Friday, May 27, 2011

Financial Night

Periodically, we have "Financial Nights" at the Braschler household.  This consists of us looking at our monthly bills, money coming in, and working to set up a budget.  We seem to have these often (often as in every few months) - and they usually take up the entire evening.  (But they do include spreadsheets and highlighters and I am a HUGE fan of both of those things - and I'm being completely serious about that - I get a little giddy on the inside when I get to work with either of those things - must be the accountant in me). 

We would like to be on a budget because we know that would be more "freeing" - which may sound weird, but it would let us know that it's ok to spend "X" amount of dollars on "fill in the blank".  We have set up several budgets to try and do not follow through on any of them.  Usually this is caused by unknown circumstances - whether that is fluctuating paychecks, jobs, living circumstances, having a baby, etc.  This time, we have a house, Caleb is here (& paid for - his delivery, I mean), and we both have jobs with steady paychecks.  [Side note: Wow! What a blessing to have all of that!!!  We are very grateful.] 

So, two nights ago we had another "Financial Night."  We set out our plans and will use some of the "envelope system" - where you put cash into different envelopes for different categories and can only spend what's in the envelope for the entire month.  Since Wednesday is June 1, we will begin then.  Granted, not every single category gets cash taken out for it - (yikes, that would be a lot of cash to have on hand!), but just basic things like groceries, etc.  We will communicate often and have other follow-up financial nights to see what adjustments need to be made. 

We are hoping this will help keep us organized and committed and maybe we can make more of a dent in those pesky student loans (which were totally worth it for the great 4 years of education and experience we received, but those monthly payments aren't as much fun) and save better for the future.  But we do know the meaning of hard work and can appreciate our education, house, vehicles and other things we are blessed to have because we know all the hard work that goes into having those. 

So, here's to a structured lifestyle with our new and improved budget plan!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

I'm a Loser.

Well, I am.  :)  Yesterday was the last day of our 8 week weight loss competition at work.  My grand total of weight lost?  17.7 lbs.  Yep!  I can't believe I even lost any these past 2 weeks, but apparently so!  We still haven't heard who won the $400+ prize money, but I'm fairly certain my percentage wasn't high enough.  I am still very pleased with how it went and hope to continue this process.  Although my boss and I did celebrate the end with a cheeseburger, fries and a Dr. Pepper - and it was oh so good! 

I still feel like I was able to eat foods I enjoyed, but I mostly focused on how much I ate.  If we went out to eat at all, I would ask the waitress for a box as soon as she brought the food out.  Then, I would automatically put half of my entree in the box to take home - no matter how delicious it was or how much I wanted to eat the whole thing.  (There is one exception to this - when we went to Qdoba, which is the closest thing to Chipotle around here, and I ate the entire burrito, but come on!  So good.)

Anyway, I lost all that weight and there was still only a little bit of exercise.  I need to make that part of my daily/weekly habits (I believe I said that before, but still haven't followed through).  Right now I am about 15 lbs less than before I got pregnant, but the amazing thing about having a baby is that your shape will never be the same again.  (I'm chuckling to myself as I write this - also knowing that some women have the rare experience to look bikini-ready weeks after having a baby.  Kind of sickening, I know.)  The shape-change is totally worth it though.  :)  I mean, have you seen that cute little baby face?  Love it.

So, that's my weight loss competition journey.  I'll be keeping my portion plan (with a few indulgences this week since I'm now a "free" woman from the competition) with the hopes of continuing a slow but sure weight loss.  Thanks for all the encouragement along the way!!

***UPDATE***: Just found out today that I placed 3rd in the competition at work!  Unfortunately, only the 1st place gets the prize money, but out of 22 people - I'll gladly take 3rd place!  :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

Life's a Garden - Dig it!

This weekend we worked hard on our house - inside and out.  We headed to Lowe's on Saturday and picked up all kinds of plants and trees. We got some bushes and flowers (impatiens) for the front and 3 trees (2 Bradford Pear and one Red Maple) for the back - along with several vegetable plants and a strawberry plant.  

Here the front before:

And After!  We're planning on adding some stones or something around the edge of the mulch someday - but we already spent our limit for the year getting all of this stuff.  :)  Maybe next year!

Just wait til the bushes and flowers grow bigger and fuller and it will look even prettier!

We just moved some of the other stuff from the front into the walkway part to fill it up.  We're probably going to plant new stuff here next year.  But for now, this works for us!  But those big crazy bushes by the door are going to get a trimmin'!  

I happened to take these pictures just before Nick mowed the grass, so I'm sure it looks even nicer with fresh cut grass.  

They had these pretty Begonias at Lowe's for Susan G Komen (the fight against breast cancer), so I bought one in honor of my Grandma Willis, who just passed away in December from a 23 yr battle with cancer.

Here are the 2 Bradford Pear trees in the back:

And the Red Maple...

We'll show you pictures of our little vegetable/strawberry garden when it's finished!  I think we got some cilantro, jalapenos, green onions, strawberries, cucumbers, and watermelon for that.  It sure was fun to spend some time outdoors (even though it's kinda chilly here!) and make our house look pretty.  :)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Fun Weekend!

This past weekend was full of lots of fun things!  On Friday night, we were lucky enough to get tickets to the Arkansas Naturals baseball game and watch them from our company's suite!  It was awesome!  They provided hotdogs and nachos and drinks, along with an incredible view of the game!  Caleb had a ton of fun at his first baseball game ever.  Nick's dad was able to join us also.  Every Friday night after the game, they do a fireworks show - a great one at that!  It was a full-fledged display that lasted for a good ten minutes.  It was so fun to enjoy a gorgeous night of weather, watching America's favorite past time.  :)

On Saturday, we worked on our house and laundry and I got to nap with Caleb.  That evening, we went to the park for a walk and ended up in downtown Siloam Springs at Fratelli's Pizza.  They make brick-oven pizzas with unique toppings.  We sat outside and had delicious pizza, followed up with a shared cup of peanut butter cup gelato.  Yum! 

Mother's Day was on Sunday and Caleb (with a little, ok, a lot of help from Daddy) made me some pancakes for breakfast, then we came home from church and made some delicious lunch!  Thanks for the recipe Carol Spenst!  (insert link)  We made "Fabulous Chicken" and "Veggie Bars."  They were delicious!  I finished off the day with another nap cuddling with my little baby boy.  It was a perfect weekend and I'm so glad to have enjoyed my first mother's day with my boys.  :)  I LOVE being a mom and a wife!

Monday morning came around with a weigh-in for the weight loss competition at work.  After all that delicious food over the weekend I was so nervous that I had gained from the previous weigh in.  But no!  I had lost 3.2 lbs!!  This makes a total of 14.1 lbs lost over the past 6 weeks!  I need to amp up the exercise (which is at zero - hard to do with a full time job and a baby and unpacking a house - but it can be done).  I know I won't win the competition, but I'm just happy to be making better decisions on what to eat and also the size of my portions!  We have one more week and a few days til the end of the work competition, but I'm gonna continue this pattern and keep on losing! 

Last piece of news - Caleb is getting a tooth/teeth coming in!!!  Poor baby is never really fussy, but had a hard night on Tuesday.  We went to Tyler and Robyn's house for a gender-revealing-cake-party!  They are having a boy and planning on naming him Ethan Paul.  We are so excited for them and Caleb can't wait to meet his new playmate/huntin & fishin buddy! 

Here are some random pictures of Caleb from the last few weeks (we finally found our camera in a misc box):

Frowny face.

Hanging out with Steve-o.

It looks like I caught him doing something he shouldn't have been doing!  haha!

A double rainbow from a rainstorm a few days ago.  Can you see the second rainbow?

6 months old!

He's sitting up by himself!  It only lasts a few minutes before he starts leaning and finally falls sideways.

At the Naturals game:

Wow, that was a lot of pictures!  Mostly for the grandmas.  :)  Hopefully we'll be able to post pictures of our new house all set up soon.  

Monday, May 9, 2011

Happy Half Birthday Caleb!

We are working on getting all settled in to our new place.  It's taking a long time!  We haven't been home very much for one thing, and for another - we have too much stuff!!!!!!  Seriously...we've only been married 2 1/2 years (almost) and I can't believe how much we have accumulated in that time.  We are going to be buried in boxes forever!!!!  (Ok, not forever - just a long time!).  I am so ready to be totally settled in and feel completely comfortable in our new place. 

In other news...
We had our last Sunday at First Christian Church Gravette.  It was a wonderful last Sunday there and we do miss the people.  Our dear friend Sandy was so kind to throw us a reception. It was just beautiful and she put a lot of hard work into it.  We appreciated all the cards, kind wishes and delicious cake & punch!  We are so grateful for this great place to serve at for the past 2 years.   The Lord has truly been good to us.  

Nick will be starting his CPE class next month.  CPE stands for Clinical Pastoral Education and he will have a class meeting every other Friday and will have to complete 400 clinical hours as an on-call chaplain at one of the hospitals in NWA (Northwest Arkansas - for you out-of-state-ers). He is very excited to begin this new adventure and get back to learning.

My parents came the weekend before last to help us get settled into our new house even more.  Mom helped a TON in the kitchen and Dad and Nick repaired/built part of the fence for the backyard.  We still have a long ways to go, but we're getting there!  We had a blast playing games and going to the Dogwood Festival with my parents and we sure appreciate their help!!  I bet it was so boring for them to come and play with their grandson.  :)

Caleb turned 6 months old on Friday!  Wow - time sure does fly!  I love him more and more each second and he just melts my heart. I absolutely LOVE being a mom!!  I love every thing about it!
Here is what Caleb's up to now that he's 6 months:
- 28 1/2 in long (96th percentile)
- 18 lbs. 6 oz. (66th percentile)
- Head circumference (17 1/2" (70th percentile)
- He squeals all the time and loves to talk!
- He gives his mommy big, slobbery, open-mouthed cheek kisses.  So sweet.
- He grabs his feet and rolls around.  He also pulls his feet right to his mouth. Babies are so flexible!
- He is eating baby food now and loving it!  Here's what we've tried: carrots, green beans, peas, bananas, applesauce, pears, squash, sweet potatoes, peaches
- He loves to jump in his little play exersaucer thingy-ma-jig
- Wearing size 3 diapers
- We're trying a new formula. Enfamil Prosobee (about $6 cheaper and so far it's working great!).
- Wearing 6-9 months/9-12 months clothing.
- No teeth yet, but there are a few that are so so close to poking through.
- Sleeping great still
- Very smiley, attentive, drooly
- He is grabbing faces, mouths, earrings, necklaces, anything he can find
- He is almost sitting up completely on his own.
- He's still got blue eyes.  
- Can make the blub, blub, blub sound when you move your finger up and down on his lips. So cute!
We finally got a washer and dryer!!!  First load is in the wash!   

And finally, a message from Caleb:
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