Thursday, April 24, 2014

Growing Up

I had a beautiful post planned for today.

I was going to write about how my oldest daughter is growing up, and how it makes me both proud and sad.

Today, as I was about to walk out the door to pick her up from school and take her to her driver's test, the phone rang. It was someone calling to schedule a job interview with my Lexi.


How can this be happening?

This is the day I've been waiting for and dreaming about. The day my daughter can drive herself (and her siblings) around, and have her own money to spend.

Now that the day is here and she passed her driver's test, I'm happy, proud, and so very sad.

She is growing up so fast.

I remember when she was a baby, people told me this would happen. They warned me she'd grow up fast. I didn't believe them. How could my sweet little bald baby girl ever grow up?

I guess "they" were right, because she is growing up, whether I like it or not.

But here's the kicker.

It's not just me that nervous, excited, and sad about this new chapter in her life.

Lexi asked me to proof a paper she wrote for her journalism class tonight.

I got teary eyed after the first paragraph.

She nailed it.

Here's her paper (posted here with her permission!), because, honestly, I couldn't have said it any better:

Growing up
Growing up is a part of life. There's no stopping it. Along with growing up comes a lot of responsibility and pressure. I am experiencing this all first hand. I just got my driver’s license, got a checking account, applied for a job, and learned a lot about responsibility. It’s a lot to take in. Sometimes I think my brain is going to explode from all the new information, but mostly I think my parents are going to have a nervous breakdown because their “baby” is growing up.
Driving alone is terrifying. I know I’m a good driver but what about all the other people who aren’t good drivers? Having a parent in the passenger seat was like a cushion of protection; there was always someone there to tell me what I did right and mostly what I did wrong. Even though they were extra critical of my driving I know they were just trying to make me a better driver. I feel lost without them there. Literally, I feel lost -- I have no sense of direction. I almost miss them being there to tell me to turn left or right or to slow down.
Applying for a job is another big step that I had to take. Driving brings freedom, and expenses. The price of gas has me a little freaked out and I decided babysitting may not cut it anymore. I have been babysitting since I was in fifth grade but I have never had a real job.I now have an interview scheduled for my first “real” job. I am starting to realize what the real world actually looks like.
A job comes with a paycheck, and yet again more responsibility. A paycheck would be a little too much cash to carry around, so my parents had me open a checking account. I now have a debit card, a PIN number, a checkbook, and a ton responsibility. I have to keep track of my card and my receipts. I have to keep my check register up to date with deposits and with drawls. I have to know how much money I have at all times, and my parents want me to learn how to budget, so they’re having me pay for things like gas, lunch money, my cell phone, and sports fees. If I screw up, I will have a very awkward conversation with my parents about why I have no money to pay for gas or my cell phone. While I’m pretty good a budgeting and saving, I am also really good at shopping, meaning I love to shop. That is my biggest problem with balancing money. I have to learn to say no to myself, I don’t have to buy everything I like right when I see it. In fact, I can’t do that. It would be irresponsible. And now that I’m 15, I’m responsible, right?
Yes growing up is apart of life, but is it okay if I want to stay young a little longer? Is there anything wrong with wanting to rely on your mom and dad for a little longer? Or wanting to be a little kid again? No I don’t think so. Everyone wants to be young because the fact of the matter the older we get the more responsibilities we get. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to stay young, but I think we all need to stop and realize that growing up is a privilege that some people will never experience. We can either dread growing up and the responsibilities it comes with, or we can learn to appreciate the life we live, responsibilities and all.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

15 Years

15 years.

That's how long I've been a mom.

I spent much of today getting ready for tomorrow's big celebration. And wiping my tears. I just can't believe that my oldest child is about to be 15.

15 is big.

We're talking driver's license big.

As in she won't need me anymore.

Ok, that's not entirely true -- she'll need money, laundry washed, and food.

I pray she'll also need me for a shoulder to cry on, a sympathetic ear to listen, and a celebratory high five or an everything-is-going-to-be-ok hug.

I dug out Lexi's baby book today, because she asked me what time she was born and I had no idea. I found the answer -- 5:54 p.m. -- and then I got sucked into reading all the details I'd written. I smiled when I read the list of people who gave her gifts (co-workers at the time, who are still some of my best friends 15 years later, even though we are no longer co-workers). I cringed when I saw the picture of my nine-month-pregnant-belly. And I teared up at the pictures of sweet baby Lexi with my grandparents, all three of whom have since passed away.

I spent a little more time looking at pictures from the past 15 years. I am so amazed at how fast the years have gone. My little bald headed baby has grown into a beautiful young lady. I am so crazy proud of her, and I can't wait to see what the next 15 years hold. I just pray they don't go as fast as these first 15 years did.

When I think about all the things I want to tell my first born child, I simply can not find the words (which is a first for me!). But I did find a song that pretty much sums it all up.  Here are my favorite lines from "Find Your Wings" by Mark Harris:

I want you to know
As I watch you grow
I pray that God would fill your heart with dreams
And that faith gives you the courage
To dare to do great things
I'm here for you whatever this life brings
So let my love give you roots
And help you find your wings 

Happy birthday to my sweet Lexi. 
Remember -- I'm here for you whatever this life brings.
It's good to be your mom.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Break Up

Our front step looks a little different today.

There's something missing…. something that has been a fixture for the entire seven years we've lived in this house.

Something that has made life easier.

It's silly how sad I am about giving back my milk box. Today, when I looked outside, I was crazy sad to see it was already gone. The girls had plans to leave Tim (he's been our milkman for seven-plus years) a plate of scotcharoos, along with one of their famous "you're the best milkman ever" notes.

So very sad.

So very silly of me.

It's just a milk box.

But really, it was much more than just a milk box.

Yes, twice a week Tim left milk (and the occasional surprise, like a bottle of orange juice or a box of Rice Krispie treats) in the milk box. We even exchanged Christmas cards.

But we used the milk box for so much more than just milk.

It's where people left things for us if we weren't home, and where we left things for people to pick up. I can't even tell you how many times I told people to "just leave it in the milk box."

I need to find a new place for people to leave catalogs and cd's, not to mention homemade Christmas goodies?

But, it is just a milk box. The bottom line is, that milk box was costing us a fortune. 

I never did the math before, but when I did, I knew we had to cancel the service. Obviously, you pay for the convenience of the milk delivery, and for years, it saved me time and money (who really goes to the grocery store to buy milk and leaves with only a jug of milk?) But the price of gas has gone up, which means the price of milk delivery must also go up. And my life has changed: I now work a flexible job from home, so I have time to stop at the store on a regular basis. And the way my kids drink milk, five gallons of milk a week isn't enough anyway. Soon, we'll have another driver in the family, and I plan on sending her on milk runs often.

So the milkman and I broke up.

It really felt like a break up -- he even called me to make sure I really wanted to discontinue the service. I think he got a little teary eyed even.

But, it boils down to price.

We just can't afford it.

Milk delivery is just one place we're cutting corners. Other ways we've discovered we can save include:

  • Coupons. I'm still learning about this, but I've dabbled in coupons off and on over the years. Again, working from home helps here. I just have more time to explore, research, print, and clip coupons. I've found some great websites with tips, but I am by no means a pro yet. Yet.
  • Personal shopper. Well, not really. That's just a fancy name for what has got to be the world's greatest aunt. Brad has an aunt who works nights, and drives home by Sam's Club. She's offered to do my shopping for me. She picks up milk at least twice a week, and whatever other groceries I need. It works for both of us: she gets her shopping "fix" without buying things she doesn't really need, and I don't have to go to the store everyday, and buy things I don't really need. I just paid my bill to her yesterday -- for $20 more than what I was paying for milk alone, she was able to buy not only milk, but also things like apples, lettuce, toilet paper, and more. Seems like a no-brainer now that I've looked at the numbers.
  • Unsubscribe. I recently spent about an hour cleaning out my inbox and unsubscribing from various things I had subscribed to once upon a time. I've discovered if I get an email about an awesome sale, I am tempted. Most of the time I just browse the website, load my cart with things I want, and then never actually order anything. But sometimes I do buy the things in my virtual cart. By stopping the emails, I've made it a little more difficult to be tempted to shop online. It takes an effort to spend money, and honestly, I am not really one to sit at the computer and search for things to buy. But if I get an email, I am instantly sucked in.
  • Cash. This is Dave Ramsey 101. If you use cash, you're more careful about what you buy. Cash feels more like money than a credit card, or even a debit card. It's true. I really do think twice about buying that coffee when I have to hand over cold, hard cash. And it feels so good to still have $20 in my purse at the end of the month!
Stay tuned to see how those money-saving tips work for us. We'll also be working on teaching our kids to do a better job of managing their money. Smart Money, Smart Kids is full of great ideas. I seriously recommend pre-ordering your copy. Click here to do that (I got the chance to read the whole thing already… great stuff).

Meantime, I'll be searching for a container of some sort to replace my milk box so when Christmas rolls around, we'll be ready for Christmas cookie drop-offs!