Friday, February 26, 2010

My Kid Looks Good in Your Kid's Clothes

This post is going to be rather blunt and transparent. If money matters stress you out, like they do me, I suggest you stop reading. However, if you enjoy the challenge of a budget, like I do, read on.

The truth of the matter is debt stinks. There is no other way around it.
When Chris and I got married we each "inherited" from the other about the same amount of debt, upwards of $20,000-ish each. Not to mention what we've managed to rack up in credit card bills through all of our moving (x3)-changing jobs-having babies endeavors. Now, I tell you this not to draw attention to the excess that we've lived in, rather to inform you of why we desperately needed to set a budget for ourselves. And it's not even that we spend, spend, spend. We just weren't really keeping up with where our money was going. Now, when I am working, it's not as big of a deal to watch the ins and outs of our bank account; but, we made the choice for our family that it would be best for me to stay at home with the bubba, at least for now, working here and there with the Environmental Education program here at camp. You see, we live in the sticks, ladies and gentlemen, and it would most likely cost more money or we would break even once you fill the gas tank for me to go back and forth to town.
Some months we would have extra, some months we were counting pennies. And that is stressful, my friends. We always had enough to pay our bills, thankfully, but stressful nonetheless.
So, in November we started really putting thought and prayer into what we needed to do, seeking the best route to effectively eliminate our debt as quickly as possible. I know there are programs out there (Dave Ramsey amongst others) that are great tools and have really worked for some people, but we know ourselves better than that to try and live their rules. We also knew that we wanted to give our support, our "tithe" if you will, to organizations and people we care about, people who are making a difference in people's lives who are so poor and in such need they aren't even blessed enough to have to have a budget to live on.
Yeah, think about that one for a minute.
As of the first of January we are living on a carefully crafted budget, trying at all cost not to swipe a credit card unless absolutely necessary. We know that God will provide. We know that it may be uncomfortable at times and we may have to go without something we want, but we know we will have a roof over our heads and full tummies...which is considered wealth to many, many people. Even here in our own backyard. Poverty isn't limited to overseas and developing countries...have you seen how many people live on the streets? Children whose teeth are rotting out of their mouths because they have NEVER been to a dentist? Students who save their free lunch at school to take home with them for dinner? It's real.
I write all of this to tell you a few things:
#1 We love hand-me-downs and are thankful for Noah's aunts and cousins who provide him with very cute clothes. I encourage others to love and re-love, for yourself and for others.
#2 We have been blessed in weird ways since putting ourselves on this budget:
- Bills for Noah's birth came in December, we had no idea how we would pay it other than credit. Ugh. Well, about a week later we received an $800 check in the mail from when we overpaid my OB/GYN when we were switching insurances. It covered most of it.
- Chris was given coupons TWO different times from random people. Once in the store, once when we treated ourselves to dinner. We saved $7.50. This may not seem like much to you, but when you are figured to have $0.17 at the end of the month left, it makes you warm and fuzzy inside. Thanks, ladies, for your generosity.
- Family members have paid our way, given us gifts of monetary love, and provided us with many, many things for Noah. We are ever grateful.
#3 It makes you aware and appreciative of what you do have. And makes you want to give more.
#4 There is a feeling of relief and freedom in being on a budget. Backwards, I know. But try it. It's very refreshing to know where your money goes each time you swipe a card or write a check.
#5 It's possible. It is totally, 100% possible to minimize spending and still be comfortable. Or marginally uncomfortable compared to before, but still very, very comfortable.
#6 If we can maintain our current pace, we will be debt-free in five years, maybe sooner. Considering our age, the amount of debt we have, and that I only work seasonally, that's pretty fantastic if you ask me. And then, all that has been put towards debt will go straight into savings. We are blessed in our current situation that our housing is provided, no rent & no utilities. Hopefully Noah will have a pretty fat college fund and we will have a good chunk to start investing for our retirement, in 60 years.

God calls us to give. Give what isn't even ours in the first place. Of our money, our time, our hearts, ourselves. Selflessly. Monetarily, we may not be able to give abundantly right now, but what we have committed to give has opened our eyes and our hearts to the needs of others. And we are by no means giving everything that we could, we are far from it, so please don't read this as I am tooting our own horn. That is certainly not the case.

It's possible folks. I held an unactivated debit card in my wallet for a month (Chris switched our accounts to another bank) and just used it for the first time today. I don't feel like I've missed out or sacrificed too much. It can be done.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Snuggles McGee

Baby loves his mama.
The other night he had a weird schedule going on, I think because he is trying to drop a daytime nap, but
#1 He can't decide which one, and
#2 He just can't keep his eyes open after supper if he skips, bless his little bones.
 He fell asleep right after cereal+bananas and  during milk. I put him down, figuring he would cat-nap for thirty minutes or so, but to my surprise, he slept for almost three hours! He stirred around nine and we were trying to keep things low-key and quiet so he would eat and hopefully go right back down. Well, he was awake and not ready to sleep yet, but he was very ready to snuggle. I handed him over to Chris for some male-bonding, but Noah was not having it.
Bubba boy wanted his mama. To snuggle with his mama.
This is a new thing. To want his mama but not the boob.
Mama likey.

He eventually fell asleep there. So stinking precious. And he had just had a bath that day, so clean baby aroma was wafting in my face. Yum. 

In other developments, we've been able to lay him in his crib, awake, and he just "talks" himself to sleep. Up until now we've rocked him nearly every night, and the first night I laid him in there, kissed him and told him I loved him, he was asleep within minutes. It's amazing. He's an incredible baby. I love rocking him and having that sweet time with him, but it's nice to know that he loves his crib, feels safe there, and will sleep when he's tired. I know it's important to start building that sense of "independence" now, for him to learn that his room isn't scary and that mama and daddy aren't going to leave him there forever. 
We will be very, very thankful later. Rocking a twelve year old probably isn't quite as sweet and innocent.
But for now, I will take all the snuggles I can steal.

Story of Beth's First Hickie

You ready for this? It's going to be very juicy...
At the ripe old age of 25 I have received my first ever hickie. (Hm. Spell check doesn't recognize "hickie"...that's weird.) Yes, that's right, a hickie. A big ole purple hickie.
On my left arm.
From the man of my life.
The little man of my life

This guy...

did this.

For whatever reason, Noah recently enjoys sucking on my arm instead of his paci. He will straight up spit out his paci and make a nosedive for my arm. It's the darndest thing. And sometimes he gets carried away, as you can clearly see. 

Furthermore. Why in the HECK would anyone want one of these? It hurt like the dickens, during and after. This was about a week ago and the bruise is STILL there. Gah. The little booger got me good.

Reminds me of a story from middle school. I won't use real names or go into great details in order to protect the innocent...err... not so innocent? 
Anyway. The gist of the tale goes like this: two girls + two boys + history fair project = hickies. (No, the project was not on the history of sucking-induced bruises, though that was obviously the learned outcome.) And NOT on me. But somehow, I still got into trouble for it. How, you ask? Apparently, I should have been a better friend and stopped the "necking" while it was going on, therein, there wouldn't have been said hickie.
Umm. No.
Do you remember middle school? It's a tough gig. You leave such things well enough alone and don't ask questions. You instruct your friend not to put her hair up in the presence of her mom, sisters, or step-dad. It would go away in a few days and all would be good. Just keep your boyfriend's mouth off your neck from now on and your good. Off scott-free. (Scott-free, what does that mean?)
Not how this story ended. Hickie McHickerson put her hair up in the kitchen with her family home. And it was alllllll down hill, way down hill, from there. 
Bless her heart.
Involved parties were separated and interrogated by parents, respectively. Friendships were threatened to be severed by parents. Breakups were made mandatory. Tears were cried in the neighborhood park. Plans were devised to minimize the event in question. And somehow, SOMEHOW, I ended up grounded for a month. 
Hickie McHickerson? She only had to forfeit her friendboy and her dignity. 
And her purty little neck.

And I've been footloose and hickie-free for 25 years. 
Until now.

Walking in a Winter, Scratch That, SPRING Wonderland

Hallelujah, a glimpse of spring! And not a moment too soon. This dreary, gray, cold mucky muck has started to wear me thin. Not my waistline, unfortunately, just my patience and my typically optimistic disposition. Kansas City was bad, seven months of it, but I thought when we packed up and headed south that somehow the seasons would resemble a more Spring-Summer-Autumn-Winter cycle. I was sadly mistaken. I know, I know, it's only February and we are most likely in the thick of it as far the cold is concerned, but I saw Spring peak around the corner over the weekend and I just don't know how much longer I can hold out. Not to mention, when Heather and I ran from the snow a couple of weeks ago to Florida, we ran TO freezing temperatures and drove BACK to the snow. Ugh. And Chris and I just happened to be in Atlanta two weekends ago when they had a record five inch snowfall and we had nothing back here at the ranch. Wackadoodle.

Enough bah-humbugging. Back to this weekend... Chris, Noah, Grits, and I took advantage, bundled up minimally, and took a stroll around camp, a couple of different times. Noah loves to be outside and has since his first time outside at two days old. I think it's the shape of the branches and the colors of the pines and the sky. I wish I could see it from his little eyes sometimes. He just rides along, taking it all in. And all the world is right and good.

I made this hat for him. No pattern, just made it up as I went. 
He looks a bit like an acorn or Hershey kiss.

Acorn head.

He likes his pops. A little. 
Okay, maybe a lot.

"Hey, mama!"
How you get up there? (In an African jungle accent.)



Dear Springtime, 

We like you a lot.
We may even love you. 
You've been gone far too long.  
Chris longs to adventure with you. 
I love to read books, frolic, and grow with you.
Noah enjoys to slobber on and put you in his mouth.
Grits wants to swim with you.
If you come back I'll sing you a song.
Please hurry.

Beth, Chris, Noah & Grits.

Rubber Ducky, You're the One

Bath time is a rarity around our house, unfortunately. For all residents. Noah takes after his pops and "showers" every other day or so...I mean, he's a baby and we wipe his nether-regions several times a dirty can he be, right? We haven't figured out if he likes his bath or just likes to be naked so he tolerates his bath time. Nevertheless, it makes for some pretty cute photos:

He will not think this was such a great idea in the future.  
"Butt" that's a cute fanny.

He finds the cleaning of his "parts" rather interesting/entertaining.

I'm speechless. Mesmerized by those baby blues. 
It's legit, no editing, folks.

Snug as a bug.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Ever since he was just a wee little guy, Noah really enjoys his time on his changing table. Especially when his pops is changing his britches. We've made it a fun place for him, unintentionally at first, where we sing songs, make funny faces, introduce him to "Larry the Lizard" that hangs above his head, give him zerberts, and so on. He LOVES it. I don't mean he likes it a little bit, I mean he lives for this part of his day. Several times a day, of course. It is rare that he fusses...and only if he's hungry or overly tired, which is maybe once a week. Maybe.

A lot of times his laughter is unprompted. Just the sheer delight of being buck-naked gets his gopher every time. We may have a future streaker on our hands. In a couple years, campers beware.
And he hasn't quite figured out laughing yet, so it comes out as this inhaling-air-shriek-because-I-don't-know-how-to-laugh noise. Equally as cute.


Not only does he LOVE his changing table time, he thinks it's time for acrobatics as well. Makes it quite the ordeal to put a cloth diaper on that fanny. 
Good thing we don't use pins.

Fat rolls, let me count thy ways?
But his lamp and Larry are just too cool.

Live from Ten Mile, it's Noah Matthew:

Find a cuter kid.
I dare you.

Attention K-Mart Shoppers: Part II

Okay. This is getting out of hand.
Soon he will be calling China from our phones.
Slow down, kid.

Excuse the bed head and bad breath.

I know.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Growing Beans

Someone slipped my baby some growing beans.
Since I will start working in March, we decided to start introducing him to solid foods now, figuring it would take a while for him to catch on and enjoy.
Not so much.
He figured it out quite easily and loves every last morsel. And for some reason he would rather Chris feed him his cereal than me. I think because he knows I have the other goods, the ones he can control and get as much of as he pleases. He can't control the spoon, though he tries with all his might.


And for some strange reason he leans all the way down to his tray to get to the spoon. We try to get him to look up but that's usually a no-go. Grits also GREATLY enjoys this new mode of feeding, as she is the lucky winner of spilled bowls and messy fingers. Noah is amused, as you can imagine.

I must also add that he is sleeping much better at night since we started feeding him cereal twice a day. He always gets out of whack when we travel and he doesn't have his own bed. It only takes him a night or two back home before he's figured it out again, but this time he has decided that he would like for his bedtime to be earlier. He has been in bed, and stayed in bed, before nine every night since we've been back. Crazy. Last night he slept from 8:15pm-4:30am. Amazing. And then slept again after he ate until 9am. Even better. 
I will continue to say, I don't know what we've done or haven't done, but we are blessed beyond blessed with such a good baby. 

Makes me want more. 

Much. Much. Much. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Attention K-Mart Shoppers

Clean up on baby aisle.Not really, but in case you thought I was exaggerating in the post Four, I was not. Noah's new obsession is shiny objects with lights, quiet noises, or beeps (i.e. phones, remote controls, monitors, etc.) and he will stop at nothing to make it his.
Whatever it is, whatever it takes.

This is how I found him waking up from his nap this morning:


So there you have it. Wake up on Aisle 4.
And who could resist those baby blues anyway?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I've decided to try something new. Each month on the 2nd (being Noah's "birthday") I am going to share "x" new things I love about our son, "x" being the number of months he is. Whether it's new cute things he's doing or just new discoveries we've stumbled upon as new parents, I will share them here. I do believe it will be hard to limit myself to only 4 this month. There may be cheating involved to sneak them all in. Don't worry. I will subtly slip it in that I love that he mimics our singing.

Here we go...I love:
1. When he pats me on my arm or back when I am holding him. Moreover, when I watch him pat his daddy, like he's saying, "Good job, pops. I knew you could do it."

2. Finding him flipped over from his tummy to his back in the morning or waking up from naps...and how he's somehow squirmed to the monitor, with his mouth real close, saying in his best squeals and babbles, "Attention, is this thing on?"

3. His laugh. His big, fat, glorious laugh.

4. He has discovered Grits, like REALLY discovered her. It's hard not to discover a 60lb brown dog that likes to lick your ear when you are rolling around on the floor. And he thinks she is the coolest and weirdest creature ever. He has no idea the adventures and trouble they will find together. Before we know it, Noah will like her better than us.

Here's Noah on his 4 month "birthday" sitting like a big guy in the rocking chair his Aunt Erika gave him.
Cute kid, I think. All 16.6lbs and 25.75in of him.

Feel free to share your favorite new things about my little ham. Or your little ham.

Speaking of ham... my domestic duties are calling.

What's for supper? Can't wait til Noah pesters me with that question like I did my mama. That may or may not appear on one of my "favorite things" lists.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Monitor Mayhem

I used to be a hard sleeper. As in, prop me up against the wall and I could probably get a full 8 hours of sleep. Heck, I slept an entire winter outside in below-freezing temperatures while surrounded by ten shoeless, at-risk teenage girls and never missed a wink.
Not anymore.
Since we brought Noah home I have had this slight concern about how far his room is from ours. Granted, our house isn't THAT big, but his room is all the way across the house, with two thick wood doors between us at night. Hence, why he slept in our room until just after Christmas. I was the one not ready for the transition, he did great (as he does with just about everything). And I was really starting to get used to it. Chris and I really enjoy having our room to ourselves again so our nightly routine could commence.

Get your minds out of the gutter.

We like to read favorite books together and have long conversations. About dreams and goals. About the future. About how we have the cutest little guy ever. Ever.

All was well, we were getting back to normal. And getting some sleep. Until last night.

Noah went down around 9pm and we followed around 10:30pm. This is a new bedtime for him, he had been going to bed around 11pm (or later some nights) and we were beginning to think we were raising a teenager already. That being said, with the adjustment he's been waking around 3am to eat and then goes right back down. I know he will eventually just drop the 3am feeding, since he had previously been sleeping from 11pm-9am, it's just a matter of adjusting.

So we turned on the monitor and hit the hay. Or so we thought.

I stirred around 3am, as my body is used to this, and no noise from little guy. I rolled over and went back to sleep.

I stirred again around 6am, no noise from little guy. I rolled over, but couldn't go back to sleep. Something didn't feel right. Something didn't sound right. I couldn't hear him sleeping on the monitor. So I tried to convince myself, in a sleepy daze, that I was over-thinking things, that this was probably Noah getting back to sleeping through the night. I laid there a little longer, 20 minutes or so, and just couldn't shake the thought that something wasn't right. Something didn't sound right. I couldn't hear the hum of the monitor.

I couldn't hear the hum of the monitor.

I quickly hopped out of bed, went over to the monitor, and sure enough, nothing. No noise. Nothing. The green light was on but there was no static, no white noise. Nothing.

Remember, it's now 6:30am, he normally stirs around 3am. You can imagine the thoughts running through my head. With cat-like speed I scurry to his room to find him on his back (other mama's, don't freak out, but we sleep him on his tummy because he breathes better) squealing, not upset, just making noise. I scoop him up and take him back to our room. He eats for about 15 minutes and dozes right on back to sleep. Like the amazing baby he is.

I will never know what happened between the hours of 3am and 6:30am. I can only hope that he just slept on through because I would have never heard him if he was crying. I will tell myself that he was happy, talking and singing to himself like he usually does. That's the story I am going with.

But the huge wet spot in his crib from drool and probably (sigh) tears may prove otherwise.

Poor baby.