Monday, November 21, 2011

on saving

i tried to write a post about parenting tonight but it was just not coming together, so instead we'll go with the default topic of this blog, finance.  inspired by a friend who  paid off her home in her twenties (on one income!), james and i are on a rapid plan of paying off our house as fast as possible (while still contributing to our 401k match, kids' college funds, giving, etc.).  we've made budget the first 3 months, which is very encouraging.  i love going to the bank and asking them to put x dollars toward a "principal only payment."  i equally love reworking amortization tables every few months to see how quickly we can pay off our house if we add extra.  and i love my frugal husband who is committed to sacrifice monthly spending money and all possible bonuses this year to put toward the house.  yes, i am a nerd...but a nerd who will love not having a house payment in a few years if we stay on track.  oh the freedom!
we acknowledge that it's not up to us to stay on track and are thankful for a God who is the ultimate provider.  he has given james and me great educations and jobs, and we know they could easily be taken away.  we are trying to be good stewards and rid ourselves of all debt (i think it is interesting that most people assume debt = credit card debt, school loans, even car loans, but very few people call a home loan debt).  we are blessed to have wise friends and family who support and guide us in our financial decisions and we can talk openly to about money.

suzie ortman preaches open dialogue about finances with our spouses, children, etc. and i think it is so crucial to have someone to go to for financial advise (besides a bank loan officer, real estate agent, or anyone else who might have an incentivized biase).  james and i keep an excel budget on our computer of all of our transactions during the month broken into categories so we can see exactly where our money is going and plan our long term goals every few months.  we also bounce our financial ideas off our parents and very close trusted friends for input.

this article in smart money  emphasizes the importance of social support when it comes to money.  "In the U.S. this principle lies behind the success of Weight Watchers, with its group weigh-ins, and Alcoholics Anonymous, with its group confessions. But it's not a principle that most of us apply to our money: Saving is a private matter, and one that gets neglected. The consequences of our spending are firmly in the public view: a spacious home, a luxury car with the name of the kids' fancy school plastered on the bumper. But the consequences of our failure to save -- a loan rejection, an uncertain retirement, letters from a debt collector -- are much more discreet. This behind-closed-doors effect lets many people talk a good game about their financial responsibilities, while shirking them in practice, says Bob Pozen, a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School: "People say they want to save, but they don't."

i hope we can all start to shed the walls of keeping finance a taboo subject.  i think one of the reasons money is the biggest cause of divorce is because people are so afraid to talk about the subject.  while we don't need to tell others how much we make, how much we have in savings, etc. we can all do ourselves a favor and enlist others to help keep us accountable for our financial decisions, especially those who have more experience and wisdom than ourselves.  love you all!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

seasons of love

raising a 2 year old and infant can be challenging and restricting.  while others are traveling the world, snowboarding the slopes and staying out late, james and i are usually at home by 8pm putting our lil' guys down for bed.  as extroverts who like to get out, this season of life is stretching.  we often find ourselves saying, "can you wait until the boys are old enough to go golfing with us or even just go out without scheduling the days around nap routines?"  it is easy to wish the boys were older, especially paxton now that we've seen how much fun 2 year olds can be.  however, we are learning to appreciate the slowness of this special time knowing it will soon pass by.  while paxton cannot talk, walk, or communicate much yet, how can this sweet goodness not bring a smile to your face?  (he can smile!)
and then there are times when you set up a whole photo shoot in the woods, dress the boys in their sunday best and get these precious looks (seriously mom?!?)
do we wish we would've waited longer to have kids? sometimes.  would we trade them for anything?  no.  the more time and energy we pour into parker & paxton, the more we love them.  every molding moment yields pride in our children's development and validates the role we are playing in shaping who they are as little people.  loving and teaching children is one of the most fulfilling endeavors and i am thankful for the opportunity to do it every day.  may i make the most of each day, each hour and each minute i am blessed to spend with my boys.  love you all and give your kids a big hug and kiss today!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

5x7 Folded Card

Hearts And Home Christmas Card
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

rock 'n' roll st. louis

what a weekend!  we did it!  my (single) brother-in-law, paul, and i ran the st. louis half marathon!
among the other 20,000 runners
the night before the race i got food poisoning and was throwing up and going to the bathroom until 11pm.  long story, but i don't think the fridge in our room was properly working, and after i drank 2 large glasses of semi-cold milk, my stomach immediately started grumbly and then everything went sour.

james sweetly offered to run the race for me since we'd already paid the entry fee and he didn't want it to go to waste.  as much i would've liked to see him run (untrained), i got up in the morning feeling much better and decided to just do it.

hopefully in the spring i'll do another one to help lose the rest of my baby weight (ugh, go away).  for now i will wake up with a little more pride in finishing and thankfulness that the training and run did not affect my milk supply!  paxton is still going strong with no formula so far.

happy 4 months to my little guy a few days late.  17 lbs (90%), 27 inches (98%).  grow, baby, grow!!!  love yall.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

baby gifts--favorite ideas for personalized items

people often ask where i get all of my personalized baby stuff, so i thought i would share 10 gift ideas and links so some of my favorite etsy shops!  none of these people paid anything to have their sites featured (my blog is not that cool :))...these are just great places to shop online!

1. monogrammed burp cloths, bibs, etc.  there are tons of etsy shops selling these.  i get mine local in nwa from my friend brenda who runs a shop out of her home in springdale.  burp cloths, blankies and bibs are a hit at every shower!

2. iron on decals.  love these!!  budget friendly way to give personalized gifts (you can buy blue or brown & white striped onesies at walmart for $2 or hobby lobby to iron these onto or tshirts for $4 from Target).
here are some i made for pax:

3. personalized bloomers (diaper covers) for little girls. 
4. personalized bean bag name blocks.  i ordered these for parker and pax's room and the boys love throwing them around
5. hair bows and headbands.  half of the reason i want a baby girl is to dress her in big bows (which is probably why God has not given me a girl :)).  but bows make such a cute gift!
6. initial onesies (this one has the name on the butt and comes with a matching tutu!).  so cute.
7. diaper bags & backpacks

8. big bro / lil bro or sis shirts...i ordered these for parker and pax for christmas
9. personalized water bottles.  i ordered these for parker's soccer team and love them!
10. personalized melamie plates.  these make great baby plates for a nursery or a wedding gift!

and there you have some of my internet love.  happy shopping!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

batter up

parker's current favorite song is "take me out to the ballgame" so this picture is very fitting :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

it's a...boy!

no, no no...james and i are are not having any more kids any time soon.  but i wanted to give a shoutout to randy and whitney who both just found out they are having their 2nd boys!  get excited for matching outfits and rowdy pillow fights! 
i am really loving having two little boys.  they are so full of energy and love and make life more exciting and fulfilling.  there are several others i know with two little boys and i've enjoyed reading about their journeys and learning from them.  it is encouraging to know that these moms are dedicated to raising godly boys--the world needs more of them!  :)

amy--caleb & garrett
melissa--lincoln & noah
jill--brock & zane
kim--maddox & ryder (who has the same birthday as paxton!)
wendy-- jonas & noah


Friday, October 7, 2011

mazie's picture perfect party

a couple of weeks ago we attended sweet mazie's first birthday party!  i have been waiting to post photos until her mom, jennifer, put them on her new website.  if you live in nwa, you should it out:

mazie's party actually got featured on a famous party site, so if you want to see more details, check out amy atlas' feature on the party.

here are a few shots i took of the precious birthday girl
jennifer and her husband built the chevron backdrop and jen spraypainted this old high chair.  perfect!
 petit romper + pearls = precious
jennifer's other daughter, madeline.  are they not the most beautiful little girls?
jennifer and me

our lil family (paxton was asleep).  gameday + party = great saturday!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

corn maze

last week our church rented out the ozark corn maze near our house.  parker was brave and rode the cow train in the dark.  (it was a bumpy ride!)  how sweet does paxton look in the picture above?  love him.
amy and i with our lil' babies in tow.  paxton was being fussy but i didn't want to miss out on all of the action, so i nursed him while walking around, ha!  it was the first time i'd ever done that, but i just put my hooter hider over the sling and voila!  james didn't even know i was nursing him so hopefully i didn't gross out too many of the other hundreds of people there.  actually a couple people asked if they could see paxton and i had to awkwardly tell them not right now :).
parker and one of his best buds, jack.  these two have so much fun together.  we are already guessing parker is an extrovert because he gets soooo riled up seeing his friends.
our family of four.  and yes, these are my clothes from college.  they don't really fit any more and i really need to give up my american eagle jean skirt, but it was the only fall outfit i could put together.  love yall.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

wooo pig sooie!

i've lived in arkansas for 9 years now (woah) so i figured it was about time to embrace this hog loving area.  i've been posting game day photos on facebook every saturday and wanted to share a few on the blog (arkansas is undefeated so far!)  wps!!
cookies, cupcakes & petit fours courtesy of the pinnacle white oak gas station :)
paxman and me
sweet brothers

Friday, September 16, 2011

redshirting kindergarten

parker just finished his first week of kids day out (with style):

my work is usually flexible and i often pick parks and pax up at 1pm and work from home while they both nap (until 4pm this week!).  parker's sweet teachers commented both days about how smart he is and how they are impressed he already knows his colors and can count.  of course i smiled with glee and a little pride in myself for diligently working on these things with him.

last year parker's teachers never commented about him being smart.  he was still learning to talk (did not turn 2 until the last month of kdo) and was 5-8 months younger than all of the other kids (he was in the older 1 yr old class).  i even heard one teacher tell the other "you can really tell whose parents read to their kid" and i wanted to tell her to shut up--parker is a boy and he is by far the youngest kid in the class!

so hearing parker's teachers comment on his intellect this year makes me excited.  he is now in the younger 2's class (the 2nd half of the school year birthdays) and so all of the kids are within a month or two of his age and i've realized it is all about who you compare him to.  the same thing happened at church--one day his teachers raved about how he knew all of his animals, sounds, etc., and it was because he was in a class with kids younger than him.

so what does this social observation want to do?  redshirt him for kindergarten! after reading this ny times article and malcolm gladwell's book, outliers, this summer, i was seriously contemplating trying to give parker a competitive advantage by not putting him in kindergarten until he turned 6.  i still haven't completely made up my mind, but i'm leaning toward not doing it because he is in the 95% for height and weight and would just troll above the other kids if he was a year older than most, even with a late birthday.

through observing his school and social interactions, i know parks can hang with other kids who are a little older.  his pediatrician said she thought he would be just fine, but i don't want him to be just fine or hang in there--i want him to excel and be at the top.  maybe i just need to give that up...or i can use those desires for him to be the best and brightest to motivate me to work with him every day when we are home.

even though it is so easy to turn on the tv or get on the computer to "relax" when i come home from work, i am doing everything i can to keep both of them off until the kids are in bed.  when i give parker direct attention through playing together on the floor or reading cuddled up with him, he is much better behaved.  so for now i will keep watching and working with him on developing new skills and knowledge.  we will press on with shapes, numbers, letters, etc. and hopefully he will be more than ready for kindergarten in 3 more years!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

are you going to try for a girl?

i can't tell you the number of times i have been asked if james and i are going to try for a girl.  i have always wanted a big family.  with james and i each having only one sibling, our extended family is pretty small (parker and pax have no cousins).  i've always loved getting together with my tens of cousins for holidays and love being around other large families.  i'd like to think that i am a pretty decent mom and could give many children love and opportunities.  so do i want more kids?  definitely.

james on the other hand isn't quite as eager.  it took a lot of convincing to give parker a lil' brother.  i honestly think james would have been perfecty content with just one child.  parker was an ideal baby and one of our biggest fears before pax was having a difficult child.  during my pregnancy with pax, everyone shared a story of how their kids were so different and if one was an easy baby, the next would be hard.

thankfully, we've had two very easy going babies who are very similar.  they look alike, act alike and are both extremely chill.  every day i am thankful for the blessings of the two healthy boys and the smooth pregnancies and deliveries.  virtually none of my biggest fears materialized and i thank God for having his hand in everything.  before having pax, i feared:

1. he would have colic (no)
2. breastfeeding would be difficult (actually much easier than with parker and in 3 months of life, pax's had zero formula and i have 10 extra bottles pumped and frozen!  love breastfeeding)
3. i would have to have a c-section (although pax's breach presentation threatened this, the ecv worked and no c-section [or pressure to have pitocin or induce!])
4. something would go wrong during labor (nothing besides an episiotomy and the labor was only 6 hours instead of the 18 with parks!)
5. he would have a serious developmental issue (none that i know of yet)

is pax a perfect baby?  no.  he doesn't love his carseat most of the time (although he did much better than expected on the 13 hour drive to wisconsin) and spits up a lot, but if those are the biggest issues, i cannot complain.

who knows if we will have more kids.  if we do, i'd like to be in a place where i could stay home with all of the kids.  having two parents at home makes such a difference and i don't think we could handle 3 with both of us working full-time.  for now i will continue to work and we will work to pay off our home even faster than planned (one of my friends just told me she paid hers off this summer and it was so inspiring to know that someone my age did it...we can do it, too!).  if we do have more kids, it will probably be a few years down the road. 
so are we going to try for a girl? my husband says absolutely not.  if we have more, he only wants boys (and keeps saying he is incapable of producing girls).  as much as i want to buy big bows and zebra print outfits for a little girl, i feel much more confident raising boys and am not sure i would have the patience to put up with girly screams and drama.  for now, i'll just keep loving on these little guys and enjoying every minute of their youth...
love yall.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

happy day

i have to go back to work next wednesday and am dreading it.  don't get me wrong, i enjoy my job and like my coworkers, but i LOVE staying home with my babies and hanging out with other moms.  staying at home is often exhausting and can get frustrating, but i love pouring everything i have into my 2 yr old and 2 month old.  i wouldn't trade the days i have with them for anything.
i feel like my biggest calling in life is to be a mom.  james' and my current plan is for me to stay home when we get the house paid off (which we are on track to do in 6 1/2 more years), but we might change the plan in a few years so i can spend more precious time with the boys while they are young.  there is no greater joy than spending time with your children--watching them learn, grow, smile, laugh, make you laugh, etc.  it is funny that before i had parker, i was convinced i would never enjoy staying at home.  i still don't enjoy cleaning, but i love spending time with the boys.

parker is at a fun stage right now--talking more and gaining independence (potty trained and sleeping in his big boy bed!).  paxton is the sweetest little bug--sleeping from 9pm-5am regularly.  i love nursing him, cuddling with him and smelling his sweet skin after bath time.

i realize this post is overly happy, but we had such a great day today and i want to remember these times when i am back at work and debating if i want to stay at home. 

this morning pax woke up at 5am, nursed for 30 minutes, and then i met a friend at 6am to run 3 miles.  after coming home, showering and hanging out with parker, pax woke back up at 8am and we got einstein brothers' bagels before 5 of the neighborhood moms came over with their babies and toddlers.  we had sweet fellowship (and lots of "rahhhr" screaming and running around from the 2 year olds) and celebration in the joy of good things happening in a friends' life.

parker and i ate left over pasta for lunch and then the two boys and i took a 3 hour nap!  hallelujah!  when we woke up we went over to a neighbor's house to let the kids play outside and then i took the boys to qdoba for dinner.  parker and i read stories for 40 minutes and paxton shared the sweetest smiles.  after the boys went to bed, another neighbor came over to talk and now i am editing pictures of my sweet little lovies.

not every day goes as smoothly as this, but i love the time i get to spend with other women when i stay at home.  it is bittersweet going back to work knowing the group will keep hanging out without me, but i hope to maintain friendships that have deepened this summer throughout the year.

and because i can't end the post without a picture or two, here are a couple pics of the 2/3 year olds over today.  love yall!!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

day in the life: friday

james came home friday morning and we spent 3 hours walking around car wars at the promenade with the boys!  we weren't planning on staying that long, but since we've been looking for a newer car for several months, we wanted to look at every single vehicle for sale.  thankfully we had plenty of water and good snacks.
in the afternoon, parker, pax and i all napped for 2 1/2 hours!  the heat wore us out.  after we woke up, two other families joined us for the first unofficial 2 year old soccer practice!  james and david tried to teach the little guys how to kick, dribble and handle the ball.  i'm not sure that parker or his friends really learned any new skills, but they had fun hanging out and kicking the ball!
we are very excited that parker's buddy caleb signed up for the league and hope he and parks can play on the same team together!  we love caleb and his parents.  they live in our neighborhood and just had a little baby boy, so now we each have two boys the same age and grade!
ahhh fridays.  love.

Friday, August 5, 2011

day in the life: thursday

thursday was the dreaded day at home with both kids without daddy.  thankfully parker had kids day out, so i was able to spend some quality time with pax.  our cleaning lady came to the house for 2 hours and pax slept the whole time, so i was able to clean and organize some baby things while she tackled the kitchen and living room.  i love having her come over, if for no other reason than it gives me a little motivation to pick up knowing she'll be here to polish everything up!  pax all snuggled up in his miracle blanket (i really only swaddle him at night...if he is awake during the day i either put him on his tummy to help him get stronger or put him in the swing):

i spent some time on the computer reading my favorite blogs and buying half price deals (love living social and nwa deal piggy!).  one of my friends from high school recently started a blog about her journey through motherhood and i've enjoyed reading her thoughts.  not only is she is a great writer (studied creative writing at columbia), but we share similar parenting philosophies & hippy lawrence roots, so her blog is especially entertaining.
usually i don't plan outings on the days when james is working, but my friend jenna wanted to go to the splash park so we took parker and barrett out for some fun.  they play so well (parker is just starting to actually "play" with his friends now that he is 2!) and jenna and i were able to have sweet fellowship with each other and our babies.  i am looking forward to joining our community group in the fall and spending time with the roddey family!  (we took a break for the summer with all of our travel plans and the new baby)

for dinner we went got qdoba to go.  i go there at least once a week (and five guys now that it opened next door!)...i am convinced they are the reason i cannot lose all of my pregnancy weight.  but for now, their food is tasty and delicious and parker loves some chicken burrito!! 
to finish the night, we gave pax a lil' bath (parker's bath was the splash park).  after parker got sun spots last year, the doctor told me to stop bathing him as much so i only bathe them like once every 3 days now or when they get really dirty or sweaty--it has helped his skin so much!.  love yall and hope you are having a great week!

Friday, July 22, 2011

day in the life: wednesday

well i am still trucking along with the blog posts, even if they are a few days late.  sometimes i feel like you have to make a choice to either live your life or blog about it, and most days i would rather live it (although some people have the super human power to do both well).  i just can't keep up with the internet and real life.

wednesday was another full day.  james stayed home with paxton in the morning so i could hang out with my friend brittney and her little boys at boingo bounce in fayetteville!  the lil' guys had a great time (and the rest of nwa did as well, as there were probably 100+ people crowded into the place).  parker and jack:
i am thankful james is so willing to stay home with the baby so i can get out.  i simply pumped a bottle before i left and was free for 3 hours!  staying home with paxton is pretty easy right now as he is sleeping so much and a very calm baby.  these little two year olds on the other hand--calm is not the first word that comes to mind :).  i tried to get them to pose for a photo in the bounce house but they were too busy running around.
here we are with our 2 and under crowd.  i can't wait until the boys grow up and we can do even more fun activities together with the taylors!
we grabbed lunch on the way home from tropical smoothie cafe (love it!) and then this little guy passed out for 3 1/2 hours (love that as well).  parks is still sleeping in his crib and has not yet tried to crawl out so i'm going to leave him in there as long as possible.
while p was sleeping, we got two packages in the mail!  i love getting mail and packages--it is one of the highlights of my day.

a couple of work friends sent this harry and david fruit basket and my cousin sent some aden & anais swaddle blankets.  i have never tried them before, but they are soft and breathable--perfect for summer!
next james and i had another discussion about cars.  as i've mentioned in previous posts, we've been saving and looking at cars for several years now.  i was pretty set on getting a big, fancy suv, but as the price of gas keeps rising, my desire for a gas guzzling vehicle drops.  

james is very frugal, and in an effort to convince me not to want an suv, he put together this suze ortman-ish cost comparison of how much an suv vs. sedan would cost both initially and over the span of 8 years.  i have to admit it kind of worked, and i am thankful for having a practical husband who wants to use our money wisely.  while i don't think there is wrong with getting a nice suv, we have decided it is not the best use of our money right now.

it is a little ironic that behind this whiteboard is a "simplify" sign in my kitchen.  for me, having a loaded suv would be very cool and fun, but is frivolous.  i don't want to live an overly lavish life and would rather people know me as a simple and content person than a flashy or cool person.     
  i am very excited that parker is now officially registered for his first team sport!!  this fall, he is playing in a 2.5 yr old soccer league!  they have instructionals for 30 minutes each sunday afternoon and 3 on 3 games immediately following.  i hope parker likes it and has fun!  james thinks there is no question that parker will like it with how outgoing and full of energy p is, but you never  know.  

in preparation of the upcoming season, we bought soccer cleats and shin guards at academy:

as if that wasn't enough for one day, my friends were all going out to noodles for kids eat free, so parker and i joined them and james stayed home with pax again.  i felt a little guilty leaving pax with james so much, but james encourages me to always go out with my friends (if for no other reason than he gets a free golf card to play whenever i go out :)).

i did not take a picture of the group because i was a little pictured out and our group of 6 moms and 10 kids was enough of a zoo without photos.  until tomorrow, love you all and hope everyone is having a great friday!!