Saturday, December 31, 2011

The budget report

Al and I fought over and over and over through the years about money. January 2011 started a change for us that I agreed we needed, and he was thrilled that I agreed to. A   B U D G E T . I've been on a budget before, that's how I was able to afford living in an apartment alone when I was single. BUT the thought of having a budget the way our spending was, was just too daunting, I couldn't even think about how it would work. But, it was a new year and I was ready to stop all of the bickering that was plaguing us. We started the envelope system. Basically you figure out everything you can possibly use cash on and then put that amount into envelopes each month. If the envelope is empty, your spending for the month is done, even if it's not the end of the month. That thought terrified me! I wanted to be sure we were accurate about how much to put into each envelope and I am so thankful that we calculated correctly and there were only a few close calls! I went through the year, following the budget as faithfully as I humanly could and each month the envelopes were pretty much empty. It was discouraging to Al because he had in his mind that we should "save" each month and not use ALLLL the money each month. My argument was that the money that we budget for is meant to be spent, that's why we also had a savings envelope that was not to be touched. This was something we discussed throughout the year, neither of us changed our opinion, it is what it is. I was thrilled yesterday when I went through the envelopes to take a year end calculation of how we did. I was beyond thrilled when there was some left over in each envelope. I was able to empty some of the envelopes (groceries, entertainment, eating out, clothes, etc.) completely to then pool the money into a different savings envelope (FUTURE HOME!!!) and I still was able to keep some filled to accumulate (school, medical, savings) and pool into next year's expenses. Overall, I would 100% say that it was a successful first year on a budget and it definitely motivated me in the confidence department that I am capable of being on a budget AND save money too!! It's a great day :)

Friday, December 30, 2011

One word; wrap up

Last year I started hearing about the "one word 2011" challenge. Klove was talking about it (and is again this year!) and I was seeing blogs pop up about it too! Basically you choose ONE word to be your theme for the year and see how it changes your year. I chose the word commit. It flowed throughout the year, coming in and out of my mind and always holding true. It was such a fairly simple word, but I saw such great things based on my commitment to the word commit.
Some things that specifically stand out are:
-My commitment to my marriage continued, Al and I have thankfully grown a lot together this past year, learning how to communicate more rationally and with more love and appreciation for each other.
-I commited to continue my path at school. I also commited to slowing down. I am at a point where I just want to hurry up and start the nursing program, but that's not sticking with my original goal of taking it slow and then when I get into the program, nailing it and finishing strong!! Slow and steady wins the race :)
-I commited to reading the Bible more and really opening up to God without my lack of prayer "know how" affecting how often I pray. I am pleased to say prayer comes much more naturally now and I get something out of each and every time I read the Bible! Likes it's written as a letter to me!
 Commit was such a strong and meaningful word for me, that I am tempted to use it again for 2012, there are other ideas swirling around and I am praying I fall upon just the right word again so I can see another year blossom as the days go by with a focus on something specific to work on. I still can't believe it's the end of 2011, but I am so ready for 2012!

God's blessings and peace on your new year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I realize.

I am a married woman. I grew up a Lutheran, but didn't spend much time considering God and his rules for a Holy life. I have some things I've had to come forth with to ask forgiveness, one of them being a mom before I was married. I certainly don't regret the path my life has taken but it is the number one sin I struggle with, because now that I *am* close with God, I am not sure what the dating world would lead me into if I was not a married woman. I almost feel like I got off easy because when I was doing the bad things I did, such as sex before marriage, I still didn't realize how bad it was. Now I do realize how bad that was, and I am not sure I would have acted differently. I am not sure why I have the need to write this post, but it felt necessary. A shout out to those that share a strong bond with God, yet are not married and living in the world of dating. Stories I hear about dating, I often think how hard it's got to be. I was young when I was into dating, a teenager! Not exactly like the adult world of dating. So much to consider and I am surely out of touch with how it really goes. What really happens and that's fine with me, but I hope that you (yes general you, but it applies surely to someone here reading today) are ok and that you are enjoying your life and I would love to assure you that God loves you and I pray that He is there for you as you work your way through a lifestyle that is both fun and very challenging!

Furthermore, on the topic of sin, I go to church every week, and I am going to admit here when confession time comes, I am not quite sure what to confess to God. I know it sounds bad and I *KNOW* I sin, just not sure exactly what is considered a sin and what's not. I guess anything unloving or selfish that I do is considered sin, yes I have a lot of those moments, but to come up with all of my sin during the minute or so of "silent confession" how do you work it all in??? I pray through the week with thankfulness and when I do something that I feel bad about, I ask for forgiveness, but that doesn't feel like enough. I have asked God numerous times to show me my sins so I can be accountable for them. I think I am missing something. I constantly lose my patience with my husband, because well, he knows how to push my buttons!! BUT that's no excuse for being rude, short or sarcastic with him! My impression though is that you are going to be forgiven for your actions, and then have a clean slate, but when I keep bringing up the same thing that I need to confess and the behavior though I am aware of it is not exactly changing, I feel like I am taking advantage of God and His grace! He makes it sound so easy, "love thy neighbor". Three words, hard to act!

Then you've got my weak moments as a mom. The kids are really good at not listening to my directions, and they are really good at being wild and jumping on my furniture even though I remind them regularly how we treat furniture with respect and do NOT stand, or jump on it or off of it! The not listening tactic is infuriating to me! I can be firm and then my daughter tells me "You're mean". I respond, "I am not mean, you have the responsibility of listening to what I say and if you don't, there are consequences" but how many times do I have to tell my daughter "I am not mean" maybe I am mean! Maybe that's how she sees me and if that's true, it would kill me! I want my kids to know me as a trustworthy, loving, stable mother, yet I fully feel that I need to be in charge, not have them thinking they can just do as they wish and not have repercussions!

I can be very friendly in the outside world, then I can come home and "True Karrie" comes out, the one that has emotions, and selfishness and tiredness and laziness, and my family gets the privilege of seeing me behind closed doors. That's awful! Why can't I treat my family the way I do the public?

God is always watching. I want to please Him at all times, I want to have my judgement before Him be an experience that I can walk away as though I succeeded in my mission to live a Godly life here on Earth. How much can you change about your person? I am a person that likes my space, I have a family that constantly needs me to attend to them. It makes me crabby and then I am not good at hiding that crabby feeling!

After reading back, I see it's clear God has no problem allowing me to see my sins, I just have to open my heart and explore them!! I believe I could go on with more revelations, I guess I will be having some quiet time to explore them and ask forgiveness and ask for Him to guide me into better ways!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Heart pour

I've got to pour my heart out a little bit here. I posted recently about our dreamy hopes of building on a lot by my parent's house. We met with the county and it turns out the buildable section is a LOT smaller than it was presented to us, and we walked away discouraged because it was clear that lot was not for us. Once I had it in my mind that building a home by where I grew up was something that *could* happen, I now want to stop at nothing to *make* it happen. There are very few vacant lots in the area, I count 4 including the one that we tried. The other three are not for sale. There is one I found interesting, so I wrote a personal letter to the owners and went to their door fully prepared to talk to them personally about how smart it would be to sell their lot even though it's not for sale(Sounds crazy right?!), however no answer at the door left me the option of leaving my letter at the door. Have not heard from them yet, it's only been a week though. Friday I ran into my old neighbor, he happens to be in construction, so I've consulted with him through lot scoping process. I updated him on what happened with the lot, he informs me I should talk to his wife. They own a vacant lot next door to their home which is vacant. He informed me he has been wanting to sell it for a long time, his wife doesn't want to sell. I about fell over, sure this was a sign that God is taking care of the situation for us. I eagerly waited through the weekend, afterall it was Christmas, didn't want to bug them with business...I called this morning and she said she is still not willing to sell it but if she changes her mind, I will be the first to know. Discouraged again. My options are shrinking. I know something will work out somewhere along the way, because to be honest, things always work out...but in the meantime, I am feeling, frustrated, discouraged, impatient...many more feelings along with losing hope that this dream can come true for our family.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I'm going to bake

It's been stated here before that I am not really "domesticated" it wasn't naturally in me and there are times since becoming the "mom of the house" that I have caught myself doing "domesticated" things. I've really stepped over the line this time. I am not into baking usually, but there are these traditional cookies that I've been craving and got the itch to bake them myself. Those peanut butter kiss cookies? Oh yes!! Love those, I could eat a dozen in one sitting! I was excited a few weeks ago when I saw an "instant" way of baking them, basically take the mix out and plop some chocolate kisses in the middle, call it a day. That was my intention, to go to the store and get the "ready to bake" kind. Something got me though, I ended up buying the flour, the sugar, the vanilla extract and I am going to bake them from scratch. Why not right? It's Christmas, isn't that what you are "SUPPOSED TO DO"? Feels that way sometimes, I sneak through the holidays without much stress, I admit I am not the one that adds so much to my to do list to make the holidays happen. I am the one that takes my family to holiday parties, we buy little token gifts to offer the host/hostess that have opened their homes, it's always great, but something deep in me always feels like there needs to be more. So this time, I am baking...not because I have to, but because I want to :) Hopefully the cookies will turn out ok and my kids will be grateful for the chance to help in the kitchen ;)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

DONE!

Semester 1 of A&P is complete. I walked out of the class with a B. It broke my 4.0 GPA but when I calculated the possibility of doing really bad on my final and realized it could pull me down to a C, I will take the B! That class is not for the mush brain! Although, my brain officially feels like mush. That's the hardest I've worked since starting my college journey and the fact that I got a hard earned B, is a bit ironic! I can tell it's going to bother me for a while, but I am glad the pressure is off of being a "perfect" student as far as grades are concerned. I am looking forward to a month off of studying and tests and ready to Ace the next semester! I know what to expect now and I am not going down again without a fight!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Feeling a bit rebelish!

It's Monday. A mild December day, I am sitting here in my kitchen, SUPPOSED to be studying. I made arrangements for Miles to be at my mom's today. I have my final in A&P tomorrow. This class has put my brain through the wringer! It's been a long 16 weeks, and now, I am sitting with an 85% in the class. I told my instructor last Thursday that this class broke my 4.0. It's true. I had a 4.0 until this class, and now I am 5% away from an A. Nothing I do at this point can give me that 5% and because of that, I have every reason to want to procrastinate and NOT STUDY! Final is tomorrow, I have 6 chapters to review and I just. don't. have. it. in. me. I wish I was a drinker! I guess I have nothing left to do, except study. AFTER I go and fold a load of clothes, which has never sounded so appealing!

courtesy of google images

Sunday, December 11, 2011

So close...but what if?

I dream, I plan, I think about things way too much. But I have something that holds me back from really "tasting" what's to come and planning like it's actually going to happen. When I was a kid, I would sit in my room and draw floor plans. It excited me and I would dream of someday living in a house that I designed. It was something I thought about a lot, but it seemed so far away I think I put it out of my mind as if it was never going to happen. Al and I have been in our home for 6 years. It was a starter home and I've been wanting to hightail it outta here since Miles was born in 2008. The economy put us in the same boat as everyone else, stuck in a home that we owe more than it's now worth. A few years have passed, we haven't allowed our dream of moving be squashed, we just feel like we have to get more creative. Al has mentioned many times how he would like to build a home that suits our needs. If anyone can do such a project, it's him! He's amazing, he could very easily pull together all the resources he has gathered over his many many MANY years as an electrician and we could build a home. It's a very real possibility. But, it was still an overwhelming possibility for me. Not too long ago we dove into renovating our current home and I swore up and down I would NEVER want to do that again. Well, we wouldn't be renovating, but building is much alike, even worse if you think about it!! My mind seems to think it might be worth it. Every once in a great while, on a whim I check out local lot's for sale. Just to see what's out there. About a month or so ago I came across a lot that is 1.3 acres. I wanted to drive past and when I did, I found the map was wrong. I was in the middle of a townhome community and there were no vacant lot's in sight. I called the realtor who redirected me to the right location. Which happened to be LITERALLY across the creek from my parent's back yard. The way I stumbled upon it after it's been on the market for 2 years, I drive past it regularly, I had no idea how big it was until I saw the listing. It dawned on me this lot is meant to be our's. I brought Al back to see it, he agreed it was nice, but he couldn't quite get over the fact that half of the lot is surrounded by water. A creek runs alongside it and in the back there is a retention pond, there is a big berm around it though that retains the water. I grew up literally a hundred feet from this lot and when I say it doesn't flood, it really doesn't. My parents back yard used to flood, but for some reason the water doesn't rise on that side. The size of the lot is perfect for Acilia's dream of owning a horse someday (1.1 acres per horse is the requirement) and if we build, Al could easily put up his dream garage that has a shop attached to grow his business. There is something in it for all of us, and it feels meant to be. I have started thinking of all the logistics and possibilities, even drawing up a floor plan to turn over to a friend of mine who happens to be an architect. Al and I are going to meet with the county on Thursday to find out exactly what we would need to do to build on this lot. There is a big part of me that is at ease, feeling since it's meant to be, it will be. But there is another part that knows that God's will is God's will and I am sometimes not too clear on what He wants for us until after the fact. My prayer is that I see clearly what God's will for our family is, and I can't help but feel deep down how perfect this opportunity is for us. Time will tell, but I am busting at the seams in the meantime!!!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I hope you've noticed....

I hope you've noticed my little theme of thankfulness in the last few posts. I suffer from Seasonal Depression and this time of year not only makes me gloomy, but it also causes some major germophobic anxiety. This year I have decided to try to work through this unmedicated (years past, my prescribed med was zoloft which works good, but I just want to not have to take pills everyday if I can help it) my doctor back in spring suggested something simple, stay off the zoloft, and use my low dose tranqulizer as needed.That way I have something for when I can't quite shake the anxiety, yet I am not taking something daily. Why didn't *I* think of that?!?! The moral of my story today is this: meds help, but they don't make the problem go away. I am faced with this year in and year out and unless I feel like forever being on something to calm my body into "normal" mode, I need to step out of the box. Thankfulness creeps in. I am spending a LOT more time meditating, praying and reading my Bible. I am getting really close with God and asking *Him* to work me through this. Afterall, God is the answer to everything in my life and I truly believe he will get me through this, right by my side. To get a little boost on the process, I have started taking Vitamin D supplements to make up for the lack of sun in the Chicagoland area. My symptoms are by no means gone, but every little bit is helping. When I start to feel down, I turn my mind to thankfulness. There is something to be thankful for in each and every moment in each and every day. Even those moments of chaos! I am relieved to find how easy it is to find my thankfulness "center" when my mind is going downhill. It's easy to be down in the dumps and just stay there, but it's much more refreshing to work your way out by finding the silver lining. It's there. In everything!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

December 3rd

Today is an anniversary for our family. Al and I are lucky we get to celebrate TWO anniversaries, marriage (August 20th) and today is another. Today marks 2 years since kidney transplant day. I can hardly believe it's been so long! Truly! It feels like yesterday, yet so much has happened over the last 2 years that it's easy to believe it's been that long! I still remember in great detail the events surrounding the big day. It is something I am and will forever be grateful for experiencing. Nothing in my life could possibly compare to the magnitude in which I feel warmth deep down in my heart. I am forever thankful to God that he chose ME to help my husband get his life back. I am here today to advocate kidney donation. Look at the stats ladies and gentlemen. Recipient lists are growing, many many many people sit and wait and wait and sit until that call comes in that there is a match for them. Life on dialysis (or any other form of waiting for a transplant) is not pretty. It's difficult beyond any words that I can formulate. Donation is not for everyone, but I plead that you atleast seek it deep in your heart to see if you could possibly ever consider donating. It's a life changing experience and suprisingly a very safe procedure. I can attest to the fact that having a kidney removed absolutely does NOT change anything about how your body functions. I feel exactly the way I did before the surgery and it still amazes me that recovery was so easy. Call your local transplant hospital and just inform yourself. Discover the options.

In the past two years, I've had the joy of watching two friends go through a kidney donation. Their experiences were much like mine. Amazing! Truly amazing!

Here's a quote I have that makes people giggle everytime I say it!
"I truly believe that we were all born with two kidneys so we could give one away"

Our greetings to you!

I am one that enjoys Christmas cards. A lot! So much so that I usually get the pictures done for our annual Christmas card around Halloween and then they are signed, sealed and stamped, to be sent out the day after Thanksgiving! This routine was a little delayed this year, not for any reason, it's December 3rd and guess what? I still have to put the return address labels and stamps on before I send them out! They turned out really great this year and since I am too lazy to send the cards out, yet too impatient to share them with SOMEONE, you get the joy of seeing the big reveal!

So... here... is... our... 2011... Christmas... card!