Monday, June 29

18 Month Checkup

So we went to the doctors this morning. It was a fun day of getting measured (Alice barely made it in the lying down baby measuring bin) followed by pooping while we waited for the doctor. Yeah, smart me left the diaper bag in the car, all I had was a spare diaper. So we used some wet paper towels and warned the doctor.

Alice needs to eat either more cheese or yogurt to get enough calcium for the day.

She also has above average verbal skills. Aparrantly its pretty typical for kids her age to have about 5 words mastered. Now, a few of her words are only said if prompted, like Duck and Cat. And only for pictures of them, an actual cat or dog invokes growly noises. But yeah, thats what happens when you are at home all day with Mommy and Mommy doesn't like to be alone, talk talk talk.

Also, based on the rudimentary test, she does not have Autism. Go her.

The people that bought the place across the street are moving in. They have moved a trailer full of stuff twice now. Plus smaller things in cars. Maybe I will even go introduce myself and take them a plate full of fruit. Nothing is better on a hot summer day than cold berries and melon. Might I add, the cantelope we bought was surprisingly yellow, but oh so stinking sweet. Yum, its like eating candy. Summer produce is awesome.

Now if only my tomatoes would start turning red.

Friday, June 26

Birthday Concert

So for my birthday, my twin and I were going to go to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Concert. They are on some midwest tour, and it was the only date in Kansas City. Plus, come on it was our birthday. The plan was to leave the man and kid at home and enjoy good music together.

Then Rachel got a hot date. (Well, maybe sort of lukewarm, but its still a date.) So she gave me the two tickets and said to get a sitter and take Daniel.

So I did. My friend Jennith came and hung out with Alice and had fun.

Daniel and I left around 6, drove to a very packed Sprint Center and went in. Our seats were easily accessible from the entrance, which was nice. We were there early enough we didn't have to crawl past a pile of people, and our row wasn't even completely full.

Then the choir came out. It seemed like it would be exciting. Daniel had heard MoTab once before live. He told me they were amazing. I had only been to an open rehearsal time in the Tabernacle once. Yes they were very good, but lets face it, it was a rehearsal. Nothing like a concert.

The concert began and I had instant disappointment. It wasn't like most choir concerts. I was sure they sounded amazing, but we were in the nosebleed section, so I couldn't see mouths even moving. Plus they had huge speakers amping the sound. It was like playing a CD with a really bad far away photo to look at while watching.

Needless to say, it was less than spectacular. If we go the next time they are in town, we will spring for the expensive tickets.

I admit we left during intermission. It wasn't that I didn't want to stay, but the benefits of leaving and missing traffic were far greater than the benefit of staying to the end, and waiting an hour to get out of the downtown KC area before going home to a really tired baby and the sitter.

We did get some Sonic before going home though. Not that it kept me up. I was asleep before Daniel got back from taking Jennith home and picking up on sale chocolate milk.

On a totally random note, Daniel was so tired when he got back that he came inside put the milk away and fel asleep on the couch without even turning the car off. He was woken a few hours later by the neighbor getting home from work to tell him the car was on. Talk about a blonde moment.

Wednesday, June 24

Alice loves bran flakes

So I discovered something strange today. For the second day in a row Alice has stolen some of my bran flakes over her super sugary Captain Crunch (ok its the cheap brand, but you get the idea). She even got mad at me for eating out of my own bowl. I ended up tossing most of her cereal while she ate quite a bit of mine.

She even wants the box of cereal as a snack.

Strange no?

Then I figured out her strange love of them in a totally gross way.

I thought she was picking her nose, but she was shoving little bits of bran flakes into her nose. What the heck.

She even sneezed and out came a piece of bran flake. They are off limits unless they are in a cereal bowl with milk now.

Who knew bran flakes would need regulated like this.

Sunday, June 21

Long Term Memory Loss

Daniel: Honey when did your temple recommend expire?
Rebecca: I don't know, May?
Daniel: Huh. Well there is one here that doesn't expire until June of next year...of course it says Rebecca Cook.
Rebecca: stares blankly
Daniel: I guess its the same member record number so you could still go in and say 'Yeah I'm Sister Cook, that's me.'

Temporary lack of last name memory. Cause when we got married, Daniel became a Smith.

Also temporary lack of date reading and understanding what a 2 year recommend is. Or maybe Rebecca just thought there were 2 years between 2008 and 2009.

It happens.

(posted jointly because clearly one of us is not enough to function)

Friday, June 19

Couch Update

So Daniel called NFM during his lunch break about our couch of doom.

The said they would have to send a different repair guy, and it wouldn't be until July 3rd.

He told them that was not acceptable.

Monday they will be delivering a new couch.

Daniel also has to call back and make sure they are going to put on new guardsmen fabric care (fabric stain repellant).

Lets hope that we just got a lemon of a couch. They will just repair the one they take away properly, and sell it in their discount section. We will have a couch for my birthday party.

Thank goodness some of that stress is gone. Now, I just have to clean my house again, and move everything out of the dining room and living room to make it so the movers can move in a new couch and take away the old one.

Fun times, fun times.

Thursday, June 18

We got our Couch Fixed...

That ellipse is because, well you see, its not even 10 PM and the couch is broken again. In fact, it was broken within an hour of the repair guy leaving. You see, the little bracket he added to the side of the piece that had been detached from the frame....

The screw marks you can see in the second picture, thats where the bracket was attached to that piece of the frame.

Nebraska Furniture Mart's repair people only come to Lawrence on Thursdays.

If they don't fix it absurdly next time, I will be rather pissed. I am already pretty annoyed. The sales lady didn't explain we were looking at bottom of the line furniture when we bought it. The repair guy implied it was total crap, since it didn't even have any metal brackets, and supposedly they all come with them.

Well, looks like we will be using this 1 year warranty. A whole stinking lot.

I will be sitting on a chair dreaming of a fixed couch. Maybe we will even give some ultimatums, cause this is total crap. I am super bummed out.

Tuesday, June 16

Sugar Snap Peas!

Last night it rained 3 inches in our backyard. This morning I did some weeding and picked our first sugar snap pea crop of the year. There were SIX! I mock my excitement when i saw some big enough to pick. There were 2 ones that needed picked and I picked a few more just to have more than 2.

For the record, sugar snap peas are not so sugary raw. Alice will take a bite of the pea then spit it out, and shove the pod at my mouth. I am the disposal for all things yucky you know. I don't mind that much, its better than cooking 6 little pea pods. Plus, she keeps going back for more bites, so maybe she will eat them all anyway.

Also, I think I am going to delve into the world of flannel boards. There are pages you can print from old Friend magazines online, and with not too much work I can print, color, cover in mailing tape and iron onto interfacing. I am thinking a cute framed flannel board to put above Alice's play table, and a small plain one for travel. It sounds like a better church activity than some, and maybe they will even become a part of FHE. You know several months ago we had FHE. Even if it was just a read this lesson thing. We have become slackers.

That is all (currently) frequently written in blog.

Monday, June 15

Show me the money, in my house that is

So after a couple of emails about our house I decided that I will just blog about our money. Disclaimer, we are lower middle class and we know it. That's why our house isn't that expensive. Last year we were barely above the poverty level. Or maybe we weren't above it. All I know is that when we filed our taxes for last year the government was like, here is some money; take it. That means it was much easier for us to make certain financial decisions than if we had made as much last year as we do now.

So this post will be on how paying extra on your mortgage can make your payoff that much faster. Or at least, places where you can play around and be like, of man, I want to do that.

Why did we decide to pay extra?

The whole reason why I even considered paying extra on the mortgage when we didn't have that much money was because in January interest rates for mortgages dropped to about 4%. We were considering refinancing, and we wanted to see the benefit of that. We refinanced in January of 2008 after only owning our home 3 months because rates dropped by about 1%. Our current APR is 5.75ish. But, closing costs on the new loan would cost us $2,ooo. So I was crunching numbers to try and decide what made more sense, refinancing and essentially throwing away $2000 for a house payment that went up by $30/month but it was a 20 year loan OR paying the extra $30/month.

You see, when they try and get you to refinance, they say "You will save $40,000 in interest payments! And your monthly payment will only increase $30." It sounds exciting. I could save $30,000*! Thats like a year's wages. Thats a lot of money! *I don't remember the exact amount we could save, but it seemed like a ton of money at the time.

So I checked the numbers. How long does it take for that $2000+ dollars we would spend to refinance to even out in the savings of interest? It would take at least 3 years. We were still paying on that 3 years from last year's refinance. That means we wouldn't really be seeing any savings for at least 5 years. Plus our monthly payments would be larger. We knew Daniel would be in school for a few more years, but what if we ended up moving before we even saw savings? Plus, if we just paid that $2000 over several months, as well as the extra $30/month we would reduce the term of our loan by 10 years anyway.

Thats when I thought, maybe we should try and pay extra on our mortgage.

Call it inspiration, call it woman's intuition, but I felt strongly then, and still do, that it was wise to pay extra on our mortgage. Even though we have a HELOC with an adjustable APR and I have a student loan with a higher interest rate, its something that I knew was a better option for our family as a unit. By the way, we are paying extra on both of those, but we aren't focusing our payments toward them like we are toward the mortgage.

We needed to decide how much extra to pay each month

This is where things get a little complicated, and can seem overwhelming. If I pay $200/mo extra I can decrease my loan to a 16 year motgage, if I pay $400/month a 13 year mortgage, etc. Sometimes an extra $20 may seem like its doing nothing, but its not. Slow and steady did win the race, but fast and furious gets you sexy cars. Oh, and I mixing up my thoughts?

What if I am thinking about paying extra?

First off is the mortgage payoff calculator at This is something great for those nerdy people like me that really like graphical representations. You enter in the remaining time you have on your mortgage, the length of your mortgage, mortgage amount, additinal payment, and APR. You know where the interest paid line becomes flat? Thats when you stop having a mortgage payment and paying interest to 'the man.'

In a more usefeul area is your mortgage website's amoritization schedule. Ours allows us to enter in one time pre-payment, as well as annually, semiannually, and monthly. This is where I decided that paying an additional $2000 toward our mortgage upfront made more sense than refinancing. With the $2000 estimate for closing costs on refinancing we were cutting off several years of payments. If we added in an additional $30/month prepayment we were doing even better.

I also looked at information from Crown Financial Services for help with planning my budget. They have pdf info sheets that can help you get out of debt, or just plan a budget.

One thing I really liked was thier percentage guides. It made me think. Yes, we should spend 6% of our net income (after taxes and tithing) toward entertainment. Thats more than I realized I could spend. Of course, if you add in impulse purchases, we might have been spending more than that. Obviously, our percentages couldn't add up all pretty like thiers. Our insurance is much more than 5% of our income, plus its taked off our taxable income, so its even more confusing.

Anyway, with thier percentage guide, I found we should be spending $890/month toward housing. That number includes utilities, but since some of our other areas have extra money (like we have no car payment so we don't need to spend over $360/month on a car) I felt that we should try paying that much toward our home each month. So plugging an extra $260/month I found out we could decrease our loan by 19 years and over $40,000 in interest. So I was in. Hook line and sinker.

But what about double motgage payments?

I don't remember exactly how I decided we would pay double. I think it was number crunching, plus INTENSE budgeting. I am talking entering EVERY reciept, and saying, ok no more eating out when we hit a certain amount, etc. The first month, it was like oh man, I just paid over $1200 toward my house. That used to be our take home money for a month (we had a promotion and a crazy raise around the same time as all this). But, the numbers looked like they would be fine. And, they were.

So there you go. Pending craziness like long term disability and/or copious amounts of children coming all at once we will own our house at the beginning of 2016. How awesome is that! Besides, if something happened and Daniel lost his job and we had a sudden decrease in income, we would have plenty of equity for a refinance, and we could handle the 'lost money' toward the rifinance to save our credit and our long term stability. No one knows what will really happen to the housing market in the next few years, but we want to know that if we had to get a crappy minimum wage job (or 2) we could afford to keep our home, even if we have to borrow a bit more money to refinance our mortgage. We won't be like the people that can't refinance unless they can pay $30,000 because thier house value dropped so much.

So there you go, a long wordy blah blah blah about how paying extra on your mortgage can be wiser than a refinance and give you long term security.

Wednesday, June 10

Future House Project

So Alice has started sleeping poorly. She will go to bed pretty well at night, but then come morning she is up and at 'em before the SUN. Not to mention she will stay awake for a few hours and then crash again. I can't help but think that I am encouraging this type of behavior, since I am trying to convince her that she doesn't need to nurse. I have been more successful with not nursing to sleep before bed, than with some of the other nursing times. This makes me think she is waking up earlier and taking more naps to make up for it. A few weeks ago we had pretty much stopped daytime nursing but nursed at night, so I suppose this is what happens when you try and wean someone that doesn't want to be weaned.

So this morning, Daniel left for work and we went on a walk through the neighborhood. We saw a barking dog, a curious cat, and some old lady taking out her trash. It was sort of funny because its trash day, but its been raining so much lately that there was lots of rain soaked boxes and bags at the curb. Makes me glad I have never had that job.

Over the weekend we went to garage sales. We bought some more Alice sized furniture (a couple of chairs and a folding table, as well as a foam 'chair' with a cube for a foot rest). We also saw some replacement windows for $400. We got the measurements and the guys phone number, then went home and measured the windows. The are shorter than what we currently have in the living room, but they are almost the same width, i.e. SCORE. So we got 20 twenties out of the ATM and got those Monday night. The guy even delivered them. Sometime in August when its wickedly hot, but Daniel is done with school we will pull out the old windows, build in some additional framing, and put in the new ones.

I do think its sort of funny, that we decided to not make any major purchases until July, then we threw $400 toward windows that we aren't even going to replace for a couple of months. Actions like this right after buying a couch make our bank account feel poor. But, we won't have to pay the credit card until July, and we get paid 3 times that month, and I don't see us doing any other window buying until we have replaced the living room windows. Plus we can probably keep double paying the mortgage like we have been, even with the large purchases.

I did notice as I walked the neighborhood, the houses that have newer windows in them. In general they look really good. Expect one house that was for sale, and is now just for lease where they replaced the windows with much smaller windows and it just looks sad. Partly because they have this really wide Black edges around the white vinyl frames. Of course that house looks pretty bad anyway, who has a dark gray house with black trim anyway? It seems like it should be haunted or at least filled with creepy drug dealers.

After those windows, and the repairs on the front of the house where we did NOT have flooding in the 9 hours of rain yesterday (yay!), the bedroom windows will be a piece of cake. Especially since I think they have replacement windows in the exact same size at home depot for about $150/window. Of course we will probably end up with the more expensive windows to better match the living room's fanciness. Those vinyl windows even have wood trim on the inside, which the basic models do not have.

So August will be fun times. Especially if I am Daniel's only labor.

Sunday, June 7

How does your garden grow?

Well, here is the overview of my garden. Its looks all green and growing. The yellow flower is some mustard spinach I didn't recognize, so its probably too late to eat it. Most greens don't taste good once they flower. Oh well, at least I know which ones are the turnips now.
Hidden by the turnips is this little herb. Basil! It was a total experiment to grow an herb from seed, but it worked. Yay.
Here is the guardian of the garden. Of course he doesn't keep out the slugs or the dirt spreading children, but he does keep track of the rain flow. You like the cracked rain gauge, that's because Alice was harassing me when I was ankle deep in mud with him, and I chucked the frog.
As you can see, we might not get zucchini this year. You know how people say lady bugs are good for the garden? Well, there are an orange variety that turn squash leaves into lace. The guardian also allows them in the garden. He isn't much of a guardian it seems.
Here is one of my two patches of cilantro! This makes me want to make Vietnamese spring rolls, or sushi. Well, I guess I could even use it in something more south of the border.
This is our cucumber plant! He is small. Unfortunately, my garden planning didn't realize that we don't get as much morning sun as originally planned. The afternoon sun is shaded by the sweet peas and he might not do much this year. Oh well.
I would like to announce that, unlike last year we WILL have tomatoes! And not just green ones that I pick after the first frost. There are a few more of these on other plants, but these are the largest ones. I am pretty sure they are the beefsteak tomatoes.
And of course here is the slug filled lettuce. I can't get myself to eat lettuce once I pick out the slugs. Plus that greepy green wormy thing. The lettuce just tastes nasty to me. Maybe its also because its all stronger flavors of lettuce, no iceberg here.

SO yeah, here is the garden update. Yay for it. And it sounds like we will have a rain downpour (again) here in a few minutes. That means it will continue to grow well.

Monday, June 1

Still coughing, plus garden surplus!

Yesterday, this week was looking REALLY stressful. Its probably not going to be bad, as long as we can all start getting better. I feel a million times better than yesterday, but I still have this horrible cough and a tendency to sleep 12+ hours a night. Alice, who even went to the doc on Saturday morning, now has an evil cough that even woke her up a few times last night. I should call the doc and see what we can give her since she is pretty young, but I really want to put that off since I also have said cough. And cough drops and tussin medicines together helped, but didn't stop all coughs. Trust me, I was sucking those cough drops all day yesterday, and I still had a few coughing fits.

I also should be calling a million people to remind them about LINK and possibly give directions to our house or arrange pick up for thier food. I am horribly tempted to just lie in bed all day. Or at least on the couch. Alice is amusing herself drawing in a magazine, so she should be relatively easy to deal with because of that. Plus she also feels like crap which means she doesn't want to run around outside. Poor kid.

My garden could also use some water and weeding. I think I grew WAY too much lettuce. Anyone want some salad?