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2011 Progress Check…. Survey says??????

Way back in January i listed some short term and long term goals. The short terms goals were basically a to-do list I was whining about, and got all of those done in short order. My annual goals were a bit lofitier and required a bit more work/patience/determination.

So, without further ado, below is my original list of goals and their results…

1.Pay off dump truck.  [There is a balance of $1100. It will be PAID OFF in January!]

2.Pay off 3 credit cards. [Actually PAID OFF 5! Yesireeee, $3175 – GONE. Plus, paid down another $2100 on the remaining cards.]

3.Establish an E-fund. [Started out great, ended up needing to use some. Currently have $2,000 stashed. Not bad, but not the $5,000 i was aiming for.]

4.Establish savings for: Christmas, Health, Rainy Day. And set it up to contribute automatically. I use ING Direct so this is the easiest thing in the world. Just need to do it. And not “borrow” from it. [Set-up account for Christmas. Saved $1000 and used some of it for my shopping. Still have about $300 in there for next year. 🙂  Did not set up Health because we may do Flexible Spending at work. FAILED at setting up Rainy Day fund. Unless the cookie jar counts? There’s a few Benjamin’s in there…]

5.Lose some weight. Specific numbers and/or plans seem to have the opposite effect. So, let’s just keep it vague and any victory will be a win! [WOOOO-HOOOOO!!! Lost 23 lbs this year! Down a pants size and feeling good about the progress. Doc would like to see me lose another 20-30 before we go to fertility specialist. Got an ipod for Christmas, so loading up playlists for workouts.]

6. a) commit to making healthier meals [Sorta. Kinda. Not eating as many carbs. Definately eating at home a lot more. I give it a 50%]

7. b) get a complete physical [Done. everything good except triglycerides a touch high.]

8. c) work out at least 1 day a week at the fire hall [I work out at home. As often as i can. Some weeks it’s every day, some weeks 0 days. Hey, i’m busy. I do it when i can. Let’s call it 50%]

9.Paint the downstairs and decorate. We’ve been there 10 years. It’s about time. [FAIL. I got as far as painting some sample colors on the wall. Hubby freaked the ‘f’ out. Back to square one. Found some inspirational idea pics. Just need to find the right shade of paint and hire a painter.]

10.Might as well make it an even 10. Get back into taking lots of pictures and scrapbooking. Now that i have a cricut, i have nothing to do with it! [Took lots of pictures, but haven’t been able to scrapbook much. It really has been a very busy year for me.]

All in all, i’m pleased with the progress i’ve made on my list of goals. It’s not like i was a total loser. I tried. And succeeded, mostly.

Since New Year’s is only a day away, it’s only fitting to write up a list of GOALS for 2012.

  1. Lose 20-30 more lbs.
  2. Get pregnant
  3. Establish a Rainy Day fund to cover Goal #2 expenses
  4. Paint & Decorate house
  5. Pay off my car

That’s it. That’s all i really care to accomplish in 2012. All i really want is to have a family with the love of my life. All other goals are simply pre-requisites to the ultimate goal: children.

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Are we there yet?

This update is long overdue, but here goes…

Jan 2011 – July 2011

  • CC1:   14,350        13,250   
  • CC2:   6,325             5,800
  • CC3:   1,025                 950
  • CC4:   4,910             4,650
  • CC5:   390                          0
  • CC6:   485                          0
  • CC7:   515                          0
  • CC8:   520                       90
  • CC9:   5,225              5,225
  • CC10:   4,150           3,650
  • Total CC’s:   37,895          33,615
  • Family: 10,000                  7,000

So, drumroll please……….. we’ve paid off $7,280 since the beginning of the year! Get out of the way, HUGE snowball rolling downhill! LOVE seeing those ZERO balances!

Thanks to landing some nice contracts and a snowier than usual winter, we have been able to knock down a large chunk of debt. We are also CURRENT on all of our monthly bills, including the mortgage. A small emergency fund is in place for both personal bills and business bills. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…… What a wonderful feeling.

The physical aspects of unloading such a burden are positive as well. I’ve been able to shed 15 lbs since March. My periods (I know, TMI) are pretty regular now. I LAUGH again. I have friends again. I have a good time whenever we go out with friends/family.

Work has improved for me as well. I’m back up to 40 hrs/week plus a $1.25/hr raise. That really helps get caught up. I’ve been throwing extra money each month at the vehicle payments trying to pay them off sooner.

Did I mention we took a VACATION in march? It was hubby’s idea. Surprise of all surprises. Of course, i wanted to pay off as much debt as possible, and maybe stash some aside for the inevitable unexpected expenses. Hubby convinced me that we NEEDED a vacation. It had been more than 5 yrs since we spent any money on ourselves, and we needed to enjoy the fruits of our labor and not be miserly. It took several days to sink in, but he was right. As long as we didn’t accrue any additional debt, and were still able to keep on pace with paying down our debts we needed to spend our money in a positive way and see money as a good thing, and not as evil incarnate. Besides, our 10th anniversary was coming up and he thought we should do something more special than spend a weekend a few hours from home in a so-so hotel in some lame town, arguing about what to do.

So we went on a cruise. Neither one of us had ever been on one before. He found a great deal through his parent’s travel agent. We spent 5 days in the caribbean. It was awesome. We had a BLAST. In fact, we had so much fun, that we decided to work extra hard and save money and do it again next spring. Who would have ever thought? That $1500 splurge allowed us to really RELAX and re-align our senses. It was good for our marriage. Honestly, i didn’t know what to expect. I worried that it could go the other way. It was a good deal, but still a lot of money in what -i felt- was still a fragile personal economy and we hadn’t spent that much time alone together since we’d been married. It paid off ten-fold. He’s still telling everyone what a great time he had and recommending them to go.

So, are we there yet? Have we made enough progress to call it a victory? I mean, everybody has bills, right? Just 6 months ago, my only financial goal was to be able to pay the bills on time every month. We’ve accomplished that. And it feels great. But, it only seems natural to set the bar a little higher.

Discretionary income. It’s one thing to be able to pay your bills, it’s another to MAKE CHOICES on how you spend the money left over when the bills are paid. That concept terrifies me. What if something happens and I need that money later? Was a trip to the movies this weekend really worth it if the electric is in danger of getting shut off again in 6 months? What if an appliance suddenly dies and my small e-fund is wiped out? And then another appliance dies, or the car needs to be repaired? I never thought about these things before because i just couldn’t. I was strictly in survival mode. Food, shelter, clothing. Now that those needs have been met, there’s a whole new set of things to worry about.

So, are we there yet? Or when are we really “there”?

 

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big baby steps

Next week we will be receiving a rather large payment from a customer. Every fiber of my being wants to take every last penny and apply it to our regular monthly payments and other debt. It would feel SOOOO GOOD to knock out a good portion of debt and have that weight lifted.

But…. that would not be the responsible thing to do. Money Management 101 says that you should always pay yourself first. So even though i WANT to pay down a chunk of debt, i know that i NEED to set some of that money aside for an emergency. That would be the responsible adult thing to do.

So, before i even have that money in my hand, i went online today and scheduled an automatic transfer to my ING savings account for the day after i will deposit the large payment. I also set up very small automatic transfers on a weekly basis to my personal ING savings account. Now that i am pretty much caught up on monthly bills, I really need to focus on setting aside $$$ for the leaner times. $15/week goes to my E-fund account, and $10/week goes to Christmas account. This is not very much money, but it’s a start. I don’t want to take out too much and have to transfer it back. As Hubby’s receivables start coming in and our bills are stabile, I can increase the amount or start another sub account, like vacation or vehicle expenses.

In other news, Hubby and I had the baby talk again the other night. I told him that we both need to lose weight and save up some money, because it’s probably going to cost us a lot of money to try to get pregnant. Surprisingly, while I was at class the next evening, he hit the weight room with a couple buds. Sounds like this might finally be the year we start our family!!

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Insecurity, Infertility, Inadequacy

Insecurity is by definition “lack of confidence or assurance; self-doubt; Not sure or certain; doubtful; Inadequately guarded or protected; unsafe”.

Feelings of insecurity have been bubbling up for a few weeks now. Every day that goes by increases those feelings. At a time when you are supposed to reflect on all the things you are thankful for in life and all the blessings that you have been given, i find myself focusing on all the insecurities i am facing. I feel guilty for feeling this way and have been trying to “get over it”, but inevitably something happens that sets me off again.

I am losing my job at the end of the year. The company i have poured my blood, sweat, and tears into for the past seven years has closed up permanently. I am here to shut things down, and box things up. I have no employment security. Like most Americans, we live paycheck to paycheck. The little savings we have won’t even cover a mortgage payment. I am scared. We have no financial security. With no job, we also have no health insurance security.

These feelings of inadequacy and insecurity have led me to doubt the bonds of marriage with my hubby. Through no fault of his, little things are misinterpreted by me and i worry about silly things. I am afraid that he won’t love me anymore or will seek out a relationship with someone else who is thinner, prettier, funnier, more confident, and employed.

The adventure of infertility is wreaking havoc in my brain. All these feelings of inadequacy and insecurity make me wonder if maybe we just weren’t meant to bear children. Maybe hubby doesn’t want to have children with me. With the loss of health insurance, why on God’s green earth would we continue trying anyway?

The truth is, amongst all these feelings of insecurity, i desperately want a child. More than ever. I’m willing to do whatever it takes. If i have to work three jobs to pay for the medical bills and keep up on the mortgage, i’ll do it. I’m still taking my medication and charting my BBT. Although, i am angry to announce that there was no ovulation this month. Which turned out to be okay, because hubby hasn’t been “interested” lately, if you know what i mean.

Anyway, i regularly follow a blog about a woman who suffered from infertility, tried every conceivable way to get pregnant, and now has 2 precious children. She’s a fantastic author and even better mother. Her blunt and humorous writing style is the perfect medicine on the days i have pity parties. In her latest blog, she discusses an article in the New York Times Magazine about an author who used gestational surrogacy to finally achieve motherhood.

I read the article. This woman sounded so much like myself. She shared the same feelings I have, only far more eloquently.

“THE DESIRE TO BE a mother — to give birth to a child, to care for that child — has always been rooted in me. I never doubted my ability to be a good mother.”

Okay, that sounds like most women, but it gets closer to home.

“Her gesture underscored the helpless, self-enforced secrecy of the infertile. Couples often erect a barricade of privacy around the process to avoid the questions from friends and family members, and their ceaseless, useless volley of suggestions: You just need to relax. Did you try acupuncture? Soy milk makes you infertile. You’re in front of your computer too much. What’s the problem with all you career girls? Did this cycle work? Are you pregnant this time? How many shots? Where? A low whistle: Boy, you must really want a child.

You must really want a child. As if that were a bad thing.”

Ah, yes. The judgemental well-wishers. But wait, there’s more!

“I BECAME ENSNARED in the terrible, wishful math of infertility. It went like this: I am 36 years and 2 months old. If I get pregnant today, I will have my baby while I am still 36.

I am 37 1/2 years old. If I become pregnant today — this very day — I will have my baby when I am 38 years old.

I am 38 years and 1 month old. If I become pregnant today — this very day, this very second — and manage to hold on to the baby, I will have my baby when I am 38 years old. “

I thought i was the only one who calculated every day, every month, every year. Every day i think about what day of the cycle i’m currently in, how many pills i need to take today (if any), what day ovulation is expected, what day implantation would take place, what day i can take a pregnancy test the earliest, how old am i, how old will i be when the baby is born, what month/week the baby would arrive, and on and on. It’s exhausting – and overwhelming.

“A child with our genes would be a part of us. My husband’s face would be mirrored in our child’s face, proof that our love not only existed, but could be recreated beyond us. Die without having created a life, and die two deaths: the death of yourself, and the death of the immense opportunity that is a child. “

At this point i started bawling. Hallmark doesn’t even make a card to deal with that raw emotion.

“We talked about how she had played on her college tennis team. She was an accompanist for a children’s choir and brought her piano sheet music so she could practice.

She played our Steinway while I got lunch.

I stood outside the living room, holding a tray of tuna sandwiches and listening. I was numb. I can hardly play the piano. I never played on my college tennis team. Back in those days, I was smoking and dyeing my hair black. For Pete’s sake, I thought, this woman can do all those things — and have my baby.”

This seems silly, but this part hit home as well. In high school, i was really something. I could do anything. I worked after school and on weekends, i ran cross country and track, played volleyball, was secretary of the NHS, tutored, active in our church’s youth group, graduated in the top 10 of my class. I had it all. Who knew it would all come crashing down after high school ended? Don’t get me wrong, i married the love of my life and live in a beautiful house we built together. I worked hard to get my bachelor’s degree taking classes at night. But, everyday i have that nagging feeling that there’s something – someone – missing from our lives.

“I would sometimes feel barren, decrepit, desexualized, as if I were branded with a scarlet “I” for “Infertile.””

Although the writer, Alex, is referring to her feelings while the surrogate mother was pregnant, i feel like that all the time. Yikes.

The part that really struck a dagger into my heart of hearts was reading the comments at the end of the article. Unbelievable. The cold, heartless comments these readers had the audacity to leave in a public forum was wretchedly heartbreaking. Obviously,these readers must have a handful of healthy children at home, conceived without thought, maybe even a few “oopsie” children.

i’m almost speechless at the immense reaction to their views of the article. Many commented on the pictures of the surrogate mother, barefoot and pregnant, sitting on a dilapidated porch while the mother stands in her perfectly manicured lawn in front of her perfect home while the baby nurse looks on. You know what? Seriously? I don’t see what they see. I thought the surrogate mother looked relaxed, peaceful, content. Her dog is laying on the porch next to her at the home where she raised here own children and many memories were made. She is truly happy to carry the child of another mother.

Read the article and make your own opinion. Although i could never afford to do this, the emotions are the same. I am happy and excited for Alex. She was able to finally complete her family.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/magazine/30Surrogate-t.html?_r=2&hp=&pagewanted=all

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Family

In real life i am an extremely private person. I don’t share my feelings with anybody – even my husband. I don’t like people to fuss over me or bother them with my issues. I prefer to do for people and be “behind the scenes”. That’s why i love blogging. All my frustrations, hopes, dreams, wishes, and general feelings can escape out of my mind and into cyberspace where nobody knows me. And nobody can jugde me.

A short time ago i revealed to my mum that we were having fertility issues. No details, no explanations. By this time it was hard to avoid. I mean, we’ve been married almost 7 years and everybody knows we want children. By now it is glaringly obvious that we are having problems. It needed to be said. However, i told her in confidence and asked her not to say anything to the rest of the family. My mum is known as the “Free Press” in our immediate family because of her reputation for gossiping. I shouldn’t have said anything, but she’s my mum. We’ve never been extremely close due to my private nature, but she’s all about “feelings” and “emotions”. I realize saying this makes me sound like an insensitive robot. I’m not, i have feelings – i just keep them to myself.

So, i told her. I really thought that she would keep something this private, well, private. I LOVE my grandma. She is the best grandma in the whole world and i love her to pieces. But, she lives over 1,000 miles away and we don’t talk very often. So i called her on her birthday to wish her a happy birthday and chat with her a few precious minutes. She ended the conversation very cheerfully and said we need to talk more often. Who can argue with that?

Imagine my surprise when she called me the very next day. She asked me how things were going and we chatted a few minutes. The conversation started hinting around babies (as they inevitably do) and she kinda led on that she knew our situation but not knowing our issues. She went on to share some encouraging stories and ended the conversation with some scripture to read. Then we prayed together. For someone who likes to keep to themselves and doesn’t like anyone to fuss about them, this was very difficult for me to accept. But after we hung up, i felt grateful, blessed, relieved. A whole conglomerate of emotions ran through me. And although it was strange for me to have somebody put energy and concern into ME, i really, kinda, liked it.

It was nice to know that somebody cared enough about me to not only call and try to lift my spirits, but to pray for me. She didn’t try to pry into the gory details or offer useless consolations like “don’t worry, it’ll happen when you stop worrying about it” or tell me stupid success stories from other people she knows who had similar issues. It felt good. Family really is the best thing in the world.