Solar Eclipse 2017

My vacation planning reputation was on the line. Lianne wasn’t enthused, “We are driving 7 hours for a 2 minute experience?”

I admit, I wasn’t sure about it myself. The only thing I had to go one were the first hand accounts of strangers online who had seen a full solar eclipse. They claimed it was momentous, awe inspiring, and a once in a lifetime opportunity. I talked it up with genuine excitement as the trip approached. I dreamed about the eclipse two times. I guaranteed an incredible experience. My vacation planning reputation was on the line before the eclipse trip, and now that we’ve returned, my vacation planning reputation is legendary.

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Pump It Three Times

“Pump it 3 times.”

“Ok, now pump it 3 more times, then hold it.”

No, these are not the lyrics to a popular wedding party song. This is my Dad, under the van, talking to the young me, sitting in the driver’s seat. He’s bleeding the brakes. I love those memories of working with Dad on the cars. I’ll never forget being strong enough to actually help, and still small enough to get my hands into tight spots that he couldn’t reach. We’d listen to talk radio and chat and work. He was the walking stereotype of a backyard mechanic. Duct tape, zip ties, engine grease, and dirty hands were part and parcel of many a weekend in our driveway when I was growing up. Chilton was his best friend.

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Health and Fitness, Week 2 of 9

Last week I wrote about my new challenge. Here’s an update. Pretty much a fail on the bed time thing. I was aiming for 10pm, but we were all over the place depending on what was going on. We were usually much later. One night I wanted to finish a great book. Another night Davin’s volleyball match went late and we were all pumped up once we got home. I’m disciplined in some areas of my life, but this is one that I’ve always struggled with. We’re going to shift it to 10:30 for me and Lianne, and try again. I usually get headaches if my sleep schedule is way off, and I haven’t had any headaches, so I guess I’m doing OK. On the tracking side I did a pretty good job. As you can see here, I missed 2 days out of the last 10. It really is revealing when you start logging what you eat, or tracking how many steps you take. Much like a financial budget shows you where your money is going, a food journal shows you where all your calories are coming from. Here’s what I discovered.

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Health and Fitness, Week 1 of 9

I wrote about the need for people to have a challenge or a struggle in their lives. We accomplished our financial goal, so now it’s time for a new challenge. Since Spring is here, I’ve decided to tackle health and fitness. Similar to our finances, I would say that our health is above average. We do a decent job of avoiding fast foods and sugary drinks, and we are reasonably active. Still, I know we can do better. We all sit too much, we don’t sleep right, and we don’t get enough fruits and vegetables. So, it’s time for a plan. Here is Week 1.

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Paying Off the Mortgage, Month 9 of 10

March was pretty good. My bonus was a little more than I expected, but the government sure took a large share from me. Our refrigerator died. We’ve got a large, standalone fridge. We custom built our kitchen around them, so we needed something that was roughly the same size. That was a big chunk of change. That was a hit to our emergency fund, but if we don’t replenish that right away, we can actually pay the house off in April. We are so close. I can’t wait. Lianne caught some of my excitement and agreed with me, so we’re going for it. In fact, we’re paying off the house tomorrow. Continue reading “Paying Off the Mortgage, Month 9 of 10”

Make the Struggle Real

“The struggle is real.” It’s an ironic expression we say when something minor doesn’t go our way. Just a few hours ago I realized, “Dang, I forgot I made that cup of coffee. Now it’s cold.”

Jaron, in his low, morning monotone, replied, “The struggle is real.”

It’s another way to make it seem like we’re self-aware and that we realize we’re dealing with “1st world problems.” I look at my day to day activities, and the lives of my kids, and I realize that life is too easy. We have everything we need. I’m not complaining. I’m glad, but I wonder if we’re missing a key aspect of the human experience.

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Paying Off the Mortgage, Month 8 of 12 (maybe 11)

Tentative house payoff date is May 19th! Holy cow. It’s crazy to be within sight of the finish line. We had some relatively large expenses in February. One was our HOA fees, which should have been in the budget, we just missed it. The 2nd was some maintenance work on the van, but we’ve been under budget on car maintenance over the past 8 months, so the budget absorbed the extra hit with no problem. The payoff date is moving closer because of the larger than expected tax return, and a larger than expected bonus at work. I am very thankful for my job. I definitely take it for granted sometimes. I need to work on my gratitude.

Now, for some pictures of what debt free looks like in our driveway.

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Epic Battle With the Trashman

Dad was a thrifty, amateur mechanic. Although this would occasionally backfire, he usually got the job done. Our full size van had some damage to one of the doors, and it didn’t quite shut flush with the body. This was a standard door, not the sliding door you see in minivans. He went to the junkyard and found a replacement door. This was before YouTube, so it required some creativity and ingenuity to get the old door off and the new door installed. It was a different color, of course, so we were THAT family for a while.

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Paying Off the Mortgage, Month 7 of 12

We overspent a little on Christmas. Maybe a little more than a little, which is better than a lot more than little, or the dreaded lot lot. One big culprit is that we signed the kids up for a bunch of stuff as part of their Christmas gifts. Archery and tennis lessons for Davin, and voice and dance lessons for Ava, for example. We tried to account for these recurring monthly expenses, but it’s not quite working out. We’re going to scale back some other activities and do them every 2 weeks, which will help offset the added cost.

Oh, another thing, I think I’ve finally come around on credit cards.

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A Valentine Story (Rob and Bev) by Davin

               Rob and Bev met when they were 11 years old at school, Ruth N. Upson Elementary, in Jacksonville Florida on the playground where a carnival was set up. Rob started walking with Bev’s friends. She thought he was a punk because one time he was walking her home, and he tried to put his arm around her and she slapped him. He claimed that he was just helping her with her books. She said that he was trying to be fresh with her and wrap his arm around her. He was pretty bold walking up to them like that when no one knew him well. Rob had brown eyes and hair and was tan from having a pool, which was a big deal back then. He had short hair for a guy and was 5 feet tall. The first time he saw Bev was in a classroom while he was looking for a place to sit, and when he saw her he thought That is who I am going to marry. Bev was pretty skinny, had short brown hair, blue glasses, and was 5 feet tall. When he walked up to Bev and her friends the girls giggled “Do you see Rob? What is he doing here? Does he know anybody? Bev do you know Rob?”

          “A little but he is kind of a punk.” She stated. He didn’t give up, and after that day they started hanging out more and more. Then they started doing family things together. Finally, after 5 years of knowing each other, they officially started dating at 16 years old. When Rob was in high school, his dad was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis so he could not walk. He lost his job so Rob had to get a job as a UPS truck loader. It was soon found out that his dad could still work, but he stayed a truck loader to help out the family.  While still in college they started thinking about getting married, so at 19 they got married and led a successful life as a happy couple.

Rob and Bev