Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Why May...

...was a happy month.

1.  Aaron Christopher the Second had his first hair cut, his first birthday party and cut his two front teeth (teeth that are, in fact, HUGE, and will be sure to cost us thousands of dollars in braces)

2.  Aaron and I got to spend the night at a hotel by ourselves for the night to celebrate mother's day and my birthday.  We are one of THOSE couples that are committed to getting away at least one night at least once a year....and I really dig that we do that.  Thank God for parents who watch children!  In addition to bonding, we ate a delicious Italian meal (Caprese Salad?  Yes please), watched 'What to Expect When Expecting (pass on it) and slept in- It was pretty much awesome.

3.  The family had the opportunity to go to a Tiger's game together with some of our dearest friends.  We enjoyed the game, each other, and lil' Aaron was a rockstar (however, sitting in the last row of Tiger Stadium, at 7 months pregnant, with my bladder- was NOT a highlight).

4.  The month flew by.  Which, sometimes would seem depressing, but because the month flying by has brought me five weeks closer to holding my new baby boy, I am kind of into it.  As many of you know, pregnancy and I don't do well together (though it is a blessing) and I, in generally, am pretty sick.  However, I have been feeling REALLY great in this trimester, and everyday I feel great, I am thankful for!

5.  Lil' Aaron is a JOY.  He is working passed the 'I must only be in the arms of my mother' stage, which makes him much more enjoyable around other people.  He has learned to build towers with blocks, which of course, makes this mom feel like her son is a genius.  Fear not, I am confident he is not a genius, because he has yet to say his first word :(  Though he talks like he expects us to understand.  He is a goofball that loves to fake laugh loudly and does the best 'brutus face' (basically a scrunched up nose) that makes EVERYONE laugh.  He continues to be in love with his father, which continues to make me fall deeper in love with both of them.

6.  We are about to (in 3 days- June 1st) pay off Aaron's car loan.  Now, this might not seem like the biggest deal ever, but it was our biggest single loan (my student loans are all broken up into smaller loans).  It has taken us six months to do it.  Although Mr. Ramsey advises smaller loans first, we decided to deviate a bit and go for the bigger one with the biggest interest.  The reason this ROCKS, is that it took us 6 months, from this point on, we will pay off a loan every other month (for the next year) which is lots of little celebrations.  And, in one month and one year, we will be DEBT FREE!  A huge feat considering we entered our marriage with 86 k of debt.  The husband drives me crazy with the 'no's' that come with getting our finances in order, but with the light at the end of the tunnel becoming clearer and clearer...I am pretty pumped.  Along the journey, my understanding of personal accountability has been challenged and redefined, but it has been SO good.

7.  Memorial Day Weekend was awesome.  We attended three different BBQs with exceptional l food and really good company.  Plus, we got to see Aaron's nephews, who are growing up so fast and are so much fun and they love their cousin baby Aaron, so that was a blast as well.

8.  I am getting better at cooking from home and we are getting more creative in cooking food we like.  Last week, I was CRAVING Raising Cane's Chicken.  I tried to convince my husband to drive down to KY so we could get some, but he shot that down.  And so, we decided to attempt to duplicate the experience from our house.  Complete with the sauce.  It was DELICIOUS.  Plus, the husband made excellent tostadas (sp) with freaking coleslaw on them, and they were pretty much the best thing ever.

9.  We ended another youth group year.  This one was bittersweet, I cannot believe my baby 6th graders have not graduated HIGH SCHOOL and that we celebrated our largest senior class yet.  To be at the last meeting of the year, with a room FULL of alumni, 8th graders, high school students, adult team members, and of course, our seniors being honored....was so.cool.  I have a REALLY cool job.

10.  And finally, today, i brought lil' Aaron to a 'splash pad' his first experience with outdoor summer play (with water). It was a bit chilly, but he was totally intrigued by the whole thing.  He couldn't decide whether to laugh hysterically, or cry, so he kind of did a blend of them both for about fifteen minutes.  We went with his Busia and Har Har and had a blast.  My parents have a splash pad right by their house, so I am sensing LOTS of summer fun.

June, here we come...feel free to be the month of my second baby boy's birth!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why I Am Fairly Confident...

... I will be a bad mom.

I literally cannot handle little kids crying.  And worse yet, little boys crying.  And worse worse yet, little boys crying because they are sad and someone hurt their feelings.  I am wondering how I am going to hide the fact that I am a total softy for little boy tears when disciplining my boys. I can almost see the manipulation occurring.  They will realize I am powerless against little boy tears (and not pretend ones, the good news is that I am VERY good at distinguishing between fake tears and real tears)...and I shall be totally run over by my children. Then, I will be THAT mom who gets looked at for not disciplining her children, who will, of course,  turn out to be sociopaths.  And all because my lil' heart could not stand the site of little boy tears.  What is a mom to do????

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


…doesn’t always get it right, but when he does, he does BIG TIME!
Sunday, was one of those big time days.  Mother’s day this year was special.  We celebrated just over a year of having the munch (the kid that changed our life) and the cooking of the second kid is coming to an end.  As we prepare to be parents to two babies, it is fun to take the time to celebrate the gift of motherhood.  And this year, my husband got it right!
The day started with sleeping in for mommy.  If you know me, you know one of the biggest crosses of parenting for me is the lack of sleep. I know, I know, but it is a fact. I hate feeling tired and with this pregnancy I feel tired ALL.THE.TIME and sleep is a precious commodity that has been removed from my life. 
Any-hooter, when it was time to get up, Aaron told me to go sit on the couch so that he and the munch could give my present!  I was so super psyched.  We don’t have a lot of money for gifts  to each other right now, which works out PERFECTLY for me.  Although material things rock, I am a HUGE fan of homemade/thoughtful things.  Because I know our budget, I knew this year would be of the homemade variety and Aaron had been talking for a few days about how awesome his gift was!  And, he did not fail me!
After sitting down, Aaron disappeared, and when he returned it was with a HUGE BOX!  When he turned the box around, I saw this…
MOMMY JEAPORDY!  The fantastic man had set up a board, complete with categories, different cash values and DAILY DOUBLES!  It was awesome.  The categories ranged from, ‘Lost and Found’  (the television show LOST); ‘Feliz Navidad’ (from the television show Felicity) and Pop goes the Weasel (pop culture)-  to ‘Vatican or Vatican’t’ (church trivia) and ‘Personally Basically’ (questions about us).  For each question, I could earn money.  It was so much FREAKING FUN!  Aaron put so much creativity into each question.  As the baby roamed around, I laughed and laughed and laughed. 
About halfway through the game, I realized the best.thing.ever!!!  We were playing for REAL MONEY!  No, not thousands of dollars, but change and dollars.  Earlier in the week, I had told Aaron for me, one of the hardest things about Mr. Ramsey is that I can’t just go to Target anymore and shop.  Just waste money like I had it.  Aaron had the brilliant idea to let me ‘win’ money, so that after we could go ‘shopping at Target’.  It is that kind of thoughtful stuff that makes my husband such a rock-star.  For REALZ.
After finishing the game, Aaron let me guess a bonus question that would help me win all the money, and I got it right!  $25 later, I was rollin’ in the dough!  After breakfast with Grammy and PaPa (so freaking good, the Golden Coral), we made a stop at Target and I got to buy a book with my winnings!!! And, the best part, I got to ‘shop around’ in case I wanted anything else.  It was fantastic.
Lil' Aaron was super psyched as well!
That awesomeness was followed by Mass, where our kid who was a HOT MESS during breakfast, actually behaved.  Then, we went home and took and afternoon nap in the big bed (after stopping at Taco Bell for a  Mango Strawberry slushi, which I afforded with my winnings!!!).  We ended the day with a quick dinner with my parents!  All and all, it was pretty much one of those days that gets chalked up there with , ‘best.days.ever’. 
So, next time I am frustrated with my husband, somebody remind me of this post and what a thoughtful good man, good father and good husband he is! 
Cleared board, what can I say...I'm good:)

Happy Wednesday! J

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Second, In a Series...

...of posts by my lovely husband.

It started out as a feeling
Which then grew into a hope
Which then turned into a quiet thought
Which then turned into a quiet word
And then that word grew louder and louder until it was a battle cry……
(Regina Spektor – “The Call”)

I’ve found a reason for me
To change who I used to be
A reason to start over new
And that reason is You
I’ve found a reason to show a side of me you didn’t know
A reason for all that I do
And the reason is you
(Hoobastank – “The Reason”

So far, Mary and I have been on this journey towards financial peace for 1.5 years at the end of June.  But to get this far, to make so much progress, and to have the energy and direction to keep going, many times we have to remember why we’re here, how we got here and what’s the point.  For us, I can blame it on Mary.  She’s the reason for my newly found interest in all things Dave Ramsey and personal finance. 

It goes back to late November of 2010.  We were about 3 months into expecting our first child, married 5 moths, and Mary started talked about wanting to be a full-time stay at home mom eventually and she wanted me to look into it.  At that time, I wasn’t into finance at all.  I barely looked at our bank account and the word budget sounded icky and gross and I wanted no parts of.  But, in that womanly way, she reminded me many times over the next month until I finally decided to figure it out in December.  So I exported our bank statements in an Excel spreadsheet from the past month and crunched some numbers to see what our current finances looked like.  It was not pretty.  At that point, we never went grocery shopping together.  We were a nightly, “What do you want me to pick up for dinner?”, type of couple.  I went out for lunch at work every day.  I had a great mental image of the restaurants in the Troy/Madison Heights area.  You would think that Mary had stock in Target given the amount of times she frequented there and bought things.  We had a top notch phone plan, top notch cable, and our debt payments were well over $1,000 per month.  Which was way more than our $700 mortgage payment.  But we weren’t big credit card users so we were slightly able to out earn our stupidity.  But by barely.  So seeing this, there was no way we could afford for Mary to cut out her entire salary and stay at home.  Unfortunately, I had to deliver the news.  I remember saying to Mary, “I have some bad news.  We’re not going to be able to have you be a stay at home mom.”  Suffice it to say, she wasn’t pleased.  Not at all.  After that, I knew something had to change.  That’s when I first started really looking into Dave Ramsey and started learning more and more and taking control of our finances.  A month or two later, Mary got the idea to switch her hours so that she could work less and take a pay cut but not completely.  So with that, our challenge was to figure out how to make it work.  We made our first budget in January 2011 and started the process that would get us to start trimming our budget so that we could have Mary be a part time stay at home mom and be debt free in 3 years.  Eventually, we decided that if the part time stay at home mom was to become a full time stay at home mom, we had to made larger cuts in our budge t in order to move up our debt freeness so that Mary could become a full time stay at home mom at some point.

Also, I had other reasons as well.  At first, it was a way to make sure that our family was well suited for future success.  That years down the line, we didn’t have to worry about “what ifs”.  My children won’t have to see me worry about money or see Mary and I trying to stressing about potential emergencies.  Worries that I’ve had since leaving the nest and going to college.  We would have protection in case something happened.  I don’t think until now, I’ve ever had a period where I was ok with my financial situation.  But eventually, it changed for me.  One day, Mary had an idea to create a bucket list.  Everyone’s heard of this.  A list of things you’d like to do/see/experience before you “hit the bucket” (also known as dying).  We started writing things down and mostly everything was around traveling.  I had mentioned starting my own charitable foundation known as the “Wilkerson Foundation” so I wrote that down and started expanding on the ideas of what we could do with that.  So this bucket list provided me a quick glance at our future of traveling a lot and tons of generous giving.  I liked it.  A lot.  At the end of it, I thought to myself, “why can’t we do this, what’s stopping us?”.

I think that we’re all capable of greatness.  But it has to start somewhere.  Some of us have that natural spark within us and we can do things just because.  But many others, myself included, need a reason to change our behaviors.  It’s easy to have a goal of becoming debt free, but what’s the reason behind it?  Why do you want to become debt free?  What’s the reason behind it?  In order to get to starting the “how” of financial peace, you need to know the “why”.  And it’s important, trust me.  If you’re married, you’re going to fight about money in order to get to where you need to be.  But that “why”, that reason, is the thing that keeps you working towards your goal.  Without it, you’ll just give up and go back towards your old habits.  I can admit that Mary and I have on numerous occasions have had heated discussions about finances and at the end there’s some frustration.  But luckily, I remember the reasons of why we’re doing this.  This is for our family’s future and stability.  It’s for you Aaron II.  It’s for you Joseph.  It’s for you Malia (doesn’t exist….yet).  If you’re going to go all in on getting out of debt, first, figure out why you’re doing it.  But it can be as simple as, “I want to pay off my house” or “I want to save up for retirement or “I want to save up for my kid’s retirement”.  You need to become a dreamer.  You need to have a dream that is almost too far away to reach.  Something that you can’t accomplish immediately.  It will take a lot of time and a lot of effort.  The Wilkerson Foundation is one of my many dreams.  I talk to Mary about it about once a month regarding new ideas I have for it.  To get to the full dream I have for the foundation we’ll need about $50,000 a year in retirement to go towards it.  Trust me, there’s more but I’ll save that for a later blog post.  Also, you have to really believe in that dream and it has to be something you really want.  Or else, you’ll just tell yourself, “nevermind, it’s not that important”.  “It’s not worth it”.  One of the things that I love is that Mary really wanted to be a full time stay at home mom.  It was a dream that she passionately believed in and wouldn’t back down from it.  And as a result, we’re going at our debt like a freight train.  There’s some bumps in the road of course, but we still have the goal in sight.  We know where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.  But most importantly, we know why we’re even trying.  So come up with your own version of our Wilkerson Foundation.  Take some time and dream. 

Thanks Mary for getting us to the “why”