Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Thirteen in 2013

13. We went to Disneyland as a family of 4 in February and had a blast!  Grace's favorite part was meeting the princesses.  Joey's was too.  :)
12. Grace turned 3 in May.  She became more vocal and has perfected her pouty lip.  She loves to dress up as a princess, and was thrilled to get her ears pierced. Grace started preschool through the city.  She loves going twice a week and has been learning so much.  Joey and I have loved our one on one time too.  And I have enjoyed getting a lot more errands done with just one kid.
11. We got to spend Grace's birthday in Arizona with her birth families.  I love the connections she has and our open adoption has become so much more than I ever thought it would!
10.  Robby's brother Ryan got married and we have another sister in law!  All of us adore Kolette and we are so happy she is in our family!
9. Robby transitioned from doing more software engineering to managing servers at his company.  It's a lot more hours, and he's almost always "on call", but he loves learning something new every day.
8. We got to fly to Utah in May to meet our new niece Penny and new nephew Jack.  I love that they are so close in age, double cousins, and yet still look so different.  They are both darling and so cuddly.
7. Robby and I decided as a family that we will no longer be attending the LDS church.  It has been a new journey in learning how to live our lives without a religion, but it has been very good for our family.  We are excited to learn and grow more through the years.
6. We have made several very close friends in California who are there for us for everything.  I hurt my back, and my friend took my kids for the day.  I can't get Grace from preschool, and another friend will bring her home.  Without family living close, we have found this group feels like our family.  They are there to celebrate our successes, and are our shoulder to lean on during our struggles.  They are truly incredible friends.
5. I started going along with a photographer friend and have been learning a lot about my camera, and the photography business.  I bought myself a new lens, and I've started taking more pictures of our kids.  I'm hoping I can continue to learn and maybe even grow a business out of it.
4. Joey turned 2!  He went from a sweet baby to a huge temper tantrum throwing toddler.  He is so active and constantly runs around.  He is also very snuggly and always wants me to take naps with him.
3. In September, we were able to attend Grace's birth mom's wedding.  Grace was the flower girl and though she completely missed the aisle, it was so sweet to see them dance together in their white dresses and red sashes.
2. For Thanksgiving, we were able to go to Arizona for Robby's Grandpa's 90th birthday.  It was so fun to spend all the time with cousins and extended family.  And I hope, one day, my life is as full as Grandpa's.
1. We had a wonderful white Christmas in Utah and loved spending time with our family.  We were able to play poker, and games, watch Sherlock, and play with all the cousins.

Friday, August 16, 2013


We are officially DEBT FREE!  We had a little scare, but everything worked out perfectly.  Robby was in the hospital back in may and his HR person gave him the wrong insurance information since we were in the process of switching.  2 months later, we get a bill for $8300.  Needless to say we were upset.  We were so close to being debt free.  So I called the hospital billing and gave them our new insurance information.  Our new insurance sent a form for us to complete about why he was in the hospital (which is a whole other post of ridiculousness).  I filled out the form and waited.  In the mean time, we paid off the remaining debt and hoped for the best.  Well, the best happened!  The insurance paid for everything and we won't have to pay any more than our $100 deductible!  

In April of 2012, we owed $30,000 in credit card debt.  Thanks to 2 adoption tax credits, Robby's really awesome job, and my budgeting, we have paid it all off as of August 1st 2013.  Now we get to start saving!  It feels so great to not owe anyone for the first time in our marriage.  And hopefully we never will again!  I thought we would start slacking off now that we hit this point, but I feel like budgeting even more and tracking every penny so we can save even faster!

Friday, May 17, 2013

My baby girl is 3!!!

Same onesie as she came home in. My oh my has my little girl grown. 

Cleaning house

From 7 tubs to 1. That's all that's left of our baby clothes. 

About a month ago, Robby told me he was done growing our family. I was shocked to say the least. I felt like there was one more person missing from our family. But this isn't something that can be compromised. 

So for now, we won't be doing foster care. We won't be pursuing any further adoptions. We will evaluate how we feel in a few years down the road, but for now, I have to let these clothes go. 

And now I get to start thinking of different dreams. 

I am VERY excited to see these clothes on my niece and nephew. I would much rather see them used than sit in a closet for another couple years. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Our Journey to Debt Free

When Robby and I got married, both of us were pretty clueless about finances.  Robby had a lot of bad luck in jobs, had a car that broke down every other week costing hundreds in repairs, and he had a hard time (ok, impossible time), saying no to me when I asked for something.  I couldn't save to save my life.  I got money and spent it.  If I wanted something, I bought it.  In college, I would buy clothes to look cute, then get asked out on dates.  Then I didn't have to buy food with my money so I could buy more clothes.  It actually worked really well.  Combine the two, bad spending habits and bad luck, and we had a disaster.

When we were engaged, we applied for a house.  The market was booming and everyone was being approved for loans.  So we jumped in.  We had no savings, so we financed the whole house.  We got a call the next day saying our house jumped up in price by $20k.  We were thrilled and thought we would make SOOO much money on this house.  We waited 2 years and put it on the market.  We listed it for $40k more than we paid.  We were so excited to make so much money.  We waited, and waited, and waited.  Then the market crashed.  We went from having a lot of equity to having our house worth less than 1/3 of what we paid.  We couldn't believe it.

Through all of this, we had very low paying jobs.  Our mortgage was $1300 a month and we were barely making $40k a year between the both of us.  So we used credit cards.  We couldn't afford our house, so we bought everything else with credit cards.  We also wanted children, so we were doing tests for infertility.  I bought baby clothes in hopes of us one day having a child.  I spent way too much to lessen the pain of still not having a baby.

Finally we start the adoption process.  We saved up a little money, but no where near enough to pay for an adoption.  So, we put the adoption on a credit card, with hopes we would pay it off with the adoption credit soon after.  Well, the adoption credit took over a year to get back.  In the mean time, we adopted Joey, so we again had to put another adoption on credit.  We had maxed all of our cards.  We had no savings.  And then, Robby lost his job.  I had no clue what we were going to do.

Then, Robby got the job offer in California.  We were very excited.  But, because money was tight, we couldn't afford our house.  We started working with a realtor so we could short sale.  The banks fought us for months saying that we made too much money.  Then, after 6 months, the foreclosed our house.  Robby lost his job again, and we still had credit cards.

Something had to change.  He got his new job, with a significant raise.  We stopped a lot of bad spending habits, and just threw everything at debt.  We had almost $30k in debt.  We got our adoption tax credit for Joey and put all of it towards debt.  Now, less than a year later, we are down to our last credit card to be paid off.  We paid off 5 cards so far and over $25k in debt.  We have $5k left and should be done by mid July.  We are so thrilled!

We've been reading a little Dave Ramsey and following his advice about getting out of debt.  We started with a small emergency fund ($1000), and then put all extra money towards debt.  When we paid off one debt, we took that money and put it towards the next, snowballing our money into a bigger and bigger amount until all our payments were going towards one card.  After we finish paying this debt, we will start saving up 6 months for our emergency fund.  Then we've got to get rolling on our retirement.

This has completely changed our way of thinking.  We still spend more than we need to, but we are doing a lot better.  We really think about purchases rather than just getting everything we want.  It has relieved so much stress in our marriage.  As we get out from all this debt, we feel so much happier and less weighed down.  We are able to enjoy the things we do have since we aren't paying interest on them.

I can't wait to be able to yell "We are DEBT FREE" for the whole world to hear.  This has been a very long and difficult journey, but it's SOOOOO worth it!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Perfection, failing, and happiness

Lately I've been needing just to write down some thoughts.  This will probably be a lot of rambling and it won't really have a point, but I need to get it all out.

I have always cared what everyone thought about me.  I always did my hair and makeup and strived for perfection.  If I couldn't meet perfection, I didn't even try.  I would close myself off thinking that if I didn't try, I wouldn't technically fail.  The first day of 9th grade honors biology, our teacher told us that no one would be getting an A in her class.  Coming from a person who has had straight A's prior to that, I didn't even try and got a C in her class.  It was my first C.  But why try and only get a B?

I still have this problem.  Any time I feel like I'm failing as a mom, I want to crawl in a hole and just cry.  Grace has been very tough lately, as she moves from toddler to preschooler.  Every time she defies me, I feel like I'm failing as a mom.  I feel so far from perfect all the time and it's been really hard on me as a perfectionist.  I think this is a big cause of all the anxiety and depression I've been dealing with.  I know intellectually there are no perfect moms.  It's impossible to be perfect.  But then the comparing game comes in to play.  I look at other moms who manage to take care of their kids, work out and stay fit, do their hair and makeup daily, keep their houses spotless, and still manage to do amazing activities with their kids all the time.  My house always has dishes, has at least 2 rooms that are a disaster, laundry needing to be washed or put away, and a "junk spot" in every room that continues to pile up until it literally falls over and needs to be put away.  I can count on one hand how many times I've exercised this year.  Most days my only accomplishment is that the kids were fed and alive.  The TV is on way more than recommended, I lose my temper too often, and I spend way too much time on social network sites like Facebook and Babycenter.

I also have a control problem.  I want to control my life and everything in it.  If I can't, I feel like I'm a failure.  You would think that I would have learned this lesson through infertility.  I can't control everything in my life.  I can't control other people's actions, as much as I wish I could.

In October, Robby told me that he no longer believed the church was true and did not believe in God.  Coming from my return missionary, married in the temple husband, that was a big shock.  I now have to figure out our "new normal".  We no longer have a priesthood holder in our family.  I will be going to the temple by myself from now on.  We don't pray together.  I am the one taking 2 kids to church every Sunday by myself.  I worry about whether our kids will feel dichotomy of two parents with two very different sets of beliefs.  I worry about whether I have enough faith to keep going like this.  I wonder if it's my fault that he left.  I feel like I'm being judged by other members, because I know I've done the same thing.  We've told very few people so it's not something I can just talk about.  I feel like I failed as a Mormon wife.  I was always told growing up that you make good choices, get married in the temple to a returned missionary, and then have children and that is your happily ever after.  That just isn't how it always happens.

I feel like I have few choices.  Go to church by myself with the kids.  Hope that I am strong enough to teach them everything they need to know.  Hope that they have faith and make good choices.  But then this makes it seem like my husband didn't.  Robby still makes the best choices for our family.  He may not believe in God, but he believes in family and love.  He adores me and I love him more than I could ever love another man.  He is my best friend.  So I'm left with hoping that everything will work out in the next life and he will be able to be with me for eternity.

I could leave Robby and be a single mom, and still have to deal with all of that, on top of not having Robby's support.  That's just not an option to me.

I could stop going to church.  Focus on our family and being good people.  But then I face the scrutiny of all my friends and family.  I lose out on the amazing community of the church.  I lose out on the peace I feel about after this life.  I don't even know how to think without a filter from the church.

I feel like I'm walking a fine line between the first and third choice wondering which way I'll fall, because it really doesn't feel like I have a choice in any of this.  I struggle going to church because I think about all the things that caused Robby to leave.  I think about how hard it is going when sometimes the church makes me feel like a failure.  It brings up pain from not being able to bear children and now not having a priesthood holder.  Both things that the church holds above almost everything else.  Church isn't supposed to cause pain.  Even my Bishop told me that we are supposed to be happy and feel peace in this life.  So if church isn't doing that, am I supposed to stop going?  Because most weeks I feel anything but happy and peaceful at church.

And then I'm left caring with what everyone else thinks.  I know it would devastate my family if I left.  I've watched Robby's family deal with this and watched his mom leave in tears after we told her.  I've never seen her cry, until that moment.  I know my friends would look at me differently.  I know people really wouldn't understand this until they've been through it.  But I know people would judge.  I wouldn't know where I would fit in.  Because I still hope that the church is true.  I still hope that I will be with my family for eternity.  I have had so many prayers answered, that I can't even doubt there is a God.

And since I'm rambling, we also stopped being vegan.  It was not an easy decision, but we both felt like we needed to make a change in our diet.  I was hoping it would help with all my anxiety, and it has lessened it, as long as I make good choices and avoid sugar and caffeine.  It's been 2 months, and I've only told a handful of people.

I wish I could just stop caring what people think.  I wish I could just live my life how I want to and not worry about what friends, family, or even strangers will think.  I just want to be happy.

And if you made it this far, you deserve a gold star.  I didn't even go back and read all of it.  Sorry for the ramble, I just really needed to get this all out along with the tears that came with it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Boy and his Bear

My what a year it has been!  My baby boy is now 1 and has grown so much!  He went from being 7 lbs 7 oz and 19 inches to 27 lbs 5 oz and 31 inches.  He has always been an angel baby and that hasn't changed one bit.  He is still a great sleeper and the most content baby ever.  I'm so incredibly lucky to be his mommy.

1 day

1 month

2 months

3 months

4 months

5 months

6 months

7 months

8 months

9 months

10 months

11 months

12 months

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Family through the years

I LOVE family pictures.  Because I'm always either chasing after a child or behind the camera, I have very few pictures with all of us.  So I make a point of getting pictures done about every 6 months.  Our kids change so fast that I want to be able to freeze time, even if just in a picture.  So here are our family pictures over the last 3 years.  :)

November 2009

May 2010

July 2010

September 2010

November 2010

December 2010

April 2011

October 2011

December 2011

March 2012

April 2012

July 2012

August 2012

August 2012

October 2012

November 2012

 What an amazing 3 years it has been!!!!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Anxiety Update

Over the couple days, my anxiety has taken a sharp turn down.  I haven't felt it for more than a couple seconds a day.  I seriously can't believe it.  I don't know if I was stressing out over Joey turning 1, or just all of the sadness that surrounds that day since his birth mother passed away.  I don't know if it is my change in diet.  I've only been allowing gluten for one meal or treat a day, instead of all day long.  And I've noticed any time I have sugar, that is when my anxiety creeps in so I've been avoiding any processed sugars too.  I'm hoping I can fix this through diet and leave any of those pills alone!  But I'm really happy to feel like myself again.  My house is the cleanest it has been in months.  And I'm laughing and running around with the kids again.  It's seriously a great feeling.  Even with all this yucky rain here, I'm feeling sunshiny.  :)

Friday, November 30, 2012

Take that anxiety!

Over the last couple weeks, I've been having these little heart jumps followed by my breath catching.  I didn't think much of it and it would go away after 1-2 seconds.  Then, the frequency was increasing and increasing.  On Wednesday, it was to the point that I couldn't move and it was causing me to not be able to breathe for a few minutes.  So I went to the doctor.  And of course, she prescribed me some Xanax.  She also ordered a blood panel, but thought the Xanax would help in the mean time.  Well, I took 1 pill and was drowsy and groggy for the entire day.  I couldn't stand on my feet for more than 60 seconds.  It was terrifying and horrible.  I'm hoping that I get some answers from the blood panel.  In the mean time, I've been trying breathing exercises and relaxing and trying to take control.  So today, after Grace's special day, we decorated for Christmas.  It definitely brought some peace and relaxation to our home.  Maybe not the actual decorating part, but there's something magical about Christmas decorations.  :)

Our Christmas tree.  It's 32 inches tall.  Then we have a bronze reindeer and sleigh, wooden duck, vase with ornaments, and countdown blocks to Christmas

Goofy and Mickey getting their Christmas tree. :)

Belle's gown

Nutcracker Mickey

Winter Micke and Minnie ice skating

A little lighted village

Willow Tree Nativity and our stack of Christmas children's books.  There are 19 so far.  We just need 5 more to have one to read every night of December before Christmas.

Mickey and Tigger on rocking chairs.  They turn on and tell part of the Night Before Christmas story.  Both kids think they are hilarious.

We sang Christmas songs and I let Grace put an ornament up.  We did have one break, but that was due to silly me dropping one.  It was a great night and I really hope this anxiety can get under control soon.  It's not the most horrible feeling, but it's a lot like having the hiccups non stop for hours on end.  Really obnoxious, but not the worst thing in the world.  Hopefully it will go away soon.