Saturday, December 10, 2011

Floating Free


My H basically emerged from the womb wearing an Oregon Ducks hat.  He isn’t just a fan, he’s obsessed.  It was incredibly annoying when I first met him, but he's just so darn charming that he won me over.

So last weekend was the PAC-12 Championship game starring none other than his Duckies.  He looked online at tickets, and saw that tickets were unbelievably cheap because the game was supposed to be a blowout.  He pleaded with me to find a way to go.

Lo and behold, it was the end of the month and we just happened to have done very well on our budget and had some left over.  Usually, when there is money left over in the budget, we put it toward our loans.  It makes me feel better to pay extra, and I hate being in debt, so my goal is to make it go away and never come back as soon as possible.

But.  One of the great things about being married is that I get to bring my hundun back to Earth every once and a while, and he gets to remind me to cut myself free.  So he convinced me.  He had never been to a Ducks game, and I was excited that I was able to go with him his first time.  We ended up having a great time, even though we wondered if we would ever feel our pinky toes again. (Translation: it was cold.  Very cold.)

So here’s some pictures of our spontaneous little roadtrip!

First sighting!
Practice facility, a.k.a. my personal warming station.
Their coach, Chip Kelly
One of the things I really like about the Ducks is that
they're not a traditional team, so I liked this!
                                     
Brrrrrrr!


Winners!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Feast for Your Eyes


Whew!  Things have been ca-razy here, and it’s hard for me to even wrap my head around the fact that maybe, just maybe, I won’t have to go to work tomorrow!  But truth is truth my friends, and I am so grateful for a day off.

Speaking of grateful, we just celebrated a holiday, didn’t we?  It seems so far away now… but because I didn’t have time to post during the festivities, I’ve created a little photo journal for your viewing pleasure.  My hoober and I were lucky enough to get to travel to the great city of Chicago for Thanksgiving, and all the wonderful things I got to do reminded me of everything I have to be thankful for.  It’s going to be long, because sometimes I just need a lot of reminders.

Man oh man am I thankful for these friends.  They know what this awkward stage in life is like, and are willing to be open about how great and terrible it is.  I am thankful that after so many months of that “I just met you and am on my best behavior” feeling, I could finally relax and just be me.

I didn’t take pictures of these next three, but I’m stealing off facebook, because I’m a rebel like that. I am thankful that this friend of mine is experiencing the next stage of life ahead of me, because she gives great insight!  I am thankful that she is so willing to be vulnerable and share her ups and downs with me.

I am especially thankful for this lovely lady on a day like today.  She is a constant reminder that someday, I really will love my job.  She is a teacher, and I got to see her classroom and hear stories and see how much her kids adore her.  She talks and you can see her passion, and I think, “Boy, I could use me some of that!”

I am thankful for in-laws that are truly like family.  I am thankful for a father-in-law who lets a girl come to morning coffee days that are generally boys only, and who encourages me every time I talk to him.  I am thankful for a mother-in-law who invites me on mundane shopping trips only to turn them into great conversation and bonding time (plus her brownies are delish).

I am thankful for sibling-in-laws (Ha! Fun new word everyone!) who can joke and play around and accept me into the family in a way that only peers can.  I am unbelievably thankful for that little girl who can make me laugh and sing Christmas songs at the top of her lungs with me.

I am thankful for deep dish pizza.  This is mainly because my stomach is in a blissful state for at least 24 hours afterward.

I am thankful for Christmas lights!  In all four years of living in Chicago, I never got to see these, and everything Christmas makes me happy. (I am one of those people.  I have listened to Christmas music nonstop since they started playing it, and there’s nothing you can do about it.)

I am thankful for this view to greet me after a long and way too bumpy flight.  (I am also thankful that I am far away enough from this view to not have the snow!)

And last but not least, I am thankful for these new friends who have made my new city feel much more like home.

Aaaaaah.  I feel better now.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Occupy Injustice?



*Ahem* I would like to add another voice please?

These Occupy protests are everywhere, and I don’t know how to feel about them.  I look on the news and see people who are angry, but don’t know what about.  They march and hold meetings, but they mostly just rant without goals.

However.  When I read the postings on the 99% website, my heart is broken.  These are people who are educated, who have the best jobs they can get, who just want to be able to eat and pay rent in the same week.  They have to choose between medical care and a roof.  This is not ok.  It’s not just, it’s not fair, and it does make me mad.

I don’t agree with the way they’re trying to affect change, but golly gee whiz, I sure do relate to them.  I read an article recently that said the problem is that this generation is forced to delay their lives, and I thought- “I know those people.  I am one of those people!”

I know too many people who had to move back home after college because they couldn’t afford student loan payments and rent.  I know too many people who took bad jobs because that’s all there is left. 

We’re all delaying marriages and cars and houses and babies and yes- lives because we know we can’t afford them.  And the thing is, for us to make any other decision would be irresponsible.  I refuse to have a child I can’t support.  I refuse to buy a car I can’t pay for.  But the government and the American society keep pushing us to do these things, so I feel bad when I make healthy choices.

I’m not mad at the banks.  I’m glad they keep my money for me and pay me interest without charging me fees (choose good banks, people! Investigate before you give them your money!).  I’m not even mad at student loan companies.  I approached them to borrow money, and without them, my education would have been impossible

However… charging 12% interest on a loan seems a little unfair, doesn’t it?  Charging a fee for being proactive and paying your loan off early seems unjust, right?  There’s just something wrong with foreclosing on a house when there are 4 children inside, isn’t there?

I certainly don’t have the answers.  I know that this little family is being aggressive and trying to get rid of these debts so we CAN get on with our lives.  I know that I won’t ever borrow money again, except maybe for a house.  I know that I want these people to get justice, but I just don’t know what that looks like.

So for now, I’m just sitting with the rest of the world, watching to see what happens.  It feels like all I can do.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Confession #2



Friday was dear sir H’s birthday (11/11/11, I know right??).  I wanted to make it extra special for several reasons.  1. It’s his first birthday as a married man. 2. It’s his first birthday away from his family. 3. It’s his first birthday in his favorite state. 4.  I think birthdays are the best invention ever and I love being over-the-top excited about them.

Before I go on, let me tell you a little secret.  It’s not one I’m proud of, but because the first step is admitting I have a problem, I’m taking the leap.

I am sometimes one of those wives.  You all know the ones I am talking about: that horrible stereotypical wife who just lives and breathes simply to nag their husband and make his life miserable.  You had a great day at work? Oh, well that’s funny because you didn’t wash the dishes like I asked you and therefore my whole day was ruined and I will ruin yours as well.  Recognize her now?

I know, I know, you are all shocked.  You thought I was this sweet as honey little housewife who inhales sunshine and exhales rainbows, but I’m not.  And though I joke, I really can’t stand myself at these times.

So here I was on Friday, and I caught myself many times biting my tongue or taking deep breaths to keep myself from saying things that were hurtful, rude, or just plain unnecessary.  I worked so darn hard all day at being uplifting and encouraging and loving toward my spouse, and I think he had a really great day!

Then all weekend, I’ve had this little thought that keeps poking at my brain, begging to be heard. Why in the world can’t it be his birthday every day?  Am I really going to treat him well for one day, and then go back to business as usual?  And most of all, why was it so hard for me just to be nice to the person I love more than I ever thought possible?

So I’m going to add another task to the I-wrote-it-online-so-I-have-to-stick-to-it list. I want to learn to love my hubbity-doo-da better.  Way better.  Like, so much better people will wonder what happened.  I want to speak well of him, to his face and behind his back.  I want him to feel loved and encouraged all the time, not just on his birthday! 

I’m not sure how to go about this exactly, but it’s out there.  Ready, set, GO!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Getting Better With Time




Last weekend, the hubana and I saw Crazy, Stupid Love at a local theater.  The movie is about a man whose wife asks for a divorce.  He moves out and ends up crossing paths with a classic Don Juan who tries to teach him how to play the dating game.  The movie was actually a lot better than I expected, and by the end, I had tears streaming down my face.  For those of you who know me well, this is not an unusual occurrence.  I once cried at a Wal-Mart commercial.  It is what it is.

So as the lights came up at the end of the movie, I was frantically wiping my face with every inch of dry fabric I could find while people flooded past out the doors.  There were many a raised eyebrow or a too-long look, as I’m sure my entire face was puffy and red and screaming I JUST CRIED DURING A STEVE CARRELL MOVIE!

I was super embarrassed.  I did the classic “hiding behind the hair” move as well as generally just staring at the floor instead of other people.  But on the way home, amidst my poor hubby’s comments of “Umm that movie really got to you huh?”, I started thinking.

I don’t want to be embarrassed that I am emotional and feel things deeply!  I have been this way ever since I was a kid, and I have always felt people were waiting for me to “grow up” and not act that way.  And as you can see by my last post, I am getting pretty tired of feeling like I have to change in so many ways in order to grow up.

So in light of these thoughts, I want to share a list of things that I hope I never give up, no matter how “mature” I get.

  1.       I hope I NEVER stop crying during movies.
  2.       I hope I never stop crying during country songs. (Sensing a trend? Don’t judge me.)
  3.       I never want to stop feeling icky inside when people swear.
  4.       I never want to stop singing in the car at the top of my lungs.
  5.       I hope I never stop dancing... alone, with friends, in the shower, ever.
  6.       I hope I never stop dreaming about what I want to be when I really grow up.
  7.       I never want to stop remembering all the stupid things I’ve done so I don’t start to feel too proud.
  8.       I hope I never stop sending my better half ridiculous pictures while he’s away (or while he’s right next to me on the couch).
  9.       I hope I never stop wanting to be better and love harder.
  10.   Aaaaand, I hope I never stop doing slightly insane things like giving each of my stuffed animals a spouse and having imaginary conversations in the mirror. 

What do you hope you’re still doing when you’re all grown up?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

*Blink* We're Adults!



There are very few disadvantages I have found to getting married at a young(ish) age, but there is one that nags at me again and again.

Getting married sort of shoves you into adulthood whether you wanted it or not.  I spent over 3 years of my life getting to know my beloved before we tied the proverbial knot, and I maintain that we were totally ready for marriage.  But as soon as we got back from the honeymoon, it was like a switch had been flipped in our minds and our lives.

We were ready, man.  We were ready to own furniture and live on our own together and get real jobs and take exotic vacations and buy fancy cars and a fancy house.  For one whole month, I let this mindset completely take over.

Us newlyweds over here had very little to call our own, and of course what we did own wasn’t good enough (we’re adults, remember?), so it got tossed.  Time to start fresh!  We moved across the country, bought all new furniture and appliances, ate out every day for the first week, and sighed with happiness as we climbed onto our (new!) mattress laid perfectly on our (new!) bed under warm (new!) sheets.

Then reality struck.  I had a minor meltdown (which sir husband man is used to thankfully) and sat down with him for a Talk with a capital T.  Since then, we have had to seriously re-evaluate our preconceived notions of what marriage and adulthood looks like.

I know married couples aren’t the only ones who experience this, but I really do think we get hit a little harder.  People start asking about babies and homes and want to talk about mortgages and bills.  Our whole lives we get fed this sneaky little lie that we deserve better, and we’ll get it at some magical point.  For me that point was marriage.  

So I’m putting it all down in writing, so the whole blog world can hold me accountable!  Yes, someday we would love to have a house.  But when I really think about it, I don’t even want that responsibility right now.  Yes, some far-off day we will probably want to have kids, but the thought of them right now makes me want to pass out.  A better car, of course!  A better job, definitely!

But I am vowing to be patient with these things, and be happy with where I am in life.  I absolutely L-O-V-E being married, and look forward to so many things we can share together in the future.  And in this month of Thanksgiving, I want to say I am so incredibly thankful for:

-My car that is 15 years old with no air conditioning and ripped seats and peeling ceiling that is PAID FOR.
-Our little apartment that could use a teensy bit of storage but it perfect for our budget and perfect for our things.
- All the new things we were able to buy that will (must!) last us a long, long time.
- My job that I’m not crazy about but which allows us to pay extra each month on our student loans.

What’s not to love in a little charm and a whole lot of hope for the future?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Marriage Musings




Since I am obviously an expert on marriage by now, I thought I’d offer up some thoughts. 

I have a friend who I can send on an hour-long rant by simply uttering two little words: love languages.  She will groan and roll her eyes and talk about how this phenomenon has forever stained relationships.  However, there are also those who will swear by this book.  They say things like:

“I never really knew who I was until I read this book!”
or
“This made my marriage last 3 years longer than it would have otherwise!”
or
“Now that I know my wife’s love language, we never fight!  In fact, we never even talk because we just get each other!”

Well I too wanted to never have to talk to my life partner, so I looked into it.  On their website, they have a convenient quiz that will, of course, change your life forever by telling you which your love language is: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, or receiving gifts.

So I took the quiz.  It told me my love language is quality time.  Well, I do enjoy spending time with my beloved, so I shrugged and sent the quiz to him.  After thinking about it, I realized that yes, I am often begging my housemate to spend more time with me.  YES! I thought. All my marriage woes are solved before they have even begun!

I encouraged him to take the quiz so I would know how to make him eternally happy as well.  He took it and his love language is…drumroll please… quality time.  Hmmm…

Well why do we need to talk then?  Shouldn’t we be so in sync that we spend all of our time together and never need anything or anyone else?  Needless to say, this is not the case, so it got me thinking.  And for me personally, here is what I think my true love language is: all of the above. Hold on to your hats there, friends!

Sometimes, I absolutely love when my mr. strokes my hair.  Other times, it’s super annoying and I swat his hand away.  Sometimes, when he makes dinner for me, my heart melts.  Other times, I want to tell him he was supposed to cook the potatoes before putting them in the soup (okay, I have said this). 

One day, a cheesy note will bring tears to my eyes.  The next day, I will roll them upon reading.  A well-thought-out gift can make my whole week better, or it could… you know, not.  Maybe I’m one of those crazy confused women the movies portray, or maybe I just like a lot of variety in my life.

Either way, love languages are definitely no magic solution.  In my mind (and in my marriage), love just naturally produces all of these things, and I enjoy them as they come.  Yes, sometimes I need one more than the other, but at the end of the day, I really need them all.

High maintenance, I know.

What do you think?  Do love languages make you vomit or swoon?  

Friday, October 21, 2011

True Love



Reason # 879,431 that I love my significant other:

We have a cat (don’t judge).  This cat is sometimes more angelic than you would believe, and no matter how much you may dislike cats, you would fall in love

Other times, she gets locked in the bathroom and we pretend we don’t know her.  Last night, she chewed through the wire of one of our speakers.  That was one of those times.

So today, I have a wonderful day off work.  I plan on sleeping in and lounging all day.  The man of the house still has to work.  After getting ready, he picked up the cat (not in the angelic mode today) and quietly shut the door to keep her out of the bedroom (and from eating my hair while I sleep).

This sounds so simple, but I guarantee I fell asleep smiling. 

Boys, it sounds stupid, but please do these things for girls.  It was so darn thoughtful and I’ve been sending happy loving vibes his way all day because of it.

Just wanted to share my fantastic morning. :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lovely in Our Differences


Picture this, Northwesterners: You climb a tall tree and can see for miles (many, many miles) in Every. Single. Direction.

Picture this, Midwesterners: You drive in any direction for 15 minutes and experience an elevation change of at least 1,000 feet.

Crazy, isn’t it?  I have found that people who have lived here in the northwest their whole lives have this odd mixture of disdain and fascination with the Midwest.  They ask me questions like, “Have you ever slaughtered a cow with your bare hands?” or “Did a blizzard ever wipe out your entire family?”  

In case those very same questions were burning in the back of your mind, the answer to both of these is no.  However, in my short time of living here, I have found a lot of differences between these two regions.

*Before you read, yes I am purposely making broad generalizations.  It’s so much more entertaining that way!*

1. Food 
In the Midwest, you eat meat.  Real men eat meat and potatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Grandmas bake apple pies, you eat fried foods at the county fair, and if you’re in a big city, you go out for chic drinks with friends (if you’re in a small town, you share those drinks in the back of a pickup.


In the Northwest, you eat vegetables.  Preferably organic vegetables that you grew in your backyard.  If you eat meat, it must be free range, organic, fed at a banquet table with all its friends, and in very small portions. Grandmas bake tofu cookies and you go out for coffee with friends (or beer if you’re a man.  Always a local brew, of course). We went to the Portland Saturday Market and saw a booth selling cotton candy made with organic free-trade sugar and all-natural fruit juice dyes. These people are serious.

2. Weather

In the Midwest, you’ll wake up on a beautiful October day and it will be 75 degrees outside.  You will fall to sleep with a blissful love of fall, and wake up early to scrape the frost off your car.  You go to the beach and the park and shopping in the summer, and you go to work and back home in the winter (if you can get your car to start and the roads aren't covered in ice and snow).

In the Northwest, you’ll wake up on an October day to lower 60’s with a light drizzle on and off throughout the day.  You will fall asleep to the pitter patter of raindrops and wake up to upper 50’s with clouds in the morning and a light drizzle in the afternoon.  That’s about it.  It’s predictable and consistent, 2 foreign words to Midwesterners.  In the summer you go to the ocean and hiking and running on the Nike trail.  In the winter, you go hiking and skiing and running on the Nike trail.

3. Mailboxes

In the Midwest, people have mailboxes.  In front of their houses.

I don’t know if this is a city-wide or region-wide thing, but where I live, there are community mailboxes where you get a little locked slot.  No house has a mailbox.  Can anyone explain this to me???

I joke, but I love all of these things.  I love hiking, I love sunshine, I love apple pies (only my grandma’s, of course) and all-natural cotton candy.  I have had so much fun getting to know my new home, and the Midwest will always have a special place in my heart.  There are many other differences, but these have by far been the most noticeable.  What categorizes your area?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Road Trip!


I’d like to invite you all on a journey.  It won’t always be fun, but the destination will be so worth it. We might have to shed a few tears together, undoubtedly climb some major mountains, but hopefully we’ll be able to laugh together and definitely grow together too.

The journey is this: get rid of debt!  My companion and I committed to this Monday night at our Financial Peace University class, and I’d like to invite anyone who wants to come alongside us with your own struggles or stories. 

First, let me boost your confidence a little.  See, people don't believe us when I tell them we have a ton of debt.  Allow me to blow your mind a little: in this wonderful marriage, there is one car, one cat, one little apartment, a lot of love, and over $100,000 in debt.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Feel better now?

Now everyone keeps telling us that the plus side is that this debt is good debt because it funded our education and doesn’t count against our credit as long as we keep up payments.  But these people are dumb.  There is no positive side to debt, and though I don’t regret going to college to acquire it, I certainly do not plan on making friends with it.

We don’t make a lot of money, but we WILL get out of this!  I’ll keep you all updated on our progress, and if you have any tips or stories to share along the way, please do!  Our only tip at the moment is that we are refusing to live the way the rest of the world tells us, starting now!  We won’t buy anything (including a car shocker shocker!!) unless we have the money for it.  Thanks for joining us!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Churchin It Up



Another of the many blessings the hubaloo and I experienced since moving to Oregon was a church.

This was something we had been praying about for a very long time, even before we moved.  But once we got here, the search was on because neither of us wanted to go too long without church, plus… we need friends baaaad.  So we tried a couple in the first few weeks, and failed miserably.

The first one we left without ever entering because we sat in the parking lot for 10 minutes watching everyone enter, and they were all older than our parents (don’t judge us).  Neither of us have a problem with the “mature” generation; I actually strongly desire a church with a good older presence because they are the wisest of the bunch.  That being said, we didn’t feel the church would be especially “relevant” to us, or however that is said in a politically correct way. 

At the next church we went to, they not only sang happy birthday to someone in the middle of the service, they also spent a full 30 minutes airing their (and all their friends, family, and distant relative’s) dirty laundry.  Alas, we are no good at church shopping.
So finally, we found a hipster church that still had a good foundation of those older and wiser than us young’uns.  But it was far away and too large for my better half’s tastes.  

We began investigating two church plants- one being planted by the hipster church much closer to where we live, and one even farther away but being planted by someone who attended the seminary at my dear alma mater.

Now let me give some context.  For several weeks prior to this stage of the process, I had been struggling with some pretty big things.  I was reading Shane Claiborne’s book TheIrresistible Revolution (highly recommend it) and feeling incredibly discontented about my life.  I was really unhappy with the church as a whole, as well as my own goals and the direction I felt my life was headed in.  I wanted to get my hands dirty and really live the gospel.

Well, we emailed and facebooked (not a real verb yet) and dined with people to discover more about both churches.  One of the pastors explained what his church was all about, and it literally spoke directly to the frustrations I had been feeling. 

The church is in a not-so-great area of Portland, and it exists mainly to serve the community.  There are very few preconceived notions about what “church” should look like, they just want to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  And though the mr. wasn’t sharing my hesitancy about church finances and politics, he found this church provided him with a much-needed sense of belonging, as they were looking for people with his specific talents.

We feel so lucky to finally be involved, and in the spirit of camaraderie and non-horror movie longings, I WILL befriend these people!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Identity Crisis



I transition well.  This is not a braggart statement, just a fact.  When I moved 500 miles away from home to go to a college where I knew absolutely no one, I cried when my parents drove away, and that was about it. 

I was so ready to move on, to become the person I thought I could be, to grow up.  And I did.  In high school, I was sort of socially awkward (contain your shock please), but in college, I had the best group of friends ever.  They make the friends in Friends (the TV show, keep up!) seem like mere acquaintances.

I got involved and was pretty well-known for being a hard worker and a leader in academics and in the workplace.  My last year especially, I felt like I had become exactly who I wanted to be, finally.

Then I moved again.  Except for a brief period the very first week, I transitioned well again.  But. Now that a couple of months have passed in this new place, I am re-evaluating where I am.

My hubbers and I are part of a new church plant in one of the neighborhoods in Portland.  We have been meeting with the pastor and the core group about once a week to get to know each other and set the foundation for the church.  And last night at one of these meetings, I realized I have no idea what my identity is.

I know WHO I am, of course.  This is more a question of what my place is.  All that hard work defining myself in Chicago gone down the pooper, I know.  Let’s have a moment of silence for the loss and move on.


So I looked around and saw SO many talented people.  The singer, the financial person, the painter, the building guy, the landscaper, etc.  These people have got it figured out (not really I know, but it sure seems like it).

And all of the places I might fit in have already been filled by people far more talented and qualified than I.  So what is my place in this church?  What is my place as a friend here, when almost all of my friends are long distance?  What is my place in the workforce, or as a young wife? What is my place in this thing called adulthood?

That’s what I’m working through now, friends.  Am I the only one dealing with a bit of an identity crisis after so many changes?

Though I have zero answers (just a lot of questions obviously), I do know this one thing: I am an absolutely beloved daughter of God.  And though that doesn't answer all the questions either, I’m trusting that for now it answers the ones that really matter.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'll Be Rich... Someday



Before you read this post, let me assure you I haven’t sold my soul to the devil of consumerism.

Now, I always liked saving and doing well with my money.  When I got married, it became a whole new ball game, especially because I didn’t have a job for so long. Yes friends, getting deals is my sick obsession, I admit it.

 I want it to become your sick obsession too.  Come, drink the kool-aid!  But in all seriousness, I like saving money, and because I have so many friends who are college age or freshly graduated, I want to share some ways I save or even make money with very minimal effort on my part.

What you’re already doing: searching the web

Don’t get me wrong; google and I are best buds.  I have 3 gmail accounts, plus a google+ account that I still don’t understand. But I found another site that PAYS me to search the web!  The downside is that it doesn’t pay for every single search, but I would guess it pays at least 25% of the time.  It awards you swagbucks, and you can cash these out for gift cards to major companies like Amazon.  I’ve been a member just under 2 months and already have $5 in points.  If you’re interested, here’s my link (hey I’m not stupid, I may as well cash in on your faithful readership): http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/Panduhzk

What you’re already doing: checking e-mails

There are two companies that pay you to read their e-mails.  It literally takes me about 10 seconds total to click through these each time I check my e-mail, and the payoff is completely worth it.  My personal favorite of these companies is called mypoints.  I like them better because they send more emails, which makes the payoff faster.  I just ordered a $75 gift card from them in May, and I will have another $100 for Christmas gifts when the time comes.  Some of this is from making purchases through their site or doing surveys, but still: worth it.  www.mypoints.com

The second company is called inbox dollars.  The upside to them is that they pay cash.  The downside is that if you don’t actually participate in their offers every so often, they downgrade you to weekly e-mails instead of daily. My link for that one is http://www.inboxdollars.com/?r=ref4426045

What you’re already doing: shopping online

There are also two companies that literally pay you cash back for every purchase you make online.  How did I not know about these before??  So when you do your Christmas shopping online, do it through these sites and earn cash back.  The first one is ebates.com.  They give you a $10 gift card with your first purchase; I already have my $10 Target card in addition to the rebate.  The link is http://www.ebates.com/rf.do?referrerid=OtRuu195RYnAkQ9X8f3U7w%3D%3D.

The other website is mrrebates.com.  This site often gives you a higher percentage of cash back, but I always check both just to be sure I’m getting the best deal. That link is http://www.mrrebates.com?refid=588022.

What you’re doing already: shopping in stores

A site called plastic jungle lets you buy gift cards at discounted rates.  For instance, there are tons of gift cards on there now for 20% off- you pay $20 for a $25 gift card.  You just automatically saved $5 before you even walked in the store.  This would also be a great idea for Christmas gifts! www.plasticjungle.com

All of these sites are ones I have used personally and can assure you are the real deal.  Here’s another secret: I don’t pay for Christmas gifts with my own money.  Ever, really, unless they get really expensive.  It takes a little bit more effort, but let me know if you’re interested and I’ll share more about that later! Happy saving!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Confession #1



Confession: I have no idea what I want.

Exhibit A- last night, even though our budget is no good for this month, the Mr. and I went on an adventure!  Here is how it happened:

Enter the room.  Zoom in on girl laying in bed moaning. Boy finally notices and asks whatever could the problem be?

Girl: “I need chocolate.”

Boy: “Do we have any?”

Girl: “No.”

So it was that we traipsed in the rain across the parking lot to the grocery store across from our apartment.  This should be easy, right?  I wanted chocolate.  The store has chocolate. But in the chocolate aisle which is also the ice cream aisle, I started to think maybe I wanted ice cream? So we spent five minutes looking at ice cream, but nothing sounded good. 

Back to chocolate. I spent another five minutes debating the merits of a bag of chocolate vs. a candy bar.  Finally, we walked out of the store with two bags of chocolate and some ice cream for the boy.  After eating two mini chocolate bars, I decide what I really wanted all along was some ice cream.  I steal boy’s ice cream to satisfy this longing.

Exhibit B- I start my job next week.

This is good.  Really, it is. I know this.

BUT I have gotten quite used to laying around reading blogs and books and emails and facebook stalking everyone I know all day.  A part of me is sad to give this up.

Once I bring home the first paycheck, I think I will be convinced that a job is for the best.

The lesson in all of this, really, is two-fold. First, never live across the street from a grocery store.  Second, find a boy (or girl) who loves you so much they are willing to put up with your nonsense, even when it means spending 15 minutes deciding if what you think you want is what you really want.  Don’t marry them until you’re sure they will do this.

Words from the wise.

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's Party Time!



So back to the pity party with me, myself, and my computer with 26 tabs opened to different jobs.

I kept hoping I would read a job description and think, “That’s it!!  My destiny all wrapped up in 60 words or less!” No such luck.

So finally I turned to my safe zone.  Nannying.  I was not thrilled about this prospect, but applied partly out of desperation and partly because of that voice in my head screaming, “Get out before the cat pillows and embroidered cat sweaters get you first!”

I applied for a couple of jobs that I thought might actually be fun.  No word.  I got a couple of messages from moms interested in my profile, but none of them fit what I was looking for except one. So I responded to that one, while still applying to others I thought would be more fun.

Well, what do you know, I finally got an interview with the not-so-fun-looking job.  I interviewed, loved the family, and loved the kids!  I could work part time and still make more than I was hoping to make, plus they gave me some vacation days and paid holidays!
The final dilemma was the car situation.  I would need the car twice a week, but if I had it, my dear other half would have to work for more than 9 hours those days.  Well, here’s the kick in the pants, reader. 

Three weeks before my job starts, my hubbub gets called into a meeting where they tell him he can now work from home one day a week, any day he chooses.  Hallelujah and thank you Jesus, problem solved. (He works just one long day and gets a short day in return, which he needs in order to pick me up in time from the job. Could it get any more perfect?)

And after all my whining and complaining (and a dash of sulking), I realized God had done exactly what I asked him to do.  Never once did I get an interview with Starbucks or any other nanny job.  He opened the doors, and gave me a great job.

An awesome God, indeed.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For



The second blessing God gave us came in the form of my job.

When we moved, I gave myself a couple of weeks to settle in and figure out what I wanted to do.  But when the time came to get a job, it roared into town with a fury!

All of a sudden, I didn’t want a job, I needed a job.  What was I doing all day?  Why did I suddenly become so boring? Where is my life going? What if I forget how to talk to people? HowlongbeforeIbecomeacrazycatlady?? I was bored and lonely and needed desperately to get out of the house.  So the search began.

But not so fast, I had a couple of problems.

Problem #1- Hubby and I share a car.  He has a full-time job which he uses said car to get to.  Me=carless. Therefore, I needed a job that was either within walking distance or on the way to his job with magical hours that perfectly coincide with his.

Problem#2- I haven’t the slightest idea what to do with my life.  I got a degree in early childhood education because I really like hanging out with kids. I discovered, however, that I do not enjoy teaching them.  They are much more fun to hang out with than to teach.

So Google and I became very good friends.  Monster.com and careerbuilder.com were invited to the party as well.  I prayed and prayed and prayed over this (thus far nonexistent) job.  I prayed very specifically (which I rarely do) that whatever God wanted me to do, he would open the doors, because I hadn’t the slightest clue. Even MORE specifically, I prayed that if he didn’t want me to get the job, I wouldn’t even get an interview.

In my floundering, I turned where most directionless recent-grads turn: Starbucks.  There were two within walking distance, I worked in food service for many years, and I really do like the coffee shop atmosphere.  I applied, feeling pretty confident (here’s where that college degree pays off *nudge nudge*), and mentally gave myself a week to hear back from them.

A week came and went, and nothin’.  So what’s a stir-crazy housewife with no kids and barely any “house” to do?

Sulk.  That’s what.  But all the pouting in the world didn’t give me a job, so back to the drawing table, friends.

(There really is a blessing in all this.  I’ll get to it next time.  If you’re going to stick around, you may as well know that I don’t know how to make a long story short, but boy oh boy do I know how to make a short story long.  Need proof?  Look how long this parenthetical paragraph is.)