Wednesday, December 30, 2009

ahh ... money

A year ago, I would have said that I HATED having a budget; what I really meant is that it was hard for me to stick to a budget and not be consumed by it. I knew it was good for me (blah, blah, blah) but it was hard for me to find a system that worked, and I had tried.

Over the first part of this year, it became clear to me that I wasn't "in control" of my finances. Sure, I made more than I spent but that wasn't on purpose, it was just how it worked out (probably mainly 'cuz I dislike shopping). I knew I wanted a better sense of where my money was going and how I could save more. I was getting motivated. Then, I got engaged and was planning our wedding (and how to pay for it) and my roommate, who's rent was going directly into my savings, was going overseas for several months. I had heard of Dave Ramsey ... my brother is crazy about him and over a weeks time, several friends began talking about the envelope budget system.

In June, I started with the envelopes and took a good look at Ramsey's baby steps. The first few months of the envelopes were difficult, I'm not going to lie, but I did learn how to shop better and less and I adjusted the budget once to make things a little easier. Now I am very close to being back to what I had intended to spend each month when I started over the summer. It is really helpful for me not to be consumed by where the money goes (counting receipts and whatnot) but instead, knowing I have a certain amount for each category a month, or week as I mentally separated my grocery budget into a weekly amount.

I was able to make my goal for savings, which I now think was too conservative but I did make it. I also ended up saving money from the envelopes, which really surprised me. This money went into a "honeymoon fund" and that envelope is now bulging. I am not sure what exactly we will use it for, but I an sure it will be fun. For this coming year, I am going to be more specific - maybe have it be a Christmas presents fund or for a special occassion.

For this coming year, I want to make larger goals. I think it was good for me to start small, now I know exactly how much money I have to play around with and where it all goes. And I am motivated to make larger changes. It is good for me to realize how my attitude has changed towards money and that makes me excited to see what comes next.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Dreamin' of a White Christmas

I felt like a kid last night.

I went to sleep wearing new pajamas (thanks Kristi!) on our new big/queen bed (thanks Mom and Dad!) with a new comforter (thanks to the Brenna's!). It wasn't til I was almost alseep that I realized that I had basically collected my Christmas gifts and was literally sleeping with them. =)

Meanwhile, snowballs are falling from the sky in the "wintery mix" the weather men call it and I want to go home after work today. It is somewhat odd working the holidays because even though every one - patients and staff - addresses it, it doesn't really seem like Christmas to me until I am home. It is nice that spending Christmas Eve with Chris' family qualified as being "home," in a sense. It was fun watching the kids (7 and 9) open up their gifts and seeing their unrestrained enthusiasm - especially over the wii. =) I am blessed to be joining such a wonderful family and certainly feel welcomed and loved. I was touched by the little things ... I got Russian tea and mint chocolate in my stocking and Chris' mom saved some mint brownies for me, which are my favorite. (It is possible that she just had some left over but I prefer to believe that she saved them for me ... i didn't ask)

Still, I am looking forward to being home and seeing my family and the dog and eating some heavenly chicken soup, which my mom assures me that there is enough left over for me. =)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

sometimes, it's the little things ...

Last Friday my roommate moved to Texas. When I came home from work I parked closer to the center of my garage than normal, which does make it easier to get in and out of my car in my small garage. I got the mail, a task that my roommate Lindsay does with a lot more regularity than I. I walked into her (basically empty room), closed the blinds and shut the door. I ate the vegetable soup that really looked like mud that she made the day before. And I reflected on God's provision, faithness and goodness.

Then I looked in an empty closet and thought of the games we will put there when Chris moves in - in one month!!!! And I found the dog treats in the bottom of the other closet. And a package came in the mail ... gifts for his neice and nephew for Chirstmas. All reminders of what is to come.

Today I am thankful for the little things (number 109) which make me thankful for the past, excited for the future and remind me of my many blessings.

Friday, December 11, 2009

getting over one hundred

94. Christmas lights,
95. Christmas music
96. and a christmas tree put up by two little elfs
97. the sound of kids scampering around upstairs
98. a warm hand in mine
99. a beautiful, huge evergreen tree dusted with snow
100. safety in the first winter snow (i'm not counting the snow from October)
101. the comfort of a long friendship
102. news and pictures of a friend's brand new baby girl
103. football ... a packer's win and a vikings loss
104. 38 days til we say "I do"
105. a clean tea kettle
106. and the knowledge of how to clean it courtesy of my friend/roommate
107. acceptance
108. reading what others in the gratitude community are thankful for at a Holy Experience

Thursday, December 10, 2009

my (pleasantly confused) patient: "where is my husband?"

me: "he just stepped out. he will be back soon."

my patient: "that sounds like what some people say before they kill you."

my words: "no, he will really be back in a minute. you are in the hospital, i am your nurse" etc, etc
my thoughts: "yes, it kinda does"

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I am thankful for change.

I don't really like change and it's not normal for me to say that I am thankful for change during it. It probably helps that this change is the best kind for me, anticipated, planned and a whole lota fun.

My friend and roommate is moving out. Her stuff and furniture was picked up today. I expected to feel a bit sad (afterall, not only is she moving to TX but she is going to Togo for about nine months) but instead we talked about God's faithflness and provision, for both of us and for those we love. The timing, while it wasn't planned by us, has been perfect and, for me at least, has lead to closure. And we know we will still be friends when there is an ocean between us; we have practiced that for the last six months.

And now there is space in my house. Space that will be filled with books and things. And my life will be filled with a neice and a nephew, two sister in laws, a dog and a husband. a husband.


And we talk about other change ... moving, him starting doctoral school, me starting a new job. This change weighs more heavily on him than on me.

And during this change, I want to be mindful of God's provision and his faithfulness. I want to be excited about living with my new husband and settling into the house, our house. I want to prayerfully consider how I can support him. I want to enjoy and be thankful for my friendships. And I want to allow myself to enjoy the still quiet moments.

my blessings overflow

77. Talking about love languages with my friends
78. A cousin home from Iraq for a couple of weeks
79. Using every plate, fork and knife in my house to make a nice dinner for our friends
80. God's faithfulness
81. Safe drives to and from family
82. dinner with extended family. Thanksgiving dinner or any kind
83. Christmas lights!
84. Being welcomed and loved by my future in-laws
85. grasshopper pie and cranberry pudding
86. eating dessert for breakfast. WHY does this seem acceptable at grandma's house?
87. 48 days til my name changes
88. a lovely shower with both sides of my family there. (the gifts literally overflow)
89. my house
90. anticipating making my house our home
91. the warmth of a little doggy sitting on my lap
92. piano music
93. Change

It has been encouraging and fun to read what others are thankful in the gratitude community over at Holy Experience

Monday, November 30, 2009

November happenings.


- My friend and roommate, Lindsay came home from Benin where she has been serving with Mercy Ships for the past 6 months. We met her at the airport with a sign, hugs and love. It has been fun hearing about her time as she prepares to serve with them next year as well. And, I am reminded how much I LOVE having a roommate.

- Chris finished his thesis; he defends it in December. =) That was a happy day.

- We celebrated Chris' birthday. With friends, family and together. A party with good food and games, a nice dinner at Victorias and tiramisu cake and another nice dinner at Newts and a quiet evening at the house with the dog.

- I raked and rakes leaves and brought them to the compost pile. Doing the fall stuff seemed easier this year ... maybe because I learned from last year and also probably because of the milder weather.

- Books. I am currenlty reading The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian, a shower gift from a family friend. Also reading Grace Walk by Steve McVey on the bus ride on the way to and from work. We are talking about it at Salt and Light and I am enjoying the book. And Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, a recommendation from my dear friend Chinwe. There have been varying opinions about Gilead but I like it.

- Wedding stuff. The invitations were sent out! Many other details finalized too. I have been praying for a balance between preparing for the wedding and preparing for the marriage and I think that we have been doing a good job of not letting the wedding "take over." While I have enjoyed our engagement and we have grown closer, I CAN'T WAIT to be married.

- Let it rain! Three showers this month. The first was a baby shower for Jackie, a friend from childhood who now lives in Rochester (fun!!!). Her baby is due in December and I am excited to meet that little one.

The ladies in Rochester threw me a fun shower, complete with a Dairy Queen cake that one of the girls picked up in Zumbrota. We played a (non-bridal shower) game and we laughed a lot. Then, over Thanksgiving weekend, my aunts had a lovely shower for me in Oshkosh with both sides of my family. It was special to have both sides of the family there and both my grandmas. It was a really nice time and the food was wonderful, as usual. In the words of my brother "I don't think there is anything they would make that I wouldn't like."

- Over the course of Thanksgiving weekend, I saw all of my family within driving distance and also spent time with people who will (officially) be family soon. The food was good and the company was fun. It was lovely to have some time off of work (especially to keep a normal day-time schedule) and to get out of town for a while.

It has been a busy and fun month. =)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Post

62. - 68. are for Chris only. I can do that 'cuz this is my blog
69. smart wool socks. (i think i love them more than it is right to love socks)
70. learning to let go of the things I can't control
71. finding things to be thankful for even what I am frustrated and discouraged
72. enjoying a whole day with my love, playing and talking about our future
73. anticipating the holiday weekend with family
74. sharing a secret
75. re-reading my journal about love
76. reading James by my fireplace

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Getting all caught up ...

From 11/10:

25. electric blankets
26. cool scarfs
27. the slippers Mrs. Brenna gave me to keep at their house
28. A clean garage
29. clean windows
30. Celebrating Chris' birthday with good friends ... good food, games, fun and laughter
31. Hummus
32. eating at Pho Thai (my favorite place) with my honey
33. neat bracelets
34. hugging Lindsay after 6 months
35. going to the store and making my budget
36. sweet kisses
37. Reading "A very hungry caterpillar" with Amabelle
38. Snuggling with baby Jaden
39. A clear sky to look at the stars
40. Conversations under a clear sky on a roof top
41. making cute baby hats
42. Counting down the days until I am married (69!!)
43. whipped cream
44. quiet evenings at home
45. snuggling into sweatshirts
46. taking bags and bags of leaves to the compost pile.

From 11/16:
47. Friendships
48. a fun bridal shower given by good friends
49. cute, new sleepwear given by those good friends
50. Ice cream cake
51. Two newsy, unexpected e-mails from friends from far away
52. Anticipating getting married in two months (yes, I will count down every day until jan 16)
53. Knowing a sense of pride and wonder when I look at my handsome, thoughtful fiancee
54. Time together to celebrate his birthday and talk about our relationship
55. Listening to Linds talk about Mercy Ships and her plans to go back
56. Long hugs with Chinwe
57. cold morning, reading my bible on the couch with the sun shining in the window
58. finishing my half of the wedding invites
59. making plans to see family over the holiday
60. the fireplace downstairs
61. The little lights and the plants on the window sill

Saturday, November 21, 2009

On my way to 1,000 gifts ...

The beginning of my gratitude list, an idea from A Holy Experience and Ann Voskamp. A few people I know recently began sharing their list, I figured I might as well too. So here's the start of my list from last month:

1. Having my heater programmed to turn up a few minutes before I wake up
2. E-motions =)
3. Grace that I don't understand
4. Tea. anykind. anywhere
5. Google calendars
6. Walking and listening to the leaves crunch under my feet
7. Feeling like part of the team at work
8. Noticing, again, the the bulbs of the ferns in my yard look like aliens and, again, thinking that it is funny
9. My fiance's strong arms that hold me
10. My Savior's strong arms that hold me
11. Making a chai latte that is just as good as Paneras in my own kitchen
12. Frugal Club!
13. Knowing that in 81 days, i'll be married.
14. Finding the right piece of art for my bathroom wall that makes me kinda like the black dimonds around my bathroom
15. the leaves turning and the first snow fall ... on the same day
16. no alarm clock mornings
17. the farmer's market
18. Farmer's market breakfasts with Chris.
19. Friendship Bread
20. Friendship tea at the Brenna's. just wouldn't be the same anywhere else.
21. my bedtime ritual:
22. body butter
23. re-reading Come Away My Beloved
24. prayer