The Life of Bon: June 2015

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

It's my birthday and when it's my birthday I turn into an absolute psycho.

24th birthday-  
can't you tell how intense I am about birthdays just from this picture?!

Today is my birthday.  I’m 29!

(It feels like a huge joke to say that I’m 29.  Isn’t that always the thing that 45 year olds try to pull… “I just turned 29 hahahaHAHAHA.”  But seriously, you crazy old timers...   I really am 29!)

I’ve always really gotten into birthdays.  My birthday, specifically.  I’m a bit like a ten year old like that.  It’s adorable if you’re into adults who act like children.  I count down, I throw tantrums if people don’t remember, I make a lot of cake requests.  (Chocolate chip cake, no ice cream cake, no cheesecake… CHOCOLATE CHIP ICE CREAM CHEESECAKE!)  It’s basically hell on earth to be someone close to me when my birthday rolls around.  For those of you who are close to me and have experienced the intensity of my birthday expectations- Greg, mom, best friends, past boyfriends-  this is my formal apology.  I’m really really really sorry about how weird I get about my birthday. 

Let me just prove to you how crazy I am about my bday.  When I turned 18, I threw myself my own huge backyard birthday bash and invited about 80 people with whom I had just graduated from high school.  I remember me and my best friend, Akasha, sat in my backyard and individually called every single one of those people to invite them over.  A ridiculous amount of people showed up, and it was wild and awesome and everybody sang to me while I blew out my candles JUST AS I HAD PLANNED and it wasn’t until years later that I realized how totally weird that was.  (Also, a total side note but this is one of my favorite memories- when begging my parents to let it be a “hot tub party” and allow party guests to use the hot tub, my dad was emphatic.  “Absolutely not.”   

He was so stubborn about it and wouldn’t give me a reason.  I thought he was being unnecessarily strict and totally the meanest parent ever . “BUT YOU HAVE NO REASON! !!  WHY CAN’T WE GET IN THE HOT TUB?!?” I begged.

“BECAUSE IT MAKES BOYS HORNY!” My ultra conservative dad finally snapped.  And that was officially the first and last time I heard my dad use the word “horny.”)

Let's see... other crazy birthdays.  My 24th birthday I put so much pressure on my poor boyfriend that he broke up with me two days before the big day.  I mean, he planned me a birthday party and everything but he was the only one not there.  He couldn’t handle the expectations.  (But then I met Greg a month later so maybe it is my insane birthday love that bucked off Boyfriend so that I could meet and marry Greg?!?)

My first birthday with Greg ended in tears.  I couldn’t understand why Greg wasn’t celebrating all day long and doing every single thing I wanted him to do with me.  It was confusing for us all.  Luckily we made it past that first birthday and I have learned to not be a crazy psycho on my birthday and Greg has learned to remember to buy me a gift.  Marriage = Learning.  

I started writing this post with the intention of something really sweet and profound or maybe inspirational (and totally pinnable!  All blog posts must be pinnable!), like 28 things I learned when I was 28!  or 29 things I want to do when I’m 29!  Instead it just turned into me confessing to you what a birthday weirdo I am.  And so it goes (Name that book!)

I don't have anything too profound to say (shocker) so I'll just end with this.  I’m kind of sad to see 28 go.  28 was the best year of my life because 28 was how old I was when I became a mom.  And nothing I’ve ever done during any other age was half as cool, or made me as happy ,or changed me so deeply and profoundly. (I mean, don't get me wrong, the year I sold Mary Kay was a close second...)  I feel like my heart is fuller and happier at 28 than it ever has been before.
So thanks 28, for totally kicking butt.

Onward 29!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Teach Me How to Wean

We're ready to wean over here.


I'm ready to wean.

June's ready to guzzle down her breastmilk for the next eighteen years.  Maybe twenty?  Yah.  Twenty sounds good.

From the get go, June has been the one who has insisted on breast feeding.  While I was pregnant I decided that I wouldn't push breast feeding if there were issues. (I know, I'm like, the worst mom ever.)  I even recall saying that I was committed to breastfeeding as I was a hole in the head.  I had heard all the horror stories, every one, and I made up my mind that having a new baby was going to be stressful enough and if the breastfeeding was too tough, that was one I was willing to let go.  You gotta pick your battles, you know.

But June latched right on.  She knew what to do, in fact, even kind of showed me the way.  The milk came easily and freely, June let me know when it was go time, and we just kind of fell in to it.  We figured out pretty quickly how to nurse in public, and it became an easy and sweet relationship- me and June and my feeders.  For that I am extremely grateful.  Somewhere along the way I became sort of attached to our nursing jam and when my milk started to slow down a couple months into the process, I did everything I could to keep it coming.  (Thanks to awesome suggestions from blog readers!)

And it kept coming.
And June kept nursing.
And now, here we are, staring a year of breastfeeding in the face.

A year!  I have been feeding another human with my body for almost a year.

It is a feat and I am proud!

I am also ready to be done.

I don't know if moms are allowed to say that.  To admit that they don't love every dang minute nursing.  That sometimes they wish the man could pull out his feeders and nourish the child.  That it is frustrating to not be able to leave your baby for more than four hours- to have someone so absolutely and utterly dependent on your constant company.

Allowed or not, I'm saying it.  I'm done with nursing.  I'm tired of June crying when she sees me because she just wants what's under my shirt.  I'm tired of having to wear the same stretched out tees every day to feed her easily.  I'm tired of being the only one who has got the goods- the food and the comfort and the ultimate sign of peace.  I need other people to be able to give that to June, too.

The question is, how does one go about weaning?  Our doc said we could start introducing whole milk at 11 months.  June hates it.  She has always taken from a bottle, but the minute she tastes the cow's milk on her tongue, she cries and wiggles and grabs for my shirt.  I have tried to stretch out her feedings by giving her bigger meals and lots of water, but then my boobs ache like crazy after six or eight hours.  How does one just stop the milk from coming?

Of course I took the internet to try to find help.  A lot of articles said to let your baby decide when she's done nursing.  Sorry, but June's not deciding this.  Most articles said to do it gradually, and that one day you'd wake up and realize that you hadn't nursed for a few days.  I find that hard to believe that the transition could really be that seamless.  Nothing I read said to stop cold turkey, but I admit this is a tempting thought.  I figure it'll be one hellish week and then we're done with the whole thing?  One year olds have short memories, after all.

I'd love to hear how your weaning process was and if it really is possible to do it so easily.  I definitely want to be done by the end of the summer.  Greg and I are going on a vacation in August that June is not invited to.  I know I could pump for a week, but that just sounds horrible.  Also, I can't do another frantic year of running down to daycare during my prep to feed June.  That and I don't have a prep period next year, so yah... it's do or die.

Please send help.
But please don't send Dwight.



Every month we read a book.  On the selected day, we talk about it. (Generally the last Thursday of the month).

Join in for whatever books you can.  Read what you want and comment on what you want.  Some readers write their own review on their blog and then link up to it, others just write their thoughts in the comments- it's up to you!  If you write your own post and link up, please slap the image above on your post! Grazi!


Below you will find that we have given you a few questions to get your brain thinking.  These questions all come from Steph, who is my book club co-host this month.  I love the questions she came up with- they foster great discussion! Remember, you never have to answer all the questions or any of the questions, they're simply to get your mind moving. (Or, if you are an eleventh grader you will ask me exactly how many questions you have to answer and how many sentences each answer has to be. Oh, teenagers!)

1. Throughout the book, who did you think was the killer?
2. Later this summer, Dark Places the movie will be released.  After reading the book, will you see the movie?  Any predictions on what will be emphasized or downplayed as they adapt the book to a movie?
3. Does Calvin Diehl deserve the title “The Angel of Debt”?  How do you feel about his actions- are they justified or is he simply a psychopath?
4. Does Ben’s punishment fit the crime?
5. Flynn is kind of known for her plot twists, were you able to predict any of them?
6. Who was your favorite / least favorite character? Why?
7. Could you have forgiven Ben?
8. As we jumped from POV to POV, was there one you enjoyed most?  Least?

And here's Steph's review...

Shortly after seeing Gone Girl last winter, I devoured all three of Gillian Flynn’s books.  Flynn’s writing style isn’t my favorite, however I find extremely difficult to put her books down. I find it so interesting that this totally normal and pretty sweet looking woman can write these crazy books, I mean who thinks of plot twists like these!?! I say that, but obviously I love them- so maybe that makes me a sick person.  

I thought it was interesting that this story took us away from what I perceive to be Flynn’s comfort zone (Missouri) and into rural Kansas. But don’t be fooled, this isn’t Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz’s Kansas though, it’s a poor, sad, depressing, dirty Kansas no one likes to think or talk about.  I think the setting lends itself to the storyline perfectly.  

I’m not always a fan of chapters flipping between characters and years, but in this instance I think it works.  It was interesting to get the current day perspective as well as the perspective the characters had in the moment.  Reading other reviews online, I wasn’t surprised to read that many people disliked the characters. I have a pity/hate relationship with Ben.  On one hand, I pity him, I mean Diondra completely ruined his life but he remains loyal to her.  On the other hand, he was a willing participant.  There were several points where I just wanted to smack him silly (the entire Krissi Cates situation). I have absolutely nothing nice to say about Libby, she annoyed me throughout the entire book and I felt no connection to her. Patty Day seriously might be the unluckiest woman around. Part of me wishes she would have just caught a break, but that wouldn’t have made for as exciting of a story, would it?  I think she tried, probably the best that she could with the crappy hand of cards she had been dealt and for that I have to give her some credit. I will say, I think Flynn creates interesting characters- they don’t seem cookie cutter to me.  I do enjoy that her characters from one book to the next are very different as well.

There were such weird and wild plot turns in Dark Places; some I felt were more believable than others.  The Kill Club was weird to me, but I think there probably are clubs like that – I mean there is a club for everything these days.  The whole premise of Calvin Diehl was creepy; I could see someone like that existing in real life. A crazy psychopath who thinks he’s helping people out. Eeks! I alluded to this above, but I was absolutely not a fan of the Krissi Cates plot twist.  I think Flynn probably could have given us a different more vanilla plot twist and the story would have been just fine, but she chose that specific situation purely for the shock value. I suppose when you are an author you can do those kind of things.  I also think that the Diondra/Crystal plot twist kind of went off the rails there at the end.  The dinner, Crystal fessing up to knowing what happened all those years ago, and then trying to kill Libby it all felt so unnatural and fake to me.

I’ll probably watch the movie when it comes out; I’m very interested to see how they adapt this one from the book to the big screen. 

And Bon's review...

I have so many mixed feelings about this book.  To be honest, I just finished it tonight, and I probably need more time to think about it and process it before I crank out a review.  But here goes anyway.  I don't normally answer all of our book club questions in order, but Steph's questions are so great that I think I'll be able to hit up all my big thoughts pretty well just by covering her questions.  You rock, Steph!

1. Throughout the book, who did you think was the killer? 
Because I have read Gone Girl I suspected there'd be a pretty crazy twist.  I could tell Flynn was trying to make us suspect Runner and that one seemed too obvious.  When Patty found out her farm was going to be foreclosed on, that was when I started suspecting that she may have something to do with the murders.  I originally thought that she had maybe killed her own kids and then tried to kill herself, but the way that the kids were killed was too gruesome to be the mom's doing...

A side note... I was pretty disappointed with who the killers were.  It felt like such a cop out that the killer was just some random hit man.  And that Diondra strangled Michelle.  I guess Diondra's motive didn't seem quite strong enough to strangle an eleven year old like that.  Then again, Diondra was freaking nuts.  Also, it was way too unlikely that the murders would be committed at the same time by totally different people with totally different motives.  I mean, that's just way too big of a coincidence and it bothered me.

2. Later this summer, Dark Places the movie will be released.  After reading the book, will you see the movie?  Any predictions on what will be emphasized or downplayed as they adapt the book to a movie?
I doubt that I will see the movie.  The book was gritty and dark enough for me that seeing it played out on a movie will probably be more than I can stomach.  I have a hard time with very violent tv shows and everything about the book was pretty graphic, so I don't know that I want to see it.  One thing that drives me crazy is that Charlize Theron is playing Libby.  Libby is supposed to be 4'11 with unproportionally large breasts and not very pretty.  She is described as cartoony.  And then they go and cast Charlize Theron, one of the prettiest actresses in the world to play Libby.  It drives me nuts when filmmakers cast actors who don't fit the physical description given in the book and just go for pretty girls to play the role.  (Another classic case of this is Myrtle in the Leo version of The Great Gatsby.  She is supposed to be fat not a cute, skinny redhead!)

3. Does Calvin Diehl deserve the title “The Angel of Debt”?  How do you feel about his actions- are they justified or is he simply a psychopath?  
The whole Calvin Diehl thing drove me CRAZY.  It was so out of the blue and random.  I almost felt like Flynn realized with 20 pages left that she had no killer figured out for her crime.  So let's throw some guy named Calvin in!  With so much back story that went in to this book it drove me crazy that our ultimate murder was just some hit man.  Pretty disappointing for me considering all the Krissi Cates and Trey and Runner drama I had to read.

4. Does Ben’s punishment fit the crime?
24 years in jail for being there when your little sister was killed?  No.  24 years for knowing the truth and not saying anything for 24 years?  Yes.  Ben was another character who drove me nuts.  I felt no sympathy for him- in his younger years or the present years.  I don't understand why Ben is still loyal to Diondra when he's in jail.  He said repeatedly when he was 15 that he didn't like her, that she was fiercely mean to him, that he knew he'd be unhappy with her.  It didn't make sense to me that he would still be covering for her 24 years later when he didn't like her to begin with.  Where was his motive?!? To me that was a total plot hole. (And you can say that he was trying to protect the baby, but wouldn't it be better that she was in jail and that he was out to raise the child?)

5. Flynn is kind of known for her plot twists, were you able to predict any of them? 
Like I mentioned, I figured Patty had something to do with it.  The Calvin thing was just stupid, how he had to chase down Debby.  I hated that.

6. Who was your favorite / least favorite character? Why?
The characters were so so tough for me.  I know books are not in the business of creating likeable characters as we discussed last month, but these characters were beyond unlikeable.  All of them except maybe Aunt Diane.  And Lyle.  Gotta love me some Lyle.  I agree with Steph in that I had such a particularly time with Libby.  She was so tough and bratty and mean, and I just couldn't exactly figure out why I was supposed to care if she solved this case or not.  I cared mostly for Lyle's sake, to be honest.  I didn't like Ben at all and I didn't care that he was in jail, perhaps unjustly.  If he didn't care to try to get himself out and give an honest testimony, why should I care?  I think that was the hardest part for me about the whole book- I didn't like Libby or Ben enough to care if they solved the case or turned out happy so it was hard for me to invest in the story.

*Side note= one thing that I did love was how Libby was a total kleptomaniac of totally useless things.  Like salt shakers and lotion bottles.  I just loved that, and I can't quite figure out why.  I think it shows her vulnerability, but also her tenacity.  And I loved that she eventually nailed Diondra by stealing her lipstick.

7. Could you have forgiven Ben?
No.  He allowed his sisters to be killed to protect his crazy girlfriend whom he hated... so no.

8. As we jumped from POV to POV, was there one you enjoyed most?  Least?

I probably enjoyed Patty's POV the most.  I am 29 next week and she was only 32 so I am closest in age to her, and I identified with her struggle of trying to provide and take care of her family.  I think I just really sympathized with her and enjoyed seeing things from her point of view.  At the beginning of the book I had a really hard time with the constant switching back and forth and the POV in the past went SO SLOW at first.  Gosh, some of those sections dragged a lot.

One last thing- I really enjoy Flynn's writing style.  Sometimes I got frustrated because I wanted the plot to move quicker and she was going on and on about some porcelain bunny that they used to put on top of the toilet, but in spite of myself, I kind of ended up appreciating it.  I enjoyed the extra taste all those little description gave- like it allowed me to see and understand the characters a little bit better.  There's one part where Ben is describing Diondra's cousins and how they threw change out the window- not just pennies and nickels, but quarters.  And how that's how you can tell the difference between people who have a lot of money and people who don't- by the way they treat their quarters.  Because several quarters can buy a meal and people who don't have money don't throw away quarters.  Gosh, I loved that.  It's just one of those thoughts that sticks with you.  A totally new and interesting way to describe something that at the same time has an old familiarity to it.  And tonight when I was cleaning off the counter and saw the quarters in Greg's spare change, I thought of that.

(Also loved the way she described Magda's neighborhood- like a bunch of ugly girls trying to pretend they're not ugly by wearing lots of make up and nice clothes.)

Alright, I'm done.  I can't wait to hear your thoughts on this one.  Comment your thoughts below or post the link to the book review that you did.  Steph and I will both try hard to respond to all comments so we can get a nice, healthy discussion going.  Can't wait!


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Kaitlyn and Nick: Bachelorette Scandal

By now I am assuming you Bachelor fans have all seen Monday's episode of The Bachelorette, or if you haven't seen it you have probably heard about it.  In a never before seen move in Bachelorette history, the bachelorette slept with one of her suitors before the appointed "fantasy suite" time.

There are many people who are totally outraged at this behavior, and Kaitlyn has been called a lot of not very nice names.

I, myself, am just kind of confused.  I don't really understand standard American rules about dating and sex because I grew up in a culture and religion where we wait until marriage for sex.  If I was a suitor of Kaitlyn's, I would absolutely feel hurt and betrayed by her actions, but that's because my attitude about sex is different from the majority of single people.  I guess what I want to know is what are the sex rules are for the majority of single dating people out there? 

I know that people are upset at Kaitlyn, and I know that her other suitors are going to be upset, but I guess I don't fully understand why.  It is a dating show where someone is trying to find a spouse.  My understanding is that the majority of Americans sleep with people they date before they marry them- that many people, in fact, assert that as their right.   My understanding is also that all of the men are fully aware that Kaitlyn is dating several other men, so I would assume that they would assume that she will likely be sleeping with a few of them.  My understanding is also that once there are three suitors left, they are all given an over night date with Kaitlyn, and often the couples do sleep together during this time.  So I suppose I don't fully understand why it is such a big deal that she slept with Nick.  What about this is a surprise?  Where did she break the rules?  Why have we all decided it's okay for the Bachelorette to sleep with her suitors when it's down to three but not before?

I am not defending Kaitlyn's choice at all.  I think it was in poor taste and showed a lack of awareness for the other men's feelings.  But again, that's coming from someone who has a different view of sex altogether.  I suppose I am frustrated because I don't feel like our society can have it both ways.  We can't say, "It's totally okay to have sex before you get married, it's an important part of intimacy, it's a way to show you really care, we're not going to be restrained by all that old fashioned nonsense of waiting for marriage, if you want to have sex that is your right and your privilege and a way to express yourself" and then turn around and say, "Can you believe this girl?  She had sex with a guy she is dating!  She is such a sleaze.  She's the worst Bachelorette ever!  She has no self control." PICK A LANE, PEOPLE!  When is it okay and when is it not okay, you confusing American society?!

*Also, I have heard some people defend Kaitlyn saying that it is a double standard because the Bachelors have slept with the women on their show, but not the Bachelorette and that we dismiss the behavior for the Bachelors.  I disagree with that.  While there may have been early on shenanigans by some Bachelors (Juan Pablo, anyone?) there has never been a Bachelor or Bachelorette who has so blatantly and openly slept with someone on the show.  Try to fight me on this one, but I have watched A LOT OF BACHELOR.

Monday, June 22, 2015

A Rookie's Guide to Budgeting

The past year I have felt like the money has come in and the money has gone out faster than I can really put my fingers around.  The more expenses we have, the less control I have felt like I have over the money.  Since we bought a home I feel like our expenses tripled- we need a washer and dryer, now we need couches, HOA fees never stop.  We also had other random expenses- I had to pay $500 to get my tooth fixed, June's hospital bills just kept on coming etc, etc.  It has been slightly overwhelming for me to try to get a grasp on our money situation this year.  We have been able to save some, but not nearly the amount I would like to to feel comfortable.  Greg and I have always struggled to be on the same page when it comes to money, how we spend money, how much we save, etc., but in the past month I feel like we've made a bit of a break through.  

 Last month I found this budgeting app, HomeBudget, that has seriously made all the difference in our spending.  This is our first month of really diligent money tracking, but so far we have spent way less on our credit card and I feel so much more in control.  I am going to share with you our money plan now, and in a few months when we have worked out some kinks, I will share again.  This isn't anything huge, and I am sure there are many of you out there who are much better at managing money than I am.  This is a budget for two people who don't like tracking money and aren't terribly good at it.  It is as simple as it gets, but for right now for us, it is working.  Like Dwight Schrute says, the key to a successful budget is KISS.  Keep it simple stupid.

*Note*- Greg hates the idea of a budget.  He feels like it is me putting a leash on him and telling him that his beloved snack stops at 7/11 have to stop.  Our entire marriage it has been hard to be on the same page with budgeting because I have wanted a strict budget, and Greg has wanted no budget.  After four years together we have been able to meet in the middle with a budget that allows some freedom for both parts, but still holds us accountable for our spending and works towards savings.  I finally succeeded in getting Greg to sit down and work out a budget with me.  The trick was, weirdly enough, I stopped calling it a budget.  I think that word itself just carries too much of a negative connotation to it.  Instead I said I wanted to make a "plan" for how we were going to spend our money.  All of a sudden it didn't seem so threatening to Greg.  So if you've got a partner who avoids budgets like the plague, there's your suggestion, folks.  You do what you can!

I feel a little weird putting out there how much we earn and spend (oh my gosh we make money!  don't tell anyone how much!  And don't tell how much you spend either!  Poor taste! ) but you all already know we're both teachers, so I don't think it can be too much of a surprise to you that we're not exactly swimming in money.  We make enough for our needs, though, and are trying to work hard to put some away and invest and one day be millionaires.  You know.  American Dream and such.

Okay, so here's our guaranteed earnings each month:
(School money is post taxes, post health insurance, and post retirement money- we put in $200 a month to retirement for now)

GREG SCHOOL:  $2300ish
BLOG GIGS: varies

And here is the budget for our spendings that we have used the past month:

Mortgage: $1300 (we pay a bit extra each month, trying to get ahead.  We'd love to get this paid off within fifteen or twenty years and eventually rent our townhome out)
Electricity: $105 
Gas/ Heating: $40
Cell Phone: $60
Internet: $60
Dish: $50
HOA fees: $109
Home furnishings and supplies: $100

Gasoline: $150
(right now we have no car payments.  WAHOO!  I don't know where to put the category for car insurance, though, as we pay every six months instead of monthly.)

10% of our monthly income
(for more information on tithing go here)

Daycare: $275
Food/groceries: $250
June expenses: $40
Dates and Family Activities: $160
Discretionary Income Bonnie: $200
Discretionary Income Greg: $200

Now, this is a pretty rough budget and not crazily specific because I know that would probably drive us both insane.  For us it is important to have just a few, broad categories instead of a million small ones we are constantly trying to track.  Family activities goes for anything that we are doing together either as a family or as a couple- eating out, going to the movies, paying for a babysitter, etc.  If we eat out, but we are not doing it as a couple or family, it comes out of our individual discretionary income category.  (I have found that this absolutely has limited the amount of money I waste on fast food because I would much rather use my discretionary income for clothes or a new computer than waste it all on food.)

Toiletry items come out of the grocery budget; cleaning supplies can come from groceries or from household supplies.  Gifts right now are kind of a gray area.  They come out of discretionary income if they are for each other but I'm not sure when they're for other family members or friends.  It's also hard because gifts isn't a monthly expense.  We also don't have a category for medical needs- again it's kind of tricky as it's not a constant monthly expense.

The home furnishings category is for anything we want to spruce up our home.  The sod I laid last month came from there.  A new pillow.  Shelves for the kitchen.  Save up for a new kitchen table. I love knowing I get to spend a little money on my home each month and not feeling like I really can't afford it.

June's expenses include mostly diapers and clothes.  I don't know that it'll be able to stay as low as $40 a month for long.

Already I know the food category will have to be adjusted.  It is only June 22 and we have already spent $300 on groceries, so $250 a month isn't going to cut it.  How much do you guys spend a month on food?  I always wonder what is a normal amount?  I feel like we blow so much money on food and I don't know how to buy groceries smarter.

The discretionary income categories are what make the budget successful for Greg and me.  I think some people are probably more disciplined or enjoy spending money a little less, but for Greg and I we both really enjoy just having a little bit of money that is ours to spend however we want.  The idea of a budget was daunting to Greg because it meant he couldn't spend money on the things he wanted most anymore.  The $200 discretionary income takes so much pressure off of us.  Every time Greg says he wants something I don't have to stress how we're going to pay for it and we're spending way too much money.  When I want a new blouse I don't have to constantly deny myself until one day I go on a huge shopping splurge and spend all the money I thought I was saving. The best part of the discretionary income is that it takes away the guilt.  Spending money is hugely associated with guilt for me, and having a plan like this takes away that guilty feeling.  It's awesome.

Now, for the app.  Before I was trying to use the Mint app but it just wasn't cutting it because it was trying to guess where I was spending my money.  Let's see... $50 to Target, what category should we throw that in?  Also, I was slightly paranoid about linking up my bank information and credit card information... I don't know, I just don't like that kind of info linked to an app.

HomeBudget is a manual app. (It does cost $6 for the app.  You can get the "Lite" version for free, but it only allows you to put in 20 expenses.  I started with the Lite version, took it for a test drive, so to speak, and then once I hit the 20 expenses, I went ahead and forked over the $6 for the app. I was able to easily transfer everything over to the non lite version.  It's totally worth the $6!)  You put in how much money you are spending on each item as you spend it.  The minute I buy a $12 dress for June, for example, I put it right in the June's Expenses category.  It adds up how much you have spent for the month and tells you how much you have left to spend in each category.  It will also rollover money if you want it to.  It takes a minute to get into the habit of recording every time you spend money, but once you do it is easy and convenient.  And for me it makes me feel so safe.  I know how much I'm spending, I know where it's going.  I feel so much more in control and I LOVE IT.

The top number is how much we are allowed each month ,the bottom number is how much we have remaining.  In the cases where the bottom number is in parentheses, that's where we've gone over. 

This is a list of the money I spent on my discretionary income.  Mostly on junk food this month!

One of the coolest parts about the app is that it syncs between multiple people- so you and your significant other can both keep track of your money, and it will update automatically on your device.

Keeping track of the spending is still entirely doable if one partner doesn't want to add in every little expense, which is great news for me.  I know Greg well enough to know there is no way he's going to pull out an app and record $4.62 when he goes through In-n-out for lunch.  So for Greg's discretionary income we just give him $200 cash at the beginning of the month.  He spends that money however he wants, but when it's gone, it's gone.  Groceries or gas he buys on the credit card, and then I just check our credit card spendings once every ten days or so and record any purchases he has made and put them in the appropriate category.  I feel like a budgeting genius!

Right now Greg and I spend pretty much every dollar that we earn from our teaching.  (This is the sad sad reflection of how much teachers make in our country.  A full time teacher and a part time teacher with only one child can barely pay all their bills on their two incomes.  When will teachers get paid more!?)  We do, however, earn extra money from our side jobs.  I earn money from blogging, and Greg earns money from acting/directing/ commercials.  Greg also gets a stipend for directing the school's musical and for running the auditorium.  These are "bonuses" and go straight to savings.  I get money for doing sponsored campaigns on my blog.  These are "bonuses" and go straight to savings.  Our goal is to save all of our "extra" money- a hopeful goal of $1000 a month.  (We have yet to manage that, but I am hoping with our budget in place and less unexpected expenses next year we can do it.)  There are lots of possibilities for our savings- grad school, a second child, finish our basement, pay down our home, vacations, a bigger car...

Alright, there it is folks!  I hope you love the budgeting app as much as I do.  This is 100% not sponsored content, but it is something that has changed everything for us in the way we spend our money.  I seriously want to tell everyone I know about the app.  I hope you love it as much as I do!

Friday, June 19, 2015

On having girlfriends

Hello!  I am back home after a whirlwind of a couple of weeks and I’m hoping to be able to give more time and dedication to this little blog.  Sorry, blog, for neglecting you.  I’m just the worst.

Life has been wild.  June 4th was the last day of school.  I left straight from school that day to the airport where I would join my four best friends from college for a long girl’s weekend.  Greg was awesome when I proposed the trip months ago and said it'd be easy peasy for him to work and take care of June while I was gone.  He was so sweet about being the single parent while I took off for three days, but I think as the time got closer and closer he started to panic.  ALL BY MYSELF?  What if she cries in the night and wants to nurse?  What if she cries and only wants mama?  I told him he’d be fine but inside I was panicking a little in the inside too.  What if she does wake up at 3 am and is absolutely inconsolable because she wants my sweet nursing goodness? (Honestly almost all worries stemmed from the fact that we are still nursing.  It's hard being the only one who has the ultimate comfort capability.)

BUT everything turned out fine and I was enormously grateful for my girls' weekend.  (I came home Sunday night, attempted to pack, clean and write three sponsored posts on Monday, and then we flew out to Cancun on Tuesday.  WILD.)

The truth is it probably would have been the easiest to just bag the girls’ trip.  I know Greg was secretly hoping I would, and I think a lot of people couldn’t quite get their heads around my need to ditch husband and baby to frolic with girlfriends on the beach.  I could almost hear people's thoughts-  You’re going to California for three days with your friends and then going to Mexico the day after?  Isn’t that a bit excessive I suppose it may be, but my college friends are like family to me, and I knew I'd regret it if I didn't make the effort to get out to Cali to see my friends for a few days.  It is the only time of the year that I see some of these girls and honestly, I need this trip.  I need the time to forget that I'm a mom and forget that I'm a wife and forget that I'm a teacher and forget that I'm a blogger.  I need to go back to being 21 and totally care free and not have any responsibilities at all.  No one counting on me, relying on me, asking me how to do something.

In all honesty, the past year has been hard for me because I haven't felt like I've had really strong girlfriends like I have in the past.  One by one all of my college girlfriends moved from Utah until last May when Amy was the last one to hightail it out of Utah.  It has been a bit lonely for me to not have those best girlfriends here with me and I have struggled to make friends on that same level since.  Is it just me or is it so hard to make friends when you are married/ have children/ work?  It feels like it takes so much longer to reach the same level or connection that I could reach with women before marriage.  Have any of you read MWF seeking BFF?  I read parts of it this fall and mostly just really identified with the author's quest to find a best friend and her struggle to connect with women post college dorm life.  Adults are busy.  Even with friends that live locally, I feel like I'm lucky if I see them once a month.  Good friendships are so important to me, and I don't think they are that easy to come by.  In fact, I think I am pretty rare that I had such a solid group of girl friends in college that all make an effort to stay in touch.

Strong female relationships have always been very important to me, but I don't think I realized this until after I got married.  I think part of me thought that once I was married that I wouldn't need girlfriends any more.  That a spouse would somehow be able to magically fulfill my every relationship need.  Shockingly, Greg doesn't fulfill my ever relationship need.  Nor should he feel like he has to.  No man deserves that pressure to fulfill EVERY NEED.  He doesn't love to talk about good deals at H&M like my girls do, he doesn't enjoy celebrity gossip like my friends do, he doesn't have the same focus and intent to talk about the same subject for hours and hours like my girlfriends do.  And *gasp* he gets bored talking about that rude thing that that one person said after about two minutes.   (Also, he doesn't enjoy telling and hearing pregnancy and delivery stories for hours on end.  Is that just my friends or are all women kind of obsessed with that topic?)

On a deeper level, I suppose I need my girlfriends because I need to have people who identify with the struggles of being a woman.  There are some things I experience that Greg will just never understand.  And I won't ever understand all of his experiences.  And that's okay.  With my girlfriends, we just get each other.  All of main girlfriends work outside the home in some capacity.  Most of us have graduated college.  Most of us have kids.  We relate to each other and I need these women to listen to me stressing and crying and then in the next minute I need to laugh until I pee my pants because Amy lost a dare and is sucking on Vanessa's toe.  

That's what I got this weekend.  
Thank the heavens for good girlfriends. 
Amen and amen.

(For past annual girls' trips check out here and here and here.)

This is Courtney and me at one of our many pumping parties!  We had a pumping party about every six hours and we were the only ones invited.  Want to know how to get an invite?  You must currently be providing milk through your body to a very small human.  It was awesome.  And only kind of annoying.

 We went to a Cronut place for breakfast (Croissant + Donuts).  It was pretty yummy but, you know, slightly overpriced.  California, man.  They jack up the price on everything and it's hard for those of us who are used to paying rock bottom prices for everything.  

My friends in this picture from left to right: Courtney, Amy, Vanessa, me, Mandy.  Sally couldn't join us this go around because she just had a baby a few months ago.  Sally, you are dearly missed.  Also, Amy is having a baby ANY DAY NOW.

This picture pretty much sums up Amy and Vanessa's personalities perfectly.

We took some jumping pictures off of this lifeguard tower.  It seemed a lot cooler when we were doing it than it appears in these pictures. We were waiting for the sun to come out and kind of hard up for entertainment, that's all you need to know.

Sunshine= Pool time.

Amy lost a game of ultimate slaps= has to suck on Nessy's toe.  I was kind of hoping it would put Amy in to labor and I could be her birth coach.  It didn't.  No labor. 

HOT TUB.  We went every day.  Okay twice a day.  FINE WE WENT FOUR TIMES A DAY.

Post pool/ beach.  Ain't nothing wrong with a little group showering.  Also, I always think I am making slightly funny faces when I do things like this and then I look at the picture and it's just like, Woah, Bonnie.  Woah.

All of the beach pictures were taken with Mandy's GoPro.  Gosh I want one of those.  It was amazing.  At the beach some four year olds flirted with us and we all missed our kids.  Amy threw a crab at me.  I pulled out my shoulder from running out of the water like the idiot.

And that's a wrap for the weekend!  It was the best of times  it was the worst of times.

It was just the best of times.

Love you girls.  Can't wait for next year.  Thanks for being my besties forever.  Sal, we missed you so much.