Tips on Getting (And Staying) Debt Free

Some of you may have seen on Facebook yesterday, but Bryan and I are officially Debt Free! Just in time for me to quit my job and us to have a baby!

WEEEEEE’RE DEEEEEEEBT FREEEEEEEE!

Sorry, Just had to get that out of my system.

I feel better now.

This is us mailing in our last payment!

This is us mailing in our last payment!

It’s been a long, bumpy road for us to pay everything off, but it has been so worth it. I want to give a quick snapshot of our journey, and then some tips on how everyone can have a smoother process to experiencing this freedom.

Bryan and I got engaged in 2011. I had a small car payment, but had always been pretty responsible with money. I also had never had much of it to be responsible with. I waited tables through college, so I always had cash on me, and therefore had a cash budgeting system in place. Something I was not great with was saving. I saved for small things in the near future: shoes, trips, etc, but never did any long-term saving.

Bryan, on the other hand, was already very successful and had seemingly plenty of money. He also had a lot of debt. He owned/owed on 2 cars and a motorcycle, and owed for multiple credit cards and store credits.

shortly after getting engaged, we decided to sell my car and one of his and get a ridiculously expensive, albeit used Land Rover and therefore combined our finances before we tied the knot since I would be living at home my senior year and not paying rent and utilities. I don’t recommend this for every couple AT ALL. It is not for everyone and arguably wasn’t for us. Here are the reasons I am glad we did it, though:

1. It forced us to confront our personal money problems and prepare early for being a team when it comes to finances.

2. Since we paid for most of our wedding ourselves, it enabled us to use almost all of my paycheck to 100% cash-flow our wedding and honeymoon. That’s right, we owed exactly nothing when it was all said and done.

3. It forced us to live out the usually bumpy first year of marriage during the year we were engaged, making our first year of marriage pretty enjoyable. Again, This would absolutely not work for everyone, and it took a lot of loyalty, willpower, and seeing the big picture to make it work for us.

4. Finally, If it weren’t for this decision, I don’t know that we would have taken our initial Financial Peace University class at our church. We were at our wits end, and something had to give. Bryan wanted to go, but since I was the more stubborn one about money, he prayed about it and trusted that God would convict me to make the decision to go to the class, which I THANKFULLY did. (My husband is kind of a superhero. There is no way I would have been that patient and trusting.)

Now, because of some bad decisions that had been made on both of our parts, and mostly because of bad decisions made by Bryan before we met, we were in debt about $90,000.00 (My gracious parents made the decision a long time ago that they wanted to pay for their kids to go to college, even it meant paying out loans. If I had this responsibility upon myself, it would have made our debt-toll quite a bit higher. This is something I am thankful for every single day and seriously could not have asked for better parents.)

As of yesterday: August 27th, 2014, we have paid every penny off! I am not going to lay out a plan for paying off debt, but here are some tips and tricks that got us through this mess, and how we intend to never get ourselves back in it again. (Bear with me, this will be a bulleted list. I am OCD and bulleted notetaking is my life. It gives me joy.)

debt free 2

  • Make the decision TOGETHER that you are going to do this 100%, fully, no looking back. Both partners have to have both feet squarely on the train for this to work. If you are single, get an accountability partner who is 100% in this with you and will tell you like it is and not pretty-it-up. Does this mean that one or both of you can’t waver ever? Uh, no. That’s a nonexistent, impossible scenario. It just means that when one partner struggles, the other one is there to encourage you back on the train. Choo choo.

 

  • If you are a part of a couple, learn to live on one income. No, I don’t mean one of you should quit your job. I mean pick the person who makes the most and force yourselves to budget based on that salary only. Pay all of the minimum payments on all of the loans with the main income. I am completely aware that this is not realistic for every couple and every situation, but I highly recommend that it be a goal as you pay off more and more. Here’s why:
    • The obvious reason: if one of you loses your job or wants to change jobs or wants to stay home with your kids, you aren’t screwed. I would never in my right mind want to readjust our budget like that. It was a pain in the butt to get it figured out and streamlined to begin with, and to have to par it down even more would induce suicidal thoughts.
    • It frees up an entire income to put towards paying off debt and saving money.
    • It teaches you to live well within your means like, for real. If you can’t afford it, you can’t have it. I would much rather have plenty of wiggle room than be maxed out within our budget.
    • It allows you some extra spending money to reward yourself a bit along the way. Since you’re using the main family salary to pay the minimums, you can afford a big date night or weekend getaway to reward yourself after your close out a credit card account or pay off a load.

 

  • SELL EVERYTHING. I mean this. That motorcycle I talked about? Gone. That Land Rover we bought and I loved so much? Gone. We’ve had several cars since then because we have just been trading down and trading down until we had cars that we owed a manageable enough amount on to pay off. Downsize your home if you have way more house than you need. Get creative with your selling. We had a bunch of random kitchen items that we would have never been able to sell on their own, so we took a photo of the whole lot together and put it on Craigslist as a kitchen starter kit. A college student came and got it like the next day. Have a garage sale. Consign your clothes. Be weird and unmaterialistic. Every little bit counts.

 

  • Cut your cable. I’m not even a little bit kidding. You will live. We cut ours and got Netflix, Jetflicks, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. AND WE SURVIVED. And no, we aren’t those weird people who say things like “We just don’t watch very much tv.” (<–What?) I watch practically every show on television and did so using those streaming services. And don’t come at me shouting about sports. That’s why God invented Buffalo Wild Wings and friends’ houses. Offer to bring some food if they can host the watch party. And when you’re out of debt or to a manageable point in your journey, get the cable back. We did. I promise you will survive.

 

  • Get creative with eating out. I am the last person who will tell you to stop eating out, because who does that? I mean you should cut back for sure, and make a monthly budget for when you do. All that jazz. What I’m talking about it how to be able to eat out more within your “eating out/entertainment” budget. Here are some ideas:
    • Get water. This is an easy and obvious one.
    • Don’t get alcoholic beverages. Seriously, you can enjoy the company of friends and each other and buy yourself a six-pack for way cheaper. It’s a win-win.
    • Share. I know this sucks and takes some skill, especially if you have different tastes. Do what you gotta do, get an extra side dish, get separate salads before the entrée, all that good stuff. You can even pre-game at home before you get to the restaurant so you’re not famished and tempted to get separate meals. We definitely did not do this every time, but it practically doubles the number of times you can eat out every month within your budget.
    • Save the big spending for bigger occasions.  We rarely ate out together (Eating out without the other one came out of our “personal spending” budget, not out joint entertainment budget) unless it was for date nights or group activities. Sure, we grabbed food while running errands or similar situations plenty, we just knew where to go that wasn’t going to break the bank. (Holla for Sams Club’s cheap-as-crap pizza combo!)
    • Enjoy the company without the spending from time to time. What I mean is, sometimes it’s possible to sit with your friends and not get coffee or whatever, or eat before you come when it’s a group of other people who you know will be ordering. I have coffee with a group of girls regularly on Tuesday nights and only get a drink some of the time. I can make coffee at home a lot cheaper and sometimes I would really only be buying it because I’m there, which is not a good reason. Bryan has lunch with a group of guys from church every Thursday in a local mall food court. Back when we first started (And even still sometimes!), he would bring his own lunch and eat at the table with them. They used to make fun of him, but now several other guys have taken FPU and started doing the same thing!

 

  • Cut out anything else extra. Monthly subscription boxes? Cut ’em. Regular music buying? Stop it. Gym memberships even? Buy INSANITY and work out from home for a short time while paying stuff off. All of these sacrifices suck, yes, but remember that it’s only for a short time and it is SO WORTH IT in the end. Plus, like I’ve stated above, it is totally possible to find creative measures to make it suck less.

 

  • If you have the time, coupon. Yes, this takes dedication, but it’s kind of like throwing money away if you have time and don’t anyway. I started it and then stopped because of the time factor, but now that I am coming home from my job, I plan on starting back up again. There are lots of websites and free tools to get started. My favorite one is http://www.thekrazycouponlady.com.

 

  • Give each other/yourself loads and loads of grace. This crap is hard, and everyone will tell you that you’re crazy for trying. Don’t let it discourage you. I can’t tell you how many fights, breakdowns, and minor relapses we each have had that set us back, but we always forgave each other, recommitted, and got back on the train. Give each other grace and forgiveness for past/current mistakes as well. It was freaking hard to accept that ALLLLLL of this debt that Bryan had accumulated before I even knew he existed was now on my shoulders as well. It took a while to forgive him for that and get to the point where I was as driven as he was to get rid of it. Thankfully, Bryan was a lot more forgiving and patient for my unwillingness than I was for his debt mistakes.

You will survive, I promise.

Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s too hard or not worth it. I am standing here today with so much freedom telling you that IT TOTALLY IS.

If you’re just starting out in your journey, I want to really encourage you to pick some sort of learning material. Obviously, I am a big supporter of Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, but there are others as well. You just want to make sure you pick one that is based on your personal values-system and beliefs, and that ultimately DOES NOT BELIEVE IN BEING IN DEBT.

People have all kinds of opinions about Dave Ramsey as a person, and I’d love to talk to you about it sometime if you want, but regardless of personal beliefs, he is an expert and his methods are TRIED AND TRUE to work, if for no other reason than giving you a head start and getting you and your partner on the same page when it comes to finances. Bryan and I teach FPU at our church now, so if you are in the NWA area and want to take it, please let me know! We’ve had all kinds in our class. Singles, older people, engaged couples, Christians, non-Christians, etc.

 

This was part of our first graduating class of FPU!

This was part of our first graduating class of FPU!

I have lots more tips and tricks to share if you want them. I hope our story encourages you just like others’ stories did us. I would LOVE  to talk more about it with you. Just let me know :).

Love, Alex

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What We’re Wearing Wednesday (Volume 2)

What We're Wearing Wednesday

Well, another week is upon us. This is actually my last week at work. That’s right, I’m retiring at the ripe old age of 24. Well, until around December 15th that is, I assume I will have my hands full after that.

Take a look at the fly threads we’re rocking today. I’m using this lingo because we tried to look sultry in our poses this week. It did not bode well for us.

 

Bryan


bryan full

Button-up: Express|Pants: Express|Belt: Express. Y’all.

 

Shoes: Madden

Shoes: Madden

 

Alex


Teal Tank: Target Maternity|Gray tank underneath: Old Navy (NOT MATERNITY!)|Maternity Jeans: Old Navy|Watch: Iron Man training watch that was a birthday gift from my training partner dad! A lot of use it's getting these days...

Teal Tank: Target Maternity|Gray tank underneath: Old Navy (NOT MATERNITY!)|Maternity Jeans: Old Navy|Watch: Iron Man training watch that was a birthday gift from my training partner dad! A lot of use it’s getting these days…

Necklace: Target. When I bought this, I thought it was just a good basic gold pendant necklace. I have been asked multiple times since what I won a gold medal for. I usually respond with "Cross Country Skiing."

Necklace: Target. When I bought this, I thought it was just a good basic gold pendant necklace. I have been asked multiple times since what I won a gold medal for. I usually respond with “Cross Country Skiing.”

Earrings: Gift from my friend Mia. I think she got them in Bolivia.

Earrings: Gift from my friend Mia. I think she got them in Bolivia.

Shoes: Toms that I got for free from a friend of a friend because I was the only person she knew who wore a size 7.5 (what!?) and they didn't fit her. Woo hoo!

Shoes: Toms that I got for free from a friend of a friend because I was the only person she knew who wore a size 7.5 (what!?) and they didn’t fit her. Woo hoo!

 

That does it for today. Join me next week for round 3!

Love, Alex

Party Like It’s “1985” (<–Sarcasm)

So my mom turned a certain significant age this summer. An age which she would kill me if I revealed. It doesn’t hurt that she looks all of 35, so she lets people think she was a teenager when she had me which I think is hilarious.

I mean really. I pray to the good Lord that I inherited those genes.

I mean really. I pray to the good Lord that I inherited those genes.

So of course we wanted to celebrate this occasion with a big party, but because we’ve moved so much, her closest friends live all over the country. Meaning that if we were to have a big party, like 4 of her girls would be there. Sad Face.

So instead, I, my dad, and my sister planned a big birthday girls’ weekend to Dallas!

Y'all. My friend Raven is a super talented graphic designer. She did all of our wedding stuff, Bryan's business cards, and tons more for us! She doesn't have a name for her freelance business yet, but I will totally hook you up!

Y’all. My friend Raven is a super talented graphic designer. She did all of our wedding stuff, Bryan’s business cards, and tons more for us! She doesn’t have a name for her freelance business yet, but I will totally hook you up!

My mom, sister, and I drove down together, which was really fun, even if we were extremely late and had to meet everyone at the restaurant instead of the hotel and change and fix makeup and hair in/outside of the car in a parking garage. Aaah memories.

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Notice the two boxes of Joe Joes cookies back there. That’s called roadtrip pregaming.

After getting high off perfume and hairspray fumes in the car, it actually ended up being a really fun fist night. We went to Shops at Legacy in Plano and had dinner at Benihana with the 3 of us, my Mimi, and my mom’s friends Leslie and Alicia, all of whom stayed with us the whole weekend! After dinner we walked around the corner to Paciugo, a gelato bar, where my friend Charlotte and her sister met us for dessert.

My mom felt super classy taking her pregnant daughter and her underage daughter into the bar area while we waited for our table. The weekend just got better from there.

My mom felt super classy taking her pregnant daughter and her underage daughter into the bar area while we waited for our table. The weekend just got better from there.

My Mimi decorated the hotel room to surprise my mom when we got back. It was beautiful and girly, just like my mom likes. This is weird because if you met her you would not think she’d be into girly things, but she loves her some pink and purple and flowers.

This was on the hotel room door greeting us.

This was on the hotel room door greeting us.

Fresh flowers from Mimi and candy from me.

Fresh flowers from Mimi and candy from me.

More fun balloons!

More fun balloons!

Our first night back, we had a slumber party in our PJs. We watched Father of the Bride 2 (the baby one!) and had the candy pictured above and popcorn in the most adorable popcorn buckets ever.

How cute and perfect are these?!

How cute and perfect are these?!

 

This was taken Saturday morning. We did our best party girl impression and left everything a mess like this all night. I made Midori Sours for everyone complete with cherries and fun silly straws and cocktail glasses.

This was taken Saturday morning. We did our best party girl impression and left everything a mess like this all night. I made Midori Sours for everyone complete with cherries and fun silly straws and cocktail glasses.

I also put these fun swizzle sticks in there! Confession: these are leftover from our wedding. My friend Erin taught me how to make them so you know I can't take full credit for a craft. But they are super fun and probably easy to make for the non craft-challenged people.

I also put these fun swizzle sticks in there! Confession: these are leftover from our wedding. My friend Erin taught me how to make them so you know I can’t take full credit for a craft. But they are super fun and probably easy to make for the non craft-challenged people.

So on Saturday we went to the Galleria and shopped for a bit. Keep in mind that none of us live in Dallas, so trying to navigate anywhere was like trying to herd around a bunch of cats. We also went to the Grapevine Mills Mall close to our hotel which ended in me driving by myself in Dallas for the first time. I give all the credit to Siri.

Saturday night we went to my mom’s favorite restaurant in Dallas, Razzoo’s Cajun Cafe. This is where the big birthday party happened. Charlotte came again, along with my friend Arden and her new baby girl Cambrie. I’ll give you one guess how the rest of the night went with a bunch of women and a newborn.

friends

I made her wear these things, which she LOVED. She loves for all the attention to be on her, you can ask her. I also got her that fancy goblet and made her carry it around everywhere. I'm hoping I'm still in her will.

I made her wear these things, which she LOVED. She loves for all the attention to be on her, you can ask her. I also got her that fancy goblet and made her carry it around everywhere. I’m hoping I’m still in her will.

So before I continue, I need to pause and tell you that last weekend I was down in Dallas for a podcast conference that Bryan attended. Since I had some downtime while he was there, Charlotte helped me do some recon work for fun location for the girls weekend. My mom wanted to sit and have drinks on a patio somewhere after the birthday dinner Saturday night, so we found a fun, themed place called the Truckyard. We went to a few other places too that were really crowded and loud, so when the Truckyard was quiet, had an eclectic age group, and a really laid back vibe to it, I knew it was perfect.

Fast-forward to Saturday night after Razzoo’s when we got there. What Charlotte and I didn’t know was that it was move-in week for SMU and UTD, which were both right by this place. It was packed with college students and they were carding. This would have been a problem since my sister is 16, but the bouncer was feeling flirty apparently, and when she marched up to him in her party dress and braces and asked how old you had to be to get in (This is never a suspicious question right?), someone assured him that she wouldn’t be drinking and he just let her in. Our back-up argument was that she was with her mother and grandmother, but apparently all the guy needed was an assurance from a stranger that she would obey the law. Thankfully, she was planning on it anyway.

The ladies in our group were not feeling the college vibe, however, so we left and went back to the hotel to hang out and eat more candy.

Sunday morning some people had to go home, but the rest of us went to Klyde Warren Park and had brunch at the food trucks. The food was OMG SO GOOD. Plus, they had a truck that made custom ice cream sandwiches, y’all. SO. GOOD.

food trucks

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It was a great weekend and I’m happy that so many people were able to come out and celebrate my awesome mom’s birthday. I’m kind of a fan of hers if you couldn’t tell. We even let her sleep on the way home instead of blasting music she doesn’t like. That’s true love, you guys.

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This is my baby sister driving. I’m past the point of this bothering me because I DIDN’T HAVE TO DRIVE.

One of These Days We Will Learn

Before and After

We have a wonderful groomer that we love and that adores our children dogs. The problem is, a lot of other people love them too and they are relatively well-priced, which means they book out like 2 weeks at least. So right around the time our prissy, bratty Bichon Frise’ starts looking like a swamp rat is when we get wise to the thought that maybe we should schedule her an appointment at the ol’ beauty salon.

This irresponsibility leads to another 2-3 weeks of Phoebe looking like a dirty ragamuffin (is that redundant?) and a corresponding few weeks after said appointment of people thinking we must have brought home a new dog. Because this beautiful creature couldn’t possibly the one that had grass stuck in her hair last week. In other news, both Jeckle-Phoebe and Hyde-Phoebe seem to eat poop, so there’s that.

Are we bad parents? Is this signifying how we will treat our human children? I hope not.

Love, Alex

PS: I think Bryan loves Phoebe and Mali more than he loves me sometimes, so our dogs are in no way mistreated. But srsly, that dog could do a rendition of Lady and the Tramp as a one-woman show.

What We’re Wearing Wednesday (Volume 1)

What We're Wearing Wednesday

New Segment alert! 

I’m a big fan of Pinterest. I have it. I love it. I use it. (Follow me! There’s a handy button up there! To the right. Yeah there!)

We all know that Pinterest can turn into a dreamworld if we let it though, amiright? Everyone looks wonderful and is always edited to perfection. If I were a crafter, which we all know I’m not, I would feel all kinds of depressed after looking at beautiful Pinterest creations.

So, in efforts to show what a real family looks like on regular days of the week, I am starting this segment. Sometimes you will catch us wearing cute clothes. Sometimes you will catch us in our PJs. Always you will catch us in relatively cheap clothes, because homegirl doesn’t pay full-price for stuff. It’s the Alex way.

Bryan


Shirt: Express|Jeans: Express

Shirt: Express|Jeans: Express|Phoebe: photobomb

Shoes: Vans-probably from Journey or something

Shoes: Vans-probably from Journey or something

Alex


Black Ruffle Dress: Jane.com|Leggings: uhhhh Rue 21?

Black Ruffle Dress: Jane.com|Leggings: uhhhh Rue 21?

Necklace: Gift from my Mimi I think

Necklace: Gift from my Mimi I think

Earings: Smaller ones are always the cheap card packs from Claire's!|Bottom ones were a Christmas gift from my sister.

Earings: Smaller ones are always the cheap card packs from Claire’s!|Bottom ones were a Christmas gift from my sister.

Shoes: Toms from my friend Dia! Such a good gift!

Shoes: Toms from my friend Dia! Such a good gift!


That’s it guys! Join me next week for volume 2.

What are you wearing this week?

Love, Alex

Crying in the Ultrasound Room

See my dress color? Yeah. It took me a while to get to that thumbs up.

See my dress color? Yeah. It took me a while to get to that thumbs up.

Now I’m sure some of you thought that title may have corresponded to precious, loving feelings of seeing my baby and finding out its sex. I think I’ve made it clear that I am not precious, and while I do cry a lot, talking about the amazing feelings of seeing your baby are awesome, yes, but also not unique banter for a blog. What I’m getting at is that I cried hot, sad, guilty tears that day. And before you come at me with pitchforks and torches shouting about how I’m ungrateful and unloving, hear me out. Especially because I think I’m probably not alone in this.

It most likely won’t come as much of a shock since the majority of women hope for a girl during pregnancy, but *shocker* I wanted a girl.

I had my reasons. Everyone in my larger church community seemingly had lotsandLotsandLOTS of boys and I wanted a different experience than them. We have girl dogs (ahem, children) and though it might sound silly, watching Bryan with them and knowing the type of man he is, I just wanted to see him with a daughter so badly. There are petty reasons, like the fact that girl clothes are 1000 times cuter than boy clothes, (<–fact) and also bigger reasons like the one I have to pull the vague-card on again (I really do promise to share soon).

Regardless of all the things, Bryan and I were both standing squarely on the girl-train.

In my increasing nervousness as the big day approached, I did some research on gender disappointment and found that it is an actual clinical issue that many women deal with. This should have made me feel better right? “No!” said my brain, “That would be much too logical!”

I was just so afraid of being disappointed to find out it was a boy and then feeling guilty about being disappointed like a vicious circle. I talked to a few people about it, most of whom understood, some of whom did not (Thanks guys!). It didn’t help to hear friends and family refer to the baby as a “him” before we even found out though, because as ridiculous as this sounds, I knew their happiness at guessing correctly would make it harder for me to pretend to be excited.

On July 24, we got up and headed to the clinic with a belly full of baby and butterflies. We were called into the ultrasound room first. Just like that. No doctor visit barrier. I think the tech was a little weirded out at ALL THE QUESTIONS. “Already? Are you sure? Like this? Right here? Uhh, so do you have kids? What’s the worst reaction you’ve ever seen of someone finding out the gender?” (You guys…) She told me that none were really too bad.

Awesome.

So we’re all chit-chatty and “Oh my gosh that’s our baby!” for the first few minutes. Then. She waves past the evidence quickly, but we had already seen. “Ok, are you ready to know what it is?! It’s a boy!”

Silence.

I had such mixed emotions at that moment. Here I have a perfect, healthy baby BOY and all I can think about it my disappointment–>guilt for being disappointed–>but…BABY GIRL CLOTHES–>our baby is healthy!–>disappointment–>OMG HE’S SUCKING HIS THUMB–>well they do say boys are easier and now I’m off the hook for the birds and the bees talk–>disappointment. (<– vicious cycle. I know you appreciate me spelling it out for you because it’s not obvious or anything really.)

I cried. Like, so much that multiple tissues were needed. It was embarrassing and I hated myself for it.

All of the articles I had read about gender disappointment talked about how, much like when you take a pregnancy test that is negative and mourn the loss of a baby that never was, you mourn the loss of the baby girl or boy that never was.

I got it. Sitting in the waiting room accepting the fact that we wouldn’t be having a girl before having to fake excitement for the doctor was hard for both of us. Not to mention the fact that we had this family reveal dinner in the works for that very night that I had to polish my acting skills for.

gender reveal 1

Oh hey guys!

I got to work that morning and immediately started messing with our Amazon baby registry as a coping mechenism, hoping to distract myself with cute and shiny. It was overwhelming enough trying to pick out so much stuff with all of the reviews and safety reports and options and opinions to consider. What made it harder was that BOY STUFF IS JUST NOT AS CUTE AS GIRL STUFF. Plus, as it turns out, I’m super picky about the boy crap I actually do like. I’m so much fun, no really.

See?

See? So much fun. (Ugh so grainy. Sorry guys, It was dark in there!)

Oh, and I had to call the bakery to tell them what color to use to fill the cupcakes and I’m sure the poor girl at Rick’s just thought I was a heartless weirdo.

“Hey, just calling to tell you the filling color..it’s blue *small amount of forced excitement*”

“Oh a boy! Yay!”

“…yep. Ok thank you *more forced exctiement*.”

I mean…

How awesome are those though? Not-at-all-humble brag: the catchphrase was completely my idea and not a product of Pinterest at all.

How awesome are those though? Not-at-all-humble brag: the catchphrase was completely my idea and not a product of Pinterest at all. (Again with the grainy. I tried with the editing, I really did.)

We took our announcement photo to post after the reveal dinner, which we made it through and I didn’t cry at all. Small victory! It was actually a lot of fun to watch everyone bite into (or the smart ones use a knife to cut) the cupcakes and cheer at the filling color (which they would have done for either one of course).

See how genuine my smile is? ACTING.

See how genuine my smile is? ACTING.

The next morning, I talked to my mom and apologized for being a giant brat crabby the night before. She said she knew I was disappointed and completely understood. AND THEN (this is the “wait it gets getter” part) she said possibly the most profound thing ever. Work with me here because apparently I’m even more selfish and dense than I ever thought.

She told me that as much as having a little girl would have been wonderful and sweet and awesome,God obviously has a plan for our son, and that plan is much better than anything we could have dreamt up for our baby girl.

Ouch.

I realized that I had been thinking of this only from the standpoint of me having a baby/child/teenager. I was forgetting that there was a lot more living for him to do after the “raising him” part was over. And I think that kind of rocks.

A few minutes later my dad called me.

Let me pause here and explain something, because what I’m about to say will have much more meaning once I do. My dad and I are like, the same person.  Seriously. Both stubborn  as mules, both feel the need to constantly be right, and both tell it like it is and have to work hard on the encouraging words. So while my dad has lots of amazing qualities, the pretty words aren’t normally one of them. This is how I know God was (more gently than usual in my case) sending me the words my heart needed.

He told me that he knew I was hoping for a girl, but he thought I should know that I was going to make the best boy mom. He said that watching me with Grant and Guy (the sons of both of our mentors and who we watch when they are out of town), he could tell that I was going to be great and natural at this parenting thing. (<–HAHA)

Cue the tears. Seriously, y’all. This is when the good times started for me. I still had set-backs, like on vacation when all I saw were adorable, clean, well-dressed little girls and mangy, screaming, fit-thowing little boys. Hold me. But I got to go shopping at the outlet malls with the world’s best and most patient mom because for real, I AM SO PICKY, and I got some freaking adorable stuff for Grady.

That’s his name, Grady. OMG my child has a name. And OMG I’m over halfway there. And OMG I’m someone’s mom.

Crazy Eyes.

 

I've told you about my husband's obsession with bears, yes? Imagine my excitement to find this. I mean really.

I’ve told you about my husband’s obsession with bears, yes? Imagine my excitement to find this. I mean really.

My child is already swimming in threads thanks hugely to my wonderful and generous parents. Can you tell which piece is the favorite?

My child is already swimming in threads thanks hugely to my wonderful and generous parents. Can you tell which piece is the favorite?

Love, Alex

PS: For what it’s worth, here is the link for our ultrasound video. Not that I expect anyone to go watch it. I completely understand that what is wonderful and exciting for proud parents is just soooo boring for others. 🙂

This Is Why I Don’t Bake.

 

pie disaster 1

 

I think  I’ve made my feelings clear on baking vs. cooking. I love cooking, like a lot. And I’m pretty decent at it. It doesn’t require that you follow directions, and it’s much easier to be creative. Baking, however locks you into a specific formula. It’s science, man, and I was always an English/history girl.

You may remember that pregnancy made my cooking frequency dwindle.  Because of the smells. And the effort. Recently though, I excitedly picked up the cooking again, and I dove headfirst. In addition to my cooking I have tried my little heart out to up my baking game. I made brownies and frosting and TRES LECHES CAKE from scratch, y’all. 

It was all fun and games until I got too cocky and went for the fried pies.

I made dough. (Successfully!)

I sprinkled flour and rolled out said dough.

It all went downhill from there until the remains of my project ended up here. Where dreams go to die. There are probably a few of my tears in there too.

Is it sad that one of my major concerns here is that I had to throw food away?  I mean, look at all of this wasted shortening. Those are the charred remains of pie dough and my dignity floating around in there.

pie disaster 2

I’m coming for you fried pies. I will conquer you.

Until then, want to come over and I’ll make you a wonderful savory dish?

Ugh.