Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Budget

Bob and I have some financial goals for the next couple of years, and we're working the kinks out of our new budget. It's really nice that we're getting a huge tax refund this year. As I was thinking about it and discussing it with Bob, though, I realized that it would be wiser to decrease our withholding, rather than, in essence, loan it to the government all year. So... I did the math, projected what our 1040 might look like next year, and then divided excess being withheld by Bob's 26 pay periods. What it amounts to? A small raise. But a raise that's significantly bigger than the raise he actually got this year. How fun!

Bob's talking a lot about how he'd like the budget to spread from money to time and space (the house), as well. And I'm thinking about the environment, while we're at it. For Christmas, Ellen gave me cloth grocery bags and cloth napkins, and I love using them. We're also trying to be more diligent about recycling everything we can (before this year, I've never really recycled much paper, but now I'm recycling every catalog that comes through the door, plus cereal boxes, etc.). And, we're trying to see how much we can change our energy bills by not leaving unnecessary lights on, and by turning down the thermostat when we go to bed.

As an aside, when you say "turn down the thermostat", do you mean turn down the power, so the furnace/AC isn't working as hard, or do you mean turn down the temperature? I think I'm inconsistent ... but convinced I'm right, whichever way I use it. Ugh. I always think I'm right.

Friday, February 13, 2009

A gracious high school boy!

I'm thrilled to report that I got a Facebook message back from the boy who used to live here. He does want the pictures back, so he's going to stop by sometime.

You know how worried I was about offending or hurting him? His email was very gracious, saying he hoped we liked the house; that it's a neat house, and "you gotta love the big backyard" ... I was impressed. It made my day.

And it goes down on the list of evidence that Facebook can be a good thing. I know, it can be a waste of time, but it can also be GOOD!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

Another touchy subject

The house we now own was a foreclosure. We know that a family lived here. It was a sad thing for us, knowing that we were getting a "good deal" because of someone else's misfortune.

As Bob was cleaning the closet in [what I call his office and he calls] his study, he came across an elementary school yearbook from a while back, and some school pictures from Jeff High School. I wanted to give these back to the boy who lived here, but I didn't know how to go about it! My concern was that by trying to get in touch with them, I might bring up more grief that they lost their house... but I didn't want him to lose those pictures forever.

So I just tracked the boy down on Facebook and sent him a message. We'll see what happens. He may not even want the pictures -- but he might! I know that I wouldn't want to lose my elementary school yearbooks, dorky though I was. Anyway, I hope I haven't rubbed salt in any wounds, and I hope he takes my message in the spirit in which it was sent.

What more can I do?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Should I continue the list?

The latest, helpfully passed on to us, since they didn't tell us this first-hand:

do they know they're going to have three in college at the same time?

is Annie going to be ok? Didn't she just have a baby?

The answer to both, of course, is yes. I was told, shortly after marriage, by someone I won't name, that I have good hips for childbearing. Just what I'd always wanted to hear. But the truth is, I handle childbirth pretty darn well. And by the time I give birth, Lucy will be about 18 months. That's more than enough time for my body to recover from the last birth. Good grief: some people get pregnant right after giving birth! (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)

Now, to try to get out of my grouchiness, I'm going to include an email from my friend Lara:

"oh, just wait 'til you're having your 5th! ;)

we were afraid to tell anybody...friends, family, even the church, for fear of what people would say (and in front of our other children) or even for what they would think. there are some serious cultural prejudices against having more than the allowable 2.2 children. but we found that how people responded had much to do with how we told them the news, so we took to (1) having the children spread the word as much as possible- they were so overjoyed, who could possibly be anything other than happy for us? and (2) just not telling people who we thought might not respond positively until we knew we could handle their negativity in a positive way. in fact, although we usually tell really early on, this time we didn't go public until the second trimester when i was no longer sick and exhausted, so i could beam at them and tell them with all sincerity how great i felt.

people's comments often reflect their own values and priorities, so remembering that can help you let the comments roll off your back like water off a duck, or whatever the silly expression is. the college tuition person is thinking financially, not relationally. your children will be so close to each other! they can hold hands through some of life's tumultuous seasons. they will be there for each other during some critical developmental periods. i know i don't have to convince YOU, i'm just trying to help you see that people miss the best stuff when they focus on one small detail that seems important to them. i love the discouraging comments about how you only have two arms- what will you do with three small children in a parking lot? there is no end to the insensitive things people will think to share aloud with you, but eventually they'll see your joy and the beauty of your family, and they'll forget all about their negative assumptions.

my favorite retort for the really insensitive comment is, (and i'm not sure i've been brazen enough to actually utter this myself, but it makes me laugh to think of it in the proper circumstances), in a very sweet voice, "did you mean to say that out loud?" heh heh heh.

thank God for your baby, and don't let anyone steal your JOY!"

What a nice email to open this morning...

And, by the way, Lara's having her fifth; I'm pretty sure we're NOT planning on five.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Socially Awkward

So Bob and I have learned, really quickly, that people don't know what to say when you announce you're having a third (God forbid!) child. There are a couple standard responses:

1. I hope you don't mind my asking, but was this planned?
It is implied that either yes or no, we're idiots.

2. Wow!
In other words, they have no idea what to say, but we are probably idiots, and they're hoping we'll take their single-word response however we wish, as in, wow, that's great!, or wow, that's too bad.

3. (and I'll confess I don't really know how this gets communicated, but) Can you afford to have three kids?
Clearly, it is highly irresponsible of us.

It does take a bit of the fun out of telling people; in fact, Bob's ready to just stop telling people. I can't decide if it's better to beat people to the punch and save them the "embarassment" of asking an [unbelievably personal] question by saying, "And yes, it was planned."

Apparently, it's socially acceptable to have two children, but three is pushing it. A family at church (with three children) says that once you have your third, you've joined the "crazies". Perhaps so.

I've heard people say "I love so-and-so so much, I just can't imagine having another..." And I guess I feel the opposite. I love our girls so much, I can't wait to meet number 3. Social impropriety, and all.