Saturday, February 28, 2009

Unexpected Absence

Unfortunately our internet is down indefinitely...this sometimes happens in the winter months :(

Sigh... this means I'll be taking an unexpected blogging absence since I no longer have functional internet at home and will only be accessing computers a few days each week at work and school.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of winter and look forward to getting back online in the spring when the freeze thaws here...


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Connecting with Family

It is interesting with me to learn how different families connect.

My family lives a few hours away and we stay in touch by phone and occasionally by email. There are a few older members of my family and we exchange cards and letters on a regular basis which is wonderful as well. Many of my coworkers either have children at home or nearby (or parents nearby if they're younger) and reconnect in person on a regular basis for dinner, game nights, and worship.

DH and I are struggling with what children will mean for our family of 2. We already feel a bit overwhelmed each holiday season struggling to see as many extended family members as possible. Where will we go for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day... what if we have to work? We're struggling with the idea of how to make our family a priority and still include the many extended relatives who will want to continue sharing holidays with us. With two full-time jobs the holidays have become a stressful time for us and we often feel as though we don't have a chance to celebrate our own traditions without them interfering with our family's desires.

One of our goals before children come into our family is to start setting more realistic holiday goals and perhaps inviting family to come share in traditions with us rather than feeling as though we need to accomodate six different households (divorced parents, grandparents, etc) every holiday season. We would also like to set up a few weekly family traditions with our children that we don't break so that our children can rely on solid time with us each week. We've talked about some ideas of things we can start implementing now (weekly Sunday night dinner, weekly church service at the same time, etc) to make this transition easier once children arrive.

In the meantime, we'll continue seeking ideas for how to handle large family holidays when family is scattered around the country...


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Too many directions...

The cartoon above is available at I recommend visiting there daily or as needed for a laugh! You can search for appropriate cartoons by keyword!

This week felt as if DH and I were being pulled in far too many directions. I do believe I've already overextended myself this semester. I've always been a "Type A" personality trying to achieve and feeling proud of my ability to juggle so many things at one time. But once our sleep schedule evolves into the occasional 2-3 hour nap every 16-20 hours it becomes time to reevaluate!

I had a meeting every night this week which pulled me away from home at night and a variety of appointments each morning as well. Perhaps the 6 credits of college courses in addition to full-time work and a community group commitment was a bit ambitious for one semester? Maybe this is a taste of parenting; A lack of sleep and free time coupled with fulfilling a series of non-negotiable responsibilities towards others. Fortunately DH and I are preparing for a few weeks of vacation next week. Sunshine, lazy days, and adventures in foreign lands lie ahead! We're looking forward to one more international trip away together before we start our journey to become parents and expand our family of two.

Lord give me the strength to conquer one more week. I have the feeling that a well-orchestrated break this semester will allow me to return and give my all to the final 10 weeks of the semester! Of course, given the economy and our desire to start a family this year, part of me regrets booking this vacation last spring!


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Financial Checkup: ch-ch-ch-changes... to retirement planning

DH and I are really trying to stay faithful about all of the changes that may be in store for us in the coming years. It is hard to not try to plan every little detail and force things to happen for us. It's very frustrating because finances are such a challenge for us. I enjoy planning and organizing but given the state of the economy all is not going according to plan.

For now, we're continuing to put about a third of our income into retirement but will likely be reducing our contributions in an effort to have greater cash savings this year. We have enough for a small downpayment on a home now but would like to save more as this is the one financial area we have a bit of control over. Our retirement accounts sadly lost 50% of their value last year and it just doesn't seem like we're getting much out of them despite the fact that we put so much into them. We'll still put a great chunk away for retirement (10-15% of our income) but not as much as we have been.

Crystal/Moneysavingmom had a great post on finances this week. She and her husband are expecting their third child this spring and are currently saving to buy a house in cash. For us, in our area, that would mean saving more than a quarter million dollars for a small modest home. However, we have considered saving the money and then moving to a lower cost area of living so that we could do the same. She has great weekly post on deals, freebies and menu planning if anyone is interested in saving more/spending less!

So, my 2009 financial goals were to continue funding retirement accounts, to finish saving for a downpayment (goal: $2k/month), and to sell excess belongs in preparation for a move and put all of that into downpayment account. We will continue funding retirement at a slower rate. Currently we put $2000 in for January to the savings but we didn't sell any of our stuff. I'm hoping to get to that after our vacation (sometime in March) when the weather is better with a big yard sale. We can usually pull in over $100 with a yard sale and I'm hoping a few hundred more for big ticket items on craigslist. We're also both committed to working overtime starting this spring to try to save more money!