Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why Yes, You Do Want to be a Part of This

As I was driving home from work today, I was thinking about life.  I know that you are scared to read on now because you’re worried this post will be heavy and you just wanted some light reading material in between pinning and tweeting and posting and all that other nonsense.

But you’re in luck!  This is simply a sharing post that will not require you in any way to change your life or even consider a new thought unless you so choose.  Hoorah!

So my wandering mind asked me this today: What have you learned about being an adult since graduating college and getting married and paying bills and researching insurance and learning to cook and... well, you get the idea.

One thing I have learned is the regrettable reality that are utility bills.  Every other bill comes faithfully and I know how much it will be and it has been budgeted for and I wave sadly as the money floats away.  Utility bills, however, are much sneakier than your average bill.  They hide around in the mild fall and spring months, and then summer or winter comes and BAM! POW! and all those other words that belong in a spiky bubble, they got you again.  When I was in college, it was a common sight for people to have their apartment windows wide open in January (yes, in Chicago) because the heat was unbearable and we didn’t have to pay the bill, so who cares?  Those days are sadly behind me, as I have been duped by the utility monster many times now.  In case you were wondering, I believe he looks something like this:

Another thing I have learned is that it is hard to make friends after college.  Holy cow is it hard.  I am used to living in community, being able to call up several classmates to "study" with, trotting along to say hello to a friend, or running into people at the Starbucks across the street.  But now I live with a boy (cue scary music).  And said boy and myself live in an apartment where our neighbors don’t pop in for chats or invite us over for their Christmas Cookie Exchange.  We have to be intentional, and guess what I learned about myself?  I’m no good at that!  Ha! (That was sarcastic, I did not really laugh.)  And for you meanies who just thought to yourself that I’m simply socially inept, you are wrong I tell you!  Almost every single one of my friends has expressed this exact same feeling.  It’s sad, yo.

The last deep meaningful discovery I wish to impart this evening is that all those grown-up, responsible events and such haven’t actually changed me.  It’s like the eve of your twelfth birthday when you’re so sure that your life is about to change tomorrow because you’re going to finally be a teenager, whoa x 3.  But then you go through the whole day and at the end of it your mom asks if you feel any different, and you don’t.  I still want to have dance parties and bake inappropriate cupcakes and sing at the top of my lungs and twist my face into every possible emotion.  See small sample here:

It’s just that while I sing, I also have to write a check.  And while I dance around my living room, I sometimes have to shut the blinds because now I have neighbors who do not appreciate the art in my moves.  But unlike that birthday-party-letdown feeling, I am quite ok with it.  I was awfully worried I was going to have to carry a briefcase and spout investment knowledge, or not laugh when someone farts. (Is this even possible?  Do older people just somehow hide their giggles from us?)

The moral of the story is this: Fear not, my friends.  Growing up, though not all fun and games, totally can be if you want it to be.  It’s just not quite as scary as it seemed. *whew*

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Taking a Deep Breath

Remember in this post when I briefly mentioned that I think God has been blessing all of our hard work and financial stewardship?  I had no idea what I was talking about.

Since that post, we have literally been overwhelmed by various things that keep popping up and providing us with more income than we know what to do with. (Okay, that is a complete lie.  I can always find something to do with extra income!)  It has come in the form of tax returns, random gifts of money or gift cards, extra vacation days discovered, and the list goes on.

I want to to share over the coming weeks what we are able to do with our excess.  Some of it comes in the practical form of finally getting our car registered as an Oregonian and paying off our next 6 months of car insurance that is due next month.

But the one I’m most excited about so far is that we were finally able to pay off our first student loan!!!!!! (Oh, and let me just add an extra !!!! for emphasis). I feel incredibly blessed to be able to accomplish this only a few months after we started tackling these suckers, and even though we have a Long (yes, with a capital L.  I don’t want to talk about it.) way to go, I am celebrating this small success that feels like a big one!  We have calculated how long it should take us to pay off these loans individually, and this one wasn’t supposed to be paid off until April, so I’m over the moon that we got to make it go away 2 months early.

However, even though we sometimes feel buried under our mountain of debt, I want to be really intentional about making sure we’re still giving back as we’re able.  I have tithed 10% to the church for as long as I can remember, and in college I also started a mini-hospitality fund that I use anytime I come across a personal situation I want to be able to help out with.  This has helped send friends on mission trips and give anonymously to people who need it.  But this recent flood of abundance has really been nudging me for something a little deeper.

So I’m really excited to tell you that my hubs and I are going to start building an additional act of giving into the budget each month that will allow us to give to a global cause we feel called to support.  What I love about being able to do this is that we already give locally to people we meet and the church/community we live in, but we can also do some research on things that are happening around the world and give where we find something we want to support.

Anyway, I invited you on this journey of rising out of debt, and I feel like we reached our first rest stop along the way.  We have some other fun (and smart) things planned for the rest of the money, and I'll be sharing as always!

{Photo source}

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Love Letter

To my husband,

First, there was a boy.  That’s really all he was, though he pretended to be a man.  He was goofy and I felt unattractive and he was the first boy to ever pay attention to me and make me feel special.  I didn’t love him and though I put in a valiant effort trying to convince my adolescent self I did, I knew better even then.  Because he made me feel special, I allowed more than I should have and spent a year and a half in a sad relationship where I hated myself and didn’t really care. Strike one.

Then came another fling, though it lasted nine months.  After the oppressiveness of the last, he at least allowed me to be free.  But he was free with everyone he knew, boys and girls alike, and I spent a lot of time familiarizing myself with the bitter taste of jealousy.  Strike two.

Next, my love, I’m sorry to say I lost my head.  I was feeling uninspired academically, and along came someone who could challenge me and really make me think.  He wasn’t even a Christian, which I always said I was so against, but I was stuck in the cycle of needing attention and looking for it in the wrong places.  He was my first shot at a more mature love, and it was a failed attempt, doomed from the beginning.  Strike three.

Then I got my first taste, no, a feast really, of heartbreak.  I fell deep and hard and understood every love song ever written.  I dreamed of marriage and children and a future.  Instead, I found out I was unwanted and easy to tire of.  Strike four, if there is such a thing.

There were useless dates with bartenders, silly long-distance attempts, strikes five, six, etc.  I lost count and gave up.  I was tired of myself, tired of asking God why I couldn’t get it right, and most certainly tired of boys parading as men.  I was numb and empty and just.plain.done.

And then there was you.

You rushed in when I didn’t want you to, insisting you knew we were meant to be together, you had prayed about it and knew.  I laughed at you and told you I needed time just to make you go away.  You stayed and said you would wait.  I said you didn’t want to be with me, I seemed great but the novelty faded quickly, you assured me it wouldn’t.  I pushed you away and you let me, but you never left.  I remember so well sitting in my dorm room messaging you (on AIM of course), reading your words as you told me I was it.  The One.  I remember leaning back in my chair and staring at the screen, wondering about this crazy boy who wouldn’t leave me alone and made ridiculous claims about a God I had lost touch with.

I told my friends you were boring and funny looking and I was far from interested.  You surprised me by having a hidden sense of humor that you reserved just for me.  You made me laugh again after thinking I never would.  Slowly, I told you about my heartbreak and why I could never trust anyone again, and you just smiled, knowing I would someday place every fiber of my being in your hands.  
I gave in.  I told my family about this crazy boy that I was bringing home for a few days because he just would NOT give up about meeting my family.  I met your family, who welcomed me as one of them, even when we were absolutely not dating and just friends and nothing more thankyouverymuch.  I kept waiting for you to get tired of me, to say it was nice getting to know me, but you were sick of waiting.  

Instead, you began your work on me.  You began re-introducing me to the God who would eventually tell us both on a lonely night not long after we made it “official” that He had already given us our future spouse.  You showed me that it’s possible to find a man who cared for me enough to keep me pure until our wedding night.  You showed me what it feels like to be loved so deeply that jealously became a foreign concept.  You challenged me and promised I would never know heartbreak again.  And ever so slowly, I began to feel hope.

You rescued me.  Do you know that?  Have I ever told you?  I was so much more lost than I let on, and only you knew how to reach me, and you’ve been doing it ever since.  Every day, I learn about a new flaw in myself, and every day, you find a way to patch it up.

I thought God had given up on me.  Sure, I knew He was still around looking out for me, but when it came to relationships, I was on my own.  It was the one area in my life where I had refused to listen to Him time and time again, and I was finally reaping what I had sowed.  I deserved every heartache I felt, and then some.  But instead of leaving me to suffer, He gave me you.  He didn’t even give me time to understand just how utterly I had failed Him before presenting you to me.

I was so good at being the good girl in every area of my life except that one, and that’s the area that God chose to redeem.  When God told me almost four years ago that you were a gift I would have the rest of my life, He wasn’t kidding.  And today, on a day celebrated by expensive flowers and fattening chocolate and cheesy cards, I wanted to tell you again why I love you so much (and the whole virtual world, while I'm at it).

You rescued me then, you’re rescuing me now, and I know you’ll keep right on rescuing me with that same persistence that so annoyed me when I first met you.  Thank you.  

I love you 1,000 times more than these words even begin to convey.  Happy Valentine’s Day my love.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pizza Mishaps

Anyone who has ever been in love knows there are moments where you just know it's the real deal.  Here’s one of mine back when my hub hub and I were dating.

Some context, please.  For as long as I can remember, I have had a very weird relationship with food.  I am (was?) incredibly picky, and it’s something I hate talking about even know.  I have dealt with so many jabs and snide comments about my eating habits that I lost count years and years ago.  Why not just force myself to eat more variety, you ask?  Fabulous question, and here’s your fabulous answer: I couldn’t.  For some reason, my gag reflex is triggered very easily, and it’s somewhat unpredictable.  Sometimes it’s the smell that gets me, other times it’s the texture, or most often, the taste.  

The worst part is that there’s no reason or rhyme to it.  I don’t like tomatoes, but I’ll dip my fries in ketchup any day.  I don’t like sour cream and onions are my mortal enemy, but I love sour cream and onion potato chips.  Just shrug along with me friends, I don’t get it either.

This makes me hard to cook for, and I’ve turned down many a dinner invitation for fear of the menu.  I feel embarrassed and ashamed every time I have to ask someone what’s in a dish.  I’ve gotten angry, lied about not being hungry, and cried over it later.  Psychologists do your thing, because something about this whole issue goes deep emotionally for me.

So here I was with my soon-to-be hubnub, out to pizza with my grandma and aunts visiting from out of town.  We were at Gino’s East, about to devour what can only be known as the best pizza on the planet.  I greedily snatched my piece onto my plate and began scraping off the large chunks of tomato so I could get to the gooey cheese and perfectly spiced pepperoni underneath.  As I scraped, the dreaded barb came:

“Mitch, I’m not sure how you do it.  Isn’t that embarrassing to you?”

I felt the shame flood my body as I cautiously turned my eyes to my knight, who responded:

“I don’t find it embarrassing at all.  It’s just who she is.”

As I reflect on this now, almost 2 years later, it’s really so indicative of who we are as a couple.  No, he didn’t come up with some romantic swoon-worthy answer, but instead quietly defended me and protected me at my most vulnerable.  

Though I complain sometimes about his lack of romance, he is the most solid, steady, and loyal man I have ever met.  And this was one of the moments, no matter how insignificant it may seem, where I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that this man could care for me the rest of my life.  

Monday, February 6, 2012


By now, the whole world knows about the crazy women who consider clipping coupons their full-time job and will haunt your dreams if you ring up their purchase without their full $308 discount.  

I am at a crossroads with these shows and these women.  One part of me is totally disgusted by these women, their stockpiles, and their psycho attitudes.  The other part of me is slightly jealous that they save so much while still providing their family with (mostly) healthy meals.

I am not one of those women.  I just can’t be that mean to those poor checkout ladies, and I don’t have the time to spend cutting coupons all day (doesn’t their hand get tired from those scissors??).  


Last month, we spent an obscene amount on groceries.  I don’t really know how it happened, but at the end of the month, we were eating stale bread and almost-black bananas, because we had no money left in the grocery fund.  As much as we love that whole “we don’t have money but we’re living on love” thing, we also like to eat real food instead of pasta 4 days in a row.

So I am trying to be much more intentional about how much I spend on groceries, following the less-crazy but still savvy shopper’s advice about making meal plans and planning food based on what’s on sale that week.  I want to update you at the end of each month, and I am already crazy excited about the progress I’ve made this month!


I just signed up for this great program that allows bloggers to request free books as long as they agree to post a review about it.  Those of you who know me well know I am a book-devouring fiend with no mercy for those beautiful white pages, so needless to say, expect some reviews on some great (or not) books!

That’s all for now, but I have forced you have to come back by enticing you with wonderful promises of saving money and reading good books.  Even the best of you can’t resist such delicacies, so I’ll see you again soon!*

*I won’t really see you, because this is only a computer.  Silly reader!

{Photo source}

Friday, February 3, 2012

Welcome to My Kingdom

I have been feeling vastly uninspired by pretty much everything lately.  I’m not sure if it’s just a case of the winter blues or if my burned-out-ness (don’t judge me) is rearing its nasty little head.  Either way, I’ve been wanting to write even when I do feel like the Queen of Blahs, and I saw this wonderful post which did, in fact, inspire me.  You should thank this person, though I have no idea who she is.

If I could, I would most definitely take each and every one of you lovely people reading this blog out to coffee.  We could chat about life and where we’re at and laugh and just be together.  I would like that very much.

But since many of you who read this live far far away from the great state of Oregon, here’s what would happen if we could.

We would go to any number of trendy hipster coffee shops downtown, and make small talk as we perused the menu, deciding between coffee or hot chocolate or my signature drink, the chocolate chai.  Maybe we’d decide to share a scone or maybe we’d both agree we didn’t really need it.

We’d gather our drinks and make our way to a quieter table in the back, where after settling in, we could really chat it up.  I’d ask how you’ve been doing, how you’re enjoying things and what you’re looking forward to.  Then I’d tell you that things are just ok in my neck of the woods, that I get kind of lonely sometimes and don’t love my job.

If we were really close, I might confess that in reality, my nights of sleepless anxiety about my job have returned for no known reason, and it’s wreaking a small amount of havoc on my life (is there ever really a small amount of havoc??).  I might tell you that it’s been really hard because we don’t have many friends, and after being so close to so many people in college, we are going through withdrawal like woah.  

But then I’d put a positive spin on it, because I’d hate to leave you feeling sad or sorry for me.  I’d tell you that our finances are going well and we’re hoping to even have enough to escape somewhere for a weekend.  I’d tell you that I’m excited to go visit my sister and meet my new niece next month, and that the weather has been so nice lately, how could I possibly be sad?

No matter what, I’d leave feeling better and glad to know you, and to know you care about my life enough to meet with me (or read my blog, see how I did that??).  I’d thank you just for being my friend and leave with a smile on my face, for sure.  

So thanks, everyone.  And when my life has something exciting enough happen to write about it, I promise you’ll be the first one to know. :)