7 1/2 Months Old and Driving Already

Ready for December

Over the past week we have celebrated Thanksgiving twice (Thursday & Saturday), my birthday twice (the previous Saturday and Wednesday) and found time to decorate for Christmas and snag a few deals on Black Friday. We've been busy. This time of year is always exciting for me. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and decorating for Christmas is one of my favorite things to do. Plus, my birthday is usually sandwiched in between. Occasionally it lands on Thanksgiving, which is even more fun.

When I was younger, my birthday was probably the highlight of November, but now that I'm an adult, decorating my house is definitely my favorite part of this month. I look forward to pulling out all the decorations from the basement each year and transforming my living room for the month of December. I always decorate on the day after Thanksgiving, and this year was no exception, although I did have to wait until Saturday night to finish the tree. I have to give credit to my husband for all the hard work of digging out the boxes of decorations from under the stairs in the basement and carrying them all upstairs for me.

This year I did a few things differently. I built a platform for the tree to keep little hands from pulling it over. I used the box from our TV and an empty computer case to set up a double tiered "stage" and covered it with my holiday table cloth and the tree skirt. It turned out pretty well. I also like the fact that it makes the tree appear taller, showcasing it in our big front window.

I also made an original centerpiece for our coffee table. I used the glass bowl that usually holds some artificial flowers and filled the bottom with mini ornaments. I also put some bendable wreath snaffoos (I have no idea what to call them!) around the inside of the bowl and placed a candle holder with a red pillar candle in the center. I placed the entire thing on a decorative mirror. I can't help but think that this would be an amazing centerpiece for a Christmas wedding. Feel free to steal my idea if you are getting married in December!

Unfortunately, one thing is missing... I put up my Nativity scene on the mantle and discovered the manger is missing! I got it as a gift last year and this is the first time I have opened it. I ended up propping baby Jesus against Mary and he looks like he is standing up. I decided that Nativity scenes never feature a true newborn anyway; this baby is way too big to be a day old! Proportionally, he is bigger than Micah, so it's not surprising that he can stand up. Ha!

Now that the house is decorated, I'm in the Christmas mood. We were invited to a Christmas party today that I am really looking forward to: the annual Tacky Christmas Sweater Party! Yay!


Children's Wear Outlet Sale

The Childrens Wear Outlet

I got an e-mail from The Childrens Wear Outlet today; they will be offering Free Shipping from Nov 26th - Dec 3rd. This offer will be on all orders over $30 and there will not be a limit to the amount of orders placed. There will not be a code for this offer, it will be applied to every order placed. Click on the cute baby above to start shopping!


To Save or Borrow for a Home?

Let's say two families would each like to buy a nice house for $250,000. Both families have about $2000 that they can put towards housing each month. Family A, the Anderson's, decide they would like to save up for their house and pay for it in cash. They rent an apartment for $750 per month and save the rest in a regular old savings account. (They are afraid of high risk investment, you see.) Family B, the Bailey's, can't wait that long to move into their house and everyone has told them that buying a house is an investment. They decide to take out a mortgage. They get a decent 7% interest rate on a 30-fixed-rate mortgage. The monthly payment is $1663.26 plus (the national average) property taxes of about 300 each month. So they are paying $1963.26 on their house each month and have $36.74 left over to put in their savings. They bank at the same place as the Anderson's so they all have the same annual interest rate (compounded monthly) of .58 percent. The Anderson's move into their nice little apartment and the Bailey's move into their nice big house and life goes on as usual.

Fast forward 16 years assuming status quo on the property taxes, rent, income, etc. Who is doing better? Who made the better decision?

Here's a little chart to keep things straight:

Do you think you know the answer? You might be surprised.

16 years later...

The Anderson's have saved up $252,796.52, quite enough to purchase the house they dreamed of with cash, with enough change to buy some new drapes and maybe a sofa. The Bailey's have a whopping $7430.20 in savings. They decide to blow it on a used car for their teenage son. (Or not, you decide.)

(You might say, "hey dummy, that means after the Anderson's buy their $250K house, the Bailey's have more." Well... let's do some more math, shall we? Stay with me, you'll love this.)

Both families own a home originally valued at $250,000. To be fair, the Anderson's house might be a little smaller because of inflation. The difference is, the Anderson's own their home free and clear. From now on, they can pay their little $300 a month on property tax and continue to save the remaining $1700 of their budget or spend it on whatever they wish.

Meanwhile, the Bailey's still have a loan balance of $231,728.88. Even if the Bailey's won the lottery and were able to pay off the balance immediately, they have already shelled out 16 years worth of payments, putting their total at $608,674.80.


I don't care how much their house has appreciated in value over the past 16 years, they'll never be able to sell if for that figure! They have paid $101,483.33 in interest. In comparison, the Anderson's have spent $144,000 in rent. (Before you say, "The Anderson's have nothing to show for their rent," please keep reading.)


Let me recap. Both families are living in a house now, since the Anderson's have just moved in and just about depleted their savings. Both families have put $2000 a month into housing (whether into a mortgage, rent, or savings account) for the past 16 years. But one family completely owns their home, and the other still owes 93% of the original purchase price.

Another 14 years later...

For the next 14 years, the Bailey's will continue to shell out $1963.26 on their house each month and have $36.74 left over to put in their savings. The Anderson's have the option of saving $1700 each month for the next 14 years at the same low interest rate.

If they both continued to save the remainder of their $2000 housing budget, the Anderson's will have $300,473.86 (assuming they didn't spend the $2796.52 left over from their home purchase) at the end of 30 years and the Bailey's will have $14,486.76 (assuming they never spent their savings at all).

At the end of 30 years, the Anderson's and Bailey's will both own their home free and clear. The Anderson's will have paid $250,000 for their home (or $300,400 if you add in property taxes) and the Bailey's will have paid $598,773.60 (or $706,773.60 with property taxes). Someone would have to rent a $750 apartment for 78 and a half years to match what the Bailey's have spent over 30 years on their house.

Let me recap yet again.... Anderson's: House + $300K vs. Bailey's: House + $14K

Even if the Bailey's were some how able to increase their monthly payment by $500 and completely pay off their mortgage during those first those 16 years while the Anderson's were penny pinching, they still would have paid $167,033.13 in interest. Can a house appreciate that much in 16 years without any renovations or additions or changes to the home? I doubt it.

The Moral of the Story Is....

Despite common assumption, it is better to rent and save than to borrow. (Obviously, you need to save more than you spend on rent for it to be timely.)

I did not know this 2 years ago when we bought our house. Now that we are trying to move to a new town, if we are able to sell and move, rather than take out another mortgage for another house, we plan on renting and saving up for our second home. After seeing these figures, I just can't justify doing it any other way. Maybe getting to live in a house right now is worth paying double for some people, but I'd rather put my quarter of a million dollars towards something else. If for some reason, we cannot move, I plan on doing everything I can to send in extra payments and decrease the amount of interest we pay on this house.

And by all means, internet, please, if you can give me a reason - and show me the math - of why it's better to take out a mortgage than to live in an apartment while you save for a house, do it. 

Disclaimer: I based all my figures on average prices of rent and homes in my city. All calculations were done on Bankrate.com. I am not a financial advisor, I'm just a woman who knows how to use a calculator.


Love and Gratitude

This post is about how much I love (LOVE!!) my husband. I would say something really poignant about how our love "withstands the fire and trials of life" to go with the above picture, but then you would hear me laughing across the expanse of the internet. Not that it isn't true...

Eric and I are certainly not the only people holding on for dear life during this economical death wave the news is calling a recession. You know, the one which is supposedly over? Yesterday I saw a man driving down our street in a white van with our city's logo plastered on the side. He parked across the street to slip a red notice over the neighbor's door handle. I'm assuming that means we are not the only ones struggling to pay our water bill (among others). I paid mine online yesterday morning, otherwise that might have been our door he tagged. It was probably just a scary threat... "YOU'LL NEVER HAVE RUNNING WATER AGAIN if you don't pay the $18.53 that is 30 DAYS delinquent." That pretty much sums up the attitude my city has towards its residents.

Despite the drama of bill collectors and the tears we've shed over not being able to eat at the Chinese Buffet anymore, our money "problems" have only united us. A lot of couples end up fighting, but some how we've managed to learn how to laugh at our situation. We also share a perspective in that we recognize that we have led privileged lives, and the luxuries we've been forced to give up have never been a reality for many.

Most of the credit goes to Eric. He is the calm one.  In the five years that I have known him, he's lost his temper maybe one time and even then it paled in comparison to my past explosions. He's also very level headed and always has the perfect words to immediately extinguish any panic or frustration on my part. God created hot springs, sunsets, soft breezes, and crackling fires... and then he created Eric.

On top of that, he adores our baby, and everyone knows that while a way to a man's heart is through his stomach, the way to a woman's heart is through her children. When he comes home for lunch, Micah lights up and can't take his eyes off of him, and neither can I. He swoops Micah up to play airplane and the little guy can't stop grinning from ear to ear. In a few years, they'll be inseparable; there's no doubt in my mind.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I want to take time to really consider how the Lord has blessed me and sincerely thank Him for everything. By far, one of the biggest gifts in my life is Eric. Not only is he the love of my life, but God has used him to mold me and teach me over the years. He has helped me to become more disciplined and more patient. Through our marriage, God has blessed us with an adorable son, who steals my heart every morning when he greets me with smiles and squeals of delight. I have found a life-long friend in my husband; a person who I can count on and love for the long haul. Even though we are broke (for now), we have the Lord, our health and our family, and that carries much more value than all the money in the bank.



A good friend of mine (who takes amazing pictures - you'll often see them on here...) is in social work and lost a client this weekend. After reading her post, I began to dwell on pain. No sooner did I begin to ponder the scope and purpose when I realized I was trying to view an entire mountain with my nose pressed to the rock. The questions are overwhelming. My heart threatened to burst in comprehending the intensity of a pain so deep that it would push a woman over the edge into a fatal and frigid body of water, and then just as my eyes begin to open to the reality, my heart became colder than the water that consumed this woman.

Why have I become so dulled to pain? In fear of feeling too much, my mind shuts every door that leads to anguish. I feel empathy... I feel pain... but only to a certain point. "It's not real." Of course it's real, but that mantra, that phrase that you repeat to yourself subconsciously when you're watching a tragic drama or a tearful scene in a TV show, does it penetrate the line between fiction and reality? That switch you flip to keep yourself from crying in the back of the movie theater, does it flip itself when you're listening to something real? Do you find yourself switching off emotion when it gets to be too much, even when what you're witnessing is no longer fiction?

When I'm reading scripture, and I'm dwelling on the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, and when I'm trying to allow the weight of that sacrifice to soften my pride and break my heart, I find myself visualizing the story on a mental screen. As it flickers in front of my mind's eye (likely scenes from The Passion), it happens. I'm on the verge of breaking down, feeling something, and the switch flips again. I coldly watch, the image fades, and I'm back in my bedroom with a bible in my lap, and I cannot. Even. Cry. I'm cold.

This woman felt pain at a level so deep, that she was able to overcome what keeps the rest of us above water: that powerful fear and will to live that forces us to swim up and take a breath. I cannot feel a fraction of that pain. I do not want to feel the kind of pain that leads to death. But I do want to feel the kind of pain that leads to repentance. I want to feel anguish because anguish leads to that tight relationship with the Lord that I so desire. You can't experience true passion without anguish.

We watched a sermon on anguish in Sunday school a while back and it has really stuck with me.

I am asking the Lord to remove the frigid exterior from my heart and open it up to the pain that I know will save me from worldliness and apathy. I'm tearful for the thought of being so self centered that I cannot truly empathize. If I cannot feel the pain of the cross, I will never truly bind myself to the message of the cross. If I cannot feel the pain of the lost, I will never evangelize the way I was called. If I cannot feel the pain of the weary and burdened, how will I serve with a pure heart? How will I live out what Jesus called me to do? My motives will be sinful and impure until I can truly feel the anguish that leads us all to action.


Who's Been in My House?

For those of you who don't know, our house has been on the market for about a month now. This afternoon another Realtor showed it to some people. It was our first showing. My generous in-laws helped us spiff the place up real quick. It was pretty clean to begin with, but we made it really sparkle. Then we all took off. Eric and I took Micah to the mall to walk around. We taste-tested bourbon chicken, checked out the game store, and gawked at expensive stoves and dreamed about buying giant tool chests and deluxe washer-and-dryer sets in Sears. (Okay, so only I was dreaming of deluxe washers and dryers.) We stopped at McDonalds for some dollar menu goodies afterward. We laughed at Micah sitting in the high chair. He gets a kick out of sitting in his own seat. While I munched on french fries, he gnawed on my purse. Such is life with a 7-month-old.

When we got home, our house shown like a beacon on a hill. Literally. All the lights were still on and all the blinds were open. In a dark neighborhood, it really stuck out. I made a mental note to always close the blinds when the lights are on at night... you can see everything.

Inside, it was weird knowing someone had been there, especially because there was evidence. When we walked in, some doors were open and I found shower curtains pulled aside. Some of the lights were dimmed because they must have been testing the dimmers. And the Realtor left a business card on the kitchen table. Eric and I joked that we'd walk in and find them watching the Packer game on the flat screen.

I hope they didn't look at our photos on the mantle or on the walls and think, "what a weird family." I wonder if they read the titles on our bookshelf. Do you think they used the bathroom?

Showing your house is very nerve wracking. It's also weird coming home knowing complete strangers were walking around your house and judging it.


My How Time Flies

We met at Chapter Focus Week in 2004. This picture was taken at Chapter Focus Week (at a different camp) in 2005, five months into our relationship. I remember at this point, we already knew we were going to get married. We made the engagement official a month or so later when we finally bought the ring... but we didn't care about making if official. It was real enough already. It's funny looking at these pictures because we look so different now, I think. I can't believe we are approaching five years since our first date. It's not so hard to believe that we have been together that long... but it is hard to believe all of the things we have gone through in that time frame... especially the fact that we are parents now! Our biggest stress at the time was getting through college. Now our trials are so much more... grown up!

Let the Baby Proofing Begin

Over the past few days, my little man has started lifting himself up off the floor and scooting backwards. I'm sure it won't be too long before he finally figures out how to go forward and then we'll all be chasing after him. He already knows how to open cupboard doors and drawers. We're in trouble!

Today he did something that just cracked me up. He was sitting by the window and he squashed a fly with his thumb. You know it's getting cold outside when the flies are moving around so slow that a baby can kill one with his bare hands! Way to go Micah! I think he was trying to pick it up. I'm sure he would have tried to eat it, too, if he was able. Gross!

Today has been really difficult for me. I have been battling this head cold, and today it reached the peak of intensity. My face was throbbing from sinus pressure and all I wanted to do was sleep, but guess what.... mommies don't get a day off! Fortunately, a Motrin made the sinus pressure bearable. I have a lot of catching up to do now with my Pregnancy blog and laundry, now that I'm coming out of my coma. I really hate colds. I haven't had one in over a year. Yuck!

My husband really helped me out today, though. He did the grocery shopping for me!! Wow, he did a great job, too! He got everything we needed  (for the rest of the month, probably) and a little extra for about $105. Hmm... maybe he should do the shopping all the time. He is really good at finding deals!

I need to add more movies to my Netflix cue. Any suggestions?


Lucky Seven

The kiddo turned seven months old yesterday. The biggest change I've noticed is his sudden focus on everything around him. His eyes have been opened up to a whole new world around him, full of items he's not allowed to touch and places he's not able to get to. The latter has been the driving force behind his frustrated attempts to crawl, walk, or otherwise move around the room. He can push himself backwards and turn, dive from sitting on his bottom to "crawling position" but he doesn't get much farther than that. Our 7-Month photo shoot was a little trickier than months past; he was more interested in the grass than smiling at me.

I can't believe that the most intense day of my life is seven months behind me already. Time sped up after I finished college, but now days feel like blinks. From 7am-7pm, my life is nonstop. Then I breath, blog, (sometimes read or crochet) and go to bed. I love the afternoons when Micah decides that all he wants to do is snuggle up next to me for two hours and sleep. I rest, read, catch up on my shows, and I feel refreshed afterward. I'm going to enjoy this season, because I know I won't have that luxury forever. Life is simple with one child.


How Personal is Too Personal on the Internet?

I try to keep things on the DL when it comes to blogging. I want to remain somewhat anonymous while still sharing my life on a meaningful level. I don't share (anymore) my location, last name or diatribes on my latest marital argument, health issues, etc. It's not so much that I'm worried about what happen (though things do happen), but there is so much information* on the internet already. Do I really need to add more? I only want to add things that have value. How is posting my hernia surgery on Facebook valuable, for example. (Yes, I did see this recently. And no, it was not me. Ha! Ha! And yes, it was quite gross!)

For those of you that are just tuning in, I blog for a site called Families.com. If you have not visited the site before, please do so now! It's a great site with tons of valuable advice and community centered around family life. I write about pregnancy. It's a fun topic since 1) I have been pregnant before, 2) I loved being pregnant, and 3) I plan on being pregnant many times in the future. (I'm not sure how many children "many" entails - we'll see what God has planned for us!)

Recently I blogged about an interesting story I picked up about a woman named Lynsee who is going to broadcast the birth of her first child, LIVE, on the internet. You can read my blog on the topic here.

The more I think about it, the more it makes me think. Where are the boundaries? Sharing a pregnancy or a birth story is a wonderful thing, but when you bring the whole world into the delivery room, you lose your ability to filter out what you don't want to share. People always feel like they're entitled to the whole story, but guess what, when it comes to a person's personal experience, they are not! Even if that person is a celebrity. You should censor your Twitter, your Facebook, your blog... whatever it might be. Don't be the poster girl/boy for "TMI."

Another thing to consider is what I'll call "familiar privilege." I will define it as the unique privilege of those closest to us to share our most intimate experiences. If we keep a small circle and choose to share our private life within that circle, we experience strong community and tight friendship. The larger our circle, however, the less special our experiences become. It's inevitable. The knowledge of our experiences and the intimacy of sharing them with our community becomes cheapened. Secrets are more precious than public knowledge. To overcome this, we must either limit our circle, or limit what we share with our larger circle.

My challenge to everyone is not to completely remove ourselves from the socialsphere of the internet, but to practice safe and respectful censorship of what we publish, broadcast, blog or tweet. Let's consider the value of what we're adding to the internet. Let's treasure our most personal experiences and perhaps reserve those for the ones closest to us.

By all means, share the story of the birth of your child; but let there be secrets, known only by those who were present. Let the sound of those first cries only be known by you and your husband; a joyous and private moment between the two of you, the moment you became parents. Let your husband have that exhilarating moment all to himself; when he first embraces his wife and his new child. Let his first words to his son or daughter be heard only by you and you alone. Let these things remain sacred between you.



Easy Peasy Pizza Sauce

This sauce is the ONE. Eric and I have been trying to come up with the perfect sauce for our homemade pizza for ages. I'd like to say that I came up with this recipe because I'm just that great of a cook; but like many fine inventions, this was more of a stroke of luck than anything else.

I was just going to use marinara straight from the jar like we always do, but while I was looking in my pantry I noticed that I had a jar of Hunts tomato paste and also a jar of diced tomatoes. The wheels in my head started turning. I wasn't sure if it would work, but I knew that if it tasted horrible, I still had the marinara.

Shown above are all the ingredients I used. First I mixed the two cans together in a mixing bowl. (Note that both are already seasoned with Basil, Garlic & Oregano.) I added just a little squirt of EVOO to make it the right consistency. Then I added a generous pinch of sugar, a pinch of garlic salt, and a pinch of dried tomato & garlic pesto mix (available from Tastefully Simple).

No cooking, no nothing. Just mix it together and smear it onto your pizza crust. It was so delicious and the texture and consistency were perfect