Pages

My photo
I'm a twenty-nine year old Army wife currently living near a large Army post. I have an unhealthy obsession with Dr. Pepper, the Internet, cloth diapers, and ridiculous TV shows. I'm a stay at home mom to two beautiful daughters, AJ and Amelia. We also have a 6 year old beagle named Abby who is as dumb as a box of rocks.
Powered by Blogger.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Haircut and Other Things

We haven't been all that busy since coming back to Hometown, USA. Yesterday AJ and I went on a little Mama-Daughter lunch date and got some real, honest-to-goodness, hometown food. It was wonderful.

AJ has been waking up super early for whatever reason, so we're all a little tired. She was so tired yesterday that she almost fell asleep in the car on the way to lunch. I'll tell you, I did not have high hopes for how lunch was going to go with a sleepy toddler, but it was great. We were there early enough that it wasn't very crowded, plus its not a sit-down restaurant, so we didn't have to wait around forever for a waiter to come and take our order, bring us our food, etc.

We had another early wake-up again this morning, so when I noticed AJ was laying down on the floor with her blankie watching TV, I knew it was about time for nap. I'm actually pleasantly surprised with how well she's been doing since she is so tired. I guess I'm kind of hoping that this will continue through until next week when we make the drive home. Maybe she'll be so tired by that point that she'll nap the whole way home. Wishful thinking.

As for me, I'm excited. We have a big, fun, busy weekend planned! I'm starting things off right by getting my first haircut in a long time(since AJ was a newborn?). I think I'm going to do something drastic. I'm ready for a change. Plus, anything other than a trim would be drastic based on how long my hair is now. After my hair cut, we're heading to the in-laws for dinner. Tomorrow morning AJ and I have a breakfast date with one of my roommates from college who lives in the area. We're going to the best breakfast place around, so I'm definitely looking forward to that.

I'm planning on getting my hair cut like one of these ladies below. What do you think?

I like the length of LC's cut without the bangs, though.

Heidi's hair looks great, but mine will never stay styled like this.

I like the way Jenn has her's styled in this picture.

Gwyneth's hair is most likely what mine would end up looking like. We have the same hair "type."

My sister is also making the trek home for the weekend so she can spend some time with us while we're here, even though we'll see her next month in sunny FL. The plan for Saturday afternoon is to take AJ to the Children's Museum now that she is actually old enough to enjoy everything. Following that, we're going to order pizza from the neighborhood joint infamously known as "Little I." (Short for "Little Italian.")

Sunday we have another busy day planned, we're going to hang around in the morning, but then after nap we're going to head into the city to go to the Auto Show and then have dinner at my cousin's house. He and his wife have a baby who is about 8 months old now and the last time I saw her, she was a newborn! Crazy how time flies, especially with little ones!

That's the big excitement around these parts! I'll be back Monday to update on the weekend, hopefully with lots of pictures (if I remember to charge my camera tonight) of everything, including the new hair cut!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Settling In...

Well, we made it to Hometown, USA yesterday afternoon. AJ was, once again, a delight in the car (seriously, she's pretty good on long trips for a 23 month old). We didn't have to get up super early to leave, so we got a chance to spend the morning with my Aunt before we left. We hit some snow and sleet for about the first hour, but after that, it was all smooth sailing.

We stopped for lunch at our normal lunch time and I decided to treat AJ to one of the restaurants I grew up with, Steak 'n Shake. We don't have any around where we live right now (or really any of the duty stations we've been at) so it was the first time she has been. She thought it was great! I mean, you get an awesome hat, AND a milkshake? Win-win!


She clearly was loving the hat.

Speaking of milkshakes, after we finished eating, I was trying to get AJ loaded back into her car seat and I set the almost full milkshake on the center console while I wrangled her. It was that moment that my devil-child, AbbyDog decided to jump from the backseat to the front and knocked it over, spilling the ENTIRE milkshake on my leather seats. Awesome. I tried to get her to lick it up and she looked at me like I had three heads, undoubtedly thinking to herself, "I would NEVER eat something that isn't mine." Thanks, dog.

After managing to clean that up with the 4 napkins the Steak 'n Shake waitress so kindly gave me we got back on the road again. (FYI Steak 'n Shake waitress, 4 napkins is NOT a "bunch.") AJ fell asleep almost instantly and took what is, to date, the longest car nap on record for her, 55 minutes.

We didn't encounter any other real problems the rest of the trip unless you count the numerous $3.80 tolls coming into town. $3.80? Seriously? That is crazy! I can get a drink at $tarbucks for that amount, but no, you're charging me the same amount to drive on a highway. Brings new meaning to the term, "highway robbery."

We beat my parents to their house, which I knew we would, because they were flying home from CO yesterday, so we let ourselves in, got unpacked and ran to Trader Joe's to get some stuff to make dinner.

AJ decided to get in this basket and it tipped over, so naturally, I took a picture before helping her up.

She was "cooking" in her kitchen before I could get her jacket off her.

Can I just say how wonderful it is to live in an area that has so many options for grocery shopping? When we were stationed at Ft. Lewis, we were really spoiled. We had everything (except Whole Foods) and the stores had great products. I honestly loved grocery shopping when we were there. I also love grocery shopping here. There's WF, TJ's, and more, all right around the corner. Its fantastic! In fact, this morning we went to WF and stocked up on some of the things AJ likes to eat and I got my lunch from their deli bar (which is to die for, BTW).

Speaking of being spoiled, this afternoon I'm heading out, sans bebe, to get a 90 minute massage. I'm anticipating it to be heavenly. My mom gave me a gift certificate she has, so its going to basically be half price. I can't wait.

Ah, this is why I can't come home all that often, my wallet can't afford it! ;)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Bloggy BFF Meet-Up!

I didn't really mention it before, but AJ and I are on a little road-trip of sorts. Its the same one we make about every six months or so, we drive from our house to my Aunt and Uncle's house, stay a few days, see all my grandparents and relatives and then drive the rest of the way on to my parent's house. We're going to be in Hometown, USA for about a week before we head back to our house to welcome the man home from the field.

Well, last time I was here I took AJ out for Skyline Chili and ice cream at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams as a Mama-baby date. This time we had an extra person on our date with us. My bloggy BFF, Moe, is back in town and she met up with us for a late lunch and ice cream yesterday! We had tons of fun, we chatted, we laughed, we wrangled AJ, we shared food!

We were both laughing because we told our significant others that we were going to meet a relative stranger and neither of them really seemed all that concerned for our safety. ;) We both said we were glad that we aren't axe murderers or something!

The three of us at Jeni's.

It was so much fun to finally meet Moe in real life, and I hope that I get another chance to come through town again so we can expand past Skyline Chili!

After eating ice cream (in the dead of winter, mind you) I realized that we were close to the neighborhood and house I lived in as a little girl (from ages 3-5) so I drove past it and took a picture of it for my parents to see. I was lucky that there was a For Sale sign in the front yard, otherwise I would have felt like a huge creep!

My old house. I promise there is a "For Sale" sign just to the left of the picture. ;)

I also have AbbyDog with me on this trip, and she has been making herself feel right at home at my Aunt and Uncle's house. So much so, that my Uncle had her doing tricks last night for a little snack before dinner.

AbbyDog doing tricks.

Abby, right at home. Jumped up and sat at the kitchen table before dinner.

We have another day here before we hit the road again. Tomorrow we are going to see my mom's parents and a cousin of mine who still lives in this area. It should be interesting.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Money Game

I'm not going to get into the specifics of our financial situation (obviously) but since one of my 2012 goals is to save more and pay down debt, I thought I'd share what our financial plan is for this year.

We haven't exactly been the most responsible financially and we are definitely paying for it. Its obviously not that dire of a situation, because people gave us money to buy a house a year ago and who would have done that if we were downing in debt? But overall, we have more petty debt than we are comfortable with. Its also coming to a point where we want to pay off the debt before we die of old age, so we're paying more than our minimum payments, therefore leaving us less money to have fun with.

I'll be honest with you, I am not a budget-er. I'm the type of person that pays my bills at the beginning of the month and then does whatever I want with the rest of the money. I somehow manage to completely forget month to month the amount of incidentals that inevitably come up. This situation leaves me scrambling more often than not. Its not a good feeling to know that your car needs a tune-up and you spent the money that should have been budgeted for it at Target on things you don't need.

I know I'm not the only one like this, and I have little to no willpower or self-control, so if you're thinking that you would never be able to stick to a budget, you're wrong. If I can do it, anyone can do it. This is not even mentioning the fact that I live with Mr. Spendy. ;)

Here's the secret. Create a budget that takes incidentals and "allowance" into account. If you have a set amount that you can afford to spend at Target each month and you know what it is in advance, you're less likely to go over, plus you're going to think twice before buying something on a whim. The awesome thing about budgeting for incidentals is that if you don't spend all the money you budgeted for that category one month, then that money can go into savings or the "fun" category next month.

Another secret that I learned from another blog is to create an estimated budget and an actual log. If you look at what you spend in each category every month you can add up all the totals and then divide the amount over the year. Basically, if you spend $1200 a year on your water bill, you put $100 as your budget for water each month, even though your bill in January is only $75, you know that you're probably going to have a $125 bill in July. If you put the "overage" into a savings account, you won't have to cut back on another category come July because you saved the money from your January budget to cover the extra cost.

Also, if we know we have a large bill that will come due at the end of the year, like our Property Owners Association bill, I divide the total amount by 12 and put that amount into a separate savings account each month. Then when the bill is due at the end of December, I just transfer it to my checking account and pay it without worrying about where the money will come from.

Here's what our budget categories look like:

Auto
Registration
Gas
Misc. Auto.
Loan
Credit Card
Christmas
Savings
POA
Dog
Entertainment
Clothing
Dining
Mortgage
Grocery
Household
Electric
Garbage
Cell Phone
Cable
Water
Insurance

You can see that I broke the categories down into sections that make sense to me. I basically grouped "like" things so I can keep track of everything a little easier.

In addition to the estimated and actual budget worksheets I keep a computerized account register for both of our checking accounts. I am not the type of person who is going to carry around an old school register and write everything down, so doing it on my computer works for me. As soon as I write a check or get home from the store, I type in the amount and calculate my account balance. This helps me more than checking my account balances online (though I do to update hubby's register because he always forgets to bring me receipts). I don't have to worry about remembering to take the checks into account that haven't cleared yet because on my register, the money is already taken out.

It sounds like a lot of work, but if you sit down every day for like 5 or 10 minutes, its done and it can really help you manage your family budget. So far, this is my preferred method, and I've tried basically everything!

What do you do to keep track of your finances? Do you use a program? Do you budget?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cliffhanger...

So I kind of thought that by letting y'all know in my last post that there were developments in our possible move that you'd be relieved that I am, in fact, able to talk about it casually without having a panic attack. Instead, I was surprised to find out that you weren't happy that I "left you hanging" and didn't update you yesterday. Ha! Sorry!

Anyway, a little back story. We are stationed here, and D is currently at the very end of a year long school/qualifying course for his new job. When we moved here and bought our house everyone who has ever and will ever do this job was always stationed here, so we thought we were safe in locking ourselves into a tiny 30-year mortgage. Ha! Almost immediately after starting this course, back in March, D was told that they were expanding the branch and that BNs were being started at a few other posts. The original BN is still located here, along with one additional one. Two others are not located here. Great.

We started out just hoping that we'd be able to stay here. As time went on, it started to look more and more like not only were the chances of us staying here growing slimmer by the day, but that we may not want to go to one of the two units here, based on D's career aspirations, thus cutting our chances of staying here even more. So this scenario is not just the Army saying, "Ha! You bought a house? Don't you know the first rule of the Army?" We brought part of this stress on ourselves, but I'm sure that many of you have been in a similar scenario before. We can suck it up and D could possibly go to the unit he doesn't want to go to, but then we'd be miserable for the next several years and his performance may suffer, along with possibly having a negative affect on the next stage of his career. Sometimes the decisions that we make are stress-inducing now, but will pay off later, and this, for us, is one of those decisions.

Jump forward to a few weeks ago. We found out that there are now only the three options, two here and one somewhere else. Well, that meant for us, two options, thus a 50-50 chance we'll stay, versus move. If you've never been in this situation, let me tell you, having a completely split outcome is not an ideal place to be. I was struggling with it because I wasn't letting myself prepare for either option. If I know that the odds are 60-40, and may change, I can at least tell myself that we'll probably be somewhere else next. Even knowing that the final outcome can (and probably will) change, I can at least start thinking about the next stage.

So when D came home on Friday night and told me that he was informed that they're not keeping anyone of his rank here and we're more than likely moving sometime in early summer, I was actually relieved, rather than freaked out. Just knowing that we're more likely going to one over the other was a weight lifted off my shoulders.

We still haven't decided what we're going to do with the house. We would like to be done with it and not have to worry about renting it out. We're afraid that since we've only been here for a year that we won't be able to get an offer high enough to cover everything and we'll have to pay. That is what we don't want. We are willing to walk away from this house, but we don't want to have to pay to sell it. Our realtor seems to think that renting might be our best option for a few years, but we haven't made any decisions yet. We did discuss what our financial preparations need to be in order to proceed with either option. So we're on the same page, but as of right now, we are pretty confident in knowing that we're moving, we know where we'll be moving to, but we don't know what we're going to do with the house.

That is the whole, long, fairly vague (sorry about that, can't release any specific details), story.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up

We had a pretty fun weekend! On Friday D didn't get home until 7, but that is okay because we were planning on having some of the guys he works with over to our house for a little get-together. I made cheese dip (Velveeta and Ro*tel) for dinner at like 5 when I fed AJ and then later that evening we had brat burgers, hotdogs, steak and lots of other goodies like chips, more cheese dip, and brownies.

The guys all said they were glad they came and it was nice for me to get a chance to meet the people that D has been working with (and will be working with when they're in the field in a few weeks).

Saturday we got up and got moving because we had a lunch date with some friends. They have only been here a few weeks (maybe a month or two) and they just found out that they're PCSing again (very unexpectedly). By random stroke of luck, I was able to find them a house to rent in our neighborhood and they took us out to thank us. They have a daughter who is a little younger than AJ and the girls get along so well. Its fun to watch them together.

After that we just basically spent the rest of the day laying around and being lazy. After AJ went to bed I made an early Valentine's Day dinner for me and D to enjoy. I have been saving a recipe for Penna a la Vodka for a while and I finally made it last night. It was fantastic and I plan on sharing it with you all soon!

On Sunday morning D got up and headed over to our next-door-neighbor's house to help them take down their temporary fence so they can get their permanent one put in next week. AJ and I literally layed on the couch in our jammies for the morning and then did more of the same all afternoon.

I made more cheese dip for the Super Bowl and we enjoyed watching the commercials. We don't really care about either team, so it wasn't really about the game for us. As fun as it would have been to go to a party, we're both pretty happy that we stayed in a spent the time relaxing together.

I've got some information on the status of our move and the possibilities that await us, so I'll be back soon to update you all on that!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Frenzy!

I've got some more random thoughts from this week. I feel like by the time Friday rolls around I can hardly form a coherent sentence, much less an entire blog post, so its easier for me to keep a running blog post throughout the week and just add little bits and pieces here and there.

1. We've been having panic-attack-inducing conversations lately about possibly receiving orders to PCS away from here. Hubby wants to talk about what the plan is for listing the house and what needs to be done before that can happen. I informed hubby the other night that I'm still pretending that we're definitely staying here (even though its about a 50/50 shot) so that I don't make myself sick by worrying about what we're going to do if we can sell our house and no one rents it. We simply do not have enough money in savings, nor do we make enough to cover rent somewhere else AND our mortgage here. Agh! I'm starting to freak just typing it out!

2. AJ has been telling me whenever she hears a noise! This includes the dog barking, a tv that was left on upstairs and trucks or planes outside. She will stop dead in her tracks and say, "Sound! I hear it!" Its so funny! I then ask her if its the dog, or something else and she says, "Yes." She is too funny!

3. I found adorable *free* printable cupcake toppers to use for AJ's birthday party. I was debating buying a template and then printing and assembling them on my own, but I'm glad I kept looking because I found ones that I like better and did I mention they were FREE?

4. I've been debating getting a hair cut. I really need one (my hair is so limp and raggedy all I do is put it up every single day) but I almost never go to the salon on a regular basis so I can't really get a real cut that needs up-keep and I just am so lazy that I keep thinking of a million reasons to not go.

5. I think I may make a trip to the HobLob sometime soon to check out what they have that would fit with AJ's party theme. I found some stuff online that I might order, but I got a gift card to HobLob for Christmas, so if I can use that to fray the costs associated with AJ's party a bit I think I'd like to do that (and I know Hubby would appreciate it)!

6. AbbyDog has been such a terrible, terrible dog lately. Its like all of a sudden she decided that she's going to act like a puppy again and start getting stuff out of the kitchen garbage can and tear it up. She also likes to chew the spouts on AJ's sippy cups so they're ruined. We basically should have bought stock in sippy cups because we're single-handedly keeping the industry alive! Oh, there was also the incident with the ham. Anyone want a naughty beagle?

7. AJ is loving her big girl bed. Every morning when I go into her room to get her up she runs to her bed and points at it and says, "big bed!" While she still isn't wild about the idea of taking naps or going to bed when I tell her to get in her big bed she climbs up on her own and lays down without fuss. I'm glad we switched her when we did. I feel like if we had waited too long she would have gotten too attached to her crib and it would have been way harder to make the transition. I think we've also got enough time before we start potty training for her to really be used to sleeping in the bed before we throw something else new at her!

8. I feel like no matter how much sleep I get in a night, it is never enough. A FB friend of mine whose son is about AJ's age posted this week that she feels more tired now than she did when her son was a newborn. I have to say that I agree. I knew I'd be exhausted when AJ was a teeny tiny baby, but no one prepares you for how tiring it is to have a toddler. Maybe its because lots of mamas are already pregnant with #2 (or have had their second) at this stage with the first so they attribute it to being pregnant or having a newborn. I'm here to tell you, its not the newborn that is making you tired, its the toddler! Haha!

9. Someone I know tinkled in her potty yesterday and I was so shocked! I was heading to the bathroom and went I went in she told me she wanted me to take her pj's off and then her diaper, so I did. She then sat down on her little potty chair and peed! Afterwards she walked into the kitchen and sat on a plastic lawn chair and peed on that, too! Ha! I guess we're going to have to explain the difference between a potty chair and a regular chair.

That's all for the randoms of the week! I hope you all survived the week and you have a fun Super Bowl weekend! We don't have any plans but I'm thinking about making game day appetizers for dinner on Sunday anyway! TGIF!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Namaste, Everyone

Do you practice yoga?

I have to admit that until a few weeks ago my yoga experience was limited to the 15 or so poses that you can find on Wii Fit. I didn't really find any benefit to it and thought it was mostly about flexibility and stretching.

My neighbor invited me to go to a yoga class on post a few weeks ago and I went with her. We focused on balance for the 60 minute class and afterwards I was so sore! My legs felt like jello and it was then that I knew that there was more to yoga than what the Wii had shown me. Part of it is very relaxing and there is a flexibility aspect to it as well. I find that it has really helped me with the rage/anger I was experiencing a few weeks ago. I'm not sure if its the exercise, relaxation or simply getting out of the house and focusing only on me for an hour, but regardless, it has helped!

I've since been back a few more times and I actually find myself looking forward to the hour of relaxation, stretching and work-out that I get each time I go! The best part is that because the class is held at the gym on post, it is free!

I highly recommend yoga, but also looking into other exercise classes that the gyms on post offer. They're all free and they only keep them if there is enough interest, so go! Check out a class or two! Also, if your kids are registered through CYSS you can put them in the childcare at the gym, too!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

2012 Goals: January Update

I thought I'd do a little update on how I'm doing with my 2012 goals now that the first month of the year is complete (umm, how did it go so fast?).

My goals are in bold italics and my updates are in regular italics.

***

1. Save money, reduce debt. Well, we were doing really well with the saving money part of this one until D's car got towed and we had to use the money we had in our savings account to get it off the tow truck. No, I didn't blog about it, mostly because I was really mad about it, but now you know. I am making a point to "pay myself back" so that we're still putting a little bit into savings for January. As far as reducing debt, we are using the snowball method and we plan on putting our tax refund toward credit card debt.

2. Lose weight. I have to admit that I haven't really been concentrating on this one as much as I should. There were a few days that I took AJ outside in the stroller and ran/walked a little. I've also been going to yoga, but so far the scale has really been yo-yo-ing based on what and how much I eat on any given day.

3. Eat healthier. I've been just okay on this one. I've made an effort to make healthier meals a few times a week, but the portion control isn't quite there yet. I think that mostly everything we eat is fairly healthy in moderation, but when I start out my diner with a plate full of rice, its probably not going to qualify as healthy, even if it is brown rice. I've been trying to eat healthy lunches and breakfasts, which in turn helps me to save money because I'm not eating out or grabbing something on the go. I made home made granola and I've been eating light soups (Campbell's and Progresso) for lunch. I'm also trying to make an effort to make salads to go with dinner because then we'll hopefully fill up on veggies before digging into the main dish.

4. Be more patient. I think I am doing better with this one for the second half of the month than I did for the first part. Its interesting that while I feel I'm being more patient with AJ, I've also found that there is a clear line that determines behavior that is unacceptable. If she commits one of these acts, there is no need for patience on my part, she goes straight to punishment. On the other hand, if its something little, I try to stay calm and repeat myself. I'm also trying to get down to her level and have her look me in the eye before I lose it over something little.

5. Exercise more. I've been going to yoga, I've walked/run a few times but overall, I would say that I pretty much failed at this one for the month of January.

6. Maintain a positive attitude. When it pertains to certain aspects of my life, I have been doing a good job at remaining positive. Other areas of my life still manage to induce a mini-panic attack and I get snippy about it. I've been trying to be positive and upbeat as a whole though, so I'd say I did okay on this one. I am hoping that by the time we find out if we're moving or not (maybe in another 3 weeks, maybe longer) I'll be able to take it in stride and remain positive about listing our house (and it selling, fast, for our asking price!). ;)

***

Looking at my goals and evaluating how I did for January has made me realize that a lot of the things I wanted to change for 2012 were loosely based on how well I am able to manage my own stress level and the amount I worry about things. These are two things as a whole that I would like to change about myself and I think that by setting smaller, quantifiable goals, I'll be able to help myself find and maintain techniques that work for me.

I also like the idea of checking in at the end of each month to keep track of how I'm doing with each goal. It helps me to remember what I'm striving for and reminds me to continue the good work (or to pick up the slack where I feel I've been lacking).

What about you? How are your 2012 goals coming along?