Monthly Archives

February 2015

Money

The March Budget Breakdown

February 28, 2015

It’s that time again.

Some good ole budget accountability and fun!

A recap from last time…In these posts we will write-up typical expenses that may get overlooked for the particular month. Then we have a photo link up portion where YOU can upload a photo of your budget committee meeting for the month!

So, what expenses might you expect in the month of March?

  • Vehicle Maintenance
    • Tires
    • Windshield Wipers
    • Oil Change
    • Vehicle Registration and Title Costs
  • St. Patrick’s Day
    • Festive Meal
    • Party
  • Fish Fry
    • Entrance Fees
  • Spring Break expenses
    • Travel
    • Food
    • Activities
  • March Madness
    • Parties
    • Food at Restaurants/Bars
  • Easter
    • Travel
    • Gifts for family/friends becoming Catholic
  • Spring Cleaning Supplies
    • Mop, Broom, Vacuum
    • Organizational boxes
    • Filing Cabinet
  • Expenses Related to Taxes
    • Accountant/CPA
    • Turbo Tax, etc.
    • E-Filing Fees

Again, these are some expenses we’ve found ourselves budgeting for this month, so they might be applicable to you or not. Some of these expenses are best budgeted for as a sinking fund.

However, we purchased a van this month (in the budget) and have to pay registration/title fees which we didn’t have a sinking fund set up for. Therefore, we have to shuffle our budget around to accommodate this cost. It will be a tight month but because of budgeting, we have the freedom to make it all balance and have peace that it will all work out.

Now it’s time for your part!

[inlinkz_linkup id=501274 mode=1]

Money

Dave’s Smart Money Tour: A Review

February 26, 2015

Last week Jonathan and I attended Dave Ramsey and Chris Hogan’s newest Live Event – The Smart Money Tour.

live-events-page

This is our review of the event.

Overall, I would rate the event a 10/10 and it not only met our expectations, it exceeded them.

How?

1. Foundational and Fresh

We brought a couple of friends with us, each of us at different places in the Dave Ramsey Baby Steps.

Of course, they more or less revolved around those 7 Baby Steps, which could have seemed boring for us since we’ve read the book, coördinated Financial Peace University, etc.

But they repackaged and condensed the timeless principles alongside new stories and partially a new voice – Chris Hogan.

I will get to him in a moment though.

They did an outstanding job of keeping the old and new fans engaged and inspired throughout the entire event. Below are some nuggets from Jonathan’s Tweet fest.

jontwitter

2. Free Budgeting Software

This may have been the MOST exciting news of the night.

Dave’s team has spent the past few years and a couple million dollars creating budgeting software called Everydollar with an app for your smart phone.

Best part?

It’s FREEEEE!!

everydollar

We’ve been proudly sharing our love of YNAB – You Need a Budget software for over a year now…but this may change our tune.

Free is always better, amirite or amirite?

It launches next month but everyone who attended Smart Money Event received a code to use it EARLY. Boom.

Expect a review on that once it’s up and running. I would love to do a side by side analysis of Dave’s software vs. YNAB.

3. Chris Hogan

This guy is on fire right now.

He’s hilarious, animated, inspiring, and made me cry at least four times with the stories he tells.

Dave was smart to bring this guy on the tour with him. Not that Dave himself isn’t awesome…but it’s great to see him bringing other voices to the Baby Steps and his timeless financial lessons.

Chris also has a new website that I am pumped to use. It’s for retirement forecasting, which can be both motivational and terrifying at the same time.

4. Free Will Kit!

Dave gone and read my mind!

Did you know 78% of people die without a will? That’s CRAZY since 100% of us will die someday.

Now that we have Josie, it’s time to update our life insurance beneficiaries and create a will to navigate those funds in the result of our untimely death. Lord willing it won’t be necessary anytime soon but I will have peace of mind knowing we have a plan for her financially if something, God forbid, should happen to us both.

Below is Josie getting excited about us making a will!

smt

5. Inspiring and Upbeat

The entire event was just a lot of fun!

There were giveaways. A live debt-free scream on stage. And most of all, content that was relevant to all, presented in a way that gave hope.

It wasn’t dry. It wasn’t ordinary. It wasn’t hum drum. It was anything BUT those things. Which isn’t always what you expect when going to a financial seminar.

I love how Dave and his team strive to make learning about money fun and encouraging! Really, it’s what sets him a part in this area.

Overall, I highly recommend this event to others! It’s only happening a few more weeks but keep it in mind if it comes to a city near you in the future!

Catholicism, Intentional Living

How to Have a Great Lent

February 23, 2015

Admittedly, this post probably would have served you better if it came to you last week. But hey, better late than never! And for everyone out there who got their butts kicked by the first (half) week of Lent, this one’s coming just in time.

This is the busiest time of the year for me creating web content for FOCUS. We go a little Lent crazy, which is why we call our Lent content Lentsanity. Also, as Shaun T’s Insanity aims to get your body into shape, we try to get our souls into shape during Lent, and we’re here to help you do that.

1. Pick a Fast or Pius Practice

I know, Lent already started. If you want to start a Lenten practice now, go right ahead. Don’t worry about not having done it the first few days of Lent. Pick something and do it.

What to Do for Lent: 7 Reasonable Ideas
What Should I Do for Lent: Pope Francis’ 10 Tips 

2. Do What the Church Asks of You

There are a few things the Church asks us to do for Lent, mainly skip the meat on Fridays and fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. What exactly does the Church mean by fasting? And how do we remember to skip the meat? We gotcha covered:

Illustrated Guide to Lenten Fasting & Abstinence
FREE Lentsanity App with Reminders to Skip the Meat

www.youtube.com/watch?v=2b1i_e_VL3o

3. Pray

Praying is the most important thing you can do during Lent. Spend some time with God by praying with Scripture. If you don’t know how, I made this handy guide. You can even print it out as a little booklet!

Do the Lectio 3 Step: An Illustrated Guide to Praying with Scripture

 

We’ve got a lot of great stuff coming up for Lentsanity, so be sure to keep an eye out on focus.org/lentsanity to see it all as it’s published. Better yet, subscribe to Lentsanity email updates, and the best of our resources will be delivered straight to your inbox.

Have a great Lent! (And don’t get busted by the Meat Police!)

www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRv8sNa7ZzClS4XovoZPrqbEiT4omv6Er

Catholicism, Mission, The New Evangelization

In Defense of #Ashtag

February 18, 2015

There’s some hand wringing going on about #ashtag. Some see the #ashtag trend taking a sacred ritual designed to remind us of our mortality and twisting it into a self-centered exercise that profanes the sacred and misses the point of the day entirely. I disagree.

And as one of the people who helped bring #ashtag into popular usage (I wrote a very popular blog post encouraging its use for the FOCUS blog last year), I believe I have a unique perspective on this whole thing, and a small scrap of authority in regards to it all.

I’ll share my thoughts on some of the main arguments against #ashtag, then share some thoughts on the positives of #ashtag.

Argument Against 1: It’s Self-Centered, and Lent’s All About Dying to Self

I chalk this one up to the unfortunate connotation of the word “selfie.” Taking a selfie, no matter what the day, does not necessarily mean the one taking it is all into themselves. It means they’re taking a picture of themselves, probably to save a memory of what they’re up to. And with the convenience of smartphones, it’s easy (and fun) to take a picture of yourself. Could the person be taking a picture of themselves because they’re all wrapped up in themselves? Certainly, but it would be a mistake to assume such a motive is behind every selfie.

Argument Against 2: It’s Makes Our Fasting and Prayers Public, and Jesus Says To Not Do That

So do ashes on our foreheads. Or a crucifix on our necklace. Or saying grace before eating at a restaurant. Or priests and sisters wearing their habits or clerics in public. Or having a Mary statue in your yard. I would never skip going to the gas station on Ash Wednesday because I didn’t want people to see my ashes and end up “showing off.” In a similar way that I live part of my life at the gas station, I live part of my life online, and showing my ashes there is just sharing a part of me.

 

Why #Ashtag is a Good Thing

As we increasingly live online, our faith comes with us. Social media, at its best, connects people, forms communities, and encourages us. The beauty of twitter isn’t seeing how many retweets your timely joke gets, but is instead in the creative expression of ideas in such a short format. Facebook serves the user best not when used to quantify social standing and self-worth by counting how many likes a post received, but instead when it connects the user to other people, real people, who offer encouragement and companionship in life.

#Ashtag doesn’t say, “Look at ME! See how holy I AM?! Don’t you love ME?” It says, “I’m Catholic. I’m a sinner. None of us can do this alone. We need Jesus and each other.” It’s no different from filling your car at the gas station or saying hello to a neighbor at the mailbox on Ash Wednesday.

I think the #ashtag conversation is a referendum either on how people view Lent or how people view social media, maybe both.

Yes, Lent is a season of penance and fasting, but throughout the season we are encouraged by the Church to approach our sacrifice and penance with joy. We can rejoice, and even boast our weakness, because it is our strength in God.

Our use of social media reflects how we live our lives. Both Pope Francis and Benedict XVI have called the Church to embrace social networks and the opportunity they provide to bring connection to the human family. Posting an #ashtag picture is an exercise in joining with others in the family on the journey to Easter.

If anyone out there wants to post their #ashtag picture because they want to get a lot of likes or they hope it will increase their status in the eyes of certain people, then you might want to examine your motives. If you want to join in the Lenten conversation online and come together with your brothers and sisters, then post away. And if anyone out there doesn’t want to post an #ashtag picture, then by all means, go ahead and don’t post one. I’m not trying to convince anyone to post one, just adding to the conversation by saying, “I think it’s totally fine to post these pics.”

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Adoption, Parenting

The Nursing Saga Continues: Two Steps Forward and One Step Back

February 11, 2015

I got an overwhelming amount of supportive responses from my first nursing blog post and thought it was time for an update.

Sorry again, fellas.

Where did we leave off last time?

Oh yes, things were looking up, as I was making around 11 ounces a day which was much more than when she was a newborn.

I am happy to say that my supply has continued to increase!

What supplements have I maintained or added to help?

  • Domperidone 160 mg/day
  • Moringa 2 tsps twice a day
  • Shatavari twice daily
  • Brewer’s Yeast every few days mixed in with a protein shake
  • Goat’s Rue 3 pills/day
  • Gaia Lactation Blend 3 pills/day
  • Drinking 90-100 ounces of water/day
  • Breast compressions while I nurse
  • Occasional evening power pump session
  • Occasional 5-10 minute pump session after feeding her
  • Offering to nurse every 2-3 hours during the day

It’s gone up by close to an ounce a week and I am currently sitting around 16-17 ounces per day with high hopes of being able to build a full supply of what Miss Josie needs in the next month or two. That’s a HUGE accomplishment and I am so proud of the ladies! Now, it will have taken me 3-4 months to build that full supply and a bio mom can do it in 3-4 days but hey, who’s counting?

In early January we traveled for about a week to the FOCUS SEEK Conference. I was super nervous about how nursing would go at a conference with 10,000 people present. Where would I nurse her? How would I manage the LactAid device underneath the stupid nursing cover? How would we travel with donor milk and keep it frozen?

The stars aligned and believe it or not we had a fantastic nursing experience. The front desk stored our donor milk in a freezer and we just went down to take out a few ounces here and there when we needed it. Josie nursed really well no matter where we were – in our room, at a talk, sitting in a bathroom, at a pub, during mass, you name it we nursed there.

Amazingly, a majority of the time I didn’t even use the LactAid. I saved those feeds for the evening when we were in the convenience of our hotel room. So that means Josie nursed with MY supply only for most of the day! And she was content and happy! And even gained weight! WAHOO! 🙂

I couldn’t have been happier with how things were going.

And then when we got home…we had her upper lip tie and tongue ties evaluated by a Pediatric Dentist. He recommended getting them lasered for Josie’s sake – speech, feeding, and oral development are all things that could be compromised by these ties. He said it would also help our nursing issues like my nipple vasospasms and her weak suck.

One week later we had the ties lasered and all hell broke loose.

It was literally torture to watch them hold her down and laser the ties, even though I knew she was numbed up. Josie is just not a gal who likes anyone prying into her mouth and despite being a very laid back baby most of the time, she has STRONG likes and dislikes. I am nearly certain she is partly choleric and prodding in her mouth is a strong dislike. She screamed while they did the ties…so hard that her little head was sweating when I was allowed to pick her back up. She instantly soothed in my arms and I was so glad we were able to be there in the room to comfort her.

We were told she’d be in pain for maybe a day and to just give a little Tylenol.

Yea right.

It was obvious Josie was in a LOT of pain despite Tylenol around the clock. She went on a nursing strike and was refusing to latch again due to the pain. I was back to pumping and using the LactAid 100% of the time, bottle, or syringe to feed her depending on what she would accept at the time. It was truly exhausting.

We also had to stretch the tongue and lip out every 3-4 hours a day for 10 days….which she did NOT like in the slightest. I felt horrible doing it since she screamed through most feedings and then screamed through the stretches too. It was obvious to me at 5 days post procedure that something wasn’t right.

We went back to the dentist and he said her tissues looked inflamed so he had to do Bio-Stimulation laser therapy to help speed along the healing process. Finally things started going better. She was latching again and each time I could tell her suck was getting stronger as she learned new freedoms with her now mobile tongue and lip.

Just as things with her latch began to really take off in a positive direction, all of a sudden she was stricken with extreme gas pains. It wasn’t just usual infant gas. She would pass gas normally during the day. These were like attacks. They would happy around feeding time in the evening and she could’t stop screaming until we helped her pump the gas out using the bicycle leg tactic. This usually took 5-10 minutes and then she’d be able to eat.

Then we started noticing mucous in her stool. AGH!

After researching a variety of things, we think she may have a dairy allergy. So I’ve been cutting dairy out of my diet and from the house. Thankfully we have quite of bit of dairy free donor milk to use while we experiment with this. So far her gas attacks seem to have subsided completely minus the middle of the night gas attack after I ate of bowl of ice cream last week. Whoops! It only confirmed my suspicions even further.

With the nursing strike, nipple pain, suck issues, and allergies behind us…nursing began going REALLY well again. We’re in a groove where my supply is building yet again and Josie’s gaining weight. We still supplement a few feeds a day but a majority of the time she nurses just with my supply and I love those times the most! 🙂

Now…we peeked in her mouth the other day to check on her healing and it appears as if her ties reattached. 🙁

I am literally infuriated as the dentist told me this only happens 1-2% of the time. We go in Thursday February 12th to check and possibly have them re-lasered. I am pretty much against getting it redone since I CAN’T do another 2 weeks of pain, screaming, and nursing strikes. We JUST overcame all of that.

But I also want her to be healed. Being a mom is so hard in these situations where you are weighing choices like this!

So if you can join us in prayer along with Our Lady of La Leche before noon on Thursday (MST) I would MUCH appreciate it. We need wisdom as we are clueless as to what our decision will be on Thursday if the doctor says we ought to re-laser.

Thanks again for everyone’s encouragement and support! We’ve encountered and conquered a LOT of nursing issues in a short 3 months but I am still glad we pursued this journey. I am confident that one day…I will get to write a third post about our nursing relationship and it will be one of redemption and victory!

la leche

Our Lady of La Leche, pray for us.

Adoption

5 Adoption Phrases To Avoid

February 9, 2015

A while back I posted the Adoptive Family Public Service Announcement that I found rather hilarious.

Moral of the video? If you wouldn’t say it about a boob job, don’t say it about adoption.

But alas, I have continued to run into insensitive comments from well-meaning individuals about Josephine and the fact that she was adopted.

Here I wish to share with you the top 5 most common offenders I hear and what positive adoption language we all can use instead.

Oh and some gifs that describe what’s going on in my judge-y mind when I hear comments like this.

1. So they like, didn’t want her?

Honestly, if they didn’t want her she would be dead. Abortion is the typical route in an unwanted pregnancy, not adoption.

Adoption isn’t a route chosen because the birth family didn’t “want” the baby. They most likely DID want the baby and that is why they chose to carry them and to make an adoption plan. They wanted to give them a chance in life.

Even in the rarest situations, where maybe the birth family truly didn’t want the baby in the way you’re implying, don’t ask me this when my daughter is around. She doesn’t need you planting doubts like this in her mind.

2. I could never give my baby up for adoption!

Good for you.

Time to go thank the Lord for the blessed circumstances he’s given you that you’ve never had to consider making an adoption plan.

Sarcasm aside, people don’t make adoption plans willy-nilly because they felt like it. It’s because their life situation wouldn’t be ideal for parenting a child at that point in time.

You likely aren’t anywhere close to facing those same difficult circumstances which is why you can’t fathom pursuing adoption. If you are facing those difficulties? You can understand why adoption is a great option for individuals and couples to choose if they desire.

And the term “give my baby up” sounds heartless and not thought out. The positive term is “making an adoption plan” because it implies intentionality and thought that was behind the choice.

3. Did you adopt her because you couldn’t have your own?

This one was recently asked of me in a front of a group of 20+ women and I handled it pretty dang well.

But really? Why is it anyone else’s business to understand the nitty gritty details of why we pursued adoption? It’s pretty obvious to you all here on the blog since we’ve shared our story publicly but I am still dumb-founded at why people ask this question.

We don’t know if we will ever have biological children. So I really can’t answer the above question well. I usually say, “We were open to life for about 3 years before her adoption and God chose not to bless us with any biological children for the time being but who knows what the future holds.”

And no matter if we have biological kiddos or not, Josie is very much “our own” child. Genetically, no. But in every other way that actually matters.

4. Do you keep in touch with her real parents?

I haven’t seen a real mom sneak in the window at night for the 3 am feedings to nurse her. Or a real dad doing the cloth diaper laundry.

I have only seen us. Her real parents.

You mean her birth parents? Yes, we keep in touch! 🙂

5. She is adopted, huh?

Josephine was adopted. It was an event that occurred early on in her life, and while it will always be part of her story, it’s not fundamentally who she is at her core.

Her identity is not adoption.

I know the difference in language is subtle but the implications are massive for her to have a healthy identity.

That’s all I’ve got for now but stay tuned for more adoption language blog posts, I am sure they are coming! 🙂

Lastly, for anyone who has accidentally said one of the above offenders to me…please know that I generally give a lot of grace to others and assume that you just don’t know what you are saying when you say it. Although I don’t harbor ill will towards you for long, I do believe providing you with a charitable education on language is beneficial to all parties involved. I hope you found this post helpful for your future adoptive family interactions!