Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Learning to Swim

Well, I finally realized why I could never teach my husband how to swim. One of things I love about him is that he always makes me laugh. However, when I'm laughing at him while he flounders in the water, it's not the best teaching environment. He is actually a decent swimmer though, so I'm not too worried about him. I'm just not the best "stroke clinic" instructor when I'm laughing so hard.

Since it's officially summer now, and many more kids are swimming at the pool, I wanted to take a few moments and review the "basics" of beginning swimmers from an instructor's perspective, and how it applies to real life.

  1. Fear. The first point to make is that you cannot learn to swim while you are afraid of the water. Whether you are an 18 month old or a 60 year old in my class, we will talk about the water and perform activities to reduce your fear. There are two different methods to eliminate fear, but I've always encourages parents that the best way to remove the fear is to build trust. You might be terrified of going underwater, but if you trust in your parent (or instructor, or God) and take the plunge, you will eventually get it. You might get water up your nose, you might bump your head on something or someone, but you will eventually figure out that going underwater is okay. If you don't trust in that person, you will never go under the water. Something to think about the next time you're afraid. Who should you be trusting?
  2. Float. This is the second hardest thing to teach a new swimmer. They have to learn about their natural buoyancy in the water. They need to be able to feel when they rise and when they fall. This involves a lot of topics that are difficult for young children to understand (relaxing their muscles, keeping air in their lungs without holding their breath too tightly, and proper form for front and back float). Usually we focus on back floating with young children, or holding on to the side of the pool. I would encourage an adult to try this too, if you have access to a pool this summer. Don't think about it too much, just get in your "floating" position and feel your limbs and body rise up to the surface (the more muscles you have the harder this will be, so use a float device or hold on to the side of the pool or a step if needed). It's an amazing feeling to feel your muscles relax so completely that they rise to the top of the pool. It's also amazing how the tiniest changes in position or breath can cause you to rise and fall. Something to think about the next time you make a "small" decision that's not something you would normally do.
  3. Kicking and Paddling. These are usually what I focus on after fear and floating (and breath control and water safety, but I usually at least mention these next). The tricky thing about kicking and paddling is that if the kick or paddle is not "effective" it could look impressive and take a lot of energy, but you won't go anywhere. If you are slapping at the top of the water, but your fingers are open and you aren't pulling that water, you won't go anywhere. If your legs are moving up and down or like a bicycle, or even kicking your heels towards your rear end with a sharply bent knee, you won't go anywhere.  You need to straighten out, point your toes, and use the bottom and top of your feet to really push the water away. I will often have students sit on the edge of the pool and practice different types of kicks to "race" and see who can "push" a float away from the wall the fastest. Is there an area of your life where you're floundering? Are you working hard and going nowhere? Maybe try looking at what you're doing from a different perspective and try coming at the problem from a slightly different angle (pushing instead of pulling, or working together on a team).
On a final note, water safety is always important in the summer. I won't apply this to real life, but prevention is the # 1 way to keep your kids safe this summer. If it's been awhile or you're at a new pool, go over the basic rules, show them how to enter/exit the water safely and make sure they know where the deep sections are and just as importantly where the shallow ends are so they don't jump off the wall into a 2 foot section of the pool. Make sure there is no running, no glass containers, and bring plenty of water and snacks. Make sure kids and adults know not to go in after a floundering swimmer unless they've been trained (or the swimmer is unconscious), instead grab a towel or noodle and perform a reaching or throwing assist. Enjoy your summer!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Saving and Spending

My oldest son turns 5 in August. He's growing by leaps and bounds. He "went for a run" with his dad this weekend for over a mile, although I've been told that they walked most of the way. He also is about to learn his first spending and saving lesson (maybe).

He fell in love with a giant "funny ball" in the Aldi's ad (it's 51 inches in diameter and cost $29.99). Since we had just bought a water play toy AND a red wagon, I vetoed the purchase. He REALLY wanted it though. Enough that he picked up and vacuumed the living room by himself to earn $1 towards it.

So, my husband and I had a discussion. because Aldi's normally only carries a limited amount of these toys, so by the time he earned $30 for it, it wouldn't be available anymore. Plus he's not even 5 yet, so is it realistic to make him wait as long as it would take him to "earn" the money. On the other hand, we really didn't want to spend the $30 on a toy that we don't think he's really going to enjoy that much and might break quickly. But, he did sleep with the ad. And he took it to Vacation Bible School.

So after some discussion, we purchased the toy while he was at Vacation Bible School and put it in our closet. So far he hasn't mentioned it since Vacation Bible School and he came home without the ad. So, if he forgets about it, we can still return it to Aldi's since I've kept the receipt. If he remembers, we're going to give him 2 weeks of "earning" towards the toy and then allow him to purchase it with his "savings" (he already has $5 saved up, and we figure if he does about one chore a day for 2 weeks, we can chip in to "share" the purchase with him at that time).

The lesson he learns will either be:

  1. He didn't want it that much and so he didn't buy it.
  2. He really wanted something and worked hard, and was able to purchase it.
  3. Or, he really wanted something and worked hard and spent all his money and it was a foolish purchase.
Check back in a few weeks to see how it turns out. I'm interested to see it myself.

It's actually a pretty good price, because the ball is $50 at Amazon. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Poetry Friday - June 26

Obstacles in my way
Nearly breathless
Every day

Hurry, worry, dragging
Underwater, climbing higher
Now I surface, clinging
Dripping wet and slipping
Rarely have I seen
Energy so strong
Daring sons gripping me

Thursday, June 25, 2015


If you've read my blog for awhile, you may be aware that I was diagnosed with a B-12 deficiency about 6 years ago. I take sublingual B-12 tablets (when I remember) and haven't had any problems since then. One of the main side effects of B-12 deficiency, however, is depression.

One of the trickier things about depression is that it's hard to tell when someone is depressed. You have to evaluate yourself and when you're evaluating yourself you're looking at it from a skewed perspective.

I know one of my coping mechanisms was to do research about depression. I figured since I never had suicidal thoughts, I didn't really need help. So I tried journaling, praying, exercising, eating right, doing fun things. Nothing seemed to help. I truly only decided to get help when I realized that my short-term memory was being affected and I couldn't remember what I had eaten the day before. Of course, this was before kids, so I didn't have a valid excuse for not remembering what I ate.

Fortunately, I had a great doctor who ran a LOT of blood tests before handing out any drugs, and my depression has been mostly resolved. However, the thing about depression is that once you've experienced it, you're more likely to experience it again. It's kind of like "regression to the mean" except that your mean (or average) has gotten lower so you tend to head that direction.

So, looking back, I had a bit of mild post partum depression after my oldest was born. The amazing and wonderful thing is that I did not experience that at all after my youngest, despite him being in the NICU and spending about 3 months doing the breastfeed, pump, bottle feed, wash cycle (which is enough to make anyone clinically something).

I think we are in danger in our society of letting people get by with half a life. We figure if they aren't at the severe end of the spectrum they don't need to seek help. We figure if they are Christian, or middle class, or men, or moms, they don't need to get help. We think that we are strong enough to do it on our own, when really we should be strong enough to get help. Because the answer (and the solution) might surprise you.

So the next time someone you love asks you how you are doing, let's not say "I'm fine" let's give an honest answer and have an honest conversation.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Cry It Out or Sleep?

I've always been on the fence between crying it out (which both of my children have at some point) and letting the kids just get in bed with us when they need to. It's one thing if they aren't getting the sleep they need while co-sleeping. But it's also not good for them to be scared and for parents to refuse the basic hug and cuddle that a kid might need after a bad dream.

For the most part, our kids don't sleep in the bed with us, but they have both gone through stages where they did (usually about 3-9 months old and occasionally since then). A few nights ago we kept having thunderstorms at bedtime and the kids were getting scared. So one night, we had our oldest on the floor of our room in a sleeping bag and our youngest in bed with us.

Early this morning, my husband woke me shortly after 1am, when he brought our youngest in bed with us. He had been wandering downstairs and was scared (either from a dream or not being able to find us. So, he ended up in bed with us. After no sleep issues the first few weeks in our new house, he has gotten in some really bad habits of getting up. Really, all he wants is someone to sleep next to him in his room.

Honestly, most families not that long ago slept in groups in mattresses on the floor. Maybe there were 5-8 kids and at least 2 adults and at the most 3 bedrooms. We've conditioned ourselves to expect privacy and individual rooms, but that's not always the best solution for a good night's sleep. Of course, neither is having them in bed with you, as my husband who got kicked in the eye this morning could tell you.

We were made to be close to each other. Privacy is great when you're a teenager, but I have a hard time sleeping if my husband isn't in bed yet. Even as an adult, there are times I just want to snuggle with my mom. So, when one of my children are really truly scared or hurt or worried, I let them snuggle and sleep. Even if it's only for a few minutes. They'll only be little for a short time, so snuggle while you can.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Cold Brew Coffee

I keep insisting that I'm not a crunchy mama or a hipster. Yet, some things just make sense, even without completely adopting the persona.

I love my hot Keurig coffee in the morning. However, with two kids and summertime upon us, my coffee is generally cold by the time I get to finish drinking it anyway. When I first heard of this so-called "cold brewed" coffee, I was skeptical. There's a reason coffee is hot, right? We're just going to let it sit for 12 hours and it magically "brews"? What about the caffeine content?

However, as skeptical as I am, I am currently in the process of trying out my first "cold brew" coffee. Regular beans (coarsely ground), regular water, pots, bowls, and jars that I already have. Nothing fancy or that I had to buy, although I'm not sure where my coffee filters are, so I may need to borrow some from a neighbor or friend when it's time to strain. I'll let you know how it turns out! Also, when I'm done brewing my coffee, I may end up trying to make a coffee grind face scrub (coffee grinds, coconut oil, and brown sugar in a 3-2-1 ratio). I'll let you know how that goes too.

In other news, I ate some garden fresh beans the other night, and am trying to drastically cut down my use of paper towels. I wisely used one large Norwex envirocloth rather than 8 half-size paper towels when cleaning up my two-year old from breakfast the other day. My third option was going to be to wash his entire head and hands/arms in the sink. He had Nutella on toast for breakfast.

I'm pretty sure I'm not hipster or crunchy (I think the Keurig is now vetoed from both of those ideologies). But, that doesn't mean I can't try some things out that I've heard of from others, and see if it works for me.

My next step is to do some research on natural shampoo/conditioner. I bought a natural brand at Target the other day, but yikes to the price and the amount used. I thought $6 wasn't terrible since it was a shampoo and conditioner, but then I read the instructions that said to use 15 squirts at a time! I don't think I use that amount of shampoo in a week! Of course, I will start with a much smaller amount since I have very fine, thin shoulder length hair. I imagine if I had waist length curly masses of hair 15 wouldn't be enough. We'll see how that goes in a few weeks. I'm too much of a cheapskate to throw away my almost empty bottles of Suave Professionals.

*** Disclosure, I am an independent sales consultant for Norwex.***

Monday, June 22, 2015


Over the weekend, I had the privilege of playing in the "Coaches Game" during the closing ceremonies of our Upwards Soccer league at church. When I originally signed up as a player for the game, I was thinking that maybe I would be in better shape by then, and the weather would be nice, and people wouldn't take it too seriously.

What I forgot to account for was the number of men present and therefore, testosterone overload! I saw at least two people get flipped on clean tackles, another couple scary bumps and both teams played a hard fought 2-1 game. We lost, although one of the other team's goals was off a penalty that was called on the goalie coming out to get a player shooting. While the goalie did try to pull up to not mow someone over, I think the ref was just trying to keep the playing a little safer for everyone, because these guys were GOING after that soccer ball.

There was even a yellow card given during the game!

I was really out of shape and the other guys were way too serious for me. One of the guys on my team had played professional ball overseas. He passed it two feet in front of me from across the field, and I couldn't even take that one step forward to play the ball because it came at me so fast. It was a perfect pass, but I just couldn't make my legs react in time.

In other words, it's great that God gave men testosterone. It enables them to be the protectors, the warriors, the fighters, and gives them the strength to keep going, even when some of them are just as out of shape as I was. I thought I was going to pass out in the first half because it was 95 degrees in the blaring hot sun with no breeze or shade. However, a cloud came over the sun in the second half, and fortunately we had enough breeze to keep us going through the end of the game.

I did have fun, and I held my own fairly well. There are differences between men and women though, and it was definitely a tough game. It also made me feel a little more sensitive to the 5-6 year old kids that I coached, because they had to play a couple games in some pretty tough conditions too. I was proud of them and proud of myself this season, and that's worth the 2 days a week I gave up during the soccer season.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Poetry Friday - Sweet Baby Boy

Hair pulling, twisting, turning,
Aggravation, negotiations.
Hostage taker, bedtime hater.

Swaddling, snuggling,
Screaming, struggling.
What more must you ask?

Water, juice, milk.
Toys, books and blanket.
When will this pass?

Dear God, please,

At least by age three.

**In other news, I may start posting some short stories on Friday instead of poetry, because this is the most creative I can get in my current life stage. These boys are draining my brain most days... Or maybe I just need more sleep.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Roundup of Money Earning Websites

I'm very fortunate that I have a part-time, at home job that occasionally allows me to browse the Internet, work on my blog, or take surveys while I'm getting paid (sort of). I am an online tutor for tutor.com. They have an "on call" type rate that they pay during scheduled hours, even if there are no students to tutor. While it is only $5.50 an hour, I can take that time to earn money in some other ways, to up my hourly rate.

  1. Pinecone Research. Although they do not have a paid referral program, they do offer $3 per survey completed. Since most of the surveys only take 15-30 minutes, if I do 2 surveys I can up my hourly rate to $11.50 an hour. I also find their surveys relatively enjoyable most of the time. It says I've earned $93 in the past year, so it averages about 3 surveys a month that I am able to complete.
  2. Sign up for rewards programs. Whether it's through Ibotta, Checkout 51, or your credit cards rewards program, there are some things that you are spending money on anyway that you could be earning more rewards on. A few of my credit cards have quarterly 5% rewards, so I try to take some time to check those and see if I need to adjust which card we're spending on. I also have on credit card with occasional rewards, so I try to check it every week or so to see what the category is. If it's a place I even might go to, I go ahead and add the reward and if I happen to forget about it, it's already on my card. It could also be a good time to check with your grocer to see if they have new digital coupons to load. Cartwheel for Target is another place to check frequently. None of these save big bucks, so I don't go on them all the time, but if it's otherwise "wasted time" I can take a few minutes to see if I can save money on what I'm already spending.
  3. Other survey sites. Although I don't use them a lot anymore, because I hate getting halfway through and then they tell me I don't qualify so I get zero, there are a ton of survey companies out there. My husband does one that he only gets once per month, but it pays $10. There are other websites too, like Survey Savvy or Mindfield Online, Opinion Outpost and IPSO i-say,
  4. Other reward sites. If all else fails, and I still have some extra time that I'm not actively tutoring, I generally will go to a pay per click type of site, such as Swagbucks or I may go to my e-mail and click through some of my MyPoints e-mails.
None of these options will make you rich overnight, but if you have time when you can't do anything else, and you want to earn a few extra dollars along the way, they can all add up. Right now, as I was going through the websites that I use (some of which haven't been as frequent since we moved) I got a pack of free diapers plus $5 for a multi-part product testing survey, and earned $2 on another survey. I also have about $250 in accumulated rewards that I haven't cashed in yet, which is probably from the last 6-8 months as I usually try to cash in around Christmas time to help pay for Christmas gifts. 

**Any links included are my referral links, so I may get a referral credit when you sign up. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Dentist

I actually feel kind of bad for dentists. They are like mechanics, except that they have to work on people instead of cars. It's a bit harder for a human to sit still with their mouth open for over an hour than it is for a car to keep it's hood up.

One of the scariest things about moving to a new area of town is finding new dentists, doctors, etcetera. Fortunately, we hit a home run with this dentist (at least so far). I was a bit worried when I had cavities on my first appointment, but despite the time invested in getting cavities filled on two teeth at the same time, the dentist did a great job putting me at ease.

The dentist we chose when we moved is a husband/wife team. They are both dentists and then there are several different hygienists there as well (I think there are three hygienists). The wife gave me the numbing shots (which is usually the worst part). Honestly, I didn't even feel the shot go in, which was good because I was about to pass out just from thinking about it.

The dentist was joking that I could ask for another shot if I wasn't numb enough, unless I enjoyed pain. I explained that I really do enjoy the pain more than the shot, hence the two childbirths and zero epidurals. Of course, I was mostly being sarcastic, but my main reason for choosing natural childbirth was honestly my issue with the needles more so than any crunchy mama ideology. Not there is anything wrong with being a crunchy mama, but I was not of the let's give birth in the oceans with dolphins mindset, I was thinking more "let's do this safely and with as few needles being inserted into spines as possible".

Normally, I don't have any problem with the drilling part, but it is always nerve wracking to use a new dentist for the first time when you have to get fillings. Everything went pretty well overall. It did take awhile because these were back teeth and needed pretty deep fillings and it was on two teeth. However, they seemed to have a pretty good system going so it certainly could have taken longer. All in all it only took two hours from when I arrived at the dentist to when I left, and that includes the time it took sitting their waiting for the numbing to take effect.

I blame my youngest child for destroying my teeth, since he didn't wean until almost two years old. Hopefully I don't have to get anymore work done anytime soon, although he did say there was another "questionable" area.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Hot Weather and Exercise

So, I have been somewhat keeping up with an exercise plan. However, I have not yet started walking or running much. The main reason for that is the insanely hot weather we've been having here lately. Today the high is supposed to be 103! It's only mid-June. It's not even officially summer yet! There is a heat advisory between 12pm and 7pm today.

We went to the park yesterday at about 11, and it was already too hot to stay outside in the sun for long. We walked in the shade and my oldest son was sweating buckets and red faced after about a half hour (of course, he was riding his stride bike, which meant he was moving a lot faster than I was, but at least he got to glide downhill). I was pushing our 2-year old in the stroller at a leisurely walk, but we were both drenched in sweat too. Needless to say we came home before noon.

My husband had started running, but I told him it wasn't a good idea today. We may try to go to the pool, although the water wasn't really cool at all the last time I went, and the concrete was burning the kids feet. If I exercise today, I will definitely be doing one of my new exercise videos from my husband's employer's exercise program.

As my husband said, when I mentioned we could purchase gym memberships, "That would defeat the point." That was the point of him picking running as his main exercise activity, was to not have to go to the gym. Everyday on the 10 day forecast is above 90 degrees. I didn't think it normally even reaches the 90s until July or August.

Stay safe. Stay hydrated. Know the warning signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke - thirst, weakness, dizziness, confusion, headaches, nausea, muscle cramps. Bring a portable fan with spray water if you have to be outside. If you or your child stop sweating and become cold and clammy, get indoors and call a doctor. If you don't have to be outside, stay indoors! If you know someone who doesn't have central air conditioning, or whose air conditioning may not work well, invite them over! That's what community is all about. If you know of someone who is homebound without family or neighbors, visit them! Let's keep this a safe and health hot weather event.

Also, I'm not sure my garden is going to make it in this weather, everything is wilting, even with water.

Well, this was only about 6 months ago, so I guess we needed to have the opposite too.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Racial Tension

I've been thinking about the issue of race a lot lately. I think there are definitely some valid reasons for the racial tension in our country. I thought it was no problem in Louisville, but I think that's because I lived in the "east end" of town which is where all the wealthy people live. In my experience, society doesn't care as much what color your skin is, as long as you have enough money.

After moving to Raleigh, NC, however, I saw a slightly different story. Our temporary housing was on the wealthier "north end" of town, so I thought I would find the same experience. In actuality, the zip codes were more diverse, but there were pockets of low income housing all throughout the wealthier zip codes, and that's where a certain color was more predominant. Not only that, but I started noticing that all of the "service" or "labor" jobs were almost all black.

It was very disconcerting to me to walk into a Wendy's and see an all white or almost all white clientele and all black employees. In Louisville, there was much more diversity among employees. I don't know if Raleigh is just that much further south, or something specific about this city, but it does worry me. Why are the movers from the moving company and the couch deliverers and the fast food employees all of a certain color? Is there that much racism that either they can't get a white collar job or that the white college students aren't willing to work along side them?

I'm not sure what I can do to solve this problem, but I do try to go to a church that is at least partially integrated, and cares about racism. I do try to promote and acknowledge the hard work of people of every color. My in-laws had some bad experiences with their cable technicians (of all different colors) so I made sure to explain how happy we were with the technician who came to our house. He happened to be black, and had a great knowledge of the products and services and installed everything quickly and easily. I felt like when conversing with them that their dislike of their first few experiences was compounded by the color of the technicians.

I don't think it's outright racism, but it's an idea of what jobs a particular color should be associated with. Asians should be great as accountants, Hispanics should become construction workers, blacks should be in the service industry. How does this happen in a developed nation? How do some humans still see others as less than or "other" just because they have a different color? How are some people still feeling the "glass ceiling" based on their color skin rather than their qualifications? It's wrong and untrue, but sometimes I don't know how I can make a difference. I'm not sure how we can change the society we live in, except to show with our pocketbooks and our hearts that we won't stand for it anymore.

I do feel good about the diversity of the neighborhood and town I live in now. We quickly changed our minds about living in "the north end". I chose to live in Garner, the "less desirable" suburb to many people. However, the pro's are that I do see more diverse employment when I walk into a restaurant, I see diverse people in my neighborhood, and I didn't see anyone with a problem when a mostly black youth group came to our neighborhood's private pool.

There is beauty in the diversity of our great nation. We should celebrate it, not fear it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Poetry Friday - Black or Blue?

I stand in front of a rack of shoes
To try to decide between black and blue.
The black are classy, traditional
Full of elegance and grace and all.
But I like a little spice in my life
I am not yet a complacent housewife
So I look at the blue shoes for some time
Full of beat and rhythm and rhyme
The pulse of electric blue hues
Seems to give happy new clues.

Convention says black is the better choice

Electric blue shoes would make too much noise.

Light Week

There's nothing like skipping from Monday to Friday after a long stretch of "on time" posts. It has been a very busy week. Normally, I would post a poem or short story today, but I've used up most of my good old stuff, and haven't been feeling very creative lately.

At our book club last night, we were talking a little bit about how intimidating it can be to be creative. It's one thing to "just get back to work" if you're doing something physical (completing a project, cooking a meal, doing the laundry). It's quite another thing to hop back on the horse of creativity when you don't "feel the muse".

It's been quite a week. I have been able to relax a bit because my parents are in town. I even got a massage! However, I've also been quite busy in other ways. We've been to the pool and the natural science museum, and to the park. And my oldest is sick, again. I'm not exactly sure what it is, but he threw up a little bit yesterday afternoon and then woke up several times in the middle of the night. He has also had a bit of a fever and wanted to go to bed more often and earlier than usual.

The good news about him being sick, is that I actually have a bit of time to myself now to think about the week and review it from my own perspective.

I love having extra family members around to give a hand when needed. However, I didn't really accomplish all that much for several reasons.

For one thing, our drywall project was delayed again by two days this week, but was finally finished! However, that meant we had to buy some paint and get started on that. We also bought some light fixtures as well. So, in addition to a sick boy last night, we were working on installing light fixtures (or I should say, the "men" were) and I tried to get a head start on painting (so we can re-install our washing machine). However, the paint color we thought was in the laundry room and kitchen, is actually a slightly different color than what we paint matched for the living room and foyer. So now we have delayed that project once again and I will have to repaint those rooms at some point.

I also actually missed a payment on our electric bill (I wondered why the electric bill was so high). However, the good news about that is that the late payment fee is only 1%, so it was only about $1.

So between getting caught up on bills and budgeting and getting behind on the house, I have been pretty stressed at times. Unfortunately, my reaction to stress is usually to withdraw, which is not the nicest thing to do when you have family in town. However, my parents were pretty understanding and I love them a lot. I know you can't choose your family, but I'm glad I'm a part of theirs.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Weekend Adventures

Today is definitely going to be a busy Monday. We spent all weekend away from the house, and now it's time to get things ready for the week. With the additional problem of our washer still being unhooked due to some drywall work we are having done, it will definitely be an interesting day. We've been using my in-laws washer and dryer, but they really need to get their dryer vent cleaned out or something, because it is taking over an hour to dry each load.

Our weekend plans included a quick beach trip. Saturday we spent a total of about 6 hours in the car, and 1.5 hours "at the beach". However, Daniel loved getting smashed by the waves. James loved sitting in the sand, and we got a few other fun things done as well. Unfortunately, there was a beach soccer tournament and a beach music festival on Saturday, so things were much more crowded than we anticipated.

However, we did walk around Fort Fisher and we got to stop at Britt's Donuts, so that made the trip worthwhile.

It was also interesting to be around the beach towns that we both went to as children (Carolina and Kure Beach) and see how much things have changed over the years.

Sunday we went to church, then ate a quick lunch at home and got on the road to visit the kids Uncle about an hour away. On our way back from a visit there, we stopped at our alma mater, Campbell University. It turns out a lot can change in a relatively brief time there as well. We drove past the new football stadium and basketball arena and a couple huge new buildings for an engineering school and health campus. Hard to believe it's the same school as a few years ago. On the way back from that, we had to stop at Sunni Skies, although with the entire population of several nearby counties.

While the kids played outside with their friends Sunday night, and I got to chat with a new friend of mine in the neighborhood, I realized how blessed we truly are. 

Friday, June 05, 2015

Poetry Friday - June 5th

Because this love, changes everyday,
This hate comes and then it goes away.
And when love hurts, don't up and run away,
Just kiss it goodbye
After you kiss it hello,
And love hurts less after the walls go up.
This love works best from a distance.
Do you love me?
You're standing there, looking just right
And I'm standing here, looking all wrong.
But hey, at least I'm looking,
And maybe you'll hear my song as I sing.
This love changes my everything.
This hate, flees with every step's ring.
And when love hurts, I know it can't be you.
And I'll kiss you goodbye
After I kiss you hello.
Because I hurt less after the walls go down.

And love works best with you by my side.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Another Political Rant

The problem with politics in the United States is that our political system was designed to be primarily local, with an emphasis on individual states rights, and our current world is built on a global scale. Unfortunately, this means that while it used to be okay if Congress took a couple years off from doing their jobs, it no longer should be okay. Yet, the American people have to way to force them back to work. The endless cycle of checks and balances is causing our government to become mired down by unimportant (relatively) disagreements about marriage, immigration, or healthcare instead of focusing on major items such as tax reform and paying down our debt.

I'm not saying that the issue of immigration is unimportant, but does it really matter how many people we let into this country if we can't afford to pay for the people that are already here? Does it really matter how much we spend on healthcare if we have no way of paying down our debt? I mean a few more billion in debt is nothing if you are already in the trillions.

So, when we end up facing yet another budget crisis, because the important has been dragged down by the mundane, think about what you really want your government to focus on. Do you really need to listen to all those "political" commercials that talk about how they are going to resolve X or Y hot button topic, or should we instead start slamming our elected officials with the important topics. Get the budget in order, reduce expenses, increase income, pay down the debt, fix the antiquated tax system.

I'm all for saving the environment, because that will benefit future generations. However, if we don't fix our financial problem in this country at a government level, there may not be a United States of America for them to grow up in. In my opinion, that would be more tragic than the smog that I grew up living in.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Home Ownership

We are in process of what will hopefully be our last main home repair expenditure this year. However, we do have two other large expenses that we probably should get done relatively soon, but we hope that we can wait until we have the funds saved up. Our break even point on the house is approximately 6 years from purchase.

What does "break even" mean on a home purchase?

In my opinion, it will be the time when we'll have built up enough equity in the home (without relying on home price "increases") to recover any realtor fees or expenditures associated with selling a house. So, in other words, we would be able to recover our entire investment.

Many people will factor other expenses into their purchase (such as those large initial repairs if a home hasn't been kept up with). Others will factor other "income" into their break-even point, such as the mortgage interest tax deduction, or an estimated increase in home prices.

In our case, I factored in an estimated home repair budget that matches the rental price for a similar home in our neighborhood. So, if we can save up that extra money every month, it should cover the initial repairs needed and ongoing future maintenance without being an "additional" cost compared to renting.

A few friends have been sad that I haven't been able to post many pictures yet. Well, that's because the first house project we did was to replace the old Quest poly pipes that were in the house (and were recalled back in the 90s). Because it doesn't matter how nice your house is if there is a chance of a major flood due to pipe rupture. Which also means that right now we are waiting on our expert drywall guy to finish up. I'm sure he'll do a great job and it will look like new or almost new when he's finished, but it is definitely a process and our walls and ceilings aren't quite back to normal yet.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Are You the Weird Friend

The joke has been told many times in many different ways. If you don't know someone who is... (a bad roommate, socially awkward, a geek, etcetera) then you are probably that person. Or, if everyone you know is weird, then maybe you are the weird one.

I know that I can be socially awkward. I often say the wrong thing and only notice in hindsight. Because I know this, I try to give grace to those who are the same way. However, I don't have any deep friendships, yet. Obviously, I just moved less than 6 months ago, but I have always had a hard time developing deep friendships.

I used to wonder if it was just my personality, however, I have recently learned a lot about my personality (I am actually a reserved extrovert) so I have pushed past my reserved side as much as I can and am trying to let me extrovert flag fly when necessary. Although now I wonder if, instead of the shy quiet friend on the outskirts, I've just turned into the loud obnoxious friend on the outskirts.

I know that at some point, I have to start building a deeper friendship with someone, but am at a loss on how to do this.

The good news is, that I will have more opportunities coming up soon. We are joining a community group at church starting next week.

So, if you see someone hanging around who seems socially awkward, maybe even looks mean at first glance (I have been told this before), go up to them and see if they want to be friends anyway. Maybe they are just as lonely as you.

In today's online, social media influenced world, it can be harder to build deep, lasting friendships. But we shouldn't let that stop us from trying.

Monday, June 01, 2015

A Good Tired

My upper body is a bit sore today. On Saturday, I decided to try out the "Fit In" for my husband's company's health initiative. Basically, you have to choose certain things from a list to complete in order to receive a discount on health insurance. The option that sounded the most fun to me was to take two "Fit In" sessions to see how your health is improving (or deproving as the case may be).

Since we've moved this year, I had let any semblance of being healthy slide. I no longer work at a YMCA, so I don't have access to treadmills and childcare while I work out. I also no longer work as a swim instructor (I would, but I don't have any clients right now and I haven't advertised). I think I underestimated how much those hours spent in the water helped me maintain my physical fitness, because I am woefully out of shape.

I was proud of myself that I did manage to do a few modified pushups and sit ups within the time limit. But my "Rival rating" is 52 (I'm thinking this is a 0-100 scale so that's basically failing. The good news is that they will also send me some workout videos (free!) and I get credit just for taking the Fit In regardless of my score. Obviously the point is not to make people feel terrible for being out of shape (it's just a starting point as they say) but to encourage us to improve. So, we'll see how I am doing a month or two from now.

I definitely want to start getting back into a bit better shape, just in order to keep up with the kids.

My husband was initially very resistant to this health discount program because he doesn't want the company to be tracking his personal health numbers. I get the feeling that if they do use those numbers they use them in aggregate, so it doesn't bother me as much as it does him. If we are going to try to reduce the healthcare costs in this country, the one thing that we can do about it is try to reduce preventable diseases like those caused by obesity. So, in general, I think it's a good thing that companies are the ones trying to do this. Obviously they are doing it to reduce their own health insurance costs, but I think it's a great idea.