Valentine’s Day’s New Meaning

“Since we’re throwing a party on Valentine’s Day weekend, we don’t need to actually do anything for Valentine’s Days, do we?”

I stared at Jason and blinked. Was he kidding?? I blinked some more and then snarkily retorted, “Just read my blog post from last year!” He seemed taken back.

“What did it say?”

“Just read it….” I huffily ended the conversation, annoyed that he didn’t remember how hard I had worked to make last year’s Valentine’s Day special. After my knee jerk reaction of anger had cooled down a bit, I stopped to consider what Jason was asking me.

I considered where we were a year ago versus now. Last year, we were struggling so hard to make ANY time for each other between Jason’s switch shift job, my busy work schedule, and the schedules of three kids, one of them being a wonderful, yet demanding baby. Everything was a high priority except “us”.

Flashing forward to this Valentine’s Day, our lives had changed. Every day, we have been working to keep our relationship alive with texts saying “I love you” and small romantic gestures. Date nights have become a weekly event with dinners after the kids go down to sleep or sneaking out early for a movie. We’ve grown to understand that the firm foundation of our relationship was important for the happiness of the entire family.

20120214-210828.jpgSuddenly, pressuring my husband to come up with something for Valentine’s Day just didn’t seem as important. After all, it’s not just a holiday for us, but for the entire family.

When Jason sheepishly returned to me with his Valentine’s Day plans, throwing out dinner restaurants, movie ideas, back rubs or anything that would make me feel special, I smiled, grateful for the effort. “Why don’t we have a special dinner with the kids at home?”

Jason jumped with the idea, planning a lovely dinner of fondue for all of us. In between the rush of Mom’s work schedule and running to the gym, Dad’s writing projects and the boys sports schedule, we hadn’t had a nice family dinner in weeks. Finally, we got a chance to slow 20120214-210843.jpgdown and remind each other of all the reasons we love and care about each other. Ethan got to dance in his chair as he proudly cooked his fondue, Anthony talked endlessly about how awesome steak was (and did you know steak is made from beef?) while Keira exclaimed proudly to her family “big girl fork!” and “Look! Flowers for Mama!”

A noisy, bustling, family dinner over fancy food with the four people in the world I love most. What more could I ask for as a Valentine’s Day present?

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Wordless Wednesday: Baby’s First Sculpture.

Wordless Wednesday: Day At the Science Factory

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Resolutions into 2012

I’ve never been a fan of resolutions. With each new year, I was tired of making promises to myself and throwing them to the side before the ground even began to thaw.

However, 2011 gave me a new perspective on resolutions and focusing on what’s important. After facing our finances and post-partum depression head on during the year, I realized that ignoring the important things in life didn’t really make things better. Even if I never fully accomplished our goal for 2011 of getting every single credit card paid off, the successes we accomplished far outweighed the “failure” of not staying on task for the full year.

So, it appears I’m back on the Resolution Train. I’m giving myself the freedom to make my resolutions and get myself back on the right page, knowing that I may not accomplish all that I’ve set myself up for. But if make progress over how I’ve ended 2011, that’s an accomplishment itself.

Here we go! Let’s make some resolutions!

1. Health – My health has been on the backburner since I became a mother. I had been diagnosed with PCOS when I was in college. While I struggled with conceiving Keira for two years, managing this condition was one of the top focuses in order to get pregnant. Unfortunately, as fertility stopped becoming a focus for me and the choas of raising three children while holding a full time job took over, I ignored its management. I ignored the long term consequences of the depression, diabetes, and cardivascular issues that often come along with PCOS when it’s left untreated. 

My kids deserve better than that. They deserve to have a happy mom, free of worry of health complications. So, before anything else in my life, health will have to be a priority. Afterall, if I don’t have my health, there’s really nothing else I can focus on.

2. 30 before 30 – Right along with health is jumping back on tackling that darn baby weight. This October I will be turning the big 3-0. To start my 30s right, I’m promising myself to shed the last of the baby weight. And the newly-wed weight. And the college weight. 272 days to go. Countdown begins today!

3. Total Money Makeover – Jason and I have pledged to get back to tackling our debt, energized by the thought of how great it would be without the weight of debt pulling us down. It feels scary and difficult. But if we tackle just as much in 2012 as we did in 2011, our debt will be mostly wiped out. It’s time to be gazelle intense.

Hopefully throwing these resolutions out there will bring people with similar goals out of the woodwork. Hold me accountable. And if you have any resolutions you need help with, leave a comment so I can help hold you accountable as well. Let’s make 2012 a stepping stone to greener pastures.

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 7,100 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Deeds Family Take on the Total Money Makeover

At the end of 2010, Jason and I had come to a place where we were in need of some much needed stability. When we had originally planned out our lives together 8 years ago, we had envisioned me working into management, Jason getting his degree in teaching and then us having kids. By the time babies were in the picture, we expected we’d be in a position for Jason to stay home until all the kids were in school.

However, when two wonderful little boys walked into our lives, this entire plan fell by the wayside. As the adoption process started, our clocks started ticking to have our third child closer in age to Anthony and Ethan. Two years later, Keira was born. While we were grateful to have all three of these wonderful children in our lives, we weren’t financial prepared for what it took to raise 3 kids. We had a large house with large bills, large student loans still sitting out there, and a car loan for a car that would fit the five of us.

In December of 2010, with the Christmas bills fresh on my mind, I sat on a plane to a work trip in Europe, reading the entire Total Money Makeover from cover to cover, making notes as I went along. I finally felt like we could get our plan back on track. When I got home, I shared everything I learned with Jason and we both eagerly agreed that 2011 would be the year we got things under control.

As of December 30, 2011, we may not have completely succeeded. While we were on track for most of the year, we ended up falling into old habits by the end of the year. Budgeting seemed to take up too much time so we threw that to the side. Envelopes were difficult with bank runs, so we threw that to the side.

But this post isn’t about what we didn’t do. This post is about what we were able to accomplish.

In the first five months of the year, we hit it hard. We budgeted every dollar. We had envelopes of cash for each budget line and didn’t overspend. We rolled any extra cash into the first debt, then the second, then the third…. until finally, we had paid off five of our credit cards and taken a huge chunk out of our last one.

We finally got to the point where Jason could stay home with the kids, slashing out childcare expenses and severely cutting the amount of money we spent eating out now that Jason was home to cook. Not to mention the amount of stress that was cut out of our lives worrying over debt.

When my brother announced his engagement in early summer, we were able to purchase plane tickets for all five of us and go to California with cash – something we never could have done before. And when finally in October, a month before our vacation to California, my car broke down (of course, a month after the warranty ran out), we had our emergency savings to save the day without having to put a dollar on a credit card.

It’s easy to feel discouraged at this time of the year, when the Christmas presents were small, the wallet feels completely pinched and our overall plan has been thrown by the wayside. But remembering everything we accomplished in 2011 has me eager to start 2012 with renew vigor to take down the remaining debt on our plates.

It’s time to roll up our sleeves, again. 2012 is going to be a great year.

Wordless Wednesday: Dance!

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