Friday, September 23, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Another fill-in-the-blank week brought to you by Wife of a Sailor.  Join the fun!

1.My favorite thing that happened this week was being able to have 2 lunch dates with dear friends.

2.Find a penny, pick it up and all day long you’ll wonder what gross person dropped the penny and what germs came along with it.

3.Autumn is officially here and my favorite part of the season is the trees changing colors.  (I love fall so much, I named my daughter Autumn!)

4.One of the things I’d like to do before winter arrives is paint my purple front door blue (please, honey!!!).

5.I –would/would not/might– be willing to participate in MilSpouse Secret Santa. (No offense, Wife of a Sailor - I think it's a lovely idea...  we're just on a super strict budget right now.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

MilSpouse Education Opportunities

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Martinsburg Institute for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

When I graduated college in 2003, I decided that I was "done" with school.  I was worn out and exhausted and just wanted to work.  Then in 2006, I left my job so that I could stay home with Grace and be a full-time mom.  It was a hard decision to leave a job I loved, but I felt, as a military spouse, that Grace needed me home in order to provide her some security while Joel was deployed or away for training.  Well, in her 5 years of life, Joel's been deployed overseas 3 times - so I'm glad that I made the decision to stay home with her.

Over the years, though, I've been wanting to go back to school.  But I haven't decided whether I want a Master's Degree or just to go back for some additional training and education that will benefit my career down the line.

But it's hard with 2 kids, a house to run and a husband who seems to deploy all the time.  We live a unique life - full of constant changes.  And a lot of the time we are single parents.  I'm not aware of any education programs geared toward "us" - military spouses.  Until now...

Recently I discovered a school geared toward education for military spouses, service members and veterans - programs created for our unique lifestyle.  The Martinsburg Institute offers distance learning courses for those in our never predictable but always-exciting lifestyle.

Currently they offer programs in Medical Billing and Coding, Electronic Health Records, Human Resources, Financial Management and Accounting, Business Communications, Project Management, Medical Transcription and more!  These programs are so practical and can be used anywhere - and our lifestyle requires job flexibility!  Personally, I'm interested in the Financial Management and Accounting - I think it would go well with my background in Public Relations and Healthcare Sales.  And especially as we work to become debt free, classes in financial management would be so valuable.

Right now, there is $4000 in grants available with MyCAA.  So this would be a great time for you to look into how Martinsburg Institute can help you further your education.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Financial Bumps

I wrote earlier this month about mine and Joel's plan to become debt-free.  We've only been going by our new budget for a few weeks now and have already seen huge progress.  I'll blog more about that at the end of the month to recap things.

But isn't it just like life to throw a wrench in your game-plan?  At the end of August, as we were gearing-up to our new live-like-we-have-no-money lifestyle, a chunk of our neighbors tree fell on our fence and my car.  And because it was an act-of-God and not our neighbor's fault, it goes against our insurance.  Now, I cannot even begin to tell you about the amount of homeowners claims we've had or how many times my poor car has been in the body shop.  So, this is an old story for us.

So, as we're working toward financial freedom, life happens, and it puts a major kink in our plans.  Normally this would get us down and it would really bother us... Why does it seem like life is against us sometimes?

But I have to tell you, even though we're bummed that we're going to have to pay some deductibles and some out-of-pocket expenses for this, we are beyond grateful to be in a position that we can pay for these things.  Yeah, I'd rather be paying down debt.  But we created our new budget so we could take a "hit" from life and not have to worry if we'll be able to pay our bills.

We feel blessed - even with a few financial bumps at the start of this journey.

Source: via Jill on Pinterest

Wordless Wednesday - Laundry

Friday, September 16, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

It's still Friday... so I can still participate with Wife of a Sailor, even if it's later than normal for me.

1.Right now, our weather is in the high 50s and overcast, but what I’d really like is a whole lot more sun out there and some fall colors on the trees.

2.I like to let my hair down and sing in the kitchen as I do my housewife-thing.

3.Mommy Rambles made a post about heroes… my hero is my father, because throughout his life he has always lived with such integrity, grace and strength.

4.It’s a weird combination, but I swear salt and pizza are a perfect pair!

5.Some may see the glass half empty and others may see it half full, but I can't see how full it is because my coffee's well hidden inside a Starbucks cup.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Right now, as I type, my husband is running around base - getting a few last signatures to finalize his AGR job.  I felt like buying balloons and streamers to decorate the house because I'm so unbelievably excited for our future and so proud of him.

We've waited 8 years for today.  There have been lots of tears (on my part), frustration, anxiety and a heavy sense of uncertainty. 

Today feels like a fresh start.... everything is flowers and rainbows to me right now.

Source: via Jill on Pinterest

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Our Jouney Toward Financial Freedom

I mentioned earlier this week that Joel got an AGR job at our local base.  Not only is this a great pat-on-the back for him, but it's a huge boost for our family's financial stability.  During the last 8 years, we have probably gone through nearly $20,000 of our savings during periods of unemployment.  We are thankful that we had that money to rely on, but going through that much hasn't allowed us to move forward.

As of September 1st, Joel and I started on our journey toward financial freedom.  Our goal is in the next 18 months, to be debt free.  And by debt free, we mean paying off all debt besides our mortgage.  We now know how much is coming in each month and we can finally count on that income.  Now we need to make that money work for us and begin to make forward progress.

So, as of the first of this month, we are living like we are broke.  Or close to it.

Here are some of the changes we have made:

Allowances - Joel and I each get $100 at the beginning of the month to do as we like with.  So, if there's a big-ticket item we want (*ahem* a new Micahel Kors purse), we will have to save up for it.

Walking around with cash - I am taking out $400 in cash per month for groceries & $100 in cash per month for walking around money (ie fast food, trips to Target, Starbucks, etc.)  Once the cash is gone, it's gone.

No Cards allowed without permission - First of all, credit cards are off-limits.  No exception.  The only card we are allowed to use is our Debit, which comes directly out of our checking account.  The Debit can be used for things like filling the cars with gas or picking up a prescription.  Any other purchases on the Debit card has to be cleared with the other spouse.

Total honesty - Have you ever heard of financial infidelity?  Well, it's a huge problem, and I have to admit to being unfaithful financially.  But there's something to be said about letting your spouse know all of you, even your mistakes.  Joel and I have sat down and shown each other all of our "numbers".  Everything is out in the open.... and it feels unbelievable!  What a relief.

Loving communication - Discussing money with your spouse can be hard.  It's been hard for us.  But we've made a rule that we can discuss it with "safety".  It's a topic that has to be talked about, and you have to be able to discuss it knowing that you can be honest and that the other person is going to still love you at the end of it.  It hasn't been fun to discuss it, and it can get heated.  But we continue to remind each other that we're working toward the same goal.  And in the end, it'll be worth it.

It feels good to get this out there.  I can't wait to share our progress with you all.  I'm sure we will make mistakes along the way, and I'll share those, too. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First "Sick" Day

Grace is into her 3rd week of Kindergarten.  Less than 2 minutes after I came in from dropping her off, I get a call this morning, that Grace is complaining of a headache and is inconsolable.  Her kindergarten teacher said "I think you should just bring her home". 

So, I got back into the car, wondering why Grace would possibly start feeling sick... or why she would say she felt sick.  I just dropped her off and she was in good spirits.  Her only complaint was that there would be pineapple at lunch.  I know the adjustment from home full-time, to being at school all day has been hard.  She's tired.  She's whiny.  But she loves school.  So I prayed for wisdom and picked her up.

Right away, on our way back, she tells me that she feels fine but she just wanted to be home with me today.  I figured as much.  I tried to explain to her, as my mother did to me when I was young, that school is her job.  Just like Daddy has to go to work each day, she has to report to school and be a good student. 

We had a little chat when we got home - that today wasn't a play day.  We cuddled together in bed this morning and took a nap and she seemed to do better after that.

What do I do?  I know she needs more time with Joel and I.  So we'll make that happen.  But this can't be a habit.  She has to go to school.  She's going to private school - we're paying for private school.  Help!  What's a momma to do?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Thanksgivings

Happy Labor Day, everyone.  Joel thinks it's a bogus holiday, and I kinda agree.  But today got me thinking...

Through our last 8 years of marriage, Joel has never had a job we could really count on.  He's been more-or-less activated the entire time, but there have been many times that he's been off of orders and we've had to rely on our savings to get by. 

We've prayed a lot these last 8 years that God would provide a job and give us stability.  We've had many moments of anxiety.  We've worried too much.  But we've never gone without.  Our bills have always been paid and there's always been money in the bank.

Even though we've struggled in this area, God has always provided.  We've tried keep faith.  We've tried to live simply - although not always - not knowing what would happen 6 months down the road.

A few weeks ago, Joel got great news - he got an AGR job on base.  This means stable work - until he retires.  It also means that we can stay where we are and not have to go the active duty route.  Oh, and it also means he gets to do what he loves to do.

We are so blessed.  And relieved.  We can finally breathe a little easier and start planning for our future.

Friday, September 2, 2011

MilSpouse Friday Fill-In

Thanks Wife of a Sailor for another fun fill-in-the-blank Friday!

1.My plans for this weekend include sleeping in tomorrow, going to church, bbqing and relaxing with just the 4 of us, but what I’d really like to do is .... I don't know, right now our plans seem pretty perfect.

2.I consider the Labor Day holiday an end to summer and bittersweet start to the routine of school.

3.My favorite meal for cookouts is BBQ chicken, BBQ shrimp, steaks, potatoes on the grill , sweet tea and some sort of pie, but my scale wouldn’t agree.

4.So far, my favorite part of summer has been spending time with those I love... my wonderful family and friends.

5.When it comes to deployments, my philosophy is to be honest with yourself, be real with others, support your spouse and press on.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Two Weeks In

Grace is now into her 2nd week of Kindergarten.  My baby is now away from home for 7 hours a day.  She is learning. laughing, growing, exploring and changing. 

It's hard for a parent sometimes to let your little ones let go of your hand and explore life on their own.  It's our job, though. 

On Grace's first day of school, Joel had to tell me it was time to leave her classroom.  It was difficult to walk away - not knowing if she'd be sad that we were leaving and not knowing how the rest of her day would go.  I did cry a bit- no surprise there.  But I can't even tell you how thrilling it was to pick her up later that day and see how excited and happy she was about her first day of school.

So, for 7 hours a day, our little Gracie is on her own adventure.  She loves school.  She loves to learn.  And every day, I cannot wait to go and pick her up.  I cannot wait to hear all that's she's done.