Am I Raising A Cheapskate???

My household has been rolling through some changes. As time moves forward, as I spend more time in the workforce, as we buy nicer cars, clothes and homes, I’ve truly come to realize the value of a dollar. I have never been and am not naturally frugal, and unfortunately probably wouldn’t even qualify as frugal today (although I’m trying!). However, my goals and concerns are changing. 

Everyone likes nice things, but I must say those nice things just aren’t as important to me anymore. As I grow and make realizations about money and budgeting, I try to share this cost-conscious mind-set with my children. 

My daughter is five and, for her, “money ain’t a thing.” (Hope you enjoy that Jay-Z reference…I’m a child of the 00’s 😏). She was excitedly talking about the next enormous, ridiculous thing she wanted…it’s hard to recall if it was a horse, helicopter, or mansion. She thinks big. What I do remember very vividly is my son looking at her skeptically and saying, “Do you know how much that costs?!”

 

That was a moment for me. Is it okay that my eight-year-old is thinking about the cost of something instead of dreaming of the biggest and best? I wasn’t sure if I should be proud or a little sad. There are times I wish we didn’t have to worry about budgets and discounts. Times I wish we were in a position to give our children everything they want.

 

But in that moment, and as I reflect now, I choose to be proud. I talk candidly with both my children about money, about spending money and saving money. They earn money for “work” they do. When they choose to spend, I make them put an equal amount of cash into their savings accounts. I’ve even had them begin to choose between big birthday parties or big birthday presents, we don’t do both. I want them to realize the value of not only the tangible things in life, but also the value of experiences. 

My kids don’t suffer for much. We’re extremely fortunate in the fact that they don’t always have what they want, but they do have what they need. I don’t take that lightly and am very grateful for that. I also talk with my kids about this fact. There are people, there are even children, who do not have what they need. We are fortunate to live the life we do.


Today, as I continue to learn about how to make the most of this life, financially and otherwise, I will continue to talk to my children in an honest and frank way about the important money choices we make. I’m interested to hear from my readers if this is something you work on with your kids. What have you found that works? Do you talk about money with your children? 

Also, let’s talk budgets and savings!!!  What works for your family? My family has recently gone sans-satellite and cable and switched to streaming tv only (saving $70 every month). We’ve read and studied Dave Ramsey and are fans of the cash envelope system.  Where else can we improve? I’d love to hear all of your money-saving tips and tricks!

I’m wishing everyone a wonderful Sunday!

MIA Thanks to an MBA

I’m not sure what I thought getting my MBA would be like. Whatever I thought, I’m certain in this moment that the reality of working toward my graduate degree, while working full time and being a mom and wife, Cub Scout leader and Sunday school teacher…is actually much, MUCH worse than I imagined.

I wore Betty Boop Christmas socks to work today. In public. Sure did. My son wore the same pair of pants to school two days this week, unwashed. (Don’t tell him…he doesn’t know.) I’m fairly certain I hear my son coughing down the hall right now, but I would have no idea if he’s sick because I literally haven’t seen him in four days. There are dirty dishes on my counter. 

Today I worked 9 hours. I studied and did my homework for an hour while on my lunch break. I studied for two and a half hours after work….and then took a three hour quiz. I came home with everyone asleep, ate dinner alone, took a shower and now I lie here, exhausted but entirely unable to sleep. My mind is still racing, thinking about alpha and standard deviations and variances. Ugh. 


And this is an ordinary day these days. 

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Five more weeks of Statistics 601 and then one summer session and then…finally, a summer break. I’m thinking baseball, beaches and camping. Sun on my skin. My children’s voices in my ear and their hands in mine. I’m thinking of my husband’s handsome face and seeing him with his eyes open and conscious…that’ll be nice. 

I don’t share to complain. This is my choice, my privilege. My hope is that this work will benefit my family. That my children will learn what grit and determination look like. That I will grow in knowledge and capabilities. That I will learn exactly what I’m made of. This journey is difficult and I truly couldn’t be doing it on my own. My husband, parents, in-laws…without them, an MBA would be impossible for me. 

So tonight, rather than complaining that my house is chaos, my laundry is undone, that I’m utterly drained….I will be thankful. Thankful for my family who are helping me to achieve my goals, thankful for my friends who encourage me every single day, thankful for the capacity and drive to learn. Thankful for technology and education. Thankful that tomorrow is a rare occasion that I get to curl up with my family and relax for our weekly Hafele Family Movie Night. Thankful for another day in this crazy world living this crazy life.

By the way, I’m down to only my fuzzy, penguin striped socks…so when you see me wearing them tomorrow, don’t judge me. 

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Enjoy the time you have with those that mean the most and don’t take a moment for granted!

Getting to Know Him

Valentines Day is quickly approaching and with it comes the high (or low…depending on your relationship!) expectations for the so-called holiday. This will be my 14th V-Day with my husband. This special day has me thinking about our relationship. I’m thinking of the ways he’s changed through the years. I love my husband; I’ve always been thankful for him and of course, I think he’s pretty spectacular. There were a few years in the beginning when I genuinely thought the man could do no wrong. I remember standing in my mother’s kitchen, butterflies in my stomach and stars in my eyes, telling my family that I couldn’t even imagine him ever being in a bad mood….he’s so funny and sweet. So…we’ve moved past that. I’ve certainly experienced all of his moods. And he’s experienced allllllllll of mine.

You see, we know each other now.

I know that he leaves his laundry on the side of the bed every single day instead of walking two feet to the laundry basket. I know that he drinks milk overnight and leaves his dirty cup on the nightstand when he heads out the next morning. I know he hates doing the dishes. I know he doesn’t fold laundry. I know he isn’t a morning person and until about 11:00 a.m. I’m on my own. I know crowds stress him out and he doesn’t enjoy social events like I do. I know he’ll never love running or exercising with me unless I learn to play basketball. I know he’s completely unable to finish an entire movie without losing interest or getting up to walk around. I know he’s going to stop my DVR recordings to watch a rerun of Family Guy. I know he will insist on turning to the game even though I have zero interest in sports of any kind. I know a lot about all of his weird and annoying habits. I know a lot about him.

There’s something amazing that happens in long relationships. You get to know each other. You realize that that perfect person you fell in love with is a product of your imagination, and behind that image that you’ve created is a real, imperfect human being. Here’s the amazing part. If you allow it…if you choose to not pick your partner apart for those idiosyncrasies, something amazing happens. You get to know the person you love…you get to know him in a way that no one else in this entire world will ever know him.

Today, I KNOW my husband. I’ve learned that he is a man who loves me, unconditionally, all the time, even when he doesn’t necessarily show it. He’s proved to me that in a good mood or bad, he’s still always going to be here by my side. I’ve learned that he’s someone who will make me a bubble bath, put on soft music and pour me a glass of wine when life becomes too much for me to bear. He will support me in all of my ventures whether it’s running a half marathon or my latest moment of insanity…deciding to get my masters degree. He will take time off work to stay with our sick kids so I can attend an important meeting. He will bring home surprises for our little ones just to see them smile. He will plant fake bugs in places I don’t expect them, just to see me jump (yes, I find this endearing…we were certainly made for each other). He will rub my back every single night, even if he lets out a sigh when I ask. He will make supper. He will tidy the house. He will take out the trash every single day of our lives and never ask me to do it…not once. He will surprise me with a home office space when he sees me struggling to concentrate on my studies in the chaos of our kitchen. He will take care of me. He will love our children. He will support our family. He will be my partner in this crazy life come hell or high water. He will accept me, love me, champion me, forgive me. He will overlook all of my flaws and see me for who I am…a woman who loves him very much.

He is the most perfect partner I could ask for in this life. Not perfect, but perfect for me. We have a choice in relationships. We can let the little things go. We can let them go so we can be given a chance to see the big things. When we allow the person we love to be just who they were made to be, a new world opens up. A world where  we don’t have to be perfect and neither does he. A world where love really is everything. Every day when I’m bending down to grab that pile of laundry by my husband’s bed side, instead of griping, I choose to be thankful. Thankful that he’s in my life and for all of the ways he makes every day wonderful.

I’m wishing everyone a happy Valentine’s Day this year. I hope it’s all that you expect, but more importantly, I hope you are loved and that you choose to love in return.

Shine a Light for Me

This year is off with a bang…and it’s only January 30th.  As per our usual, this year we’ve seen more than our fair share of medical professionals; we have been enduring a cancer scare with my 4-year old daughter, Jera; I’ve been working through a challenging MBA course…and  all of this has culminated into the ridiculous body of tension that I have become.  This day, Monday, January 30th, was especially overwhelming for me.  I had a quiz due that I have been killing myself studying for…and while that weighed on me heavily, there was more to my stress level today than school.

I have been a total stress case.  Caring for Jera following her tonsillectomy last week, trying to keep her comfortable and happy, working to master my MBA course, Corporate Finance…it has all been…hard.  

I’m not normally a crier, at least not without good reason (I mean, aside from when I watch Marley and Me…but really if you don’t cry during that movie, you’re just stone cold).  In the past two weeks, I’ve found myself in tears more often than I care to admit…trying to sort out my thoughts and feelings…trying to manage myself by myself. Until I just can’t anymore.  My poor family…my mom has received a crying call, my husband has been tearfully dialed, my best friend has gotten sad text messages.   While I’ve worked hard to hold it together, the stress and worry have taken a toll on me and my soul is drained.

The surgeon told me I could call his office in a week to check on Jera’s biopsy results.  Today, five days following the surgery, I couldn’t wait anymore.  I dialed the office mid-morning and left a message with the nurse, hoping that Jera’s biopsy results would be in.  When lunch came and went and I didn’t receive a returned call, I figured the results hadn’t arrived and I would have to wait.  I went online and took another dreaded Corporate Finance quiz (what kind of quiz takes 90 minutes FOR SIX QUESTIONS?!!!)  I was relieved to score better than I had expected.  But still, in my heart was a heaviness.  I decided to take Jera for ice cream and we pigged out.  There’s nothing like soft serve to soothe the soul.


Then, as I was making dinner, my phone rang.  It was the ENT’s nurse.  She was calling to tell me that Jera’s biopsy results are in and the biopsy was NORMAL.  That’s right folks, Jera is CANCER-FREE!!!  She’s just my little fruitcake of a daughter with a former set of goofy (AKA asymmetric) tonsils.  I thanked the nurse for calling and hung up the phone.  I can’t describe to you the feelings that moved through my mind, body and soul in that moment.  Relief, joy, gratitude, exhilaration…there aren’t enough adjectives on this Earth to describe the happiness that call delivered.

There are people whose calls are different than the one I received.  There are people who aren’t  relieved of their worrisome burden with a phone call delivering normal biopsy results.  People I love have received devastating news instead.  I’ve watched those I love wither away with cancer and pass on in the most painful, devastating way.  I’ve also watched others I love fight bravely, becoming the very essence of strength and beauty and beating the fearsome beast.  Today, I am so thankful.  I am so thankful that my sweet daughter doesn’t have to face that fight.  So thankful that she will continue to be her bright, funny, reserved, goofy, girly, wonderfully-made self.


There are no words to repay the prayers that have gone up for us.  There are so many who don’t believe in the power of prayer.  I do.  While prayer may not always change test results, it certainly can lift you up and carry you through difficult times.  Prayer lets us know we are not alone.  Prayer is love.  You cannot pray for someone without loving them.  In praying for your neighbor, you strengthen not only your neighbor, but you grow love in your own heart as well.  And even more importantly, in praying for yourself, you invite God in and allow Him to help. I have been stressed.  I have cried.  I have been short and snapped and laid awake wondering.  But through prayer and the support, prayers and love of our friends and family, we have made it through this trial and we are ready to move on to brighter days.  The start of this year has been difficult, but after the good news we received today, it has also been awesome.  God is good.

I’ll end this blog with the lyrics of a song I heard for the first time yesterday by Brad Randall. I had never heard of him or his music…I was listening to a “popular” music station, not a Christian station…but this song came across my speakers at the exact moment I needed it and I know it was a God-thing. 

Make a path for me, make it wide for every man to see

Maybe I’ll find it

Shine a light for me, make it pure and hang it from a tree

So bright I’m blinded

If I said I don’t want you to come knockin’ on my door

Then I’d be lying

If for some reason I told you I don’t need you anymore

Then I’d be lying… lying

Enough, hearing voices I can’t stand to hear like thunder from a storm

Where is your lightning

I’m tossing and turning underneath my sheets at night in a room no longer warm

My chest is tightening

If I said that I could get through this without any help

Then I’d be lying
If my lips claim I’m strong enough to take care of myself

Then I’d be lying… lying

I’d be lying

Cover my ears and my heart is broken
Bruise on my knees when the walls start to open
I’m searching through the tunnels of the feelings that are running deep

Wasting time because the answer is right in front of me
Battling an enemy that is standing about five foot ten

Wondering if I’m ever gonna be myself again

Hold me in your arms and take away my worldly fears

Please don’t tell me all the things that I don’t wanna hear
I’m so afraid of what you’re gonna tell me
The fears come but I know you led me

Know the problems that are wearing out my soul inside

It’s the only way that I can make the wrong go right

Make the wrong go right

And I love everything about you

Everything about you 

If I said I don’t want you to come

Knocking on my door

Then I’d be lying… Lying…

Priorities Heal Disappointment 

Can we talk just for a moment about priorities? Today is a day that I need to talk about this…about not only making choices about what is important but accepting the consequences of those choices. The logical part of my mind knows that when we realize our priorities, we inevitably miss out on something else (although that doesn’t ever stop me from trying to have it all). But when the inevitable opportunity cost is paid, when I reach my capacity in one form or another, it just about breaks my heart. Does anyone else struggle with this?

This weekend I made choices that ultimately led to a less than desirable grade on my exam today. I know I could have studied harder; I could have taken more time to prepare. I didn’t do anything wrong. I chose to catch up on rest. I chose to spend time with my husband and friends. I chose not to miss my son’s Boy Scout meeting or church with my children. While none of those choices were bad choices, those are the choices that led me to feel disappointment today.

This is my point. There is too much in this life. Too much to do, too many places to be, too many people to please. I come back to the fact that, not only do I have to have my priorities straight, I also have to be okay with the consequences of those priorities. 

I’m learning that our priorities not only can change throughout the stages of our lives, but that they should change. When we take on new responsibilities our priorities must shift. We must take inventory of our to-do’s and make decisions about what falls where. I’ve recently taken on the responsibility of earning my MBA and it’s radically changed my life (and the lives of those I love). Things that used to be important to me (exercise, rest, fun) have taken a backseat and I’ve reorganized my life to meet this goal. 

For me always, God comes first, then my family, then my job. But now, after those absolutes, comes school. It comes before all other responsibilities, wants and needs. It is hard. It is hard to sacrifice and give up so much. But it is what I signed up for, and it is what I have to do.

Today I feel as though I let myself down. But I know I was not prepared because  I spent my afternoon with my son at his Boy Scout meeting. Because I spent the evening with my husband and best friend feeling like a real, actual person for the first time in weeks. Because I went to church and spent time there. Because I wanted to make it to my son’s basketball practice. These are the choices that led to less study time. While it is so disappointing to not meet my own expectations for school, I have to be okay with the choices I made. I have to be okay with the priorities that I set out for my life. I have no one to blame but myself and I have to learn to roll with the punches, knowing that I’ll find a way to make it work better the next time around.

I share this because we all have too much on our plates. We all have sacrifices and we all make choices. Sometimes the consequences of our choices hurt. Sometimes we are limited in our ability. But those moments of hurt are the moments when we have to look back at our priorities. Sometimes what we had because of those priorities…because of the choices our priorities led to (in my case a pie to the face by 4 Boy Scouts and my stinker of a daughter)….the gifts we were given in place of what we missed are actually worth what is sacrificed. 

I hope that makes sense. 

Sometimes coming to terms about what we can’t do is actually about knowing what we did do instead. At the end of the day, if we look back and can’t feel better after this type of review, maybe it’s time to look at our priorities and realign. When our priorities are in order, we know that what we’ve gained with our choice is so great, that we can be okay with what we’ve lost. Our priorities can actually heal our disappointments. That realization is an amazing gift for me. I hope it is for you too.

A Good Day

Today was a good day. We have been anxiously awaiting an appointment with an Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist to discuss our daughter, Jera’s, asymmetrical tonsils. Our family doctor had thrown around the possibility of lymphoma as an underlying cause for the asymmetry, and with Jera’s many health struggles, we have been stressed, holding our breath, and biding our time until we could talk to a specialist about his thoughts on her unusual tonsils. Today, January 10th, my husband’s 34th birthday, was finally the day.

I feel so blessed to have been referred to Dr. Ehrhard. He was friendly, warm and kind. He spoke directly to Jera and allowed her to sit on my lap. We talked through her health issues. His calmness was contagious. He asked Jera to open her mouth and then confirmed what we had already seen. Her right tonsil is enlarged, and while her left tonsil was also enlarged, the right tonsil was considerably larger. 

This is where he paused and took a moment to address all of the thoughts that were running through our heads. He said, “From one parent to another, I want you to know that when these things happen, we think about what could be causing it. I want you to know that in my experience, I’ve never come across this (asymmetrical tonsils) and had the cause be something bad.” There was an audible release in the room, as Phil and I both sighed out all of the tension that had been building.  I told him we had been so worried. He told me he understood, that your child being in danger is a parent’s worst fear. I checked with him again, “You’ve seen this before?” “Yes,” he told me, “and in my experience, I’ve never found a bad cause.” 

He wouldn’t even say the c-word…never let it come to his lips…he said “a bad cause/thing”. He knew what we feared. He’s trained to know the signs and symptoms of abnormalities in the throat. But he also knows a parent’s worry. What a tremendous blessing that this compassionate man is Jera’s doctor. 

Jera is scheduled for a tonsillectomy on January 25th. Her tonsils will be biopsied and we will know for certain that our daughter is okay…she’s just a girl with goofy tonsils. Oh…correction, soon she’ll be a girl with NO tonsils, and I’m okay with that! 

I’m praying Jera remains healthy and we’re able have her surgery as planned on the 25th. I’m praying that her recovery is quick and as painless as possible. And I’m praying that following her biopsy, we can confirm that she’s just a girl with goofy tonsils…with the reassurance of her doctor’s previous  experience, I feel optimistic about what is to come.

So tonight we celebrated my husband’s 34 birthday. We lit candles, sang the birthday song and ate some terrible, gluten-free angel food cake. And I mean TERRIBLE cake (Jera still ate it happily, just thankful to have cake). But we celebrated with hearts that were lighter, hopes that were higher and faith that continues to grow.

Thank you to everyone who has held our family, and especially my precious daughter, in your prayers. I believe in the power of prayer. I cannot express how I’ve felt lifted up by the outpowering of support and love from my readers, our friends and our family. We are blessed beyond measure. Please continue to pray for Jera as we move through this journey to a healthier, stronger tomorrow. 

Another Day, Another Diagnosis 

Yesterday I celebrated turning 32 years old…well, sort of. I started out celebrating, but by the end of the day, my birthday had taken a turn for the worse. For those of you following my blog, you know we are anxiously awaiting an appointment with an Ear Nose and Throat specialist next week. The specialist will be investigating my 4 year old daughter’s asymmetrical, enlarged tonsil. We’re not sure what is causing the abnormality but fear the underlying cause could be cancer. Her appointment is on the 10th and we are praying to hear that she just has a big tonsil. 

In the mean time, Jera woke up with a strange rash under her right eye two days ago. With a long history of allergies and eczema, we are no strangers to rashes. So I gave her a dose of Benadryl and we went about our day. However by yesterday morning, the rash had become worse and her eye had begun to swell. Time to get another punch on the old doc card. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect but was utterly shocked to find that my 4 year old has shingles. SHINGLES. Yes, the virus from chicken pox that you normally hear about from your 90 year old grandparent. I left the doctors office in a bit of a daze. Because the shingles rash is so close to her eye we have to get into an eye doctor today to be sure the shingles hasn’t made it into her actual eye. Shingles in the eye can cause many vision problems, even leading to blindness.

So I jumped online to try to understand how my young daughter contracted something that I had never expected. Let me preface this by saying, I realize this is a mistake. I know we should never Google any illness. It’s never good news. But my heart sank when I read that shingles is extremely uncommon outside of the elderly population unless a person has a suppressed immune system due to HIV or cancer. There was that word again. Cancer. 

The tears came fast and hard last night. I am praying my little daughter is fine. I am trying to remain logical and rational. I know it could be and hope it is nothing. But I am scared. The 10th can’t get here fast enough for my little family. 

I continued to peruse online last night and found a blog where another mother has a child with severe eczema, like Jera, whose daughter also had shingles at 4 years old. Jera is prone to skin infections and her immune system is in a constant struggle against her eczema and allergies. She just had the stomach flu two weeks ago and pneumonia a month ago. It makes sense that her immune system would be down. She is bright, cheerful and happy. She doesn’t understand the tears or hugs or worry. 

I am scared but trying to hold fast to my faith that God will guide my family through this crisis. We’ve made it through things I couldn’t have imagined before. This time I lean on Him with my entire being as I struggle to maintain normalcy in a moment where I feel anything but normal. Please continue to pray for Jera. For her strength, health and resiliency. 

I turned 32 yesterday and I continue to learn daily that faith and family are the two things that make this life, not only bearable, but beautiful. Today I choose to believe that anything is possible with the help of God. Today, a year older, I choose to be happy in the face of adversity. I will take it a moment at a time and be thankful for the time I am given with the sweet little monsters I call my children. Speaking of which, I get to wake now and tell my oldest he has a two-hour snow delay…this parenting thing can still be fun! Parenting is both the hardest and most rewarding responsibility I’ve ever known. Today and everyday, I choose to be thankful for it, both the burdensome worry and the great joy. It’s all part of it. Duty calls….off to make the snow day announcement!