Current finances snapshot + a recent budgeting win
Hello, March!

February coffee date


family portraits by Cedric

Hi friends! I'm probably showing up to our coffee date just a tad late, which is unlike me, but that's just how life is lately. Since it's the afternoon I'm having a steaming Yeti travel mug of tea: one bag of Candy Cane Lane and one bag of Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride. Because the holidays are over but the holiday tea doesn't have to be. So, let's catch up!


Thin margins

I am operating with what I'm calling thin margins lately. For a few different reasons life just feels too full and too busy. Chris and I have barely had time to have a full conversation and mostly just say to each other, "Oh! When we have time we need to talk about x, y, and z!" Those conversations and all the little tasks of life that need to happen in the margins are piling up.

On the three days Maeve goes to daycare I sit down and fill the next several hours with writing, recording, and publishing blog posts and podcast episodes for RISING*SHINING and The Girl Next Door. Plus there are the other tasks that always come up related to our house in Eau Claire that is being rented out and myriad other home administrative tasks. Before I know it it'll be 2 p.m. and my work time is all too quickly coming to a close. I always find myself wishing for just a few more quiet hours.

I know this thin margin feeling ebbs and flows. And there are a few things coming up (like our spring break trip) that are taking extra prep that will end up paying dividends soon. I will appreciate having more time to catch our breath, and have a conversation, soon. Towards that end Chris and I did scheduled two dates nights for the next two weeks in a row so we're really looking forward to those.


A favorite yellow sweater, lost and found

For about two weeks this month I lost my beloved, oft-worn yellow cardigan. It took me a bit to realize it was missing from my closet but when I did I felt a mild panic rising in me. I maintain a capsule-ish wardrobe and my yellow sweater fills a very specific and loved role in my wardrobe. I love the fit, I love the color, and I hated to think about no longer having it. I've had the sweater for several years and don't love shopping so potentially replacing it with something similar felt very daunting. And two sentimental things about my sweater: I wore it frequently through my pregnancy with Maeve, and Cedric calls it the hugging sweater and loves to come give me hugs from behind whenever I'm wearing it. Every day that my sweater was missing I felt something like grief to think it might be gone for good. I also felt so annoyed because I don't have a lot of clothes and we don't have a big house so where the heck could my sweater be??

Well the answer the park!! I lived with my daily sweater sadness until one day I walked to the park to meet Chris and Maeve. Upon arrival Maeve yelled, "We found you sweater!" And there it was, rescued from the damp ground where it had fallen off the base of a light pole where I had left it when I got too warm at the park many days before. It was wet from the park sprinklers and had some burrs it in but it was fine! I had my yellow sweater again! I am still basking in the sense of relief of seeing my yellow sweater hanging in my closet. When I excitedly shared the news with the boys later that evening they both said, "Oh yeah, I think we've seen it there." What the heck, beloved children??

My emotional tumult over a cheap yellow sweater caught me by surprise but maybe you can relate. I'm curious, what piece of clothing would you be devastated to lose? Also, in the depths of my sorrow and just a day or two before being reunited with my sweater I realized that maybe the internet could help me. I searched for the sweater on Ebay and lo and behold, there she was. I held off ordering but I took comfort knowing that I could replace the sweater if I really wanted to. If my beloved yellow sweater might be one that you would also love just search A New Day yellow cardigan on Ebay and see what's available. I have a size small if you'd like to know for size comparison.


Hiking and one-on-one hangouts with the boys

I've loved the family hikes we've adventured out to do since our first one on New Year's Eve. Last Sunday I went on a hike with just Dash and we made it up to the Wind Cave for the first time. We tried that hike previously with Maeve in tow and the trail got too steep to carry her safely or comfortably. Sadly she refuses to go into a backpack carrier so we'll enjoy our slower, shorter family hikes for the next couple of years. But that made hiking with Dash all the more fun.

Chris and I have both gone on one-on-one hangouts with the boys recently. ("Can you not call it a date, Mom?" Dash told me recently. "That sounds kinda weird." Hello, I have a preteen.) We feel acutely aware of entering the preteen and teenage years and how the boys will naturally pull away from us. We want to foster as much connection now so that our relationships with them will be as strong as possible through those years.

Dash was such a great companion for our whole outing and it was lovely to just be together enjoying each other's company. On our hike I was daydreaming about the future hikes and adventures I might take with each of the kids individually or all as a family. I'm so excited to see what enjoyable hobbies and routines we pursue with each of the kids as they get older.



Potty training!!

Friends, my diaper-free future lies before me and it is glorious. Funny enough, until only a couple of weeks ago I didn't feel too eager to potty-train Maeve. She wasn't showing an interest in giving up her diapers and, being a strong-willed little lady, she was not taking to our gentle suggestions either. With Maeve being our last I was happy enough to let her be a baby for as long as possible. And then all of a sudden I was ready to be on our way. Luckily Maeve is on board too!

I'd like to write up a post with more details but in short I prepped for a potty training boot camp (which we haven't done before) and we went cold turkey on diapers (except during naps and at night). And Maeve has done awesome! The long weekend of practice established our new routines. Every day Maeve gets more practice and has fewer accidents - sometimes none. Before we started I had a mother's intuition that whatever mental development, and certainly the sense of control over her own body, that potty training would usher in for Maeve would help her moods overall. We've been dealing with resistance to every. single. thing. lately which has been exhausting. And indeed, whether potty training or just the natural cadence of emotional growth, Maeve's moods have been more pleasant and with less swings into tantrum territorial. Whew! With those thin margins lately it feels like a relief for Maeve moods and dependence on diapers to be easing up.


On the horizon

Finally, we have some fun things to look forward to. Top of mind is our spring break trip to Salt Lake City, with stops along the way at the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park! I've always known that I would want to take family trips to national parks with our kids so it's exciting to be making it happen. Despite living in Arizona for many years now I've only visited the Grand Canyon once and I can't wait to experience its awe-inspiring views again, and this time with my kids. Also exciting is that for our entire 10-night adventure we are only paying for one night of a hotel stay at the Grand Canyon. Otherwise we are staying in HomeExchange homes! (There is an annual HomeExchange fee of $175 but that covers unlimited stays so it can easily pay for itself.)

I've received some great recommendations for the Salt Lake City area and am enjoying planning our days and the logistics. I'm feeling optimistic about our first long road trip with Maeve. Hopefully that optimism manifests a great trip!


And there is it, 2:15 p.m. again. I'll wrap this up and wish you a good last day of the month.


I hope you found good things in February, friends!