Saturday, December 31, 2011

If you're always racing...

Today is a go nowhere do nothing day. That's one perk of being on medicine that you can't drive while taking... It's about the only perk. I had a sinuplasty on Thursday. I'm feeling pretty good, and hopefully this and the combination of round 5 of antibiotics will cure me of whatever ailment this is... Oh and there's that little thing called weaning. Miserable. But the medicine that I am taking is really dangerous in pregnancy or breastfeeding. So no, it wasn't by choice and I'm a little sad about it, But I feel good about the decision. The Dr. said there was no way that I was going to get better without a strong round of antibiotics, all of which you can't take while nursing. So it was a choice between nursing him or getting better. Ultimately I came to the decision that since I have been sick since he's been born, that it was just too much to continue asking of this little body. And that he's been nursed for almost 5 months and has benefited adequately from the time I did get to nurse, and I need to be better to take care of all 4 babes.  I'm taking the week off from almost everything... I really think that if I could just rest for 2 or 3 days I could get better, But that's just not a reality with 4 little kiddos and a husband that has to hit quotas by the end of the month.
I'm leaving Thursday for Orlando... Remember this...

Disney 1/2? I have resigned myself to the fact that I will be walking it... But I paid way too much money to miss it. And I think that hanging out in a hotel for 3 days and only having to power walk 13.1 miles is WAY more rest than I would normally get at home anyways. So Yes, I'm still going, No, I will not have that 8 1/2 minute mile I expected, but whatever, Why was that such a big deal to me? I know I can run fast. Especially when I'm 100% healthy. However, It's not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. There will be more races, There will be another chance to PR... But after 4 months of being sick this is not the time to try and run my heart out. The experience will be the same the Disney magic will still be everywhere... Regardless of if I run it, or walk it.
I'M SLOWLY LEARNING THAT I AM NOT INVISIBLE. My body needs rest and I can't keep pushing through it. That's what I've been trying to do and it's gotten me nowhere, Except for the doctors office, loads of testing, medicine and procedures. So, for the first time in my life, I will be listening to my body, and not my mind. I think that may be the Lords reasoning behind all of this... To teach me to stop being stupid. To slow down and savor the pleasures of life. Laying on the couch and snuggling babies in the morning. Taking a walk and admiring the flowers and humming birds, instead of staring at my watch seeing how much faster I need to run. Skipping the gym every once in a while to have a pajama party with my kiddos. Learning to tell myself, and other people "No."
Not all of the time, But to keep the important things first. Like glowstick parties in the closet.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year New Budget

We had a beautiful simple Christmas. More on that later perhaps.
This is what I am working on now.
BUDGETING. 2012 is the Hicks no spending year. I love it. No joke. Maybe its because I'm a control freak, I don't know what it is, But I do know that there was a time, that we had no idea where our money was going. I hated that feeling. 2008 was a HORRENDOUS year for us financially. We drove ourselves into a hole spending frivolously on things that we thought we needed or things that we didn't give much thought to. We also had the mindset of "well Mike makes this much and we can afford it." Well, that may have been true, we could afford that one thing, But we couldn't afford ALL of the things that we justified buying with that mindset.

Example. "Mikes makes this much and so we can afford a $400 4 runner payment" That part was true. Add another $400 in gas... I don't think we were thinking about that part.
"Mike makes this much so we can afford a truck that costs us $800 a month in payment and gas." That was also true, However, Put $800 and $800 together, and it was something that made us reach a little too far into our pockets. Make sense?
We justified A LOT that way. " Mike makes this so we "deserve" to be able to eat out when we want.
However, What we didn't account for, was a HUGE pay cut, and a premature baby that came with LOTS of NICU bills. A lot of our hardships could have been avoided had we planned and saved.
Cant I just say how STUPID we were.
Ugh, I'm embarrassed about the whole thing. At this very second I'm considering deleting this... However, I want to share it so that perhaps someone can learn from my stupid mistakes and not have to learn the hard way.
The good news is we have learned A LOT. And it really was a huge blessing in disguise for us.
Our long term goals financially include
paying off our next house in 15 years or less.
having a healthy emergency fund at all times.
having enough put away for an early retirement
savings accounts for all of our kids. {missions, college, weddings, etc}

Short term {the next 2-3 years}
Buy a new house and put 30% down.
have x amount of money in emergency fund savings
contribute x amount of dollars to retirement each month. {separate from 401k}

So, in order to accomplish those things, we have to have a plan in place.
Here's our plan.
CASH BUDGET for 2012.
There are 2 approaches to this, The envelope system, and the jar system.

To start off until we get into the groove of things, we're going to use jars. Because if i have the envelopes of cash with me, its going to be way too easy for me to just take $20 from the "clothes budget" and blow it on the grocery budget.

I like Gail Vaz Oxlade's budget builder. You can find it here.

Obviously our fixed expenses are fixed and there isn't really a whole lot I can do about those right now.

Here's what our budget is going to look like for this year. I'm putting it all out there. And once a week or once a month I will report and let you know how I did on staying on budget. It's the new year. It's a good time to start. Do it with me.

car 1
car 2
life insurance
car insurance
House keeper {I'm putting it all out there, I cut the budget other places, and right now, that's something that I need help with.}

Variable expenses.
This is the fun stuff, these are the amounts that will go in each jar each week

Gas- $100
medical/dental- $25 {This jar will accumulate money}
Groceries/diapers/household-$125 {lets see how good I really am at couponing}
restaurant-$25 {date night}
clothes-$25 {this will accumulate as well}
family/gifts-$25 This will accumulate}
Hobbies-$10 {This will accumulate and pay for my running shoes every 3 months}
Costco-$50 {this will accumulate and I will go once a month}

Here goes nothing. But when we stick to this for this entire year, we will be able to save a substantial amount of money and we will be so much better off having learned to really budget.  If these numbers look crazy one way or the other to you, go back and look at what you really spend. I bet you'll be surprised. Scratch that if you really don't budget, go back and add up what you really spent. I PROMISE it will shock you.
Here's to becoming better stewards of the things that the Lord has so abundantly blessed us with.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

If you were wondering where I've been, I'm still here. Just trying to slow down and simplify a bit during this Christmas season. And I have still been sick. But I think I am almost good as new. I have lots of stories to tell, and lots of thoughts to share. But they will have to wait until Christmas shopping is done and we are finished with our Christmas festivities. Merry Christmas Y'all.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chicken Divan {cleaned up a bit}

I'm still sick... I haven't been knocked out like this since I can't remember. I've been hopped up on percoset and Ibuprofen Since Late Sunday night. My "Virus" Turned into a sinus infection, that turned into the mother of all double ear infections. Mike took the last 4 days off to take care of me... And run the house while I was asleep in my bed all week. Really, I probably slept 40 out of 48 hours Monday and Tuesday. I did venture down to the couch yesterday... Today, I really am not feeling any better, But decided that if I wanted a paycheck next month, Mike had better go back to work. He can't sell cars if he isn't there, and if he doesn't sell cars, We don't make any money. Pretty simple really... But I did tell him that if selling cars doesn't work out for him, he'd make a very hot male nurse.
Since I've been out of commission, Dinner {minus the night that Sister Jac "Awesome" Trunk brought us dinner} has consisted of panera take out, outback take out, lots of chick fil a, and some arbys and taco bell. Gross right? Well, I'm still not feeling awesome, But I really want some real food. Homemade goodness, You know? But healthy, So it doesn't sit on my gut and make me feel nastier. So, I know it's not rocket science and everyone has their own take on it, But here's my version of Chicken Divan with rice.

6-8 cups of Brown rice cooked. {Stick it in the rice cooker about 2 hours before you want dinner ready}

2 cups of cooked chopped chicken breasts. {I took the easy way out tonight and bought these}
1 head of broccoli chopped and very Lightly steamed. {You want it to still have a little bite to it. Not mushy}

1 pack {or can} of cream of chicken soup. {you can add another can or mix it with a bit of water depending on how much sauce you like. We don't like a whole lot, And this particular brand is runnier than Campbells}
8 oz of cheese- You can use Parmesan, {More traditional of broccoli divan} But we like sharp cheddar.
Spray a 9x13 casserole pan, And sread rice over bottom evenly. layer chicken and broccoli. Pour the cream of chicken soup over the top and sprinkle with cheese and sea salt and cracked pepper. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 40 for about 20-30 min until cheese is buby.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Giant Chewy Oatmeal M&M Cookies

Everyone grows up with a favorite cookie. These are one of mine. They were definitely my favorite when I was a kid. I remember begging my mom to make M&M cookies. She made hers with a chocolate chip cookie dough. However, Oatmeal cookies are my all time favorite. So, I make mine with oatmeal dough.

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 Tablespoon vanilla
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of shortening
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 package of M&Ms {12.6 oz} Today we are using Christmas M&M's

Pre heat oven to 325 degrees

Whisk flour baking powder salt together in a bowl, set aside.

Beat butter shortening and sugars together until fluffy. Add vanilla and beat in eggs one at a time until combined. About 30 seconds. Scraping down bowl and beater as needed.

Reduce mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until combined. Mix in oats and M&M's until just incorporated.

Using 1/4 cup of dough at a time {I use a cupcake scoop} lay 8 cookies per sheet spaced about 2 1/2 inches apart.  Bake for 22-25 minutes. Let cookies cool on pan for 10 minutes.

Freezing instructions.
These freeze great! Portion them out and freeze. When ready to bake, Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees and increase baking time to 30-35 min.

Scripture case

I have really been needing to get new scriptures. Well, I got them, And you know what... I hated them. You know not the scriptures, But they weren't "MY" scriptures. The pages were blank, no notes, no color, no doodles... I felt like it was impossible to find anything and did not want to use them. But, "MY" scriptures are the ones I've had since I was 12. There are a lot of notes and things that don't really pertain to my life anymore... Like qualities boys I date should have... I'm not dating anytime soon. And I feel like I was highlighting just to highlight and there was no rhyme or reason to the markings. Or for instance stupid things I wrote like "NAKED PETER!!! PETER WAS NAKED!!" No joke HUGE across the page. {John 21:7} I'm not making this stuff up, but I don't really think that needs to be the main focus of those verses. Or "POOP HEAD" next to a verse describing Satan. Now, granted, Satan is a poop head, But again, Probably doesn't need to be written in my scriptures.

I teach the 16-18 year old Sunday school class and by far it is my favorite calling I have ever served in. Last year we studies the Old Testament, This year we studied the New Testament, and This coming year we are studying the Book of Mormon. I am beyond excited! So, I figured this would be a new start and a great time to break in my new scriptures. So I figured I needed a case that would make them feel like "mine."

So here goes. Keep in mind, I use my iphone for pictures because I'm too cheap to buy a nice camera. Sorry. But I'm not dropping a couple grand so y'all can look at pretty pictures.

 I just too my book and measured all 3 sides. leaving about a one inch allowance on each side and cut that piece out.
Then doing the same thing, Just measuring around one side of the book. Do that twice. So, you have 3 pieces of fabric now. Well, 6 if you line it. I lined mine.

 I wanted mine to have extra bookmarks so I added those to the largest piece in the middle.

 Stitch just the long side of the small pieces to the big piece. Right sides to right sides to right sides so your seams are on the inside. If you aren't embellishing you can stitch all the sides. But if you are adding trim, It's too many layers for the machine to go through. 

This is where you add all the embellishments that you want. I did lace, pearls, a snap strap, flower, and hand embroidery.
 Then stitch The short sides of the small pieces to the big piece. That's the pocket that your cover sits in.


This is the shortened version. I didn't go over how I added the embellishments and things. You can just wing it. That's what I did. If you have questions feel free to ask. And FYI this was a labor of love. I made a "trial" case first. You may have to play around to make sure that it fits taught. I used linen so I made mine very tight because over time it will loosen up.

I also found this site and love her insights on how to mark scriptures and improve study.

Friday, December 9, 2011

More vitamin C please... And pass the Kleenex please.

We are sucking down more vitamin C than you could imagine. My kids don't seem to mind :)
 We are sick... I have gone through more Lysol than I normally do in a year... And I have washed everyones bedding every day this week. I'm over it...

Since we've been sick, We have a lot more time on our hands. I'm not going to lie, I love the gym, and I love working out. I'm super stubborn and when I get sick, I normally just "sweat it out" literally.
Since having Brent I've almost been sick nonstop. First recovering from childbirth, No big deal.... Oh except for the fact that it was number 4...Way worse after every kid. I was hopped up on pain killers for a couple of weeks. Then a sinus infection, Then a double ear infection, mastitis, another ear infection, and an infected wisdom tooth. And now this. I think it's just a NASTY NASTY virus, But of all of these this is what finally knocked me out. Um, and let's remember that I have 13.1 miles to run in 3 weeks. I'm not nervous about that, I know I can do it, And I know I was ready before this virus hit me. But now, I'm really nervous that it's going to be freezing at 5AM and I'm not going to be 100% better, And my lungs are going to HATE me... So, We may lay low for a while so that we aren't exposed to too many more things. As of now, We have a cesspool of germs cultivating in our house from several sources, The gym, Blake's school, Mike's work, And church.

We haven't been to the gym this whole week. I'm ready to be back at it as soon as this sickness leaves us, But it's been nice to have a little extra time to work on a few projects. And I've learned a few new things! {What did people do before youtube and online tutorials?}
Anyways, I am so excited about them, and can't wait to share with y'all. But, None of them are finished. Soon though. Very soon!!
In other news, I ordered new violin strings and bought some new sheet music. I had forgotten how much I love playing my violin and how much I love bringing joy to others by the gifts that God has blessed me with. I wish I had enough time in every day for everything. Hours for the gym, Hours for music, Hours for crafts, Hours for tea parties and baking cookies, Hours for playing dinosaurs, Hours for snuggling babies, Hours to date my sweet buby, Hours to study the scriptures and read books, All while my house stays clean and my laundry stays caught up and folded. Oh well. I'll pick a few of my favorites and let the not so important things slip a little every once in a while. When my kids are grown, I'll have plenty of time to wash laundry and do dishes. But I probably won't have the chance to play dinosaurs and have helpers to bake cookies with. So for this week, I'm kinda glad we're sick, Because I'm just playing with babies and hanging out with my good lookin' hubby.
Finding joy in my journey. 

'I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey—now.'
~ President Thomas S. Monson

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Crafts for the kiddos.

You have no idea how entertained this keeps my children. Hours. Seriously.

Plastic canvas shapes. At Joannes, Maybe .30 cents a piece. They have all kinds of shapes, hearts, stars, rainbows, Or you can cut them into whatever shape you want.
Plastic needles I think it was $2 for a pack of 2.

She loves these. Um, Best church bag item ever.  I just tied the ends to the needle and the plastic canvas so that they are permanently attached. I made the yarn not too long, A bit shorter than their arm. That way they can thread it and un-thread it a million times.

Friday, December 2, 2011

This is not what I signed up for... And maybe a little TMI.

I was doing really good, Until this week. You know, Everything was caught up, Laundry, dishes, kids hair perfectly combed and bows in. Yeah, Until this week. I have about 6 loads of laundry sitting on my bed. They are clean, So that's a plus I suppose... However, They are definitely not getting folded anytime soon. Laundry for 6 people is a bear. Especially when one of them barfs and poops through several outfits a day, and another one still has accidents in their panties... UGH.
I did get a good majority of the hot pink nail polish out of the white carpet. So that was nice. $15 of acetone and 15 million less brain cells later... {That stuff smells SO bad.}
The kids decided to pull ALL of their clothes off the hangers and out of the drawers in their closet, So there's a good few hours to get that back in order... It's been that way for at least 2 weeks. No joke. I really need to go through and throw out the stained and hole-y clothes and donate what doesn't fit. Remind me, When do I have 3 hours to just sit and sort clothes? Yeah, never, The kids would destroy the rest of the house.
So, I thought that I was going to tackle that, Well, At least start on it today, That is until Blake decided to flood the downstairs toilet after he pooped in it. Yes, That's right, I went there. My 4 year old tried to wipe his own bum and used the entire roll of toilet paper. So that was fun to clean up...
This is not what I signed up for when I wanted to be a stay at home mom... I signed up for play dates at the park, And picnics, And afternoon tea parties, And cuddles on the couch, And baking goodies, And dress up parties, And building trains, and playing dinosaurs... Not cleaning up poop from over flowing toilets, and washing pee off of my porch... Yeah, We don't have a dog... And definitely not wasting several hours on washing sorting, folding, and putting away clothes...
Oh well, The good with the bad I suppose...
{If your wondering how that picture fits this... Mike calls me gypsy. It says "stay at home gypsy" instead of "stay at home mom," So it's really perfect... At least to me}

Apple Nachos

So, I needed a little treat... But I didn't want it to be too bad... You know, Because there wasn't any more room for error after my Twix fix.

So, Here come the Apple Nachos. I'm only slightly addicted to them :) I found the recipe here.
  • 3 crispy and slightly tart apples (we ♥ honeycrisp! yum…)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp creamy natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup pecans
  • 1/4 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup vegan chocolate chips
The only thing I did differently than she did was melt the chocolate chips. For 2 reasons, I don't like hard chocolate. It has to be melty, Second, I didn't use as much chocolate. I put the peanut butter in a ziplock bag and cut a small hole in the corner and drizzled it that way. Same with the chocolate.

But If Its just me, I cut the recipe in half, Because let's be honest, I'd eat the whole thing myself.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

So, As I was Black friday shopping I was at Target and saw this beaut!

The Dyson DC35 digital slim.
Oh you have no idea how BAD I want one of these. I've wanted one for so long. So when I was in Target at midnight and it was on sale $50 off, plus my extra 5% from my Target debit card... You can Imagine how happy I was! So, I threw that bad boy in the cart. I finished my shopping and then began wandering Target, {yes at midnight} Deciding on whether or not I needed it. Well, Yes, I do NEED a new handheld vacuum. The electrolux I bought sucks. {That's a whole nother blog post on doing without until you have enough to buy quality things. Instead of wasting money to keep replacing crappy items.} Anywho... So here I was in Target at midnight going over the pros and cons of buying this vacuum. Yes, I need a new one, Yes, I could afford it. And yes, It was a great deal on this particular vacuum. However, I couldn't get a hold of Mike to discuss it with him. Go figure he was asleep like a normal person at midnight. So after wandering the store for 30 min. debating on whether or not I should buy it, I put it back. I finally came to the conclusion that the entire reason we are in "No spending save as much as you can" mode, Is so that we can have those things later on down the road. And if I keep buying things I "need" We're never going to get to where we want to be financially. So, I came to a really important realization. {For me at least, Maybe you are already there}

Saving money and being able to eventually attain the goals that you set for yourself, Isn't just going without the wants for a little while. It's about going without the "needs" too. Does anyone really need a $300 hand held vacuum? NO. Would it make my life easier? Yes, But if I keep spending money on things I "need' It's going to take a lot longer than I want it to to get to where we really want to be. Would I rather have a huge retirement and a paid off house later on down the road? YES, Way more than I want that stupid vacuum.

Okay, I know that just because I didn't buy a $300 vacuum doesn't mean that all those things will come to be just because I have an extra $300 in the bank and no Dyson digital slim in the house. But it's the principle. It's learning to distinguish true needs and wants, And it's about the attitude I have towards money. Do I want this.... That will make me happy for the next day, Year, 5 years? Or do I want a better life for the next 50 years? Because I've learned to be in control of my "needs" and wants?
Which brings me to the next post... Next year {2012} Our goal is to live on 30% of Mikes income. And save the rest. And I'm going to show you how I'm going to do it.... After I go do some laundry and soothe some crying kids ;)