Saturday, January 30, 2010

Legoland

I'm currently dreaming of Legoland. www.legoland.com. Yes, I do believe it is in my future! Well, at some point anyway...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I'm so irritated with myself!

Once upon a time, about 21 months ago, we bought a condo. This condo had been foreclosed on and was more or less a wreck. We thought "Hey, we're young, and we might as well!", so we tried our hands at some handy work. We ripped out the entire bathroom and remodeled it. We painted every wall in the house. We put in new carpet, re-did a chunk of ceiling, took down some pop-corn ceiling, peeled, sanded and painted the kitchen cabinets, painted the stair rail, replaced light fixtures and door knobs, and did various other handy, dandy type tasks. All in all, I'm really proud of us. I'm especially proud of my husband!

Well, with all that being said, there's one thing that's REALLY bothered my since the day we moved in. My kitchen sink. It has always had these nasty paint and stuck on water spots and streaks. It's finish has been dull and smattered with ickiness. Honestly, I've always been embarrassed any time anyone was in my kitchen, and I've been frustrated every time I've looked at my sink. EVERY TIME!

And now, I (gulp) show it to you, for the whole world to see what I've put up with for 21 months!

The only thing I took solice in is the fact that I knew I've cleaned it and scrubbed it (a lot, with various products, the stuff just doesn't come off) and that it was sanitary. It might be nasty looking, but it was at least clean.

Well today I decided to look up how fly lady shines her sink. http://www.flylady.net/pages/FLYingLessons_Shine.asp I remember from years back when I was learning her principles that the first thing she tells you to do is shine your sink. It's all the more reason I've been frustrated for 21 months... fly lady says do this first! She is really big on this sink shining business!

So, after soaking my sink in bleach water for more than an hour, scouring it with a scratchy pad, scrubbing it with baking soda, shining it with Windex and polishing it with lemon juice... here you have it!






The right side is a before picture and the left side is after. Some imrovement huh?














In case you need a close up of the nastiness I'm talking about.







My new and improved, not perfect, but shiny sink!


Why, oh why, oh why did it take me 21 months to turn from the error of my ways and look you up again fly lady? You are my hero!
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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pretend

The kids are playing in my office right now. They're playing with little people and a kitchen set. Leeann started doing the potty dance and then told Titus, "Don't play with my girls while I'm gone", then she headed off to the bathroom. She came back a few seconds later and said, "Titus, just pretend they are statues and the bad guys can't see them okay?" "Okay!" Titus obediently and gleefully exclaimed. He got bored watching the statues and quickly moved onto something else in her absence. It cracks me up that they 'obey' each other so well when they are playing make-believe. There's no end to what one of the kids will tell the other one to do, say or play that they just follow along with. I miss being a kid!

Today

Today I'm enjoying some 'quiet'. Bob the Builder (in Spanish no-less... Titus wanted it that way!) is blaring in the background, Leeann is at school, Rob is at work and I'm pondering life. I ought to be showering, but I'm lost in my thoughts... so I'll share some with you.

I'm thinking about Sanctity of Life week, and I'm grateful every time I look at my daughter that though she was barely 14 when she found out she was pregnant, her birth mom chose life. It would have been so easy for her to 'fix' her mistake and pretend that it never happened. God doesn't make mistakes, and for that I am so grateful. Leeann is a beautiful, thoughtful, sweet, sweet, sweet little girl. This world is a brighter, better place because she's a part of it. I'm so, very, very grateful that Kyndall chose life for Leeann.

I am proud of Kyndall. It's so awesome to watch her turn into a beautiful young woman who is now serving her country in the Air Force. We are enjoying the fact that she is home for a week and a half before she takes her orders. We're also grateful that her orders keep her close to home. She'll be stationed in Washington, so we'll still get to see her fairly often.

I'm also thinking about Financial Peace University. Our small group finished our course last week and had a party to celebrate last night. It's been so awesome to be a part of something so... freeing! We're seeing light in our financial life like we've never seen before. And we see hope for our financial future like we've never seen before. The best part? So many others are feeling that freedom too, one baby-step at a time!

Speaking of small group, the two desserts I ate at our small group party last night made me feel sick. They were both small helpings, but more than I could handle. It means I'm on the right track, because that amount of sweets normally wouldn't have effected me. The Biggest Loser, NACC style has been going well. I still didn't get weigh in's from 7 people, but without those weigh in's for this week the 30 of us have lost 125 pounds total in 3 weeks! I've lost 5 of those, which is pretty stinking cool if you ask me. It was far more than I would have hoped to have lost in 3 weeks, but I'll take it. My goal is to slowly head in the right direction week by week.

I gave Rob the gift of a half-marathon for Christmas year. He's been diligently training since just after Christmas and he's doing well. He's worked up to 6.6 miles. I'm proud of him!

In other news, we've put our condo back on the market once again. This time we're going to stick with the for sale by owner gig and see how long it takes. It would be beautiful beyond belief if we were able to sell this in the near future. So now, I'm slowly working through my perpetual to-do list in regards to the house. Keeping my house in show worthy condition is not something I'm great at. But, I'll do my best! Starting tomorrow of course...

I am having my staff review today at work. That should be fun! Really, I'm looking forward to it. I'll get to sit down with Rob and Denny and get some clarification on how things will work in regards to my job now that Rob is the Lead Pastor.

I am writing on my new Toshiba, that I love (so far anyway)! I'm grateful for my new computer.

I don't want to get too far into this (because debating politics isn't on my list of fun things to do) but I'm thinking about it since the facebook world is going crazy over the passing of two measures that increase taxes for businesses and the wealthy. It's to fund 'education' of course. All I have to say is this. I hate hearing around every corner that if we don't do __________, we won't have proper funding for education. Dear Oregon budget makers: In my house, when something is a priority to me, it goes to the top of my budget list and gets funded first. The less important things fall to the bottom and get cut when times are tough. If education really is important to you, fund it first. Period. Stop trying to play on tax payers fears by threatening to cut education if we don't pay up more. And for that matter, budget makers, you really should go through Financial Peace University. You could learn a thing or two!

In other news, I'm burdened about the hurt lives, unemployed people and failing marriages that are all around me. Then there's Haiti. These situations are all particularly difficult because I can't do anything about them. It's so tempting to ignore them because there really is so little I can do. Yet, my heart hurts for the people affected in these situations. So I pray.

I know that we serve a good, gracious, loving God who cares for us more than we could imagine. I know he works all things out for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. In time we see his hand at work, but in the midst of trials and tribulations those facts are difficult to see clearly. Nevertheless, God is so good!

And these are my thoughts for today. Now, now I must shower, and get back on track. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts... whoever you are!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Convergence and a New Job!

*I have no idea why blogger is formating my posts the way they are these days. I've tried to fix the crazy formatting, but it does it's own thing regardless of what I want, or how badly I want to fix it. Sorry!*

For the last three years Rob has been participating in a Pastoral Training program through Conservative Baptist Northwest, called Convergence.

Seven times a year he spent time prior to class reading books and doing other things to prepare for his class. He would leave early Thursday morning and spend all day Thursday, all day Friday, and part of Saturday participating in a class, or weekend intensive.

I never really blogged about it, because there was something about telling the world that my husband was regularly gone for days at a time that seemed irresponsible. Nevertheless, it's been a large part of our lives. We always missed him terribly while he was gone, but we learned to make the most of it. Titus and Leeann got to sleep in my bed while he was gone and that was something we all looked forward too. Many weeks Rob also came home with a present for the kids (and sometimes for me too!).

Secretly (or not so secretly), I'm grateful that he was able to have meaningful Pastoral training outside of seminary. I do not now, nor have ever had the desire to be a seminary widow. God bless the men who go, and the women who support them, but I'm glad it wasn't us... especially at this stage in our lives. Those who go to seminary typically spend a TON of time studying over the course of several years, and attend class regularly on top of it. And in our case it would have had to have been while our kids were very young and Rob was working full-time. That would have meant over the last 3 years any 'time off' Rob would have had would have been wrapped up in studying and travelling to class in Portland at least
once a week. By doing Convergence he still studied and took classes, but they were one at a time and all of the class work was covered in a long weekend. As hard as it was to have him away for those 3 days at a time I was always grateful that it was only a long weekend.

When he started this adventure in 2006 Titus had just turned 1 year-old and Suzy and the boys had just moved in with us for what ended up being 8 months. During his third year we had my siblings Hope and Logan living with us for 6 months too. I can't imagine having had the opportunity to do either of these things if Rob had been in seminary.
It's crazy to think of all of the life changes we've endured since the beginning of his training. Time flies!
The first week of January Pastor Denny and Pam, Rob and I attended Rob's graduation from Convergence. Three years of training culminated in a delightful dinner and fun night of encouragement and reminiscing.
Pictured above are Rob and I with Pastor Denny and his wife, Pam. Rob and Denny. Rob and me. And, Rob with his fellow graduates showing off their new swords. Yup, you read that right. They don't get diplomas to hang on the wall to remind them of what they have accomplished, but the get swords to hang on their walls to remind them what they are in the midst of. Kind of cool, huh? It's actually a real, heavy, genuine sword!
On another note, I've been very negligent not to have written about the fact that my husband has a new job! One month ago today, the church voted to go through with the transition and officially hire Rob as the Lead Pastor of North Albany Community Church. So, as of January 1st, Rob became the Lead Pastor and Denny moved into the position of Associate Pastor. Pastor Denny is an amazingly humble, godly man. He has spent 8 years building into and training my husband as a Pastor. Only a humble, godly man would step back and submit to the leadership of the man he has trained. He is nearing retirement age and has excitedly decided to spend the last few years on the job focusing on doing what he loves and what he's good at, while he continues to support and mentor Rob as he takes the lead.
So, now we embark on a new adventure. My husband is a Lead Pastor, and I am a Lead Pastor's wife! Yup. Who'd a thunk? A new journey and new excitements and challenges await us as Rob has taken on a new role. I'm excited for what's to come. It's fun to see my husband step up and take charge in ways he hasn't been able to before.
We've been here almost 8 years now. We feel very blessed to be continuing to work in the same congregation that we started in. The typical life-span of a first time Pastor is 2 years. It's not uncommon for a man to change congregations frequently. To be in the same place for 8 years is not heard of very often. To move from a Youth Pastor, to an Associate Pastor, to the Lead Pastor in the same church is even more rare.
Hopefully God will keep us here for quite some time. We love Albany, we love our church and we love the people. We would love to be able to raise our kids here. We'll see what God has in store, but I'm hopeful that it includes ministering to the people of NACC for years to come.

Monday, January 18, 2010

For Aunt Suzy

video

Aunt Suzy, this one's for you... Hannah Montana style!

For the rest of you that we love, we will create more videos in the future. We're now taking requests and dedications.

For Grandpa and Grandma Buhl

video

Does anyone smarter than me know why the sound is delayed by a few seconds?

For Chuck and Shelly

If this works out we're mastering the art of capturing video and putting it on the blog. This is going to take my blog to a whole new level of excitement!


video

Skype--Family Fun For Everyone!

My kiddos are LOVING the Skype. Two nights in a row we've gotten to talk to my Aunt Pam and Uncle Steve via Skype. They love to have meaningful conversations. I.E. "Look at me, watch this, can you see this?" as they shove things in front of the camera. It's cute, they love to watch themselves on the webcam.

Someday I'm going to figure out how to let them take some video that they can post here. But for now, we'll enjoy our adventures in Skyping. The world sure has changed a lot since I was my kids' age. The only phones we had were attached to the wall by a cord. We had to look phone numbers up in the phone book. My kids don't even know what a phone book is! And because there wasn't caller ID we frequently called random numbers and used lines such as, "Is your refrigerator running?" Ah, good times--Yes, I was a rebel!

But Mom...

Earlier today the kids and I didn't get to go where we had originally set out to go because I forgot that some places aren't open on holidays. I was explaining to the kids why our plans had changed and in the midst of this I was asked a routine kid-question.

"What's a holiday mom?"

Surprised by my own difficulty in answering a seemingly simple questions I replied, "Well, a holiday is a time that we remember or celebrate something. Christmas is where we celebrate Christ's birth. The 4th of July is when we celebrate our freedom..."

"But mom," Leeann chimed in concerned from the backseat, "We're not debt free yet!"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Skype

I'm getting ready to Skype for the first time! Look at me, I feel all grown up with my big girl computer that's fast enough to do two things at once and that comes with a webcam. Let's just see if I can make it work now...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Toshiba!

I'm coming to you live from my NEW Toshiba Satellite! Boy, oh boy, am I excited! Yippeee!

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Streak Ends

Today marked the first of many yet to come. Leeann was tardy. Yup. You'd think I might be frustrated with myself, but truly, I'm so excited the streak has lasted this long. 70-some days of school have come and gone... and she just now got her first tardy slip! For me, this is a huge accomplishment!

The funny thing is, I was helping at her school today. Many Fridays I help make cookies for cookie day. So, we ran in together and stopped by the office. They told us to keep going, that we might make it. Just as we were hanging Leeann's coat up outside of her classroom though, the bell ring and we got called back for a slip. Bummer. So close!

In other news, Leeann had left her coat at Eroica's yesterday. And, we were obviously running late this morning. So, instead of going upstairs to find another jacket that would work for her, I just gave her my jean jacket to wear. Not only did it fit nicely, it really brought her outfit together today! The sleeves were a little long granted, but it fit pretty stinkin well considering she's in Kindergarten and I'm 27.

Her feet are really close to being as big as mine too. I'm really excited for the day we can wear the same shoes because her Great Grandma M sends her some of the CUTEST shoes. The time will come soon enough... soon enough...

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Updated Debt Snowball

As I've said before, it's quite awkward to blog about our personal finances. However, we are so excited about what God is doing in that realm of our lives that we can't help but want to share and perhaps, inspire some of you! We have been following Dave Ramsey's 7 steps to financial peace for one full year now. In January of 2009 we had approximately $24,799 in debt.

As of January 1st of 2010 we have $8,676.81 left to pay on my student loans! We have paid off an ambulance bill and Rob's student loans.

That means that in one year we have paid off around $16,123 in debt. Even writing that down it seems impossible. That is an extremely significant chunk of our income. We have a very average income and a very average lifestyle.

How did we do it? Well, by the grace and provision of God, first of all. In addition, we are living cheaper than we have in previous years since we are currently in the condo instead of the house. We sold stuff. We haven't bought anything that wasn't a necessity (except for our trip to Disneyland which was a near fully-funded trip prior to 2009 when we started the 7 steps). We received some money each month that our foster kids were in our care and at the end of each month we took every penny that wasn't spent on their expenses and added it to the snowball too. We used our tax returns for debt instead of fun (like I'm usually tempted to do). We cut our budget as much as we could. We focused our budget. We stopped trying to save money or to invest money and stuck every penny we could muster into our debt snowball. We stuck every penny we got in gifts or bonus's into it too. We began to practice the principle "Every dollar has a name before the month begins". We told our money where to go, it didn't mysteriously disappear. We measured every purchase against the statement, "What do I want more _________ or to be debt free?" The answer was almost always that we wanted to be debt free. It's amazing how many things I didn't buy in 2009 that I normally would have because of that comparison! We didn't pay any credit card fees or late charges because we cut up our credit cards. We adjusted our life in many ways to focus all of our financial effort on one goal: GETTING OUT OF DEBT.

Every time we paid off a debt, or squeezed out some extra money it went right into our snowball. Just as snowballs get bigger when they go down hill and pick up more snow, the amount of money we were putting toward our debt snowball grew and grew and grew each month. Before we knew it we rolled our way out from underneath of our ambulance bill, then Rob's student loans. Now, all of the money we were paying on each of those things is going to pay off my student loans. Next week we will be adding in our raises which will help our snowball grow even faster.

We are $8,676.71 from being in debt for the last time (well, except our house... but there will come a time that we attack that with a vengeance too!). I am $8,676.71 from being enslaved to monthly payments that provide me with nothing but past experiences that have already come and gone. Don't get me wrong, I'm incredibly grateful for our educations, but I look forward with great anticipation to a day when half of my income doesn't go toward the payments for it.

And that my friends, is how two average people managed to be $16,000 closer to the freedom that being debt-free provides in just one year! I hope you consider 2010 as the year that you will begin the baby steps on the road to financial peace. See www.daveramsey.com for more information and inspiration. He doesn't sell anything or offer any magic cures. He simply walks you through the necessary steps of taking control of your finances one small little baby step at a time. Good luck!

Snuggle Sneaker!

By the time we got home from being out and about today Titus had fallen asleep in his car seat. I lugged him in and walked inside to find Leeann sitting on the couch with a blanket in hand and her arms outstretched.

Her little eyes seemed to be begging me to let her hold him like a little baby. And so I did. I placed his head on the arm of the couch and she cradled his body, making sure he was snuggly wrapped and comfortable.

I put on a movie for her and she spent the next 45 minutes sneaking cuddles and snuggles from her little brother.

He's a snuggler too, so I'm sure it wasn't too painful for him to enjoy her 'mothering'. I'm going to guess he might have been annoyed by her constant kisses (as he is when I kiss him at night time when I check on him), but as always, he managed to sleep right through the kisses.

We are a kissy, lovey, snuggly household. My kids have no idea the average siblings their age squabble and bicker at each other all day. And that's just the way I like it!

It's not uncommon for me to walk in the room and see them snuggled up together in a blanket on the floor watching a movie. Or sitting really close together on the couch. They love each other. I hope in some subtle ways that they are best friends forever!
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Monday, January 11, 2010

Laptop

We have decided that we will replace my laptop. It's a bitter-sweet decision for us.

Bitter because we will have to interrupt our debt snowball to purchase it and I want to be finished with my student loans in a desperate way!

Sweet because my computer has had nothing but problems from day 1 and I will be grateful to have something more reliable and of higher quality.

My limited internet/computer access as of late has really complicated my world. I didn't realize quite how much I rely on the computer until it was no longer at my disposal. There's so much about the world that I can't figure out without it. Like how to cook chicken legs. Or what kind of new lap top to buy.

I've also been unable to blog. I have so much catching up to do! Rob went to bed without me tonight so there's a good chance I'm going to be up way too late trying to catch up on all the things I haven't been able to do on the computer lately. I'm expecting a number of blog posts will appear shortly!

This is what I'm looking for in a computer, any suggestions?

I have $500 to spend, not a penny more. I want a 15 inch (or so) screen. I don't like Dell or Vista. I'm not overly concerned about the storage space because we have an external hard drive and I'm just now running out of room on this computer and it's 3 years old. I think it's only like 80GB. Of course, I'd like the most bang for my buck though. I'd like a webcam, though it's not necessary, and I wouldn't mind something with decent battery life. I'm not inclined to refurbished unless it comes with a super warranty. I'm not inclined toward a mac (and they're not available in this price-range anyway).

I watch videos, create publisher documents, blog, facebook, and store pictures... and that's about it. Any recommendations?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

I will not covet...

I will not covet my neighbor's Wii, I will not covet my neighbor's Wii...

I've spent a little too much time over the last couple of days playing Eroica's Wii Fit. And boy, am I SORE!

I really, really, really, really want a Wii. We've decided that will have to wait until my student loans are paid off. All the more reason to attack them with a vengeance! Rob is second guessing getting a Wii a little bit though. He thinks they might be too addicting. I think he might be onto something. But it's a healthy addiction, right?

I am particularly fond of the Wii Fit games. Who knew exercise could be so much fun?

Speaking of, there are 23 people from our church who have joined the Biggest Loser Challenge. So, from now until May I'm making an extra concentrated effort to be active. I need to make better food choices, granted, but my main need is the need to exercise. I've never had a deep love for exercise.

I do recognize that I can no longer use the fact that I have 'baby weight' as an excuse since my son is 4. I also recognize that wishful thinking has yet to do anything to help me shed these unwanted pounds. So, here's to a weight loss challenge! If I do well, I'll let you know how it goes!