The past couple of months have been the busiest months of my life.
In a good way. But still very, very busy.
Wes and I have been trying out the "Dave Ramsey thing" on and off for the past couple of years. We really are believers in not having debt longer than is needed, and have really wanted to get our ENORMOUS student loans from pharmacy school paid off so we can finally be free.
During the times that we'd try in the past, something would always happen to sabotage our success in moving forward: I had an emergency surgery that our insurance wormed us into paying for (our out of pocket maximum was supposed to be $2,500, but we ended up paying over $8,000 for this little incident alone) and then another giant chunk when Micah got really sick with RSV for the second year in a row. Then, Wes went through a job change, I tried working to help out for awhile (SO not worth it for me), and then I got pregnant with Jonah. I am sure I'm missing a few things, but it really doesn't matter. The point is, we weren't prepared for any of these little emergencies, and with our poor money management skills coupled with massive debt from mortgages and student loans, we have been buried.
It has been extremely stressful and frustrating. Lucky for us, it never even got close to bad enough to affect our marriage, or really our happiness at all (other than the obvious). We just have been stagnant. Not a place I like to be for very long. Ever.
But we finally made the decision to go for it and begin the process of selling our home. We will most likely take a huge hit due to the real estate drop, but this decision, and all that's followed has confirmed to us that we are doing the right thing.
Once we made the decision to move, and really get angry and get rid of the debt, we have been showered with blessings. Wes was offered an opportunity for about 15 extra shifts between Thanksgiving week and Christmas. Walgreens offers time-and-a-half for extra hours, but because of the slower economy, extra hours have been nonexistent for some time now. He jumped at every opportunity to work, feeling like it would come to an end at any time and that we should take advantage of it. He is so amazing. And he was right: after Christmas, a new manager was hired at the store and extra hours were gone once again. But the hours he got enabled us to get Christmas paid for, catch up on and pay off loads of medical bills, get tires for my car and a timing belt for his, among other things. It has been a huge blessing and a huge relief.
It was also very challenging. I got to be a "single mom" all the way through the holidays. Wes did what he could, and I really had to buckle down and let go of almost everything, in addition to having to be WAY more organized and independent than I am normally comfortable with. And women: you know how emotional we are? Not really an option for me for the month. (Thank goodness kettlebells got me through in one piece, but that's another post for another day.) Not only that, but I was dealing with everyone else's emotions during that time - the kids missing Daddy, Wes feeling left out and not wanting to miss a moment of anything, but also being WAY past exhausted when he was home, juggling extended family stuff, etc. It was HARD.
But we made it, and we are stronger and more excited than ever.
The plan is to rent a much smaller space and a storage unit once we sell the house. From the rough math, it will take us somewhere in the neighborhood of five years to be debt free, have an emergency fund of three-to-six months of expenses, and hopefully have the beginnings of a down payment for a home. We are going on good faith that once the time comes, we will be able to afford a home that is much more suitable for us.
I have a hard time thinking that far ahead because it seems impossible to me on such a conservative plan that we will ever find an affordable home we love. But the Lord has never let me down so far....not only that, he has well exceeded my wildest expectations....so I am going to trust that is will all work out in the end. :)
I am sad to see this chapter of our lives closing sometime in the near future. We have some very dear friends, have loved owning our own home, and have experienced some pangs of regret for some poor decisions we've made (although I honestly don't think we really knew any better at the time). But I am so glad to be moving forward, to be working together on such a big and challenging and notable goal. I know that it's going to feel so good the day that we finally write the last check to our student loans. I can't even imagine how good.....it has been a big burden and worry for us for so long.
I know that this stress beginning to change in my life has been a big part of me losing much of the weight I have lost since I had Jonah (more on that later), and it really has made us stronger as a family than I had ever imagined already. I am excited to see how much closer we will feel once we have accomplished all this together and experience the pure joy and fulfillment and sense of pride we will feel once we have accomplished this. (I think I already said that earlier...sorry.)
We've already said goodbye to our lovely, bug-eating, egg-laying chickens, and are in the process of saying goodbye to our dog in preparation for the big move. Kolton prays every night (well, actually every prayer) about how sad he is that we had to sell the chickens, and his hopes of getting baby chickens and horses when we move again (me too buddy, but it's going to be awhile). It's sad and hard, but it fees good....maybe because it's something tangible that makes the whole thing seem so real to me while so much is still unknown.
I feel like I have learned so much already. I look in the faces of my little angels and I am overwhelmed with gratitude that I am lucky enough to stay home and be a full-time Mommy. If it came down to choosing a more luxurious lifestyle and a much simpler one depending on whether or not I work, I think Wes and I would both choose simple. My joy in life comes from my husband and family, and from knowing that I'm doing what's right and doing my best.
Luckily my hobbies are free or inexpensive for the most part, and I'm excited to have a little more free time for them now. I have had more time to read, write, knit, sew, cook, and exercise than I have in a long time. I am starting to feel like my old self again, and it's so nice to see the same thing happening to my sweet husband. Maybe someday while we're "on the cheap" we can find a place to play some volleyball together here and there. That would be really fun!
I've been quite overwhelmed with all the changes and demands of our lives right now (even this moment when I am running off of one hour of sleep because Jonah was up with a fever all night last night). My mom and I had to push back Joyschool starting back up because a nasty cold has been trickling through each of the kids, I got my visiting teaching reports in so late that it was almost too late, I have posted and read next to nothing on Power of Moms the last little while, the downstairs chest freezer broke and we've been cleaning and shoving what we can upstairs until we find a smaller one that can come with us when we move, and I've been busy just trying to continue showering every day and eating before one o'clock in the afternoon. But I am so relieved the biggest part of the craziness is behind us and now it's just general everyday craziness. The boys are finally starting to fall into a routine....most days I can get all three to nap at the same time for at least a half hour or so, and bedtime has gotten into a good routine also. I am SO excited and eager to jump into that church project I was taking about earlier, and also VERY excited for some upcoming changes and ideas to my section of Power of Moms, in addition to hopefully contributing sometime to the new blog in Deseret News. Hopefully now things have died down enough to actually get to sit down and work on writing a little each day. :)
Anyway, I'm signing off for now because my poor, sweet, sick baby has just woken up for his feeding. But before I go, here's a picture of our little train-loving Micah when we checked on him tonight:
I had to turn on the flash and take it at kind of a funny angle to get a good view. I love this precious, silly boy!