Thursday, February 24, 2011

favorite baby photos

james and i have been talking about buying a nice camera for the birth of baby #2.  i love, love photography, but i have been hesitant to invest in a good camera for fear it would make me feel guilty if i ever got parker's pictures professionally done.  when i look at professional photos vs. most people who try to take them at home with a nice camera, they never seem to turn out quite as nice.  at the same time, i think half of it is actually planning a portrait time and setting up all of the props to make it look like a professional shoot.  there is part of me that loves this creative aspect of it and even though i don't have photoshop (or the knowledge of it), i have :).

we haven't reached a final decision on the camera (and i have no clue what to buy so if you have suggestions of easy to use cameras for $500 or less that look professional, let me know!).  in the meantime i've been thinking about what makes a cute baby photo.  i collected a few photos of sweet newborns and tried to find common themes in what works:
**sleeping babies
**big hats
**woven sacks
**furry rugs
**big shells to rest the baby in

oh they are sooo cute!  can't wait to have another baby!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

birthday party planning

james has been picking up a few extra shifts to take days off for all of my travel this month, so what have i been up to while he works for 24 hours?  nothing better than planning parker's 2nd birthday party.  these screenshots are very much works in progress, but here's what i've got so far...

parker LOVES elmo.  elmo/melmo is his favorite word, and he always says it with the biggest smile on his face.  even though i don't think elmo is a particulary "cool" or modern birthday theme, it's all about parker and what he wants.  here's why i put together for the invitation and plan to print on cardstock and put on scrapbooking paper...
i saw someone made waterbottle labels so i tried to copy them
they have this cake pan at hobby lobby, and i'm confident my super cake decorator neighbor, heather, can replicate it!
the shirts i ordered as party favors with the kids' names on the back. i have parker's hanging in his closet and everytime i show it to him, he yells "elmo" and wants to put it on.  not until the party little man!
i need to make a checklist of other party necessities (plates, napkins, activities, etc.), but that is enough for tonight and we are planning to keep the party small.  hope everyone is having a wonderful week!  i know these two are in mexico as we enjoyed their wedding last weekend.
time for my nightly glass of skim milk and prenatal pill (it is the only time of day i can take them without feeling sick).  sweet dreams, love yall!

Friday, February 18, 2011

jbu, jbu, eagles, eagles!

today kelly's korner is doing a "show us your alma matter."  i wasn't going to post, but thinking about jbu makes me happy so i decided to dig up some old photos.  when i reflect on my 6 years (yes i stayed for 2 years of grad school because i love the place so much, ha) at jbu, i am so grateful for the holistic education i received at jbu.  i truly loved every aspect of the school--the classes, social life, spiritual life, etc.  sure there were people i was not a huge fan of and things frustrated me from time to time, but overall the jbu atmosphere was so positive and encouraging, and i loved my time there.

my two favorite memories from jbu are my girlfriends and meeting james. when i see the pic below, i am taken back to the beginning of senior year when 8 of our 9 fun-loving friends were single ladies ready to make the most of our college career.  we'd been through many good and bad times, cried and sympathized with each other over boys, classes, etc.  we were determined to create memories our last year together.  tara, rachel, carajean, jenna, summer, emily, lisa and charity--miss hanging out with you!
after you've been at a small school for 4 years, you feel like you've met/dated anyone you might be compatible with, and so i'd given up hope of finding my spouse at jbu.  i decided to just have fun my senior year getting to know a wide variety of people and actually went on dates with 3 different guys the weekend james and i went on our first date, haha.  james was my favorite and 5 years later, here we are married with 1 1/2 kids.  even though there are times i wish we could've dated longer while we were at school, being single for most of college allowed us to grow and experience things we wouldn't have if we were together the whole time.  love you, baby, and glad that God brought us together!
one of my other favorite memories is intramurals.  i love competition, camaraderie and staying busy, so i played virtually every intramural sport the school offered.  james and i actually met (we think) for the first time on the intramural field our sophomore year when he reffed one of my flag football games!
one of the biggest surprise blessings of my time at jbu was the opportunity to get to play for the tennis team.  by no means were we any kind of prized athletes (at all), but i loved getting paid to workout and improve my skills in the sport.  i miss playing tennis every day!
my time at jbu would not have been nearly as enjoyable with my best friend and roommate of four years, lisa.  it is nice that we only live 5 minutes from each other now and can still be a part of each others' lives!
my favorite tangible piece of jbu was by far my roomate charity's love sac!  i loved, loved, LOVED this thing (seriously spent several hours each day doing accounting homework on it).  i want to buy one for our house now but cannot swallow the cost of one so i keep putting it off.
even coming from kansas, people questioned why i would want to go to school in arkansas.  my friends and i wanted to experience true arkansas life so we went to brandon's house in hector for a weekend and experienced true arkansas with chicken houses, four wheelers and good ole' country fun.
because of my major, i had a lot of good platonic guy friends.  thanks for the memories dusty, tj, todd, etc.!
i loved getting to know different groups of people at jbu, and my friends and i had fun hanging out with everyone from the basketball team to the crazy young sophomores. 

looking at all of these photos really makes me want to have a reunion!  it is sad that most of my friends are spread out across the country now and we don't talk to each other enough.  when we graduated we went on a cruise together and had a blast.  hopefully we can do something like this with our spouses again since almost all of us are married now--good times.
i would highly recommend jbu to anyone who is looking for a small christian school experience.  you will look back and treasure your time there!!  love yall.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

finance post: prepaying a mortgage vs. investing

if you have been reading my blog for very long, you know that i love finance, especially personal finance.  i've written on the subject several times including here on our kehrli family goals and here on budgeting and saving for college (and as a follow up--transferring parker's money market account to a fidelity fund = 23% growth since i wrote the blog post in june.  take that horrible interest rates!  note that i recognize this is a blessing and not something i can take any credit for as the market has very dynamic over the last several years and we just happened to invest at the right time).  there is so much freedom that comes from wise financial choices and it pains me to see to see others struggle with this topic (although i am by no means a finance expert or perfect in this area...and i might have just bought a pair of maternity jeans for over $100 and ordered unneccesary personalized elmo t-shirts as birthday party favors for all of parker's friends :)). 

anyway, as james and i were reviewing our taxes this year, we started talking about our financial plan for 2011.  as our income went up x in 2010, our taxes literally went up 4x, and i told james my #1 financial goal for the year was to reduce our taxable income for the coming year, mainly through increased IRA contributions.  james argued that he really wanted to use any kind of extra income to pay off our house faster and not worry about a little extra tax, and so began the debate...

i googled, "prepaying a mortgage vs. investing" and came across many interesting articles.  a majority of the financial experts agree that mathematically investing = higher returns (according to historical market stats).  some of the articles were almost humorous in their basic advice, i.e. it is wiser to pay off a high interest credit card debt vs. prepaying a mortgage (you think?), and then i found this article, which i thought was a refreshing view on the subject (ignore the website url, haha).

1. If you're asking yourself whether to prepay or invest, you're probably in pretty good shape.
2. Put away all pens and calculators and go for a walk with your spouse (this is not solely a math decision).
3. Do what you think is the best choice for your family and your life goals.

life goals, biggest life goal is to spend time with my family.  i've often felt trapped that as long as james continues firefighting, i will never be able to stay at home (which btw, i completely support him in this and am glad he loves his job and schedule).  however, after reviewing our finances more, we've created a plan to have our all of our debt paid off in 7 years.  with no house payment, car payment, or any other kind of debt, it doesn't really matter how much firefighters make because i know we can live on the wages (plus the amount of money we would save on taxes would almost be a 2nd income [not that we make a lot of money, but going from two incomes to one greatly reduces anyone's taxes]).  it is encouraging to know that if we continue on our current route, i can retire in 7 years!  there is light at the end of the tunnel.

how awesome would it be to have james work 24 hours shifts, and then come home to the kids and me for 48 hours (i'd be home all the time!).  we could get a family golf membership and play several days a week, go to the pool, volunteer more, have tons of time for family vacations, etc.  i could go to the gym while the kids are at school and actually have time to plan meals at night (which will be so necessary when i have a house full of hungry boys!).  oh the possibilities are endless.  so i think i've been swayed...for us the emotional rewards and freedom not having a house payment provides far outweigh a little extra money in retirement.  plus if our house is paid off and our kids' colleges are already saved for, the amount of money required for retirement should be much lower.

will all of this change?  probably.  who knows what life will throw at us, but having a plan for right now feels good and gives me hope.  on the days when i am jealous of other mom's staying at home, i know that my time will come. 

i am now 24 weeks along and have not done a single pregnancy post, ha.  baby kehrli #2, i love you!!  parker i love you, too.  thanks for being my fun-loving crazy man. 
until next time...go packers!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

old videos--parker firsts

i am home!!!  after a long, long week of airports, hotels, rerouting and finally driving home from tulsa, it feels sooo good to be home with my family.  i am phsyically and emotionally exhausted, so here are a few old vidoes of parker's firsts:

parker's first cries (he was a screamer!):

parker's first time to sit up:

parker's first steps:

parker's first time sledding!

night yall, thanks for the overwhelming amount of comments on paul's post.  i know i still owe a few emails...more to come soon.  love!