You Smell!

Yes our boys have reached that age. It is now uncool for Mom and Dad to say “I love you” in a public setting. They might be shunned at school if one of their friends were to hear us express our love for them. Now as they get out the car for baseball, school, or a sleep over they no longer give me a hug from the back seat and say those three words. I’m lucky if I get a “Bye dad” or the male head nod (guys you know what I’m talking about.) They slam the car door, no longer looking back at me as I watch them disappear.

This kind of stung at first, knowing they were reaching that stage where their parents are seen as “uncool,” listen to weird music, hugs are unwanted and Kisses from mom are nearly toxic while in public.

After a little thought I came up with an idea, a code that I could say to them that would express my love for them while maintaining their sense of parental separation. Only they would know what I meant, none of their friends would get it.  “You smell!” I yelled as they left they car. They only turned for a moment shook their head and smiled.  “It means I love you,” and now I can yell it as loud as I want to and only they understand. “You smell too dad.” they laugh back, and I smile. I win this round of the war of coolness.

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 (Christmas Edition)

Finding Community

Since the moment that Jason and I started living together, we’ve been in constant go-mode, moving around the county, the country, and even a short stint for me living abroad. The boys have experienced their own upheavels, moving no less than 7 times before the age of 8. By the time that they had made friends in their current neighborhood or school, they’d be packed off to moved to another one.

So, when we settled into our current house 3 years ago, both of the boys proclaimed adamantly that we were NEVER MOVING! At first, the thought of not moving was difficult for me. Wanderlust strikes Jason and I frequently. When I changed jobs or the thought of living in Europe starts to entice us, we stop and remember the promise we made the boys. They need stability. No moving.

It took my recent work out craze to get me to finally appreciate what not moving would mean for us. As I ran into the gym for a new zumba class at the gym, I looked around at all the women getting their kicks and wiggles down. Some of them were moms I knew from the boys’ baseball team. Some were women closer to my age, trying to also work off their baby weight. I’d be seeing them at kindergarten as I walked Keira into her first day of school.

As we danced around the gym, I heard the women motivating each other, praising and laughing, smiling at me when we both knew the work out was insane. It was a community of people who were all supporting each other.

As I drove home from the gym, with a smile on my face, I began to realize the community I had been missing from all my years of moving about. I finally felt somethingI haven’t felt since I left for college at the age of 17:

Home.

Finally I appreciated the feeling of belonging. At last, we had stayed in one place long enough to create stability. I knew other moms and dads at school by their first name. We have formed friendships close enough that the kids call our friends “aunts” and “uncles”. I have walked through trying to conceive, pregnancy, infancy and now into toddlerhood with friends who have a daughter the same age as Keira. And when going for a walk, neighbors now come out to remark how big the boys are getting and how great they play with Keira.

I never had a chance to even stop and see what I was missing. In the throes of wanderlust, I’ve had amazing experiences. But it was the boys who gave me the present of slowing down and staying still long enough to realize what amazing experiences were awaiting me in my own backyard.

Wordless Wednesday – Family Outings




                           

Barely Balanced

Ever since the Deeds household relocated to Pennsylvania, going to the Renaissance Faire has also been a favorite pastime. The boys would get dressed up in their Renaissance gear and we’d make a day out of going to see the shows and enjoy the medieval food.

Whenever we’re visiting the faire, the boys’ favorite show has always been Barely Balanced, an acrobatic comedy show where the trio performs stunts of flexibility, standing on each other and doing ridiculous backbends. And if that’s not enough, sometimes there’s fire involved.

I have to admit that I also am very fond of this show, if not for the same reason that the boys are. While the boys get a thrill of seeing whether the performers fall or light each other on fire, I am always delighted when they end the show unscorched.
It gives me a sense of hope.

Each day as a parent feels like another day of barely balanced aerobics. Juggling the schedules of work, school, the kids’ sporting events, errands, chores around the house… And then to add to it the back bends of trying to fit some exercise in our exceedingly busy schedule.

Some days, as we’re looking at the to-do list a mile long of daily chores and house maintenance, I wonder how we’re going to make it through the day without at least pulling a muscle or setting ourselves on fire.

But somehow, every day we wake up in one piece. Whether we accomplished our to-do list and made it through our hectic schedule or whether we ended up sitting in our pajamas all day, exhausted with drool partly hanging out of our mouth… we dust ourselves off and get ready to put ourselves into yet another ridiculous position.

The Morning Assembly Line

In the past, mornings have consisted of the boys waking up for school at the same time, with Keira waking shortly after, creating a buzzing chaos every morning. With Anthony moving up to middle school this year and taking the earlier bus, the Deeds routine has become a “Morning Assembly Line”:

First thing in the morning, I wake up Anthony, nice and early, just as the sun is changing the clouds to pink. We take Zar Zar, and Titus out for their morning break. Anthony feeds the dogs. I feed Anthony. Anthony brushes teeth and hair and stumbles on to the early bus.

I grab a cup of coffee to take it up to Kirsten, who I’m hoping is in the shower and not running late. I wake up Ethan, run back in to the master bedroom to give Kirsten a morning kiss, before heading downstairs.

I feed Ethan, who in turn feeds the cats and waters the dogs (because that’s how they grow). Ethan jumps in the shower and makes just enough noise to wake the baby. I run upstairs under the pull of Keira’s singing giraffe to change the baby’s butt and get my morning snuggles (she’s such a daddy’s girl). I surprise Kirsten with baby giggles while she is getting ready until she looks at the clock and realizes she’s running late.

Keira and Daddy run downstairs to get Mommy her water, Coffee (it’s capitalized for a reason, folks), a banana and other food items for work. Kirsten runs out the door with a kiss to all as I tell her to drive safely (not slowly, just safely). Ethan tromps downstairs like a heard of elephants, usually with both dogs in tow. He grabs his backpack and heads out the door to the bus stop.

In two minutes, Ethan realizes he forgot his jacket, his lunch, his clarinet, or something else and comes running back towards the house. I hold out his missing item and off he goes. Keira and I watch the bus carry Ethan away from the picture window. I turn towards her and say “alright, little one, time to start OUR day.” She giggles and looks at me with her cute face and says “Daddy, noooo….”

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