Well, that's it folks. I no longer have a child that is in daycare/preschool. She was the last one. Here comes the truth bomb...I am so damn excited. She's ready. She's been ready. I've been ready. We're both ready. It's time. Now, save your hate mail for someone else because that doesn't mean I'm going to miss her tiny little self. I KNOW I will. But, but, but, she needs this. She needs to be around kids her own age for longer than a few hours a week.
Another but, BUT I will miss it just being her and I. I will miss our secret lunch dates that we don't tell anyone about. I will miss our "nap" times(aka: me giving her my phone and me snoring away). I will miss her bolt of excitement every time I walked through that church to pick her up from MMO(mother's morning out). I will miss her teachers. The same ones who have probably never seen me showered. I will miss our errand runs together. I will miss our time of just her.
This life is so bittersweet. I had one graduate from high school and one from preschool this month. It's been a wild ride this year already. I hope I'm always her favorite. I hope she always sleeps with her "elephant." I hope her hair still smells of maple syrup years from now. I hope she realizes how much I freakin adore her.
Off to the next adventure my little nugget.
It's been so very long since I've really sat down to write. Like 2 months long. Ahhhhh, this season of life....
For those of you who don't know me personally, my oldest daughter graduated high school a few weeks ago. I've known for awhile now that I wanted to do something extraordinary for her. Something that would fill her love tank up and let her feel how proud I am of her. This kid. She is just amazing. I'd go on and on, but I'll keep that part simple and just tell you she is the absolute best. She really is.
I've had this epic surprised planned for some time now, and around Easter, I couldn't hold it in any longer. I was taking her to Ireland. We were to leave the day she had her 2nd graduation(she graduated with not only her high school diploma, but her Associates in Science as well). I'm gonna go over a few questions I know I would want to know:
1) Did we use a travel agent?
Absolutely!!!!! We used a local travel agent and I can't say enough great things about her. Travel Center of Hickory (Dina). I made an appointment with her, told her what I wanted, and I came in and had a few choices that she found for us. SOOOOO easy.
2) How did you afford it? Was it expensive?
Well, it wasn't cheap, but the great thing about using a travel agent was that I put a deposit down and then when I had any extra cash, I'd head over there to her and put it towards the balance of our trip. Doing things this way took a lot of pressure off of me to pay everything all at once.
3) Did you backpack it or go with a group?
This was going to be my first time out of the country by "myself" (aka: without my husband) and with my daughter so I was a little nervous to just 'go with the flow,' therefore we went with a group/coach/tour thingy. I was nervous about not knowing these people, but I can't say enough about how amazing it was. These people were hilarious, kind, and just as excited to be there as you were.
4) What tour group did you use?
Globus. I can't stress this enough...THEY WERE AMAZING. There was not one tiny glitch in the entire trip. We stayed in the nicest hotels, were given the best food(yep, a lot of our food was included with the package), and the tour guide was AMAZEBALLS. This women knew everything about the country she grew up in.
5) Is there anything you wish would have been different?
Honestly, the only thing I probably would change next time is not have picked the fastest moving trip. What I mean is that you can choose a trip that is leisurely, fast fast, etc. We did the extra fast lol. We were in a different area probably 6 different times and that meant changing hotels that often as well. I probably would do just a slightly slower pace next time ;). But, moving that fast meant we got to see ALOT and I mean ALOT.
6) What was your favorite place you saw?
As much as I loved every single place we saw, my heart struck a beat with Kerry. I've never seen anything more beautiful. I can't even describe it.
I hope you enjoy seeing Ireland through my eyes.
It's been a month you guys. Just that season of forgetfulness, too many tasks on my "to do" list, and not enough structure for myself. A few weeks ago I had a mini meltdown. I knew I needed to refuel myself and so I left the house. Left to go have some dinner with some church ladies, but before went to my most favorite spot to go have me time, the book store. I had an hour 1/2 of blissful time by myself. I grabbed a stack of books I've been wanting to look at in person, sat on one of their comfy chairs, and flipped through beautiful literature until I decided what I wanted to buy. Yep, I bought something for myself. A book stuck out to me while I was there. I find comfort in other women's stories of how they made it through. It's my thang. I've already finished that book and packaged it up to be given as a gift to another mom who I know needs to hear the words the author spoke. She talked about "safe sisters." I had never heard that term before, but it made perfect sense to me. In fact, so much that I texted those 3 people the moment I read the words. Safe sisters are other women who you can tell anything to. Who you can pour out your most open self. The ones you can tell how much you're struggling, the difficult conversations with your husband, or your relentless schedule that you can't grasp. He knew I was going to need that book.
After leaving the book store and head to dinner, I sat in the car in tears. I had gotten the day wrong on dinner. Yep, like a big blubbering mess, I sat in the parking lot crying those "whoa is me" tears. Ridiculous right? Or is it. I needed those women that night. I needed that adult conversation and I felt like a weight sat on my heart. The night wasn't a complete loss. I texted my husband what had happened and asked him to send my oldest to the restaurant to have dinner with me. It turned out to be a really nice evening. We ate entirely way too much, had desert, and took our time. Maybe that's what was supposed to happen. I can't control everything, even when I want to. Things are going to happen, and I have to just give it to HIM. Moments like that night have happened more times than I can count these last few weeks, and thinking now I believe it's God's way of looking at me straight in my face and saying " I am here. Even when the world feels like it's against you, I am here."
Sometimes you have to be knocked down and put on your knees in order for you to see straight.
I went to a church women's meeting last night, but before I did I went to the wrong church. I kid you not. I got back into my car and even though I knew it had already started and I was going to be late...I still went. I drove and said in a whisper "not today Satan." I'm so glad I did. I'm so glad I didn't let him ruin what an amazing time of fellowship with these women it was. They are all on the same walk...the walk to get closer to HIM.
I've started my own little War Room area. It's in a corner of the bedroom and my goal is to fill that side with so many prayers that he gets tired of hearing from me lol. The thing I learned from that book, was not only about the absolute need of safe sisters, but the need to have time with HIM. Time to tell him all that is on my heart...no matter how small or trivial it may feel. He wants to know. So that's what I'm working on, talking to HIM. It's still a weird concept for me, but I know it will get easier with time.
It's been a really good month here. The husband's pay checks are finally squared away and are plan is slowly moving forward! Yay for budgeting!!! lol. This month we had to budget in quite a few things that I didn't anticipate or plan accordingly for:
1. Jackson's birthday. I mean, it comes every single year so I should have thought ahead for sure. That's where those sinking funds people talk about come in handy ;)
2. My online computer back up system annual fee.
3. Kailyn's graduation fees(cap & gown etc.)
4. Car inspection x 2 and vehicle taxes x 3
5. Kids school extras(a Valentines Party event)
We have decided up up our grocery budget by $100/month. It's just too tight for us. That puts our grocery cash envelope to $150 each week and it gives me a little more wiggle room. I do make the kids' lunches every day so I'm hoping this helps. We have now replenished our emergency fund and I can breath a sigh of relief. It really does make a big difference in my anxiety to have that in savings.
The most exciting thing this month has been the availability to put a total of $1827.02 extra(not including minimums) towards debt. We now own our Verizon phones out right you guys! I know that must sound kind of pathetic, but it's a big deal to us. That payoff alone saved us almost $70/month on our budget. That $70 will now be snowballed into the next debt we are tackling. All those amounts really really add up. We are only $352.18 from paying off our next debt!!!! That will be another $65.91 added to the snowball at that point. That's how all this works.
We actually get a tax return back this year! Holy crap! So, where are we putting it? I will pay the balance off of the epic trip I'm keeping a secret for now. That trip will then have been COMPLETELY CASH FLOWED. Nothing will have been put on any debt/credit/IOU and that is a big deal my friends. The remainder left will go towards my business insurance for the year. That will be a good day and a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.
I'm hoping March is just as good <3
Whew, January has come and gone and I'm not kidding...I felt like it lasted WAY more than it should have. My husband pay schedule is FINALLY fixed and we're back on track. It's too long and confusing to explain, so lets just say his pay has been messed up since the end of October. At the beginning of this month, our 12 year old dishwasher took it's last breath....you guys, we have 6 people in this house and I never realized how much I not only use that beautiful piece of equipment, but how much time it must have saved me. I had been searching all month to find a gently used one and yesterday(after the much anticipated pay day), I went and picked it up. I budgeted $150 for a used one and was going to save and have it installed in March....but I was able to buy that gorgeous thing for $120 and my husband used the remainder $30 to buy a part we needed and installed it himself last night. You guys would have laughed seeing me and my two little people dance in the kitchen when the light on it came on. I've learned a lot about patience this month. I've been tested on it multiple times.
I had my very first Debt Free Journey meeting the other evening with like minded women who want to change their finances. I'm hoping they gained as much as I did just talking about our story, what we're doing, how to construct a budget, and all the random facts we shared. I think it's really important to surround yourself with as much positive people as humanly possible. Life is too short. February's budget looks insane and that's ok...we're doing a little catching up, but by March everything will level back out again. I'm keeping up with every single penny and putting everything we have towards this monster. You know what's funny though? I'm looking forward to paying as much as we can. Every step is a single step closer.
The bare minimum we'll be able to put extra towards debt(that means in addition to the normal payment) for February is $517. By the beginning of March I will have also cashed flowed the graduation present for my daughter....shhhhhhh, and yes, it's a good one. Jackson's birthday is this month, Kailyn's graduation fees, the dishwasher, a few kids' school events, the dogs annual vet visit & car taxes and inspections all came up for February so that's what I mean it's not a normal month for us. Sinking funds should have been in place for these things, but we're still learning like everyone else.
Some things I have figured out this month:
1) Your local Humane Society has monthly vet clinics for healthy animals. What that means is that their vaccinations and well check up are sooooooooo much cheaper. I've decided to break up all 3 of our dogs to one per month so it's easier on the budget.
2) I got asked how we budget our energy bill every month. Did you know you can set up to have the same amount billed every month? They average your previous year and divide by 12 to come up with the average. We've done this for years and it helps so very much.
3) I called to put extra money towards our Verizon bill(b/c we're stupid and got new phones last year and you know how they divide the cost of the phone over to your bill?)...you can't pay extra towards your phone unless you have the full amount to pay it off.
4) You really can do alot of tasks yourself, well my husband can lol, if you really want to save money. He put that dishwasher in HIMSELF!
5) Kidizen is still my most favorite app to sell my children's clothes. It's so stinking easy.
6) I have to put "blow money" in the budget. We each have to have a little money to do with what we want. Mine is usually spent on going to lunch with my 5 year old ;)
7) We have to budget for date nights. They don't have to be expensive but they are a need.
We have also beefed our emergency fund back up since we had to dip into it to fix two of our vehicles. Murphy, you suck lol.
A big thing for me is to making sure I keep meal planning. I have a calendar that I got for Christmas that I use strictly for meal planning. I also write down any extra payments I make from my side hustles in that notebook to keep track. I have a list I keep track of pantry and freezer items so I can utilize those first into meals for the following week. I pay cash for groceries which means my calculator is always on my side while shopping. If I didn't meal plan, keep track of expenses while grocery shopping, and have cash...we wouldn't be able to pay anything extra towards debt...I know it. For most people it's this single category that drains budgets. I refuse to allow that to happen. We still only budget $125 per week for groceries so I have become quite the planner lol.
One thing we added this month was Crossfit for both my husband and I. My husband has been an avid Crossfitter for over a year now, but we both went to a grand opening of one 30 seconds from our house and I was sold. It's budgeted for me, for my health, and as I type this my arms feel like they may fall off, but that's ok ;)
And I know what you're thinking..."but Mellisa, that money could be used for debt." Listen, everyone's budget, what they find important in life, and what they are willing to sacrifice will be different. This is something just for us, for me, for my health. I don't feel bad about it one bit. And in case you were wondering where we are going....I give you Crossfit Stacked. I'm totally hooked and to us, it's worth every single penny.
Anyone have any other tips? Leave a blog post and lets help each other out. Happy Friday friends!