Monthly Archives: January 2012

From the Confessional: Financial Denial

I remember 2011 Super Bowl Sunday like it was yesterday.  The game was about to wrap up and I sat in the living room staring at our computer, logging our expenses for the month.  I told Doug what I was woRkiNg on.  He responded by asking, “Lara, WHY do you even do that? We’ve been doing this for years and it comes out to the same number every month!“  After talking about it for a while we went to bed feeling defeated.

I couldn’t fall asleep and happened to see the “Total Money Makeover” book by Dave Ramsey on the night stand.  (I had ordered that book earlier in the week because a friend had recommended it.)  I ended up reading the first three chapters and my financial atTituDe was forever impacted.  I anxiously told Doug about it the next morning and, from that day on, we started working the basic principles to become debt free.  We revamped our expense sheet, made new gOaLs, and most importantly worked like crazy.   Doug got up with me and worked a few hours painting blocks before he went to his day job.  We stayed home on the weekends and worked every free chance we had.  We got the entire family involved in the process.  It was a little cRazY but we finally started getting traction.

Looking back, I can’t believe how much we’ve accomplished.  We not only drastically changed our financial situation, but our family has become even more of a TeaM.  It is still a work in progress but we are on our way to changing our family tree!

I am sharing this with you because if someone didn’t reach out to us, who knows how long we would have stayed in denial.  As humbling as it is to admit our faults, I take cOmfoRt in knowing our story may help someone going through the same struggle.

How is your financial situation?  Do you run out of money before the end of the month?  Go check out the “Total Money Makeover”.  Dave Ramsey has a great, simplified plan that will make you look at your financial future in a whole new way.  We also LoVe tuning into his radio podcasts while we are busy at work!  Visit http://www.daveramsey.com/radio/home/

Check back in on Thursday, for my Part 2 of this story!

Get on your way to financial FREEDOM!

Lara

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Filed under Finances, Getting Real, Life

{Create Your Own Art Gallery}

Personal art galleries are popular these days.  If you are wanting to create your own art gallery here are some ideas to get you started:

Include pictures of places you have been to or places you wish to go to someday.

These are pictures I have taken of architecture in my town.

Include artwork of your kids.  You can have your own customized art gallery.  Be creative and find pictures you love!!

:)

Robynn~

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Filed under At Home, Kid Stuff, RANDO•RAMA

$ailing The Financial $ea$

This is a ship Scott made for our girls one cold, winter night. It's lessons are: On the journey to financial freedom, first, just get going, and second, don't compare your ship to the Queen Mary!

I have to AdMiT, I was a little (or a lot) hesitant to write a post about money.  You may have read my earlier post “Broke Was My Goal” where I talked about being a teacher with a financial mess on my hands and how I got out of that mess by taking one small step at a time.  Back then, I was a teacher on a limited salary.  Now I’m a doctor’s wife and on the other end of the spectrum.  You can probably understand my hesitation of talking about MoNeY.  The last thing I want to do is discourage our readers, who may think, “That’s easy for you to say.  I could do that if I were in your situation.”  My motive for talking about money is to give hope and encouragement, regardless of where you find yourself financially.  Not only do I desire for you to have hope in your financial situation, but also financial PeAcE.

That is a phrase I first heard in 2006 when Scott, my husband, and I took guru Dave Ramsey’s “Financial Peace University” class.  That really ChAnGeD the way we looked at money.  Up to that point we weren’t all that bad at handling money, but really didn’t have a clear-cut plan.  However, once we took this class our goals changed.  Because financial peace and living DeBt FrEe is our goal we have chosen to make certain sacrifices in our finances.  For us, it meant swallowing our pride and not trying to keep up with the Jones’ next door.  We don’t always do things perfectly.  {I’ll even share some of my mistakes I’ve made on this journey}.  But we are trying to take small steps in the right direction.  For example, my husband Scott drives a 13-year-old SUV with close to 300,000 miles.  My vehicle is a 4-year-old Dodge minivan which I plan to drive until it dies.   In addition, for two years we lived in a 950-square foot home with two kids and two dogs.

For everyone,  the definition of SaCriFiCe is different, but for everyone AcTiOn is required.  Just as we talk about losing weight, exercising more, or being a better parent/spouse, inaction is inertia; and inertia makes sacrifice just another good InTeNtIoN.

Here’s wishing you success in overcoming inertia….that difficult first step.  BoN VoYaGe!

:)

Robynn~

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Pastor D.J. {Press On}

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Filed under Faith, Pastor DJ, RANDO•RAMA, Videos

{Dog Heaven}

MaN’s BeSt FriEnD.  That’s what our dog, Walter, was to my husband, Scott.  They were best buddies.  Sadly, ‘ole Wally went to Dog Heaven yesterday.

I say “sadly”.  However, Walter did have a full life.  He was 12 years, 1 month, and 27 days old.  That’s 80-something in human years.  So, he actually lived a nice, long life.  And when I say “nice”, I mean ReALLy “nice”.  Wally definitely lived the high life, but he didn’t start off that way.

When Walter was just four-months old he got into rat poison which landed him in the vet hospital.  After a blood transfusion, a close brush with death, and an owner who couldn’t afford the vet bill, Wally was given to the vet.  The vet was friends with Scott and after a little PerSuAdiNg she talked Scott into taking Wally home with him.  And that is when it all began.

Little did Scott know what he was getting himself into.  Nor did he know the FriEnDsHiP that would transpire.

Yes, we would actually sleep with Walter on our bed like the above picture!

That first night together Walter gave Scott a little preview of what life would be like.  As Scott placed two steaks on the countertop for dinner and then turned his back to start the grill, Walter in a flash grabbed the steaks and they were gone.  When Scott went to put Walter to bed in the new dog bed he had just bought, Walter ripped it to shreds.  He wouldn’t settle for anything but Scott’s bed.  Walter had his own AgEnDa, to say the least.

When I met Scott, Walter was 2-years old, full of vim and vigor.  He was the most high-strung dog I had ever met.  He was ornery and demanding.  He helped himself to food on the counter.  {Once that was a crock pot of chili.}  However, he was also a LoVeR and not a fighter.  The night I went into labor with my oldest, I went downstairs to watch tv and record my contractions.  Walter came down with me and would not leave my side.  Once we did have kids, he became a willing participant of their antics in exchange for regular food hand-outs.

A FaiThFuL friend, Walter would look out the window everyday for Scott to come home.  As soon as he would see Scott’s vehicle pull in the driveway, he would run around the house like a crazy man.

In a nutshell, Walter was part of our family.

I bought this print a year or so ago because I knew it would be a reminder of Walter when he was gone.  This is the pose he sat in. 

I’ll miss a lot about Walter.  That personality that was larger than life.  Hearing his tail ThUmP on the hardwood floor early in the morning signaling to me my girls were coming down the stairs.  {Or anytime you walked over to him, for that matter.}  The lover-boy he had become wanting to lay by your side and have you pet him.  The softest fur a dog could ever have.  The HaPpiEsT soul to see you when you walked in the door every day.

GoOd-ByE Wally.  We’ll miss you, old friend.

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I Am…An Event Planner

Hidden Live-It List Question:  Have you accomplished one of your “Live-It List” items since January 1?  Please feel free to share what it is, if you wish!!  Click here for “Live-It List” details.

•For more “I Am…” stories, click here!

•Do you or someone you know have a story that could inspire other women?  We would LOVE to feature you!  Email us at suedesofa@yahoo.com

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Cloth Diapers Rock!

Why?

1-Because they save money.

2-Because they keep the earth clean.

3-Because you can reuse them for multiple kids.

4-Because if you get the “one size” they can be worn from birth to 3+years!

5-Because they are cute and now come in adorable colors!

6-Because if you take good care of your diapers you could sell them and get even more bang for your buck!

There are many more benefits!  If interested click here.

I didn’t even know modern cloth diapers existed until a couple of years ago.  A friend said she was thinking about getting some and I immediately thought, “No way!  I don’t want to deal with those pins poking me and the plastic piece to avoid leaks!”  Boy was I wrong.   Over the years cloth diapers have become easy to use and super cute!

A couple confessions…there are things that I don’t like about cloth diapers, but I choose to use them because I feel they are a good investment and I feel better knowing my diapers aren’t sitting in a landfill.

Things to be aware of:

1-You will have to wash dirty diapers every 2-3 days.

2-You may have to change diapers more often than with a disposable (depending on your kiddo)

3-When your kiddo needs a double insert (like for a long nap) their pants/bottoms will appear bulkier b/c the more inserts = a fuller diaper.

I can’t go into all the details about cloth diapering, or I’ll end up writing a novel :)  I use cloth wipes too, which add to the savings! I got my diapers from fuzzibunz.com and have been really happy with them.  Here is a video on the “one size” diapers, which I prefer so I can use them as they grow:

As you can see, there are tons of videos and information on the web, so do some research and see what best fits your needs!  Pass this a long to any parent-to-be.  Many women are not aware of cloth diapers and all the benefits it has to offer!

Happy Diapering!

Lara

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Filed under Kid Stuff, Parenthood, RANDO•RAMA, Relationships

Leader from Whose Perspective?

Right off the bat I know there are going to be many of you who are going to disagree with me…and that is OK.  This is just my opinion and I don’t expect everyone to feel the same way that I do.  That being said, in light of the recent news coming out of Penn State and the death of Joe Paterno I strongly feel that more needs to be said in support of the boys who were failed by a system they trusted.

Prior to having my children I was a first grade teacher for 8 years.  During that time I took my responsibility to the children I taught very seriously.  Not only was it my job to keep them safe while they were in my care, but it was my obligation to report any signs of abuse they may have been experiencing while at home.  There were always teachers who would look the other way in order to not “cause trouble”.  I however was not one of them.  I couldn’t live with myself if I knew of or suspected something and didn’t report and FoLlOw Up on my suspicions.  Children often have a hard time expressing themselves and I knew I may have needed to be their “voice”.

In the Penn State tradgedy it is my opinion that simply “reporting” the alleged incident was NoT enough.  A TrUe and TrUsTeD leader would have gone above and beyond no matter what the consequences would hold for the school or football program to make sure action was taken to protect all children.  If you want to be a leader you must make difficult decisions in the best interest of those you serve.  Joe Paterno looked the other way in exchage for continuing his legacy.

No amount of football wins can undo the pain that has been suffered by innocent children and their families.  I wonder if those who have been so quick to look past this inaction and lack of leadership when it ReAlLy counted would feel this way if it was their brother, son, grandson, or friend who was one of the abused.

If you suspect someone is suffering any type of abuse please do the right thing. You only get one chance to make a difference.

~Robyn (Jersey Girl)

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Filed under All-Or-Nothing, Getting Real, Hard Reality, Life, People, Relationships, Uncategorized

Are You Afraid of Dying?

I got a call Sunday that my grandma passed way.  Dealing with this type of phone call is difficult.  Initially I was shocked, but it wasn’t until later that I was flooded with all of her mEmoRies.  Moments like that hit you out of nowhere and it seems like no matter what you do, you can’t keep the tears from running down your face.  I know that she is in a better place and will finally reunite with her husband.  But does that keep me from hurting?  Definitely not, to say the least.

How do you cope with death?  It is such a hard thing for anyone to talk about, let alone experience with a loved one.  I find it ironic that I am even typing this to you.  Six days before my Grandma passed, Doug and I were talking about how we felt God initiated a lot of our coNverSatioNs regarding heaven over the last 6 months.   We had watched the ABC special “Heaven—Where Is It?  How Do We Get There” and had given the “Heaven Is For Real” book to our children for Christmas.  When we had talked about it again last Monday night, Doug asked me if I had this weird feeling God was preparing us for a death.  I answered, “Yes”.  It was such an unsettling feeling.  I was scared.  But I’m glad we had talked about it because we both agreed that regardless of when and if it was going to happen, we now had a clearer idea of what hEavEn is like and feel more confident in addressing this to our children.

As I was wondering what my Grandma was experiencing in heaven, I happened to run outside to get something, and this is what I saw. Heaven IS for real!

Even though I know these things, am I still afraid of dying?  Of course I am.  Talking and thinking about dying is difficult (and scary), but it is important so you can be better prepared for when it happens. Just remember this–when we lose someone from this world, we should be thankful for the time that we spent with the ones we loved, and not sad for the time that we didn’t.
Much love,

Lara

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Filed under Faith, Family, Getting Real, God, Hard Reality, Life, People, Relationships

{Freedom To Be “Me”}

Hi Suede Sofa FriEnDs!  Good Monday morning!!

It’s been 10 months since Lara and I started this blog and one thing we really endeavor to do it to be real, transparent, and give hope.  Lara says that “LiFe presents our posts.” and I would have to agree.  We try to write about life and all that it brings as those circumstances come our way.  Today I’m thinking about a situation that occurred yesterday as my family was getting ready for church.

I sent my girls upstairs to get dressed.  When Belle, my 4-year-old picked out a cute ruffled {SuMmEr} dress I was willing to oblige, as I knew she could wear a sweater over the sleeveless dress.  When I picked out some cute tights for her she had other ideas – casual mid-calf tights with black sparkly shoes with the glitter worn off.  This was not what I had in mind for her at all.  I wanted her to look “CuTe”. {And to be warm as it is the middle of January!}

Can you relate?  I love FaShiOn and when I see the cute kid catalogues with the kid models looking so put together, I want my kids to look well dressed like that.  But my kids don’t share my same ideas on StyLe.  So a decision had to be made.  Would I allow my child the freedom and independence to have a say in what she got to wear or would I insist on her wearing what I wanted her to wear, so that she {and ultimately I} can look good?

I understand there are some decisions where my kids won’t get a VoTe {principles, morals, modesty, etc.} however, in the little things that really don’t matter I’m trying to let them have a say in the matter.  Maybe you are past the 4 & 5-year-old stage and your issue is what college they will attend, what career to pursue, how your adult child conducts their life.  Are you giving your kids the FrEeDoM to be themselves, express themselves, and chose for themselves?  That is easier said than done, I know.  Frequently, I tell my girls that they will always be my “BaBiEs” - even when they have babies of their own.  And being able to have input in their life may just be part of parenthood.  But parenthood is also about respecting the gifts, temperament, interests, and UniQuEneSs that God has placed in each of my kids.  So, some days I’ll have to swallow hard, smile, and let them express their uniqueness because when they are grown and on their own, in their heart I want them to know, “My mom gave me the freedom to be “Me”.

:)

Robynn~

P.S.  I hadn’t intended this to be a “piggy-back” post on Lara’s post a couple weeks ago titled “Me”, but it sort of is, so check it out by clicking here!

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Filed under Parenthood, Relationships