Friendships

Isn’t it funny how friendships change over time? When you are young, it’s about how many friends you have and if they are in the “right” group. In our late teens and early twenties we worried about how many Facebook friends we had. We worried about who exactly these friends were and if they were of the right type of people. We would make sure to take pictures with the “right” kinds of friends and “forget” to take pictures with those who we really loved, those we thought society wouldn’t approve of. As we age, we come to learn truths about life. That friendships are not group en devours. Yes, you can have a really great friend group, but those life changing friendships happen between individuals. As you age you let go those friends who seemed so cool, but really only made you feel bad about yourself. You stop caring what your friends look like, and only focus on who they are and how they make you feel. You feel happiness because you’ve learned to accept anyone into your life who makes it better, and kick anyone else out who doesn’t. There is a slight remorse about all those friends you let slip past you, not “cool” enough at the time. You wonder how those friendships would be now if only you weren’t so bitchy and didn’t care so much about what “others” thought at the time. At twenty something you are grateful for those things you have learned about true friendship and hope you are able to keep it up; maintain those that you already have and be fearless in making new ones.

Mint.com, Budgets, and Meal Planning

In preparing to try to have a baby this fall, my husband and I wanted to seriously sit down and look at our finances. I fell in love with the site Mint.com. It automatically takes all our financial info from all our accounts and puts it together on one page. It also has great graphics and easy to use interface. The first month we just lived life and let Mint.com track how much we spent on various different things (groceries, home goods, debt, going out, etc. . .) We learned that we LOVE going out to eat and easily identified areas that we could try to cut back on to save money. We set our goals and were happy.

 

It’s the end of month two and while we set goals, we didn’t meet most of them. We did manage to spend ZERO dollars on ATM fees (yay) but spent just as much on going out as we had the month before even though we were putting a conscious effort into not doing so. Blah. To try to correct this for next month, I am going to attempt to try a very grown up thing, meal planning (gasp). I’ve always thought the idea of meal planning sounded silly, but I now see it’s merit. It seems like it’ll be a great tool to not waste food and to avoid those dreaded sentences, “What are we having for dinner? Let’s just get take-out.”

The positive thing though is that even though we didn’t meet our goals, we have plenty of money to work with if we could only have better discipline. My mind excites with the possibilities of what we could do with all that money if it wasn’t being spent on Chipotle and Red Robin. Here’s to hoping we meet some of our goals next month!!

 

What are your favorite meal planning sites or ideas? I’d also love any tips to sticking to a budget!

Waiting 5 More Months for Baby

This blog has been about what life has been like for me between college and motherhood. I’ve discovered a lot about myself during this time. I learned I love cooking, especially when I don’t have to cook (it’s the rebel in me). I’ve learned I LOVE real food. I’ve learned I love kayaking, painting my nails, and exploring the world with my husband. This blog saw us through two job changes, 2 college graduations, and financial stresses. Recently my husband and I both got promotions. We have grown and learned a lot and I can confidently say we are ready for a baby. 

I started taking pre-natals, got all the before-baby checkups scheduled, even started tracking my basal temperature (Google it if you’re curious). We were going to start trying next month, but then I got an email from HR. You see, we’ll need short term disability to help cover my maternity leave. I submitted my paperwork a few weeks ago and hadn’t thought much of it. The email I received today stated that I missed open enrollment and will have to wait until Fall to enroll. Fall! When the heck is Fall?! Well I asked and it’s September, which is only a few months away, but when you are 2 weeks away and the date gets pushed back 5 monhts it sucks. I feel like I’ve already waited for years. Waited to graduate. Waited to get a better job. Waited for my husband to finish school. Wait, wait, wait. I’ve of course accepted the waiting, 5 more months is not that long, especially with summer coming up. I’ve even somehow in my brain been able to come up with the standard “everything happens for a reason” nonsense, the “one last summer of fun” business, the “starting the school year not pregnant would be best” bologna, but it still is super disappointing. The main reason it’s so disappointing is because of my fear of fertility problems. I have no proof that we’ll have problems getting and keeping a baby, but I do know a lot of women who have had issues. When you are 27 you know the stories. While some of my friends could easily get pregnant, others needed some medication to help, and still 2 learned they’d never be able to have a baby. One adopted, something I’m not sure would be right for my family, and 1 is weighing her options. When you see the sadness in women who are so excited to finally have a baby get told it’s not that easy, it roots deep into your heart and grows into your fear. I think the sooner we can start trying, the sooner I can know if we’ll need medical help and the sooner the problem will be fixed. My husband doesn’t understand. He thinks the fear could prevent pregnancy and cause problems all on it’s own. He’s probably right. This 5 months will be agonizing. Patience is not a virtue of mine and seeing everyone’s beautiful little babies on my Facebook feed doesn’t help. I also realize my pain is trivial to those who are actually struggling with fertility issues and hope I can learn something about perspective and love during this time. I will try to find peace with my fear in the next few months. Prime my body even more to be baby ready. Enjoy one last summer of freedom with my husband. Wish me luck. . . and patience

Spider in the Shower

Spiders do not scare me. I am a hiker, teacher, caretaker of children; one who has no time to be afraid of spiders. I  mean, if it’s gigantic, I WILL be creeped out, but typically spiders and I are cool. I was in the shower the other morning. Lifting up my shampoo, I noticed a little, 8 legged guy. I smile and wonder how he got in here, knowing I check for insect holes in my house all the time. He starts to walk toward the water. Oh, no. What are you thinking little spider?! He proceeds to walk right on down into the tub and the pools of water. I’ll save you! I scoop him up using the cap to my shampoo bottle and think yay! I did it. Now you can live. I am relieved and believe I can return to cleansing, but then he starts walking toward the water again. Really? You’re really just going to walk right back into the water when I just heroically saved your life? What the heck dude. He gets wet and turns into a soggy ball. I, once again, scoop him up with the cap and placed him in dry safety, wondering if he is dead. I know he’s made some mistakes, survival of the fittest, all that jazz, but I really want to give this guy a shot. After a few minutes he moves a little bit. I go to work, forget about the spider. Later, after a long, hot, sweaty day at work, I return to the shower for an afternoon rinse (2 showers, I know! I’m a horrible hippie environmentalist). He is still there, dead. I wonder what the spider would have done if he hadn’t drowned. Also, how many spiders drown each year. They did a study on how many spiders people eat while the sleep, can’t someone do a study on this. I’d like to know. In memory of shower spiders everywhere.

Organizing Paperwork and Debt

I have avoided opening mail for years. I knew that most likely it would be a letter saying that I owed money to so and so and it was this many months overdue it was. Letters from creditors that yet another account had gone to collections just taunting my credit score to drop even lower. Money was an emotional thing for me. I grew up seeing both my parents struggle with money, never feeling comfortable or being able to meet their financial dreams. Being in debt and not paying my bills made me feel like a bad person. I didn’t want to end up like my parents. What was wrong with me? How did my financial situation get to be how it is? There were many reasons. There were times where I took on a debt I shouldn’t have. There were times I simply didn’t have enough money to pay bills and eat food. There were times when I did have enough money to pay bills and eat food, but knew there would be a time soon enough where I wouldn’t have enough money so I “lived it up” while I had the chance. I was immature and my priorities weren’t in the right place. I didn’t trust myself. I felt my financial situation was so hopeless and I didn’t have enough control to make it any better. Getting through college and being in a long term relationship was enough for me to handle that, emotionally, I couldn’t really focus on being financially responsible. I was trying so hard to create a good life and could only handle so much. I was fragile back then. Couldn’t really see too far into the future. There were so many times I tried to sit down, organize all my paperwork and debt. I would get so easily frustrated, feel hopeless, and two days letter the unopened mail would start piling up again. My phone would ring at least a few times a day, receiving calls from various creditors. I was in denial, thinking it would somehow magically improve without me changing a thing. One day I’d just make more money and everything would work out. For years and years, throughout college and the first 5 years after, I lived like this.

Slowly, however, I started to take control. I knew I didn’t want to live like that forever, and money and I started to work on our relationship. I got my student loan accounts under control, this was about a year and 1/2 long process. I started being better about not accepting more debt. I said no to some very cute pairs of shoes and delicious take-out meals to reduce my cost of living. I got more consistent paying our monthly bills. I even started saving (gasp). 

This past week I decided that money and I had a good enough relationship that I could tackle the paperwork pile, organize my debt (how much do I really owe!), and get a system that will allow me to stay on top of it. I open and sorted paperwork for hours. I labeled, filed, and shredded. I noticed some of the mail I was opening was debt I had already paid off so that was quite encouraging. Four debt accounts actually were already paid off! It felt so freeing to be able to look at my financial situation honestly and feel hopeful about it, not just hopeful but confident that it is totally doable to improve. I felt much better about myself, proud of what I had worked hard to grow into. It feels good to have things in order, it feels less emotionally chaotic. I am mature enough to understand that paying down debt now and living more frugally now will benefit us later. I know I have the power and trust myself more and more each month to make the right decisions. Of course things haven’t been perfect and I’ve made a few mistakes, but I can easily forgive my slips and move on. I focus and trying harder the next month, seeing that I am continually making progress. I can now see the longevity of life and how today’s choices will impact me in the future (I’ve read that a million times on posters, but I guess I had to live a little to really understand the meaning and impact). My two largest financial dreams is to pay off all debt, yes even student loans which will probably be in 40 years, and to buy a house for my family. I have some regrets knowing that if I was smarter when I was younger, these two goals would be more in reach than they are today, but I have hope for the future and am trying to do my best each day to be proactive, make good choices, and think about the big picture. 

 

 

Pieces of Advice for a Long Term Relationship.

rings

I read this article the other day (Top Ten Rules Every Marriage Should Live By. . . Gay or Straight). Being in a long term relationship myself, I love reading other’s so called rules and secrets about their relationships, finding congruencies and discrepancies with my own. I first loved that this title included gay and straight marriages, love is love man! I loved that this article didn’t try to pretty up the business of being in a relationship. It was real, gritty, and I could tell the author was in a happy marriage. I agreed with a lot of what it said; you have to try, have fun together, don’t yell at each other, but one phrase stood out to me, “Marriage is NOT about being in love.  It’s not about getting butterflies when your spouse walks in the door and giggling uncontrollably at their jokes in public.  Marriage is, above all things, about commitment.” This was part of the author’s explanation of their number 1 rule: Never threaten to leave or say divorce. Marriage is not about love? I’ve heard this before, but for some reason it was still jarring. After thinking about it, I honestly believe this to be the truth. Many marriages survive with happy people who don’t love each other because they are committed to making it work. You will need to rely on that commitment on late nights, when you can’t believe what is coming out of your partner’s mouth. You’ll need to rely on that commitment when you feel alone, scared, unsure if you’ve made the right decision to get married and by the way, EVERY married person who isn’t in a complete state of denial has thought this so you’re not crazy. You’ll need to rely on that commitment in the darkest, deepest moments of your marriage.

A marriage is not solely about being in love, I agree with the author on this one, but a marriage NEEDS love. Love is what fuels the commitment. Love gets you through the dark times. Love lets you enjoy all the times of light. Yes, at times you will think you lose the love. It will get hidden behind tangled vines of life, covered with the dirt and grime of work, bills, errands, But without love, marriage is simply a business agreement. I want my marriage to be more than that. When things are hard, when you drift apart, when life gets too much, you need to remember that yes, you are committed, but you are committed to loving that person across the room.

My husband and I started dating when I was 15. This makes our relationship much different and kind of weird. We grew up together so a lot of the typical “rules” and “secrets” don’t apply to us. I so enjoyed reading the above article, and all the thoughts it made my brain think, so I wanted to come up with my own list. The rules/secrets/things that make my marriage work. I’ll refer to them though as pieces of advice because every relationship is different, here are no hard-fast rules or secrets, but these are the most important things I’ve learned in my relationship, maybe they’ll help you.

1. My number one piece of advice that I always tell my newly engaged friends is Have Fun Together. I know, I know. This is a cliche. Everyone says this, but does everyone really do it? Everyone knows you need to have date nights, go on vacation, “have fun”. But what I mean is infuse fun and enjoyment every day, in a majority of moments. Part of what I love about my relationship is that we have so much fun together doing practically anything. We kayak, play fantasy football together, go “naturing”, go to comedy shows, try new restaurants. We can have fun playing board games with each other. We can have fun going out to a fancy dinner and a movie. We can have fun together going to Walmart, yes Walmart. Don’t allow fun to be something that is scheduled for Friday nights at 6. Life is short, make the most of it. Enjoy all the moments you get to enjoy with your partner and make it fun! Those moments of laughter at that weird soap shop downtown will become the bricks in your relationship’s foundation.

Beer

Beer and baseball love!

Mud

Mud on shoes is evidence of a great fun adventure!

2. My second piece of advice is much harder to accomplish than the first one. It’s Letting Your Partner Feel Feelings. Yeah, this is easy when they are happy, excited, all those “good” emotions. It is much harder when your partner is angry, frustrated, disappointed, apathetic, all those emotions deemed “bad” or “negative”. I can not tell you how many arguments blew up into shit storms when we were younger because I felt so uncomfortable allowing him to be upset. I wanted to fix it. I was afraid. If I was enough, why would he feel this way? Didn’t you just hear me say I’m sorry? Over the years, he started to hide his feelings, afraid of the argument that would follow. He’d say, “I’m fine,” if I asked him how he felt. It took us awhile to get away from this routine of behavior, sometimes it’s still a struggle. It will only be successful if I allow him to deeply feel his feelings without judgement. Allow him to be a full human being, experiencing all the intimacies of life. I have learned to give him time. Allow him to process his feelings with me if he wants, or on his own if he wants. I’ve learned to trust him when he says he loves me, that I am enough. I’ve learned to let him feel his feelings, even when they make me uncomfortable. What I get in return is a husband who is deeply connected and full.

3. My third piece of advice is Know Your Relationship Weaknesses, Accept Them, Then Work on Them. Now, if you are ever being physically or emotionally abused, get out. This rule only applies to safe relationships. What I mean is that no relationship is perfect. People are complicated and sometimes crazy creatures. If you are experiencing a deep and meaningful relationship, there will be things that are struggles for you and your partner. Maybe you simply just can not grocery shop with your partner. Maybe you struggle with showing how much you appreciate your partner. Maybe it’s hard for you to prioritize your relationship above your career. Our problem is communication. I’m not saying, “Accept that you struggle with ________ and never do anything about it!” What I am saying is that my husband and I accept that communication is a challenge for us and probably always will be. We continually work on this area of our relationship, but when we hit bumps we acknowledge the problem and forgive ourselves. When the SAME THING is causing problems in your relationship ten years later, it can be incredibly frustrating. You might question if you’re not meant to be, if the problem will ever be fixed. What we focus on instead in these moments is how far we’ve come (Remember when we use to stay up until 3 am yelling at each other? Thank goodness we’ve learned not to do this anymore!). We focus on how we can continually improve (Next time, let’s try not interrupting as much). We focus on our love and commitment to each other, how hard both of us are trying. We focus on all the good things and do not let this area of struggle consume and wreck our relationship.

4. My fourth piece of advice is Continually Show Gratitude, Appreciation, and Love. After a few years, it’s easy to forget telling your husband that you appreciate he carries in all the groceries. It’s easy to forget to tell you wife that you really like how she doesn’t kill the spiders in your home, but gently rescues them back to nature. To maintain a level of intimacy, it is so critical that you continue to tell your partner the things you love about them (There is no limit on how many times you can tell me you love my adventurous spirit), the things you are grateful your partner does (Thank goodness my husband is such a pro at doing dishes), and the things you appreciate (I appreciate he lets me sleep in and shows no judgement when I’m being lazy). Your partner will continue to interact with the world, receiving compliments and glances from coworkers, friends, and strangers. They need to know that you remain their number one fan. My husband tells me practically every day that I’m the best, that I’m awesome. He randomly texts me he loves me. I know, even when things get tricky, that he loves me more than anyone else ever could and I know this because he makes sure to frequently tell me.

My t-shirt for my husband's football themed 30th birthday

My t-shirt for my husband’s football themed 30th birthday

He made me "I <3 you" brownies, love it!

He made me “I love you brownies” Love it!

5. When you are with someone for a long time, you must accept the fact that people don’t remain the same year after year. An important piece of advice is to Allow Your Partner to Grow and Change. My husband was always such a goofy guy, carefree. We were teenagers when we started dating, still kids. When he was 25, he started to change. Part of him maturing was to be a bit more motivated, a bit more serious. He didn’t want to stay out super late with friends anymore. Jokes weren’t coming out of his mouth 99% of the time. This was scary to me. Oh no! If this changed, what else about him, and in turn our relationship, could change?! Was he less silly because he was unhappy with life? Was he losing his light? I was looking at this growth  in the wrong way though. We talked about it and he explained that he was just maturing, that he needed to take things a little more seriously if he was to become successful. He was still the same goofy, lovable guy, he just had a day job now. After a few months, I grew to see the beauty in this change. I admired him and was grateful. How brave it is for a person to grow and change and instead of being fearful, I embraced the newness. I realized that life is not a simple picture book, but one filled with many, many chapters and that each new chapter with my partner could be the best one yet.

Relationships are crazy. Love is crazy. Marriages are hard work and not for everyone (a societal myth), but for those that are in the right ones, they can be so beautiful. Do you have any pieces of relationship advice? I’d love to hear them 🙂

Costco and Cooking: Being as Real Food as I Can Be on a Budget

I love food. I’m neutral about cooking. Sometimes I enjoy the experience, all the smells and textures, but I will never, ever turn down takeout or someone else cooking for me. I love being provided food that is delicious and requires zero effort on my part. The problem with said takeout is it makes you fat. I have a firm belief that it isn’t the actual food that makes you fat (plenty of people eat cheeseburgers at home and are skinny), but all that added bullshit that makes Americans fat. Preservatives, chemical, filler, that is the root of evil within our food culture. To combat this, I try to cook as many yummy foods at home as possible. My husband and I try new recipes all the time for our favorite kinds of take out food, ultimately reducing the number of takeout trips, and in turn, the amount of junk going into our bodies. Costco helps greatly with this goal. I just got back and spent $233. I got practically everything one needs to make practically anything. I still need to get organic romaine (When will Costco jump on this bandwagon!) mushrooms, some beans, bread crumbs, and tomato products, but other than that, we are set for about a month of eating. In contrast, we could probably get 7 or 8 takeout meals on $233, depending on where we went and what we ate. While Costco offers some organic products, I’d definitely like to see more variety on this spectrum but I get it, it’s hard to get organic in bulk. I’d also like to see more natural cleaning products. Despite it’s faults, Costco plays a major role in maintaining my families food budget and waistlines. Cooking for yourself can be empowering, fulfilling, and good for the soul. It’s also cheaper and much, much healthier.