29 January, 2013

A Warm Day in January

Today we took advantage of the crazy weather, and played outside in the backyard. It was gloomy and muddy and warm. I can't believe I am writing about playing outside without a jacket or even a sweater, when I just shared snow day pictures last week, but hey, I am not complaining! Especially since it's supposed to be twenty degrees tomorrow. Yep, twenty!

These two babes were so happy to be outside, all they could do was run around with huge smiles on their faces. Of course I couldn't catch any smiles in pictures though because they were running around everywhere. Mara indulged in making a mud pie that our now extremely dirty dog Martha helped out with by digging a huge muddy hole. And Porter, gosh, he can run so fast now, you can see in the last picture, Mara is trying to KEEP UP with him, he of course thought she was chasing him and it was long, giggly morning before we went inside for lunch and naps.

Have you had a break in cold weather and been able to get outside? It's wonderful. Go do it, if you can.

28 January, 2013


Typically around the holidays, especially Thanksgiving, posts entitled "Grateful" or "Thankful" circulate. Inside them are lists of things the author is thankful for, then the holidays die off and we don't feel the need to share what we are thankful for until next season when it's the seasons theme once again.

I however feel like it's extremely important that we remind ourselves what we have, not what we want, or don't have. Sometimes reading blogs can fuel a flame of discontent, for me at least, with material things, home aesthetic, etc. I try my best to avoid fashion blogs, or too heavily saturated blogs with sponsored products, simply because I more then likely will want it, and with a spending fast and trying to separate my attachments from material things, and in our family, those blogs tend to make me want more then what I need and not appreciate what I have enough.
Chuck Palahniuk says it pretty well: "Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need."

I am thankful for:
impromptu hide and seek games with Mara.
the hugs from Portie when I scoop him up after he wakes up from nap and buries his head in my shoulder.
a husband willing to wake up at three in the morning to go work lifting heavy, heavy stuff all day long.
                                                             Source: all-things-bright-and-beyootiful.tumblr.com via Sunflower on Pinterest

I am blessed to have:
gas in our minivan to get Dan to and from work, and to treat me to an after work ride to get out of the house.
a comfy futon to relax on when the babes finally go to sleep.
four pillows all to myself in our king size bed.
a king size bed that allows us to co-sleep comfortably.

I thought it would be really positive to blog regularly year round about what I am thankful for or blessed with. If you want to share what you are thankful for, please do so. I would love to read!


"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Mara: proudly showing off her long hair. We were in the middle of a hair photo session to text her Aunty how far down her back it's grown. Mara had very little hair until she reached two and a half or so and then it just sprouted wildly and full of bouncy curls. 
Porter: waking up earlier these days and enjoying his rattle that was gifted to us by my dear friend, Lauren.

23 January, 2013

The Ugly Stuff.

Some blogs that I read up on from time to time have had posts discussing debt and poor credit lately. The ugly stuff. The stuff people are ashamed of and when the topic gets brought up they scan for the quickest exit from that conversation. It's uncomfortable, and I completely understand it. Dan and I have a pretty large amount of debt, maybe its small compared to other peoples, but the bottom line is, it's there, it's holding us back, and we want to get rid of it. Most of our debt comes from being poor. When Dan and I first got married, we had no savings, no jobs, and lived a rather transiate lifestyle, going where we thought would be the most fitting place for us. That included a jumbo move from Illinois to Arizona to be hippies in the desert, and then less than a year later, lose everything when we got stranded in Illinois for Dan's grandpa's funeral and had to start from scratch. If you look at our credit report it mainly consists of past due utilities, cell phone bills, and medical bills. It's ugly. It's all from an ugly time in our life that we had to hurt and struggle through in order to get to the places we are both at today.

I avoided our debt for the past year and a half or so because it was a painful reminder, "Oh yeah, I didn't pay that bill, because the water was going to be shut off and you need water to bathe a baby, or more importantly mix into formula..." or, "Oh yeah, I didn't pay that bill because we already got an emergency food box from the food bank this week and can't go back until next month."

 I'm not ashamed of those times anymore though, sure they make me sad, but I'm done feeling sorry for myself. We did what we had to do to get by, without stealing or committing crimes, like many people living in poverty in the U.S., and if bad credit is all that came from it, and not losing a roof over our head, or something much worse, I'm okay with that.

We are more then okay now. We can fix this ugly aftermath and get our credit back on track. I was really encouraged after looking at Anna's blog about taking a Spending Fast and Dan and I talked and agreed it's the smartest way for us to get out of debt since we are renting very cheaply from his grandmother right now. Basically, a Spending Fast is when you quit spending all together and any money left from paying your absolute necessities goes to paying off your debt. Over the last few days we compiled an outline of our Spending Fast:

The Needs-
This is a list of what we have to spend money on;

Our utilities are included with our rent, so it's nice that isn't a seperate expense for us to have to pay.

-Cell phone:
We will be sharing one phone between us. Verizon Prepaid happens to be $50 a month for unlimited talk and text and web. Text and web isn't necessary, but the $50 plan being offered for unlimited is much cheaper then just a single line with a set amount of minutes and no add-on's.

Only food prepared at home, no more eating out or quick runs through a drive thru. Clipping coupons for any name brand items. Purchasing as many off brand items as possible. Limiting ourself to one shopping trip per week. No runs in between, if we run out of something midweek, we will have to make do with what is in the cupboards.

-Personal Hygiene:

Only purchasing soap, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner, toothpaste, laundry detergent etc. when completely out. I tend to always pick some up when I see a buy one, get one free sale. Which sure saves us money, but buying a new bottle when I still have two completely full ones at home is not necessary and the Spending Fast focuses on buying or making purchases out of pure need.

*We cloth diaper and use washcloths for wipes, so it's a bonus to our Spending Fast to not have to purchase diapers or wipes!


We are fortunate to not have a car payment, so our only expense is for the auto insurance and gas. We will try to reduce our gas cost by 1) grocery shopping one day a week and 2) not going out to eat or impulse shopping when we get bored. We also enrolled in a reward program with the gas station we frequent that accumulates points every time you get gas and those go towards a reward of free gas. Not sure how long it takes to get your free gas, but eventually that would be nice! Also, Dan and I have the option of filling up at Sam's Club with his grandma's membership card. The gas prices between Sam's Club isn't always a big difference, but some days there is a ten cent difference and that can be a huge help in saving money.

Dan suffers from Chronic Joint Pain and Premature Arthritis from skateboarding injuries, so being able to purchase supplements like Glucosamine Sulfate and Castor Oil (used for Castor Oil packs on his knees to treat Baker Cysts) when he runs out, it is important to us to refill those supplements. Also being able to purchase vitamins for the babes and ourselves, Porter's Pulsatilla tablets, and medication and doctor's co-pays when illness arises and the the last two are needed is important.


Both of us being online students, having internet access is crucial. We debated cutting our service and using the library's free internet, but with two (soon to be three) children, you can't always slip away to the library, and have to do school work at odd times or late at night, when the library isn't open. We called our internet provider and have already saved some money by inquiring about current promotions and our internet will be 1/2 of the normal rate, for the next six months. Ca-ching!

-Credit Monitoring:
We bank with our insurance company USAA. Being a USAA family, we were able to get discounted Credit Monitoring that is important for repairing our credit and being alerted of any newly reported debts. That was especially important to us because we have moved so much in four years, a lot of bills were never delivered to our current address at the time they became past due.

What we are not spending on/this is what we are cutting out:

-Eating out, even for special occasions.
In order to get control of our finances again and move on to financial security, we are taking the extreme route of cutting this luxury out all together so that we aren't tempted to give ourselves a pat on the back for something and go out to eat as a "reward".

Yes, Netflix. We have a Netflix membership, and although it's a major convenience at times, it's not worth the expense since I find myself watching shows for free on Hulu or catching up on my shows via the networks website like abc.com or cbs.com. Also, with a technology savvy husband, he normally finds what I want to watch on the internet pretty easily.

-Online & Impulse Buying.
No more online shopping, goodbye Etsy! Etsy will suck me in and I just make a list of what I want and then the spending occurs, and it's not necessary. We have what we need, plain and simple. It's going to be really hard not to pick up stuff when we feel like we have the extra money, but purging this undesirable habit from our lifestyle is setting us up for so much success when we are out of debt. So when the going gets tough and I really, really want to buy this one thing, or Dan comments on something being cool and I want to surprise him with it, I just have to picture where we want to be in the future, and like Anna (link site) said, it's not what we can't buy, it's what we can buy (in the future).
This all seems self explanatory, it is, but I wanted to post all of this as a way to keep myself accountable because the categories about are so engrained in our daily life, that I wanted to be able to reference this back and document our progress. Hopefully it inspires anyone who reads this to assess what they want in the future and make it attainable. Regardless of debt or bad credit. Sitting and feeling defeated isn't going to get us our dream house, but appreciating what we do have, purging what we don't need, and getting all these debts taken care of, will. No, we can't go apply for the dream house next month or even start looking at the houses and land that we want, but we are actively working towards that and a year or two from now...the possibilities are positively endless.

We committed to a one year Spending Fast and have already paid off a few debt accounts this week and organized payment arrangements with creditors. It feels really, really good. A personal goal for 2013 for me was to purge negativity from my life and this has helped tremendously. I am growing so much as a person and we are moving forward as a couple everyday, it's nice to know that the past will be in the past for good when this debt is gone, no more reoccurring thoughts and obsessions about the dark because it will finally be taken care of.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the Spending Fast concept and if you've done something similar!

21 January, 2013

A Snow Day, Finally!

 Finally, this morning, we woke up to a blanket of powdery snow, Mara has been waiting so very patiently since Thanksgiving for it to snow. Specifically for it to snow enough to make a snow man. We woke up to enough on the ground to make a mini snowman, it was a miracle! Really, it is a miracle, the surrounding cities around us didn't get any snow, so it was some freak snowfall that we were blessed with. Mara was in pure bliss playing in the snow.

I hope she got her snow fix for the year because the next snowfall is totally unpredictable. The weather has been so crazy this winter, it's been in the mid fifties, which is extremely unusual for the Chicago area this time of year, then the next day in the tens and twenties, warm back up for a few days, chill to the twenties and give us snow like we got last night/early this morning, and now tonight it is supposed to be twenty five below zero with the wind chill! Freezing!
After completely saturating her mittens from the snow melting in her hands, she decided to ride her little bike. I don't even remember how it ended up in the garage, I think it was something we drove by that was left out on the curb for free, anyway, she thought it was so funny that she couldn't pedal through it the snow, so she told me her bike had to scoot through the mountains. It was adorable. Then about two minutes later, her hands were REALLY cold and Mara, Martha the dog, and myself were ready to go back inside.

That was our snow day. I'm ready for Spring, or more consistent weather. I like having four seasons, but having a warm winter in a normally cold winter climate, is really strange! Has your local weather been a bit cooky?

What's for breakfast, momma?

When morning comes, Porter is ready to party and get cruisin' the second he opens his eyes, but Mara on the other hand, can have a case of the grumpies that start off the morning with unprevoked tears and a large need for me to help her recollect herself. By the time I have both babes washed up, dressed and upstairs for breakfast, neither one of them are in the mood to wait. They want breakfast, and they want it now. Mara has gotten better about being patient, but she knows that she can't pull out her coloring supplies or big toys until breakfast is over with, so she wants me to get a move on. Porter can be distracted for about three seconds, and the rest of the time that I'm preparing breakfast, he's grabbing my pant leg, shaking it furiously, and making his "Momma, I want you" puckered up, lemon face. Some mornings I can balance the demand and whip up a nice breakfast, other mornings it just completely throws me off and I can't even think of what to make for breakfast. But, once I have everything together, and both babes have their food in front of them and I can sit down at the table with them, breakfast is pretty easy and laid back. I thought it would be fun to post about our breakfasts, what we eat, and what we try (on the weekends, when Dan is home), and maybe help some other momma's who could be stumped on breakfast.

-I really like Drea's recipes for things on toast. I've only tried a  handful, but she has some great toast toppings, and also, try her tofu scramble recipe. It's a favorite around here, even for dinner sometimes, too.
-Reading Elisabeth's blog over the past few months, at the beginning of January, I joined the Sugar Addicts Anonymous group she started, to build a community of women striving to cut out sugar from their diet. I've been pretty successful and I've noticed a difference in how my body feels with the reduction of refined sugars and just more wholesome foods. Elisabeth posted this oatmeal recipe that looks delicious, and could be a great recipe to try if you want a sugar free breakfast.
-I made banana bread about two weeks ago, this big loaf lasted us an entire week, and was great for breakfast. It's sugar and oil free, and although everyone enjoyed eating it, Dan and I agreed it could be a tad bit sweeter, and I learned from a fellow lady in the Sugar Addict's Anonymous group, that I could add pureed pineapple next time. I think that will do the trick!

Okay, so here is what we had for breakfast this morning:

I realized after we sat down and ate that I had skipped a protein with breakfast, this would have been completely rounded if I had served a hard-boiled egg alongside the toast or some cheese. I'm not too worried though, we snack often around here, so I'm sure we will get our protein in today.

sourdough toast, strawberries, grapes, and apple slices.
Porter: soy yogurt with peach, banana, and cinnamon, strawberries, grapes, and apple slices.
Momma: leftover apple from making their slices, grapes, a lonely strawberry that was left in the strawberry basket, sourdough toast, and fresh juice (ingredient list below).

We got a juicer yesterday, it was on sale, it's not the best quality, but we have been wanting one for sometime now, and decided to just go ahead and get it since juicing can be so very healthy for our bodies. Yesterday I made a big pitcher of juice using: kale, carrots, apples, a few strawberries, and two big navel oranges. Mara wasn't fond of it, I think because of the orange peel that made it's way in, it was a bit overbearing, Dan said it would have been better more chilled, and Portie sucked it down in his sippy cup, and I finished up the rest this morning.

What did you fix for breakfast today? Do you juice? I'd love to hear what you ate for breakfast or your favorite juice combinations. I'm eager to put this juicer to work!



"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Mara Eden: growing up so fast everyday. She just turned three and hardly looks like a pudgy toddler anymore. She's a "really big girl" as she tells me,
Porter: this little mans hair is something else these days, one moment it's sticking straight up, the next it's just a nest of curls, and then the very next he has some serious Einstein hair.
Eisley: not pictured this week. I forgot to grab a picture and when I did remember, my stomach hasn't grown noticeably more, so I just skipped posting a photo this week.

13 January, 2013


"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013."
Mara Eden: so busy and creative, making m's, w's, and fire.
Porter: gnawing on his fingers all the time now because he is finally getting some buddies for his one and only tooth.
Eisley: growing so much as we are on the final months of this pregnancy, this little one has momma snacking all day (on mainly fruits and nuts) and living in yoga pants.

06 January, 2013


Mara: being enchanted by her dream light.
Porter: constantly exploring and finding...the vacuum in the laundry room.
Eisley: inside a decorated belly. (Dan is going to be doing a Henna tattoo on my belly when I reach full term, this was his rough draft; which he did in the dark, while very bored. I think it's sweet.)

Bleubird Blog inspired me to do this simple, beautiful photo series for 2013. A picture per week, for every week of the year, of my children. I don't have time for many blog features or to take a picture every day, but snapping a photo of Mara and Porter and posting it once a week, for fifty two weeks seems very doable for me. I can't wait to look back at the end of the year and see their growth. I also decided to include baby Eisley in this, even though she isn't born uet, she will be born in just a few short months so I thought to document her in my belly and then out in the world would be beautiful. If you decide to do this photo series, please, link in the comment section below, I'd love to see your photos.