Monthly Archives: November 2011

Financial bucket list!

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Do you want to win $500? Um, yes please!
Krystal at Give Me Back my Five Bucks is giving away $500 thanks to Life Insurance Finder. One of the entries involves blogging about your financial bucket list, which I found an interesting topic, so here goes!

My financial bucket list:
1. Pay off all debt, credit card, student loan, etc.
2. Make at least 1 additional mortgage payment a year
3. Build up our emergency fund to at least $10,000
4. Save 20% for a new (to us!) car
5. Save 20%  for our next house
6. Go to Europe for at least 2 weeks, paying cash for everything (plane tickets too!)
7. Cloth diaper our (future) kids (should this be on the list? I’m not sure, but it’s a frugal goal at least!)
8. Reduce unnecessary spending
9. Buy new furniture
10. Enroll in the GET program when we have kids, to help save for college

What’s on your financial bucket list?

I’m happy…is that so difficult to accept?

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I started a new job just before Thanksgiving. It is a completely different schedule from the office job, I’m on my feet all day, it’s part time and a split shift. I love it.
For the first time in a year, I can tell people that I have a masters. I hated hiding that fact, and it feels so freeing to be able to say it out loud.

The only problem with my new position? It’s not in a library. It is, however, working with kids. More specifically, it’s a before and after school “school-aged” (meaning, K-5th) child care program. I love it. For the first time in a year I can actually say that I love my job.

So why do people ask me how long I’m going to work there? Why do they keep offering suggestions as to how I can get a library position? Why do they assume I’ll leave as soon as the library job pool unfreezes?
Why is it so difficult for someone to understand that just because I’m not in a library, I can still love my job?

My focus when I was in school was on children’s and young adult librarianship. I’d love to work with teens, but I would also love to work with kids. I have always enjoyed working with kids. If my options are working in a library or working with kids, then I want to work with kids. If I can’t have both, I’d rather have the kids.

The age group I’m working with is kindergarten and first grade. Oh how I love this age! They are wild and rowdy, and just downright adorable! They are always learning, and it’s so fun to see their minds at work as we do crafts, or even just play. The other day I read one of my favorite books, Make Way for Ducklings to them.

Do I need a Masters in Library and Information Science to work there? No…but it helped me get the job. The truth is, I love my job, and I’m tired of everyone trying to give me options to get into a library. I’d take my part-time, downright exhausting, wonderful job over any other job that isn’t working with kids, but is in a library. I’m not a medical librarian. I’m not a technical librarian, or a law librarian, or a college librarian. I’m a children’s librarian who wants nothing more than to work with kids, and who has finally found that job. After 2 years of waiting, I’m finally working with the population I love.

Why can’t people just accept that?

Mint

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No, I’m not talking about the wonderful herb that drives my cats nuts and tastes great in chocolate. I’m talking about Mint.com. When I guest posted recently, talking about our frugal habits, I mentioned Mint.com, and was surprised to see a couple of people who were interested in Mint.com but hadn’t heard of it, so I thought I’d talk about how much I love Mint.

I can’t remember who turned me onto it, but I think it was another blogger. Who knows. Anyway, when we first got married we tried to budget on our own, and it did not work out. At all. We were looking for a house, so we were getting home late and eating out a lot, and generally it just wasn’t great money-spending. Then we started paying our mortgage and got serious about money.

Mint is made by the same people who do Quicken (I’m pretty sure) and it’s one of those certified safe sites, which is great, because you give it ALL you bank information. I know, sounds crazy, right? Well I can assure you in the almost a year that we’ve been using it we haven’t had a problem. My favorite part of Mint? It’s free! I also like that both Geoff and I can log in online, and there’s also an iPhone app (with password protection!) so I can always check out our budgets and accounts.

Anyway, onto how Mint works! I’d have screen caps for you, but I don’t think you need to see all our financial information. So you put in your monthly income information, and all your bank and credit card information. (Yes, seriously. It’s safe, I promise!) As you spend money in your budgets, there are little bars that go from green, to yellow, to red. It tells you how much money you have left in your budget too, which helps me visualize how we’re doing.
The budgets help you see where your money is going, and it also helps to keep you in the green every month. For example, if we stuck with all our budgets, we would have about $80 left over in our monthly budget.

Another thing I like about Mint is the goals feature. We have goals set up for furniture, our Hawaii trip and emergency savings. I love this because it’s so fun to see our goals rise. I also like that you can tell Mint where you are going on vacation, and it will actually set your budget for you (this is how we did Hawaii).

Overall, Mint has been a wonderful addition in our life, because we are both able to keep up with how we are doing with our budgets. Since Mint logs into your bank accounts, there’s no way we can conveniently “forget” that we went to Starbucks more often than we should have one month. Lately, we’ve been loading Starbucks cards with our coffee budget which helps, because when that card is empty then that’s it! {Sorry, this is a digression}.

Have you tried Mint? I highly recommend it. If you use it, what do you think about it?

A Southern Thanksgiving

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My friend Elizabeth, from Life, Love, Librarianship kindly agreed to guest post for me! Enjoy her rendition of Thanksgiving in her family…in Alabama!




Funnily enough, my Thanksgiving memories and favorite Thanksgiving moments actually have very little to do with Thanksgiving.  Sure we do the big meal and watch the kids attempt a back yard football game, but Thanksgiving is really just a stepping stone.  Just another (albeit food-laden) day to complete before we get to the big show: Christmas. 

Part of the reason Thanksgiving feeling like a tacked-on holiday is because my mom doesn’t host Thanksgiving at her house.  My parents and I go to my mother’s sister’s and we celebrate with her husband, their three kids, spouses, and grandchildren, and my grandparents.  Sometimes there are other random family members or close family friends, but mostly it is our fairly small family.  It actually used to be pretty quiet before everyone started having babies and now there are 6 kids, ages 18 months to 10 years (4 of those kids are boys) so it’s certainly not quiet anymore.  But the kids do make it way more fun.  
My aunt makes the turkey and the dressing (this is the South – none of that stuffing business at our table) and few side dishes and then everyone brings a dish.  I bring the rolls (my rolls are the best.  you should try them.) and a dessert for the grownups and one for the kids.  My mom brings her famous sweet potato casserole and the most requested dish, macaroni and cheese.  We eat the cranberry sauce from the can and yellow gravy (basically cream of chicken soup, giblets, and hard boiled eggs – it’s delicious, I swear) that only my grandmother can make correctly.  We all eat until we are sick, watch the kiddos run around a bit, and then that’s that.  Thanksgiving’s over.  Time to get ready for the big show.
My mom and I officially kick off Christmas on Thanksgiving night by watching White Christmas, our favorite Christmas movie.  We’ll watch it 5 or 6 times during the Christmas season and even though we know all the lines, it never gets old.  The next day, while the rest of America is waiting in endless lines, we break out the decorations.  
My mom is VERY into Christmas and her house is decorated from top to bottom with two trees, wreaths on every door and front-facing window, her collection of Santas displayed on the mantle, and the focal point – her Christmas village.  It takes all day to get the house fully decorated and while it’s exhausting, it’s one of my favorite things to do.  We put on our favorite Christmas albums (Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Josh Groban, and Barbara Mandrell just to name a few) and reminisce about each decoration as we lovingly pull it from the box.  We eat Thanksgiving leftovers and sit around as a family, soaking up the joy of the Christmas season.  It’s quiet and simple, which is exactly what my family is all about.  
For my small family, Thanksgiving really isn’t about the food or the shopping or even getting ready for Christmas.  It’s about spending time together, making memories, and enjoying the thrill of the holiday season in our own way.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Happy Thanksgiving! Right now you are probably sitting down to your Thanksgiving meals, and I will be driving! Yes, we’re eating Thanksgiving on Friday because we’re traveling and I’m working too late on Wednesday. Whatever you’re doing (and I do apologize to my non-American readers!) I hope you are having a wonderful time!


So, in the vein of last year’s Thanksgiving post, I am going to list the things I am grateful for this year!


1. My job. Last year I was thankful that I was employed, today I am thankful that I am employed doing a job that I love!

2. My family. Both extended and immediate. They are all wonderful and I’m so lucky to have them.

3. Our health. Currently everyone in our family is healthy. I’m not talking colds, I’m talking big things like cancer. We are all healthy and happy and I’m incredibly thankful for that.

4. My kitties. They seriously make me laugh every day with their antics! And I love when they cuddle up and sleep with us!

5. Our house. We are lucky not only to have a roof over our heads, but to own that roof as well. 

6. My husband. As we approach our two year anniversary I’m so thankful that we met each other and got married!

7. My marriage. We’ve had our ups and downs this year, but we’re plugging along and still going strong! Love that man.

8. Snow! Yes, even snow because it is so beautiful!

9. A garage, where my car is parked safe and sound and free of snow and ice!


10. My husband’s job, which is paying for him to go back to school and get his masters.


11. The fact that, even though I can’t go home for Christmas, a little bit of home will be coming to me, in the form of my sister!


12. Our upcoming trip to Hawaii, which will be fully funded as of December!


What are you thankful for this year?
Stay tuned for another guest post tomorrow!

Thanksgiving and Africa

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My friend Bethany, who does not have a blog to link to, agreed to guest post for me about her Thanksgiving growing up in Africa and how grateful her experiences have made her. She was also kind enough to include pictures!

A few weeks ago, Megg asked me if I would be willing to guest post during Thanksgiving, and I said, “Sure!” but since I’ve never been asked to guest post, this may not sound very guest posterly to you. If that is the case, please heed this caveat and leave the pitchforks and torches at home. Asante sana.
“What is that foreign language?” you probably just wondered it. Heck, you might even be googling it right now, in which case, I’ll wait for you to come back so I can just tell you.
“Asante sana” means “thank you very much” in Swahili. Now, let me be honest, I do not speak Swahili or any other African languages. However, I did spend my childhood and adolescence in Africa, so I know bits and pieces of several languages spoken in Africa, and—what’s that? Oh, you want to hear more about growing up in Africa? Funny you should ask…Megg thought that would be fun for me to me to talk about how I grew up and how we celebrated Thanksgiving in Africa—since this is a Thanksgiving-ish post and all—so hey, let’s talk about that. (Btw, we usually had chicken instead of turkey.)
To begin with, my parents are missionaries, which is why, at the age of one and a half, I was whisked halfway around the world and raised as a minority of sorts. A lot of Americans ask me what it was like growing up in Africa, but I usually end up asking them, “What was it like growing up in the US?” because I don’t really know how to describe my childhood. Growing up in Africa was just growing up for me.
Now, before we continue, let me clarify a few misconceptions people may have. First of all, we did not live in round mud huts. We did not ride elephants to school. (We were homeschooled!) I never met Tarzan. I don’t speak “African” because that is a language that does not exist. I did not live in a state in the country of Africa. Africa is a continent, and we lived in the countries of Ghana and Chad. (We went to boarding school in Kenya.) We didn’t own pet monkeys. Also, saying “chai tea” is redundant as chai means tea. And why the heck do you people put spices in chai? Bleck.
So far, this post probably sounds like a rant, but I needed to say all of that to lay the groundwork for what I’m going to say next. See, I didn’t have some of the exotic experiences listed above, but I did grow up overseas and have traveled extensively. For that, I am grateful.
I am thankful that not only did I have the opportunity to swim with dolphins off the coast of Zanzibar, but that I also had the opportunity to share life stories with a Buddhist monk in Thailand. I am thankful that I was able to visit the Vatican in Rome, but I am more thankful that I got to play tag with Gypsy children in Romania. I am thankful that I was able to climb to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, but I am also more than blessed to have prayed alongside my Indian brothers and sisters in the Mumbai ghettos.
I am thankful for a broad worldview. I am thankful for an incredibly supportive family that made home exist no matter where we lived, even if we were living out of suitcases for half a year. I am thankful for a roof over my head, a job that pays the bills, and a loving husband who is as big of a geek as I am. I am thankful for friends like Megg who can make me laugh and can share even the little things like a trip to Target or a love of sushi. I am thankful for the hellspawn that we also refer to as “cats” because occasionally their furry cuddles make up for the insanity they otherwise cause.
Most importantly, I am thankful for a relationship with a Savior who has been with me through all of the ups and downs in life, who is constant when I am wandering far, and who has carried me through some very dark times and brought about the blessings for which I am currently grateful.

Get to know me: Day 20

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This month, in great detail.


Oh, this month. I’m just going to stick with November, because the end of October really wasn’t all that exciting (if I did the last month, from today).
So, November has been relatively exciting. On November 4th I was offered a job working with kids in an after school program! I was thrilled, and accepted, of course. It isn’t in a library, but it’s a lot closer than I was before. Even though it’s part time, I am happy to be working there because I know I will be (and already am!) happier than I was in the office. I’m really lucky that Geoff’s job is good enough that we can afford that I work part time.


Anyway, the next day I gave my notice at my job, saying that I’d be resigning in a week (the new job wanted me to start as soon as possible). I spent that week telling my favorite drivers that I was leaving, which was bittersweet.


I started my new job this week, on Nov. 14. Considering it’s now Friday, I can say that the first week, though overwhelming, went well.


The rest of the month includes Thanksgiving, of course, and then it’s time for Christmas! I’m hoping the rest of the month goes smoothly, as I settle into my new job.
So, that’s my month! More interesting than usual, I’ll have you know.




Day 01 – Introduce yourself, in great detail
Day 02 – Your first love, in great detail
Day 03 – Your parents, in great detail
Day 04 – What you ate today, in great detail
Day 05 – Your definition of love, in great detail
Day 06 – Your day, in great detail
Day 07 – Your best friend, in great detail
Day 08 – A moment, in great detail
Day 09 – Your beliefs, in great detail
Day 10 – What you wore today, in great detail
Day 11 – Your siblings, in great detail
Day 12 – What’s in your bag, in great detail
Day 13 – This week, in great detail
Day 14 – What you wore today, in great detail
Day 15 – Your dreams, in great detail
Day 16 – Your first kiss, in great detail
Day 17 – Your favorite memory, in great detail
Day 18 – Your favorite birthday, in great detail
Day 19 – Something you regret, in great detail
Day 20 – This month, in great detail
Day 21 – Another moment, in great detail
Day 22 – Something that upsets you, in great detail
Day 23 – Something that makes you feel better, in great detail
Day 24 – Something that makes you cry, in great detail
Day 25 – A first, in great detail
Day 26 – Your fears, in great detail
Day 27 – Your favorite place, in great detail
Day 28 – Something that you miss, in great detail
Day 29 – Your aspirations, in great detail
Day 30 – One last moment, in great detail