Friday, May 23, 2014

He's Baaack!

My hubby is BACK... for good... with a job... where we get to stay here in Alabama... we are SO EXCITED!!! We've known for a little over a week now, and forgive me for not shouting it out to the world, but honestly I'm a little bit nervous that I may jinx it, or that I'm dreaming, or that he might get layed off again, so I've hesitated to spread the word, but FOR NOW, we are just going to enjoy it and come what may!

So he came back from his out-of-town job (in Memphis) to visit us for the weekend of Mother's Day, and we took his car in for a tune-up, which turned into a new very EXPENSIVE head to his ?engine? (I don't know what a head is for, besides the one that is on my neck ;) which also meant he was stuck here until his car got fixed. He was packed and ready to go the following Wednesday, just waiting on the shop when we get the call that there were more problems and it would be another day. FRUSTRATING... but truth be told, God works in mysterious ways... not 30 minutes after we got that call, he got an email from Ft. Rucker giving him his call-back, where they would want him to start the following week!

So, our expensive car repair may have cost us our trip to Utah, but it also made it so Ben could stay with us, and we could spend the summer together, at home, in the place we love, with the people we love and at the job that is SUCH a blessing for our family!

It's been a rocky year with all this unemployment, and uncertainty about the future, but through it all I know we've been lifted by guardian angels and wonderful friends and I'm sure countless prayers by loved ones. It's been stressful, but our burdens have truly been made light so that we almost didn't feel them on our backs. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Livin' It Up in Marital Bliss

We're approaching our 14th anniversary this summer and it's been 14 years of "marital bliss"... Lol!

Ben and I are a great TEAM, but being a great team means we are also very DIFFERENT. He brings order, I bring chaos; I'm the busy one, he's the thinker; I'm very open and he's very private. Figuring out how to come together is a skill we're still working on acquiring. Not long ago he pointed me to a great marriage resource that I really feel has helped out our marriage a LOT, and if we'd apply more often we'd be doing even better! It's a whole concept that you can find on a website, MarriageBuilders. I want to give you a little summary of it and if it sounds interesting to you then check it out!

First of all is the concept of a LOVE BANK - everyday in every relationship we are making deposits or withdrawals. When we do what the other likes we make deposits, when we do what they don't like we make withdrawals. As long as our balance stays positive the marriage survives, when the deposits FAR outweigh the withdrawals then your marriage THRIVES.

Now there's only 1 problem with that... you have to be making the RIGHT kind of deposits to actually make it in the bank. What I like, and what he likes are more often than not, two different things. Herein we come to the individual's MOST IMPORTANT NEEDS, which vary from one to another. These needs are:
  •    Affection
  •    Sexual Fulfillment
  •    Conversation
  •    Recreational Companionship
  •    Honesty and Openness
  •    Physical Attractiveness
  •    Financial Support
  •    Domestic Support
  •    Family Commitment
  •    Admiration 
Everyone has most of these needs to one degree or another, the key is finding your spouse's TOP 5 and meeting those needs the best you can. If any 1 of their top 5 needs are NOT being met, they suffer and the marriage suffers. (There are great explanations and surveys on the site to help you determine which ones are yours.)

To improve your marriage you need to START doing more of what they like and STOP doing what they don't. They call these "don'ts" LOVE BUSTERS. You may want to check these out, because I was surprised at how MANY of them I do/had been doing and didn't even know it:
  • Selfish Demands
  • Disrespectful Judgments
  • Angry Outbursts
  • Annoying Habits
  • Independent Behavior
  • Dishonesty
One of the things I really like about the Marriage Builders concept is the POLICY OF JOINT AGREEMENT - which is basically that you don't do ANYTHING unless you and your spouse are both in "ENTHUSIASTIC AGREEMENT." There are so many things we can do with our lives and this policy helps to insure that the choices you and your spouse are making are going to bring you closer together. (So if my husband isn't thrilled about how much I play Candy Crush, it's against the policy!)

I've always been told that the gospel of Jesus Christ will help our marriages more than any type of counseling or popular notions. I really feel like these ideas helped me apply the things that Christ taught us... to be kind, loving, forgiving, patient, long-suffering, etc. Marriage takes work, but it brings the BEST REWARDS ever! Hopefully this will give you some ideas on making your marriage better, and sharing them with you has been a good reminder for me that I've got a few things to work on still too.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sweet Home Alabama

We live in the south, in Enterprise, Alabama. It's a small military town in lower Alabama (or LA as the northerners like to put it). We are right next to Ft. Rucker, the home of army aviation, so we get this wonderful mix of local culture and the transient aspects of a military town.

Being a helicopter pilot is the norm around here. Young guys and families will come here for their military Helicopter flight training. They start out in the TH-67 (military version of the Bell 206), which is what Ben flew/will fly with them. Then they move on to fly either Blackhawks or Chinooks (said like "shin-book" without the "b"). We actually live right under the Blackhawk training path so they fly over all the time. Occasionally we get to see the Chinooks overhead too which I think look so cool.

 After these pilots are gone for a few years, they often come back for re-currency training, which makes it fun to see the lives of so many friends interweave and reunite. A lot of them, when they leave the military, retire here with civilian jobs, so we get the transient as well as the planted roots feel. 
Enterprise is a unique little place. The town honors the boll weevil.... So gross! It's this tiny bug that eats cotton. Roads are named after it, songs are sung and there's even a statue of one in the middle of town. I was really confused until I learned the back story, and now I admire the humility of the town because of it. You can read all about it HERE but basically, the boll weevil came in, ruined the cotton crops and forced the farmers to switch to planting peanuts, which did VERY well and saved the economy. Kind of sweet, and creepy, all at the same time ;) 

Photo from Wikipedia

So, thanks to the Boll Weevil, this area became the Peanut Capitol of the World. Sessions peanut plant is downtown and on the warm spring nights, if you drive down main it smells deliciously of roasted peanuts. At the farmers market on a Saturday morning you can buy cups of freshly boiled peanuts... a flavor all it's own, which I kind of like ;)

Enterprise may be small, but you can't beat the close location to the Beach! Less than a  2 hour drive and you're in Panama City Beach or Destin, Florida. Clear blue water, white sand, and perfect for kids. We have loved our overnight or day trips down there where we can swim and see stingrays and collect shells. I'm still trying to figure out the tricks to leaving the sand at the beach where it belongs and NOT all through my car and house :)

The south has a culture all it's own... The accents are so sweet and the manners so friendly. At school the kids are required to respond to their teachers with "Yes Sir" and "Yes Ma'am" and I love it when my friends children refer to me as "Miss Angela".

And it wouldn't be a complete post about Alabama if I didn't mention football. Oh my goodness, I thought the BYU vs Utah rivalry was bad but this is crazy. Even before we moved here we were told we needed to pick sides: Alabama or Auburn. They each have their own slogans... Alabama is "Roll Tide" and Auburn is "War Eagle". One day at the store someone said "roll tide" and then I heard echos throughout the store... High voices, low voices, all repeating "roll tide". So hilarious! After last years game if we have to pick, we're rooting for Auburn... because as my brother said, it's better to be lucky than good ;)

Image from

I hope you've enjoyed a slice of our part of the south and if you wanna check it out for yourselves, our doors are open. Bye y'all, and remember, Jesus loves you!

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Best Money Decisions We've Made

I am still NO money expert, but I sure WANT to be. So as I learn things I want to try and share them with you ;) When Ben started flight school and I realized that his instructors were brand new pilots themselves I thought it was CRAZY, but what better way to learn more deeply than to teach, right?!

So here are my top 5 Best Things We've Done for our Finances

1. Pay TITHING FIRST and a generous FAST offering. Last weekend a speaker said "You can't give the Lord a slice of bread without Him giving you a loaf in return." I truly believe this from occasions over and over and over again. Sacrifice truly brings blessings!

2. Have an EMERGENCY FUND. As we were first figuring money out, we really struggled with whether to pay down debt or save money. It was Suze Orman that taught me that we needed an emergency fund FIRST, so we didn't have to go into MORE debt when an emergency came up. (We found $1000 covered most emergencies or at least softened the blow.)

3. Make SAVINGS AUTOMATIC; treat it like a bill and don't wait to save whatever is "left over" at the end of the month. We have a separate savings account that is linked to our checking and have the bank AUTOMATICALLY transfer a certain amount each month. Even $25 a month starts to add up!  You can always pull it out if you need it, but it's a good habit to get into. (We also put $5 a month into a savings account for each of the kids.)

4. Pay your bills a MONTH AHEAD. I was told this by my Sales Manager at Bassett Furniture years ago. This is especially helpful when your income varies month-to-month, but even if you are on a flat rate, it brings worlds of peace. Build up your savings until you can pay for a whole month's expenses or do like us, and use your tax return to get ahead. No more stress about bill timing, no more overdraft, no more credit cards to save you, just PEACE!

5. YOU NEED A BUDGET software! You need to tell your money where to go before it's all gone. Having a plan and a good way to follow through with it is essential. This software is AWESOME and does everything I wanted and needed. It really makes budgeting FUN and SUCCESSFUL. It implements a great philosophy, encourages savings and is FLEXIBLE! It cloud syncs to your PHONE and your HUSBAND'S phone, so you can BOTH be on the same financial page. Here's a link to a 3rd party video overview and HERE'S a LINK to their FREE trial and a discount if you LOVE it like I do!

We don't have much and we still have a long way to go financially, but these 5 things have brought us so much peace, allowed us to survive the bumps of life, and occasionally, help others along the way. What have you done good for your finances today?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Saving Money on Food

One of the first things I focused on when trying to tighten the budget was FOOD. When I think about food and saving money it's all about KEEPING it SIMPLE and MAKING A PLAN!

I've tried a number of different things...

I did the whole crazy couponing thing for a while... it was fun to get a box of Cheez-It's for 25 cents and seeing my receipt show that I saved double what I spent, BUT it was a LOT of work, and I ended up with a LOT of food my family really SHOULDN'T be eating anyway.

I tried the freezer meals for a month thing... again, a lot of work, a lot of buying and I don't think it saved me any money.

The thing that I find works the BEST for me is MEAL PLANNING! I did an old post (HERE) on our Illiteration Menu (i.e. Macaroni Monday) that I've used for the past couple of years to spur my meal ideas, but really, we do a lot of repeats. It's easier keeping the pantry stocked that way and we've been able to fine tune it to where I get less complaints about "What disgusting dinner are we having tonight?" Yes, that's actually what my 7-year old says to me before dinner :S (How did I get such picky eaters?!?)

I plan my Meals ONE WEEK at a TIME. I "shop" from my pantry first for meal ideas, then buy whatever else I need. I do NOT plan lunches, only dinner, and we do rotate through different breakfasts, but they all take the same ingredients, so I just keep us stocked on eggs, milk, flour and syrup ingredients.

Here's a page that I got some good ideas from and she also did this handy Monthly Meal Plan. You don't need to fill it out for the whole month, just ONE WEEK at a time, that way you can make sure you're not repeating too frequently. I usually keep my plan after the month is over to spur ideas for 
the next month.


Having a plan brings peace of mind and just remember to K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid ;)