Thursday, January 26, 2012

Budgeting the Night(s) Away

 *Might be boring at first, but ends with something fun! I want all of your opinions!*

I once heard from a good friend that in a marriage, whether you marry a spender or saver, whether you ARE a spender or saver, one of you must become the budget nerd and the other the budget bender. The first type, the budget nerd, is the type that chooses the word "budget." The second type is the one that prefers the term "spending plan." Guess which one I am, since I've used the word budget 29358 times so far...

Mitch and I are both naturally spenders. Well, that had to change.

Every semester I have followed my Dave Ramsey bible and made a new budget. Well, we thought we should both start doing our budget every semester, so Mitch wouldn't feel as clueless as he was feeling, and so I wouldn't feel mean, telling him what we can and can't spend in each "category" every month. 
(This was all a couple weeks ago, after our financial aid came through).

I honestly love how we budget. I love that we get our money in four-month long chunks (in addition to income from our jobs) and all we have to do is make it last. Every semester is a fresh new start, and an opportunity to do it better, earn more, and have more left over at the end of the semester.

Later, when we're paying back what loans we do have, we'll be used to budgeting. We believe this is justifiable debt; it's not a mall trip we can't afford, put on a credit card. It's us in the act of providing a better life for our child(ren). Loans will all be paid back someday, and we'll pay as much over the minimum payment as we can make each month. 

Right now, we're feeling awesome. We're putting more money in savings every month than we've ever been able to. Which is a good thing, because our car's pretty old and we haven't had a big expense in awhile...that probably means it's coming, huh!

Also, part of the "feeling good" part, we opened up an awesome online savings account through ING Direct. You can read about it here. At 8% interest, compounded daily and added monthly, we can deposit our savings into this account every month, and it will accrue WAY more than our last savings account! Plus, it links up to our checking account, so it's very liquid if we need it.

We are at the point where we are "used to" budgeting in our current circumstance. *Knock on Wood!* We have jobs, guaranteed financial aid, we are getting good grades to ensure said financial aid, and we've had Nathan around for awhile. He's actually gotten less expensive as he's gotten older. Our amazing friends, the McNairs, gave us the most handsome wardrobes for him, in every size up to 2T, and due to the fact that he's not having blowouts every day, we're not using as many diapers. And, cooking for three isn't as different as cooking for two. Here's to making "Alaina getting Bachelor's Degree" our next major life change!

So, onto our exciting part. As part of our budget, we get an allowance. A little "blow money" that we can spend on whatever we want. It allows a breath of fresh air so we can stick to our budget all month. It's rather tight at this point, to allow maximum growth of our savings.

Mine usually goes to stuff for Nathan, because he's SO much fun to buy for! But, it turns out one toddler doesn't need enough stuff and clothes to entertain/clothe FOUR toddlers. So now I have a rule that I can't spend it on him, he has his own budget. So, turns out this pretty little thing is the exact amount of my allowance for a month! What do you guys think!? 

It's SO cute, and it'd be awesome paired with a belt or long necklaces or jacket. I never buy new clothes unless they're on final clearance. I just hate paying full price for things, and I LOVE the thrill of getting a terrific deal. Turns out this is a pretty terrific deal! Plus, one day (if this is still in style by then) it'll make a good maternity shirt for awhile. I've never had a trendy wardrobe, I just prefer classic styles with trendy pieces added in. I just always skip buying the trendy pieces because I don't want to pay for them. So I end up a frumpy mom in a loose sweater (cause our house is still 65 degrees) and jeans and shoes from high school. I don't know why I have so much buyer's anxiety about such a small purchase! Anyway, I'd love your vote. What should I add to it? :o)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Finally Wintertime!

We got our first REAL snowstorm since Nathan's birthday (November 2nd) here in Rexburg! What a strange winter it's been. Usually by now there are a couple feet of snow piled up everywhere that doesn't move until April! Now I hope we don't have winter snow on the 4th of July! This snow followed 2 straight days of rain, leaving a ton of ice everywhere. (Yep, I said RAIN in January! It was beyond weird!)

We were lucky enough to get out and play before the snow fell. Mitch's little brother, Ethan, has been enjoying the BYU-Idaho experience by doing one semester before he leaves to start a 2-year mission for our Church. We love having him here! Mitch and Ethan get along SO well, and have SUCH similar interests: they are even the same major and minor! They have pretty much rekindled every adventure of their childhood. One day, while chasing each other around the (outside of the) house with air soft guns (yup...), Nathan and I decided to go outside too, far from those little plastic pellets, and explore the backyard.

I guess something caught him by surprise! Here's that face up close :o)

Haha, goober!
My favorite, taken after I turned my ISO up, so the exposure is much cleaner :o)

I also was SO excited to get my new white vinyl backdrop in the mail this week! I tried it out on us first, then booked a photo shoot with an adorable family of two boys. You can see it here. It is AMAZING how little editing (mostly just cropping and editing out bumps/bruises) I have to do with this vinyl! No more wrinkled muslin backdrop! (WHY do they make backdrops out of muslin anyway!?) Here's some of the fun we had with it:
oh sneeze!

trying to escape as always!

laying down on the job :o)


I love to watch those fingers play!

I love this picture. Mitch SO doesn't know it's on here; I just love how he looks at Nathan!

daddy is a great smile-inducer!

I love you, big blue eyes!

About six months ago I bought a Nikon remote for my camera...I've never used it! So, I finally pulled it out and we had some fun. It was fun to be in some pictures, for a change!

He's my tear-down expert and always wants to help as we tear everything down!

Mitch REALLY doesn't know this one's on here...he hates pictures of himself, but again, this is him watching Nathan play while I got my remote set up. Love this man! What a fantastic husband and father you are!!

Whoo, glad I got all those uploaded and posted! 
BTW, last week I found Great Value brand Mio's at Walmart. YESS! We love the "drink enhancer" but it's a bit pricy for what it is. The GV brand makes it easier to have every once in awhile!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Guilt Reliever!

Another late-night post. Ah, I find it refreshing to blog after homework!

Mitch and I are both in school this semester, which is the first time we've really had to juggle back-to-back classes with a baby (toddler? child? He's SO not a baby!). It has been working out, but it takes SO much effort! 

I have a 3 hour window with Nathan between my first 3 classes and my last 2 classes (Mitch has 2 classes during this block of time). So usually Nathan and I go home or run errands. Nathan hates it, and the only thing I like about it is that I hit our little baby Walmart while everyone else is in class!

It is so much work managing every minute of our day so that we can get from point A to point B in 15 minutes, all the while trying not to hit pedestrians that are jaywalking all over.
(that's actually just MY problem...I got hit by a car while jaywalking my very first semester up here...sometimes I think people need to learn their lesson like I did!)

In any case, we are enjoying our classes and managing our workloads. Mitch is the only one in class two days out of the week, which is nice for both of us: no juggling and as much on-campus study time as he wants, and no leaving the house or errands for me! Plus I get to be mom all day, which I just cherish!
(Homework in pajamas? You know it. I literally got dressed at 3 pm today and yet I had been productive all morning...BAM!)

So, as far as the title of this post goes, I'll explain it quickly, and then reward you for reading with some pictures.

In my Infant and Toddler Development class I had to read a father involvement study done by some researchers someplace (I read it a couple hours ago, but would love to get the article to anyone is fascinating, as far as my opinion goes!). These researchers have concluded the fathers who work full-time, working separate shifts from their wives and evenly splitting the workload of housework and time with children (I mean splitting these things evenly with their wife) form secure, strong bonds with their children that last through their children's adult lives. 

This was HUGE news to me! Here my anxiety brain's I've been, stressing about how I have to leave Nathan during the day to go to classes, but how it's really helping him because it will give our family a better life AND teaching me all about him (and our future children), and my schooling will be put to use even if I stay home all day with children (hello, child development major w/a minor in marriage and family studies...pretty sure that applies at home!) Turns out I'm not leaving my son at a disadvantage at all! I pictured our other children all well-adjusted, with older Nathan not knowing me at all. I know, I know, it's nonsense, but it's my anxiety brain's nonsense, so it's worrisome. 

Woo hoo for not messing things up after all!! I sit in these parenting/development/marriage/how-to-teach-parents classes and the teachers make it all seem so EASY to raise well-adjusted, intelligent, spiritual, healthy children. Then I get home and it's chaos just with one tiny little boy. 

There really is a difference between classroom learning and real-life experience! But, I don't know what I'd do without the knowledge I've gained the past 4 years (yup, one year left...don't judge!). After all, if I hadn't been in these classes we'd still be forcing Nathan to be brave and do/touch/ride/sit on things he was terrified of, instead of accepting that his temperament makes him a bit more cautious, and that it is no way a bad thing. Apologies still must go out to EVERYONE who tries to get a smile, a wave, or a consent to be held from's a rare thing, and I'm sorry!!

Now onto the pictures! Congrats, you made it through my tangent. Or cheated and scrolled down.

So Nathan has 4 1/2 teeth now, which as been a major amount of work for all of us! We are so excited to find out new things he can eat with these little teeth. Luckily he hasn't tried to bite anyone yet! Today I sat him down on the kitchen floor, took a bite of an apple and let him go to town. He got tiny little bites (mostly of thin little apple skin) but still was VERY pleased with himself. YES I was watching him. NO he didn't choke, and I don't think the soggy slivers of apple would've choked him anyway! NO I didn't let him roam around with the apple, although it was almost as big as his head, so it wouldn't have mattered much. YES I got cute pictures! :o) 
Once he lost interest, we put the apple on the counter. When he was interested again, I'd cut the yucko-mushy brown part off and let him have at it again. What a big boy!

PS--didn't have time to edit these, sorry. Man I love my lens!

Diving right in...I'm surprised he wasn't scared of it!

TOTAL concentration...go Nathan go!

Most of that bite was mine...that tiny, little crooked part at the top is his contribution :o)

 We love you, little man! 

Notice the sweater? I love baby sweaters. Plus our heat is all electric (with separate thermostats everywhere) and is SUPER EXPENSIVE to operate, so we're down to 65 degrees and wearing layers! (Nathan gets his room at about 72, lucky guy!) Yay, life on a budget! When isn't it that way!?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Baby Einstein Stare

Nathan is a funny boy. But I'm biased, I'll tell ya that right now.

He doesn't watch any tv at all except for Baby Einstein. He just has no interest in anything else. Every once in awhile when a catchy theme song or commercial music comes on he'll stop playing and dance, but that's it! However, you put on Baby Einstein, he's yours.
So, I decided to use this little trick to help Nathan stay sitting in one general area while I tried a photo shoot. I take pictures of everyone else's kids using my backdrop/light setup, why not my own?

Here are a couple favorites; okay, well, 18 favorites :o)

Now, part of the Baby Einstein Stare is that you don't is pulling out mom's camera. No smiles. Ever. I promise he smiles all the time in real life!

Our cool boy outfit :o)

A favorite of favorites :o)

His adorable rattle-controlled car...shake the rattle, the car moves!

I love this one, but he looks so short because of the puffy vest and his slouching!

He's always feeling those teeth!

We stopped for a snack break and he learned really quickly that mommy would give him nummies if he sat down first :o)

Good ol' classic favorite

Love that concentrating face!

The closest to a smile I got!

Enjoy more on Facebook shortly!

I know I never blogged about Christmas...for family record purposes, I probably should, although we didn't take pictures of our big presents this year!