddy came home. Some days this counts as success.

Or we did absolutely nothing today. The house is a disaster. But I watched Devin learn how to walk and celebrate his accomplishment. I built him block towers and watched him knock them over. I let him get out every single toy and book with in his reach and didn't bother cleaning up as we went because he was having fun. This definitely has to be a successful day.

And then there are some days where I literally have a million things to do. My check list is miles long. So I sat Devin beside me and got to work on cleaning and laundry and dinner and projects and dishes and etc. I am exhausted by the end of the day. I checked of my to-do list. So that means I was successful, right?!

But are these examples truly measuring success? How do I know if I am successful as a mommy? How do I know if my efforts are good enough?

I found a list in Preach My Gospel (page 10-11) that defines success for a missionary. With a few tweaks, I finally have my list to know if I am a successful mother!

I am a successful as a mom when I...
  • feel the spirit testify to my children through me
  • love my children and desire their salvation
  • obey with exactness
  • live so that I can receive and know how to follow the Spirit; the Spirit will show me where to go, what to do, and what to say
  • develop Christlike attributes
  • work effectively everyday, do my very best to bring my son to Christ, and earnestly seek to learn & improve
  • help build the Church wherever I am
  • warn Devin about the consequences of sin and invite him to make commitments
  • teach & serve other mothers
  • go about doing good

Success is not something that can be measured or checked off. In short, success is being obedient, living righteously, and doing my best. It is a inner commitment. It is who I am--not my unfinished to-do list or getting out of our pajamas. 

And... my absolute favorite quote from PMG about success.
"Avoid comparing yourself  to other moms
and measuring the outward results of 
your efforts against theirs."

(And with that being said... here is to starting on my LONG to-do list today!)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Encouragement

Yesterday I was again looking at the new home listings. (Truthfully this is an every day, multiple times a day occurrence.) I found a house that I *really* liked but it was $40k over our limit and another one in the same neighborhood that was even more expensive. I emailed my agent about them anyway wondering if he thought there was anyway that the price would drop on either or if we could negotiate the people down lower. He doubted it. The housing market is terrible. And he recommended that I only look at houses in our price range so I won't get discouraged. And then he gave the most needed encouragement.

"If you were working too you'd be well into the price range of these two homes you've mentioned but you've made the better choice to raise your kids yourself.  We'll find you a good home.  Keep positive." 

We made the better choice--to have me be a mommy!! And I'm so grateful that our agent gets that. In a world that seems like two incomes are the way of life, it often becomes difficult to explain why I'm staying home. And his simple words of encouragement meant SO much to me.

That was yesterday.

Today has found its own source of encouragement.


Our agent was finally able to get in touch with the agent of the home that we put an offer on. The other guy (apparently) does not respond quickly.... But... Good news! Our offer is the primary offer! Meaning we are NUMBER ONE!!! YEAH! 

What being number one means....
First of all, we do not own the home yet--just thought I would clarify that up front. It means that the bank where the other people got their loan from will consider our offer. It means that we have to wait for up to 90 days until we hear back from their bank because it is a short sale. It means that their bank will send someone out to the house to see what it is worth and the market value of the home and compare that estimate to our offer. It means as my agent put it, "it is now our home to loose." I know.... that doesn't sound so encouraging. But really it is. Having the primary offer is huge in this housing market!

And it means that we keep praying that we will be able to find the home that is right for us. If this is that home, then we pray that their bank will accept our offer. And if this is not the right house, then we pray that we will find the one that is right for us.


Devin's Data: EIGHT Months

(Yes this is a few days late...
His 8 Month Birthday was this past Saturday.)
Weight: 19.8 pounds

Height: 28.5 inches

Clothing Size: mainly 3-6 months. His 0-3 still fits and he wears some of them. But if it is a one piece outfit, then it has to be 6-9 for his legs. He drowns in it going around but his long legs need it.

Diaper Size: 2 (in Pampers. Yes... there is a HUGE difference between brands! Other brands don't fit really anymore.)

Milestones: Pulls himself to standing, cruises while holding onto something, mastered the pincer grasp and can finally eat cheerios by himself

Eating: He eats a mixture of pureed foods and whatever we are eating. Sometimes he likes what I am eating better and sometimes he would prefer his own food. He loves to eat from my spoon though! And he also likes feeding himself (which takes a very LONG time!). He loves tomatoes and cream of wheat cereal.

Sleeping: He goes to bed around 8:30 or so. Occasionally, he will still cry and protest but he understands his bedtime routine. He then sleeps until 7ish. Nurses and then back to bed for a couple more hours. A long nap in the afternoon and a short nap in the evening.

Communication: He shakes his head no if he doesn't want something. If I ask him a yes or no question, he has different tones for responding. He bangs on the door if it is shut and one of us is behind it. It sure seems like some of his gibberish sounds like words but I don't think he really understands it. A couple of his gibberish words are "uh-huh" (yes) and "un-uh" (no). It sure seems like he says uh-huh and un-uh a lot when he is in his high chair or if I ask him if he wants something.

Likes: He LOVES walking with his little push walker--though he needs to improve his steering. He likes exploring and will try to climb up on everything. He likes being with Mommy. His favorite toy is a teething ring that has several different beads on it. He will always go after our cell phones/ iTouch/ tablet and cords. He loves electronics!!

Dislikes: He hates wearing a bib. We gave up until recently when we bought some bibs that have sleeves so he can't yank it off. He hates being ignored. He does not like sharing very much. He always takes the toys from the other babies that he sees. I'm trying to teach him to share.

Nicknames: Mr. Devin, Baby Bunny

Most Memorable Moment(s): watching him learn how to stand up all by himself and then about a week later walking all by himself

Hardest Part: Tuesdays and Thursdays are for sure the hardest for all three of us. It is hard on Casey because he goes straight from work to school and gets home to kiss Devin goodnight--literally. It is hard on me because I am with Baby Bunny ALL day and all by myself. If he is grumpy on one of those days, it makes for a very long day. And it is hard on Devin because he misses his Daddy a lot!

Lisa's Favorite Part: I love when we just cuddle in bed in the morning. It is too cold to get stay out from the blankets so I go get him around 7 when he wakes up and is hungry. And then we just lay in bed and snuggle. That is my favorite time of the entire day! (Though-- I do also love bedtime/ naptime.... hee,hee,hee)

Casey's Favorite Part: Watching him walk around and when he becomes a horse and takes Devin for rides. (Devin loves this too and laughs!!!)

Giddy Up Daddy!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

{+2 pounds}

It's disappointing. Gaining weight. But truthfully, I was expecting it. Last week was filled with treats and sweets and I didn't feel an accountability for my actions so I just enjoyed. But... I'm accountable now. Writing about it for the whole world to read makes me determined to succeed. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Valentine's FHE Lesson


So this lesson looks like it has a lot of preparation. I promise, it really is not that bad! I just used things that other people have already created instead of designing everything myself. So this just takes you to the links you need to find everything I used.

Preparation: Assemble the home, (click on that link and then click on cubby house template), cut out all of the hearts and attach paperclips, (I liked some of the ideas on Little LDS Ideas for this FHE. She already made hearts with different "love" scenarios and I just used hers. Scroll to the bottom of the blog post and print off "page 1" and "page 2") make a magnetic fishing pole (I hot glued a magnet to a piece of yarn and then tied the yarn to a pencil, cut apart the puzzle home (I wrote our last name on the roof and then cut apart the house so it became a puzzle), have ingredients for oreos at home

Opening Song: 294 Love at Home

Opening Prayer:

Scripture: John 13:34-35

Lesson:

  • Read the first paragraph of “Temple” in the Bible Dictionary.
    • Emphasize the last sentence—“Only the home can compare with the temple in sacredness.”
    • What are some ideas for how we can make our home compare to the temple?
  • Read “My Home.”
    • We are going to practice filling our home with love tonight. (Show the home.)
    • Since we only want love to be in our home, we are going to read each heart and if it is something that will help our home be more like the temple, we are going to put it in our home. (Remove the roof and place one in.) If however, it is not something that will help our home be more Christlike, we are going to leave it outside the home and make a pile. (Show place for the pile)
    • (Then turn over all of the hearts so the words are down. Use the fishing pole with a magnet on the end to go fishing for a heart—each heart needs a paper clip attached to it. Take turns fishing for one heart at a time.)
  • Puzzle House
    • As we put the puzzle house together, we are going to discuss each characteristic and how it will help us make our home be more like the Temple.
Closing Song: 308 Love One Another

Closing Prayer:

Activity: Make Valentines. Either make valentines for each other or have them write out all of the valentines for their classmates. --And/Or--  Make an envelope/ box/ container for all of their valentines

Treat: Homemade Oreos
--Add red food coloring and cherry or almond extract to the frosting to make Cherry Chocolate Oreos--

The Rate of Improvement

I have really been debating as to whether or not I want to post my weight loss journey this time. I'm just scared of becoming obsessive again so I haven't posted anything. But at the same time... if I don't record it, somehow I convince myself that it doesn't matter and I make very little progress.

A little while ago when Casey was teaching FHE, he read a quote from Preach My Gospel.
“When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.”
–Pres. Thomas S. Monson
June 2004 Worldwide Leadership Training Broadcast
I have continued to ponder Pres. Monson's counsel. If I want my weight loss journey to improve, it has to be measured. If I want it to accelerate, then I have to report it.

So... in order to catch up... here is my cumulative weight loss from the start of the year until now.  
Exercised.
Sweated.
Cut the sweets.
Healthy meals.
Smaller portions.

It paid off.

{-12 pounds!} 

I decided to have my weigh-ins on Monday mornings. I was weighing-in on Fridays. But then I would sabotage myself over the weekend and eat tons of not-so-healthy treats because I would tell myself I can burn it off during the week. Well... if I move my weigh-ins to Monday mornings then (at least in my mind) I am accountable for all the stuff I eat over the weekend. So... that means that tomorrow I will have a weigh-in and a blog report. I'm not expecting any results though because I have had an emotional food week and stopped exercising because my legs ached SOOOO ridiculously bad.

Please join me in this journey once again. It is time to loose the Christmas pounds, baby weight, and eventually reach my goal weight!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Our First Offer


Remember our blank contract? I had no idea we would use it so quickly! I checked the new listings last night before I went to bed. Nothing. I checked again this morning.

I about died.

I ran to get my phone and started texting our real estate agent. He didn't respond fast enough so Casey called him while I took a super fast shower. We had an appointment to go see the house at 10 am.

We get to the house first. And waited for our agent. While we were waiting, some other people drive up. And then another car. All of them go look at the house. I call our agent and about died again. How are there other people already looking at it?! My goal was to be first! We learned that they showed up without calling first and had no appointment. They just showed up. Grrrr.

I really like the house. It is not everything on my check list but the majority of things. And finding a house that meets nearly all of our criteria is hard to come by. Casey liked the house.

So we handed over our blank signed contract, dated everything, and then waited while our agent took to turn it in. It was turned in so....

We placed an offer on a home!!! And the best part about all of this is that WE placed the offer. Today is Saturday so Casey was home and we were able to go together! (And by the way... today is Baby Bunny's 8 month birthday. Expect his monthly data report soon-ish.)

 It is a short sale house so now it is a waiting game to see if their bank will accept our offer or not. And we still don't know if our offer is first or not. We are hoping it is. But we don't know.

I keep telling myself, "don't fall in love with it!" And I'm trying hard to not be too overly excited because we may not get the house at all. I remind myself how many millions of interviews and applications I had before I got my teaching job. This might be like that. Just the first one with several more to follow. But truthfully, I'm thrilled!

(And for the record, I will keep stalking the new listings and hope there are other houses that we like and can place offers on while we wait.)

Oh my gosh... this is so real... we are going to buy a house (and maybe sooner than later...)!!!  :)


Friday, February 8, 2013

...a guide to motherhood...

So I'm a teensy bit jealous of 19 year old LDS young women who are preparing to leave on missions. Ok. Truthfully, I'm super duper jealous. I absolutely hated 19-- seriously the most trying and difficult year of my life. And I wish so badly that I could have gone on a mission instead of facing my living nightmare. But since I can't live life wishing of what could have been, I have made a plan to go forward.

The plan is called Mission Mommyhood. (Sidenote: if you have not read my call to "Mission Mommyhood" make sure you click the previous link. That is seriously one of my favorite posts!) And Devin is my dear little investigator. I have a responsibility to teach him. To prepare him. To help him become a worthy full time missionary in 17 years and 4 months.

I keep thinking of a quote by Sis. Julie B. Beck. "Think of the power of our future missionary force if mothers considered their homes as a pre-missionary training center. Then the doctrines of the gospel taught in the MTC would be a review and not a revelation." 

I have no idea what goes on in the MTC. I never served a mission. How am I supposed to make my home a pre-MTC if I don't know what they teach there? (See... another reason to be jealous of the 19 year old girls. When they come home from their missions and someday become mothers, think of the influence they will have on their own families!)

But really, it can't be that complicated. The MTC is a place to prepare people to teach the gospel. Well, I have a testimony. Surely I can build on that to help prepare my little investigator. And then I realized that missionaries have a secret weapon. It is call Preach My Gospel. (Ok... I guess it is really not so secret. But it is to me because I haven't studied it.)

*Light bulb turns on* That is my game plan. I can learn about what goes on in the MTC by studying the manual they use there. Brilliant.

As I am studying this, I will replace the word "missionary" with "mommy" and "mission" with "motherhood." If you look at the actual cover of Preach My Gospel, the caption above says "a guide to missionary service." But really, that caption should read, "a guide to mommyhood motherhood."

I made a study journal. I have never quite figured out how to keep a study journal before. So the journal in and of itself will be a learning experience. I am going to use a binder so I can move pages as needed. And the only way for this to be functional is to keep it organized. I printed a blank table of contents page that I can fill in as I go. I am going to make a dividing page for each chapter and then start over at numbering pages for each chapter (for example-- Chapter 1, Page 1 or 1-1, Chapter 1, Page 2 or 1-2)

This is the cover for my study journal.
Not perfect because it is hand drawn.
But most (if not all) of my journal will be hand written
so it will fit in perfectly.
And... the quote at the bottom is the one above by Sis. Beck.


I'm excited to prepare myself so I can later prepare Baby Bunny. And I hope you will join me in studying Preach My Gospel from a mother's perspective. Then my district meetings blogging will make more sense. :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

A Blank Contract


A few days ago, I found a new listing around 7:30 am. I went with our agent to look at it around 1:30 pm. It was a brand new listing and by the time I saw it early in the afternoon, it already had one offer on it.

I couldn't believe it.

The house was listed for less than 6 hours and it had an offer. I was ok with that though because I didn't really like this house. But I learned a lot from this experience.

1. stalk the new listings like it is the only thing I have to do with my life
2. if I find a house I am interested in, text & call my agent like crazy until he answers (he is really good about responding... but he might be working with someone else)
3. drop everything else we are doing and go see the house immediately--and if that means taking a tired/ hungry/ fussy baby with me, so be it
4. if I like the house in person, place an offer on the house immediately--even before Casey has a chance to see it

Which brings me to...
I have our contract forms for buying a house! The only way that I can place an offer on a house without Casey being there, is to have him sign all of the forms now. And then I take our blank contract with me every time I go look at a house.

Requesting a blank contract turned out to be a huge tender mercy. It is 19 pages. NINETEEN pages of fairly small writing. And since neither of us will sign something without reading it --especially something like buying a house contract-- I'm really grateful that we can read it ahead of time. Can you imagine us sitting there reading 19 pages while we are anxiously trying to put the offer on the house?!