We're back...

You won't believe what we've accomplished these past couple months. First and foremost, Elsie is 1! WTH. How did that happen?!
I actually finished making her a happy birthday banner and this sweet crown made from a thrifted sweater. The highlights of my year as I actually got to do some crafting. Oh, and this was made for her present. It was also made from a part of that same sweater, as well as a couple others. It's freakin' cute.

Secondly, we did it! We set a goal way back when, and we did it. Early I might add. Just, FYI, I'm pretty good at setting close to insurmountable goals and then being disappointed when it doesn't pan out (as Sam so endearingly notes). I also would like to point out that not only did we meet this insurmountable goal, but we "freekin' rocked it." We paid off my graduate school loans in the amount of roughly $25,000 since April. We are now down to about $65,000. This whole thing is seeming a bit more doable. 

We would love to hear from you if you somehow stopped by and are on this journey with us. 

It feels good to make progress.



I'm not sure how to write this. I don't want to sound pathetic or pitiable. I don't feel that way, I just feel sad and I miss my friends. Seriously, we pretty much don't see people anymore. We hang out with the family weekly but other than that pretty much everyone has been abandoned. Not on purpose. I want all you friends to know, we had no idea that we would be unreachable.

For the past week or two it's consumed me. I'm afraid doing this, this crazy 2 year journey of intensity towards paying off debt, is going to cost us our friendships. I am usually the social director of our marriage. I am too tired, with all my new duties w/ 50-60 hour work weeks to get anything done once I'm home. It makes me sad since what I'd like to be doing is connecting with the people I love. This lack of contact becomes clear when I meet up with friends after a long absence and realize I've missed weeks or months of their lives and them mine. Ugh. I am not built to live in superficial relationships. I thrive on community and intimacy.

This is going to be harder than I thought. Anyone want to do this crazy journey with us? We could use the camaraderie. We make a mean rice and beans.



Hard Core

We are in the thick of it. I know what you're saying, "You just started, how can you be in the thick of it?" But we are. I've got one more day of a 6 day in a row work week (where 2 of those days included 10 hour days). We are in the THICK of it. June is going to be hard core. It's pretty much 6 day work weeks for me all month. Once July rolls around I'm going to start a new job. Yes, a third job. It's at a skilled nursing facility (which I've never worked at before, which means new paperwork and learning the system...ugh...more stress) about 35 miles away from home. It's guaranteed hours weekly, and let's just say, they made the offer too good to refuse. We're in the thick of it.

Sam called me while I was at work today and said "I was listening to Dave this afternoon and I just want you to know that you're hard core. Going from 2 days a week to full-time was a huge change and I appreciate you're willingness to do this for our family." I appreciate him loving on me but really, this is totally a team effort. Basically, we never have days off together anymore. We can't. It's a waste of too much money. I know that sounds ridiculous but daycare is expensive so if I can work on a day when there are no daycare expenses I need to do it. Secondly, Sam has taken up a huge amount of household responsibility. Since I'm really not home anymore Sam has picked up the grocery shopping, laundry, diaper washing and most of the cooking responsibilities. As difficult as it is for me to be away from my family (it's not how I'm built...I don't want to be a working mama. I yearn to be home and be a homemaker) it is such an amazing feeling to come home to an amazingly cooked meal, happy children and a satisfied husband who kisses me hello and then says "we had a great day together."
We're functioning in the THICK of it. We can do this. I tell Sam "you're hard core." He says "you know why I'm hard core, because I do this (pointing to the amazing dinner he's come up with) in this piece of shit kitchen." Yes, I quote.
I wanted you to witness the piece of shit kitchen. We've already decided that when we're debt free this will be the first room we'll save for to gut and re-do. Oh the beautiful thoughts. Here is my beginning ideaboard. Any ideas?


8 is less than 9

I've been trying to update the title up there. The one that is more than $90,000. I've been trying, but I can't remember how to update file formats and SaveAs commands to get platforms to talk friendly to each other. I've been trying to post our new title, the one that is just under $90,000 - the one with an 8 leading the long march.

Our shift has been interesting. April was furious and startling - a cycle of dinner times and bed times and cleaning times and very little down times. We have commented to each other, more than once, that we are living exactly the life we never wanted to live - busy, and fractured and, least palatable of all, focused on money. Even as I sent off our extra payment to the loan sharks tonight, it struck me how much I dislike how much we have been thinking and talking and working for money. Nevertheless, this is the cost of our decisions: to live for a while with discomfort and distress. I am thankful for the opportunity to embrace them both.

Kedzie has entered the WHY? phase of his verbal journey. When I am walking out the door to work, or when Nicole is pulling a 3-day weekend stint, he'll often ask "Where go, papa?" To work. "Why?" Because I made some short-sighted decisions and I want to make them right. Our future is too full of possibility to do anything else. "Oh. Bye, papa. La you." I love you, too, Kedzie.

Mama's Day

I never thought a day could be so perfect. It's funny how when you go into something without expectations...perfection.

The day began when my husband personal chef had eggs betty (a play on eggs benedict from this restaurant) with local asparagus from the farmer's market, canadian bacon from our meat CSA, and homemade biscuits from here. Needless to say it started out quite yummy.

Next we spent the morning playing baseball with our son (if that's not Americana...) and laying under the shade of our new trees.
I get this face a LOT.

The whole afternoon was spent with family: Sam's brother and family and his parents. We went to our community park and had a picnic. It was glorious. It's walkable from our house through a little wooded trail and henceforth will keep us from ever living in the city again.
Gammy & the babies.

Classic mama's day photo, blurry and all. I love it.



So, I know y'all probably know this already but Netflix is rad. Yes, rad. So, we're trying to pinch pennies as much as possible, as you might be aware. On Tuesday nights I usually abandon Sam and my children and head to yoga class. While I love most things about this such as, getting out of the house with some adult time, and furthering my yoganess, the whole paying money for the class is a bummer. Tonight I opted to see what yoga class Netflix might have on its "watch instantly" list. This one was awesome. My abs are still burning. (Which isn't saying much I guess. When one allows said abs to be stretched to oblivion for 2 years and then barely does anything to get them back; I hardly feel I can complain.) Basically, I need to get back on the exercise train. Mostly for myself and my health but a little bit because I'm a physical freakin therapist and I feel like a bit of a hypocrite. No longer.

Any ideas for freebies?

In other news Kedzie is now in a big boy bed. He's not my baby anymore. All those women in the grocery store are right, they really do grow up fast.



No, she didn't get arrested. She had us worried for a few days (and sleepless nights) at home and finally when Monday rolled around we decided to head to the MD. Her pediatrician (4 days prior) had diagnosed her with asthma/reactive airway disease and she'd been on steroids (oral and inhaled) all weekend. Nothing seemed to be working and she constantly sounded like a 95 year old frail woman with pneumonia. Not good. Anyway, long story short, she was breathing with great difficulty and a nebulizer treatment did nothing for her in the office so off to the hospital we went. Thank God for family, Kedzie had a grand ol' time with his cousins while Sam, Elsie and I hung out in the hospital. Scary, institutionalized bed and all.
She's doing fine. We really only stayed about 6 hours and they let us out. They monitored her O2 saturation and she maintained well. Her respiratory rate decreased and she calmed down a bit once she took a nap in the Beco. (She was having none of that bed). 

So, a bit scary but made us all thankful that she doesn't have cystic fibrosis or any number of chronic diseases that went through our heads. As Kedzie said to his auntie when we heard we were all coming home to have dinner with everyone, "Elsie happy now?" Elsie is happy now.


The Basement Wins.

So, small hiccup. About two weeks ago, Sam and I both noticed a small wet spot on the carpet that's in the spare bedroom in the basement. I chalked it up to the dog peeing there (I'm not sure why now that I look back on it...he does NOT just pee willy-nilly in the house). Sam, luckily, didn't easily let it go. Come to find out we had a leaky pipe that needed to be repaired immediately. The water had been leaking for a few weeks, it had soaked the floor and seeped under the carpet in the bedroom next door to the utility closet. Long story short, we got it fixed, pulled up the carpet and got everything nice and dry. We totally thought we'd lucked out. Not that big of a problem and we thought we'd salvaged the carpet. We'd just need to clean it and we'd be in business for a renter.

Then, Murphy, (as Dave says) knocked on our door. A few nights ago, Sam poked his head down the steps because he thought he heard something. Yeah, he did hear something. A burst pipe with water shooting EVERYWHERE. A couple inches of water coated our basement floor, many of our packing boxes with many of our belongings, and the carpet is dead. I'm not really into mold so the carpet, along with a few of the walls/drywall has to go.

It's fixed. Everything's OK. It really only cost a few hundred dollars (so far) but mostly, the basement is going to take a bit more work than planned. I'm OK with it. The basement, in its current state, is one of THE ugliest places I've ever been in. It needs some love. I'm learning to be as frugal as possible thanks to these sites. Check them out. Sweet inspiration.
Young House Love
Bower Power
Barefoot in the Kitchen
Ana White
And thanks to Sarah: Man vs. Debt
Happy perusing. Try to not be inspired.

That's where we're at. There will be before and after pictures.



We've been diligently working towards our goal this last payperiod. I've been working a lot more so our life has been much less like I'm a stay-at-home mama and more like a full-time working mama. This seems to have taken a toll on more than just the expected. Mostly, though, it's difficult to come home, make dinner, pack lunches, clean up dishes, put babies to bed and have any time for each other. And do it all again the next day.

I can hear you..."wah, wah, wah." I know. Our life is blessed and I am thankful for this moment of sleeping babies, a husband (who played house husband all weekend) who is currently tending to our household needs by folding laundry, and a nice chunk of change to show for all this hard work.

 Kedzie 8 months
Elsa 7 months

So, this totally goes against Dave Ramsey philosophy, but I think we're gonna hold onto the money until:
1. we figure out what we're going to do to the basement in order to get it in rentable shape. We don't think this will take very much. Replace the windows, clean the carpet, new shower curtain and LOTS of organization. We're hoping to not have to throw too much cash into it but if we can get it fixed up and rentable by August we will be quite pleased with ourselves.
2. We're totally going to save enough to pay off my graduate student loans, which is a whopping $24,000. I know, ridiculous. That loan is currently our highest monthly payment of around $240. Basically, when we get that baby paid off we'll have $240 extra dollars per month. Awesome. That's what Dave calls a Debt Snowball. 

I'm not sure it's possible, but I'd love to be able to pay that baby off by my birthday. I'm not sure there could be a better present. Goal is set, it's out there in cyberspace. October 12th, here we come!


We've probably earned that

It's a surprise to none of you, I'm sure, that we are at this point - this do-over, start-again, once-more point. We are dramatic people, people of passion, we know that and acknowledge that, and dramatic people tend to act in fits and starts. We deserve your skeptical glances, we've earned your doubtful sighs.

But, people of passion, once steered and provided the tools for the task, are also capable of crazy, passion-driven things. This year behind us has served as both rudder and depot. We find ourselves another year into our lives but still unable to live the lives we want, the lives we are called into, because of the choices we've made to jump into our holes of debt. We also, however, have a system in place that, with the addition of more than a little determination, perhaps even a lot of passion, equips us to plunge headlong into the task. We've mastered the art of cash-living in a plastic world. We've tweaked and tuned our spreadsheets and charts. Now, it's just a matter of choosing and changing; saying yes to living with less. When all is said and done - and it will be said and done because it must be said and done, we have too much living to live to let it be otherwise - our hope is to lift our heads from our work and realize that we are free, not only free of this load but really, wholly free. I don't think anyone can earn that; that is grace.

So, I come to you again, dear friends, to seek your support, your solidarity. Sigh all you'd like in the privacy of your homes, glance skeptically, just do it behind our backs. I'm not asking for financial contributions or standing dinner invitations, I'm asking for encouraging pats on the back, a shared understanding that it is difficult to change a lifestyle but that change is possible and good. We definitely have not earned that, your support, but we're hoping for a bit more grace.

Like I said, we're dramatic people. Thanks for loving us anyway.


Change is in the air...

We're back! And in normal Rule fashion we're diving in head first.

Spring is here, and that makes us itchy for change. What we've been doing just doesn't work anymore. We're "sick and tired of being sick and tired" as Dave Ramsey so lovingly puts it. I've been crunching numbers...we can do this. We've moved, we're still living out of boxes and our current bedroom has got to be the ugliest bedroom on the planet, but I don't care. No more expensive house projects. I will live in that ugly room for 3 1/2 years until that last debt is paid off. We can do it.

I've recently started a new job that has me in my car driving quite a bit. I, not realizing what I was in for, loaded up the iphone (which is now a glorified ipod...more on that later) with about 25 podcasts of the Dave Ramsey show. I've plowed through about 12 of them already. I'm ready to start over. Sam and I have both realized that when we thought we were doing the Dave Ramsey plan, we were slowly working up to the Dave Ramsey plan. We were not intense and intense is what it takes to make this work.

We're intense. We've got a plan and we're sticking to it. Some realizations:

  1. We can't have everything and we're not entitled to anything. Just because other people live a certain way does not mean we can or are entitled to. We have got to pay off those student loans before we can choose our lifestyle.
  2. "We've got to live like no one else so that later we can live like no one else." Yes, Dave said that. It's so true, though. So, we live without cable tv, we don't go out to dinner, we rent out our basement for some income...we do those things now so that we can be who we want to be as a family later.
  3. I didn't spend $25,000 in student loans to be a stay-at-home mama. Yeah, it sounds a bit harsh but it's true. When the $25,000 is paid in full, than I can justify staying home. I don't plan on working ALL the time but I need to work more to bring up our income level to create that gigantic debt bomb we need per payperiod. And then, I can be home with my loves...

Part of our plan: (yes, it includes haircuts by mama).
  1. $93,000 (our new total) paid off in 3.5 years = roughly $1020 per payperiod.
  2. Rent out our basement by June. We've got some fixing up to do down there but here's hoping some reliable person finds it too good a deal to pass up.
  3. Nicole works more. More income = more debt bomb.
  4. Live on less. No more iphone. I'm mourning already. We got rid of our at&t plan and switched to us cellular allowing us to get rid of our home phone, too. (at&t cell phones don't work well in the woods). We're getting rid of direct tv. We're cutting our budget down to bare bones and attempting to live on Sam's salary only. This shouldn't be that difficult as family's often live on less. No more eating out. No more frivolous spending. Really, we're broke. You can't have $93,000 in debt and live like you're rich. It's ridiculous. It's going to be difficult...but it has to be done.
  5. No more house projects. I keep telling myself, once those debts are paid off, it'll be so easy to save up for a project and get it paid for with cash. It'll take no time at all because our income will be so much larger without those pesky loans. Small projects will still be happening but I have got to contain myself and learn to decorate on a very, very, very tight budget. Another challenge, I can do it!
We'd love to hear what ya'll have to say. Crazy? Brilliant? Somewhere in-between? Any good ideas?