Emma turns 6

Emma Grace,

My very favorite thing about you right now is this: "Mom, what can I help with?"
That pretty well sums you up; you ask every day. You're so helpful and caring and responsible, I forget that you're only six. You play with George. You fetch things. You help me clean and organize and even cook, always cheerfully. I'll tell you how grateful I am, but I don't think you'll understand unless (until?) you have your own very helpful daughter.

You had another exciting year. We changed everything about our lives when we moved from Roosevelt to Kaysville. Our Battistone cousins moved far away, which you frequently lament. You graduated from preschool, lost your first tooth (that seemed really early!), and started Kindergarten, which you LOVE. You're reading well - tested high enough to get invited to a special advanced program in another school. You started going to speech therapy in school to help with your "disfluencies," AKA stuttering, so we've had something to work on. Most importantly, you have a great heart. You watch for other kids who need a friend, and then you become that friend.

You also started taking karate. I tried to persuade you to take dance, tumbling, or something else, but when you heard that Will was doing karate, there was no talking you out of it. Maybe it's a phase (Lego Ninjago?), maybe you'll stick with it forever and become a master. We'll see.

You love to laugh and joke with Will, play tea party with Lex, and try to boss George around. You're a dedicated artist and would draw/paint/color your life away if we'd let you. I'm constantly picking up, throwing away, or deciding to keep pages of your artwork.

We've had some hard and stressful times over the past year. They'd have been harder if we didn't have you around. 💖
We love you so much, Emma.


Living in Limbo

For some reason, anytime I've taken a blogging hiatus I feel the need to explain myself (EMILY)  (KIANA), so, here's my explanation this time around: I've been in limbo.

Major limbo, like don't-know-what-the-next-month-holds limbo. Where-will-we-live. How-long-until-the-bank-account-hits-0. What-should-we-do-with-the-house. Which-possessions-do-we-sell-off-first. What-is-life-even-about limbo.

Sorry about all those hyphens, but I think you get the point?

And I've been through some stuff in my life, and now I know that the very worst thing in the world (for me) is NOT KNOWING. And not being able to plan anything because of the not knowing.

But this time, even after all these months and all these questions, I knew things were going to work out. I've felt almost like a spectator on the sidelines, waiting to see what happens in this game. I know we're going to win - so it hasn't even been a real nail-biter.  
Isn't that amazing???

Now, this is where we're at.
After a full year, countless applications, at least eight interviews, and many nights apart, Slice got himself two job offers in 24 hours. And we had to make a decision: stay or go? Stay in Roosevelt and keep this house, our cars, our side jobs, our security? Our entire lifestyle? Or go out on a limb?

We chose the limb.



My dear, sweet George,

We've reached a year with you!! Your first birthday was as low-key a birthday as we've ever had in this family (partly because you're in a full leg cast) but you are as low-key as they come, so it was fitting. You've added a precious element of calm to our family, and I am so grateful for you and your sweet spirit. As I've told anyone who would understand, "I finally got a Type 2!"

Your dad and I have had many questions and varied reactions about your name over the last year, and since I haven't yet written it down, I thought I'd tell that story.

Long ago, when I got the ultrasound to tell us if you were a boy or a girl, I brought Will & Emma with me.  They sat in the chair and watched as the tech showed your different body parts, and finally we saw the one we were waiting for - "It's a BOY!"
Afterward in the car, we called Dad on speakerphone to tell him the news.
"What should we name him?" I asked.
"George!" said Will, without hesitation, and I laughed. It was a totally random thing for him to say. No one uses the name George anymore, I thought to myself, and I didn't plan on doing it either. I don't even know any Georges in real life. So, I logged that away.  We picked out a handful of other good names and waited for you to come.

Months later, you were born. Your birth was incredible! I felt in control through the entire labor, and once you arrived I was ecstatic. We called and texted family, even though it was late. Grandma & Grandpa Eddington came to see you right away; so did Grandma Morgan.

The next morning, congratulatory texts started coming in. "Anna and I both think he looks like a George," T.R. said.
"That's weird," your dad and I said.
Then Kiana came to the hospital to see you. "He looks like a George," she said.
"What the heck?!" your dad and I said.

Seemed like a pretty strong message.

But I didn't want to name you George! I looked up the Etymology of the name ... Farmer; Earthworker.  Not as romantic as I'd hoped. We kept going over the other names we had picked out, trying different combinations ... none of them really fit. You really did look like a George, and the more we said it, the more right it seemed. It still took us 2 days to give in. You were George. George Thomas Morgan.

It was really nice of you to tell us your name, and nice of you to come early and small and (relatively) easily. You've been nice to me your whole life, except for those few weeks of sleepless nights when we were never home last summer. I forgave you for those.

You love everyone, but especially your siblings and your Grandma Eddington. You love the car, and strawberries, and music, and nearly-hot bottles. You also love the bath and the toilet and banging any cupboard door you can find. We chase you around and you chase us right back. You are my sweetheart. I love you.



Lex turns 3

My Dear Lex,

You turned 3 today! It's been three whole years since you joined our family!

We had a princess tea party today with your friends at Grandma's. It wasn't your first choice (that would have been Angie's house with your "best friends" Dannica and Lydia), but it was great anyway. Your birthday presents are pretty indicative of the stage you're in - magnifying glass, bubbles, princesses, ponies and tea party sets - and you loved everything you got.

The last year has been hard on all of us, but probably you most of all. You became a big sister, stopped taking regular naps, and when Dad was gone for weeks at a time, your insecurities manifested themselves in the middle of the night. You spent many nights in my bed. You don't like to be left behind, by me or anyone else. You're old enough to play with Will & Emma now, and old enough to get your feelings hurt when they don't want to play with you. It's hard being the third wheel.

Still, you are the most delightful thing around. You're beautiful and smart and playful and loving and hilarious. Everything you say is funny. Especially "dee" instead of "the"... I'll be really sad when you stop saying that.  Every Sunday in Sacrament Meeting you choose someone to go sit with (usually Emma Forsyth, because she's your favorite) and everyone else is jealous. You are the best entertainment.

We love you so much, Lex. We can't imagine our lives without you. I can't wait to see what this year brings!
Love, Mom


Emma's 5th

Dear Emma,

It's your fifth birthday!  Five years since I first saw your beautiful face. That was such a the great day.

You've done so many fun things in the last year.  You started tumbling, broke your arm trying to do a tuck-jump, and bawled after the final tumbling performance when you didn't get to participate. It was devastating.  You also started reading, and you've picked it up really quickly. Grandma tells me you always have ALL the answers during preschool.

You are becoming my right hand! You've been so helpful with George since he was born. You love to feed him, hold him, play with him, and watch him in the bath for me. You even help change diapers with a little supervision.

This summer was full of fun - trips to Twin Falls, Cedar City, Aspen Grove, and Lehi - lots of time with Dad around. Fall was harder with Dad gone for 3 months. You were a trooper though, and rarely the problem child, when there were problems.

You've had lots of time with Lex in the time since Will started first grade, which has been both good and bad. Lots of time to play, lots of time to fight. You're learning how to push buttons and manipulate others into doing what you want ... oh joy!

You're as strong and feisty as ever.  You DON'T like to be wronged. You can handle yourself with other tricky kids, and we chuckle at your reactions when you get hurt by something. (It usually includes a grunt-scream and a "That's why we shouldn't __________!")

We love your freckles and the cute gap between your front teeth, your singing and dancing and art skills. You are turning into such a beautiful young lady!  We love you!

Love, Mom


the money

Per Slice's repeated requests I've compiled a post about our finances.  More specifically, the things we've done over the last few years to create financial peace in our marriage & home. We've learned a lot about finance and personal habits, human psychology, etc. as we've gone through this process. I'll tell you right up front that the most important thing is communication, communication.  I don't know why people are weird about talking money, but I wish it weren't so. I'd love to change it. Being open about money could eliminate SO many problems in relationships.
Without further ado....

1. The first thing we did was to pay off all our outstanding debt.  At the time, we had a car loan and some credit card balances. Slice was also changing jobs, so we took the retirement $$ he had saved from the previous job* and cashed it out. YES we had to pay taxes on it.  YES it was worth it to pay off every debt (aside from the mortgage).

2. Canceled our credit cards and resolved to pay cash in the future.

3. Refinanced our mortgage.  We were paying on a typical 30-year loan and wanted to put more of our income into the house. The loan rates were great: we refinanced to a 15-year fixed rate. Some people say to just make double payments or an extra payment a year on the 30-year, but I really like seeing that interest amount cut drastically. Just makes you feel better about where your money is going.

4. Emergency Fund. We took Dave Ramsey's advice and gradually stashed away 6 months' expenses. It took many months, especially as we sold & bought a house (draining our savings for a good-sized down payment) and then sold & bought a car. Actually we bought two cars, the second one cost almost $10k; we waited to buy until we could pay cash and still keep some in our fund.

5. Cars. I basically had to let my car pride go.  A car gets you from Point A to Point B, and everything beyond that is just a status symbol. AKA Pride.

6. Winning in the Margins, or "make money everywhere you can." Slice and I have added income via photography, firefighting, trading stock (true story!), music/golf lessons, painting, etc. We rented out our basement several times, to different people. Slice is always looking for ways to make money. I love that about him.

7. Budgeting. We are NOT the best budgeters, I'll say that right now. Basically all we ever did was sit down and say, "Where did our money go last month?"  But even that was better than nothing. We could at least see where it went and what we could do to make it work for US, rather than the other way around.

8. Cut the crap. Oh so much financial trouble could be avoided if we all quit buying things we DON'T NEED. Minimalism for the win! I've never been a product person or an "I need the latest trendy home decor and seasonal clothes" person, and I was raised on a lot of food storage. So, we buy things in bulk - case lot sales, Costco trips - we eat mostly at home, and we don't buy clothes unless we actually need them. I could probably save even more by frequenting yard sales and thrift stores, but I've never set aside the time for that.
In this same category I'd add DON'T watch those "product deal" websites. They may save you a little here and there but I guarantee you're spending more money over time just by following them. I don't even look at Amazon deals anymore, so I'm not tempted to buy things I don't need.

Those are the basics. I doubt anyone has questions or comments for me, but if you do, hit me up! I love talking about this stuff. Obviously.

*Side note: Retirement savings is great!! Put away as much as your company will match! We've cashed ours out twice (which is not the goal) and it has come in very handy.