Selling the family car

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Today, more specifically, RIGHT NOW, Prince Charming is at our house showing off my car to some complete strangers.

Let me tell you a little story, before we go on, you need to know this: I get attached to things really easily. and it’s really fricking annoying.

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(not our actual car)

I bought my little blazer almost three years ago and it suddenly became a family car to a family I wasn’t even part of yet. This was the summer that Prince Charming invited me to go camping for the first time. We’d been dating for a while, but never had been asked to go to a real family event.. to be a part of their somethings instead of just a hang out. The kids packed into the blazer and we loaded the dogs in there, somewhere. I have pictures of 12 playing with my ice scraper while 9 hangs upside down.. I don’t really know what they were doing.

We took them through the two tracks on the property and got their legs muddy from dangling on the tailgate.

The next fall we took the blazer through our town, searching for our forever home (that we still don’t have).

We took 9 and 12 to get ice cream and 9 spilled his all over himself.

One fine Christmas Eve, I was coming home from a particularly perfect evening with Prince Charming, and a drunk driver scraped along the side of my car. Leaving me with whiplash, a curved spine and a more intensified version of PTSD than what I already faced from an accident 3 years prior.

The next summer, we drove two hours away to this crazy, kid-tastic camp site. It was cold and rainy, but it didn’t stop us. It got so cold, the kiddos ended up camping IN the blazer.

We’ve spent what felt like hours not talking inside of the blazer because we, as a family, have actively fought from our house all the way to church.

We packed it with Christmas gifts and went to see my family and drove through icy, terrible weather to make it there.

We’ve spent a lot of time inside those four doors.

Last week, I gave it it’s last deep clean with us and found their legos under the chairs and socks wadded up and stuffed behind the seats. FOOD in the crevices and homework stuffed in places it shouldn’t be. It was bittersweet.

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This car is falling to pieces and we don’t have the funds or the

time to stay up with it, but it’s hard to see it go.

We did buy a new car last Friday, and every time I scoot into my new leather seats and blast the heat that actually works, I forget pretty quickly about the nostalgic Blazer.

Pray with my, y’all. Pray that right now, while Prince Charming is home alone talking to these random people, we will sell the nostalgic blazer. I hope to come home to one less car (this would put us down to FOUR). It’s like a mini car-lot at our house right now.

One work truck (actually belonging to PC’s company, but it sits in our driveway).
One truck for personal use.
One 93 ford escort that doesn’t run (AKA the blueberry)
and one shiny, new SUV.

Come on down, we’ve got a great car for you today!

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New Years Progress

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I’m not one for setting new years resolutions. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever committed to one for more than an entire week. If I’m going to change habits or do something new, I don’t need or want a new year to be the reason- I want it to be a real, prayed over, well-needed reason. My Prince Charming is the same way, except he conveniently is trying to eat better this week… I see you New Years Resolution, I see you hiding over there. I’m not downing anyone who sets these- I applaud you, really. I just don’t function that way. I don’t like to be told what to do and don’t really like to follow orders of any sort. I like doing things my way and on my own dime.

So instead of a New Years Resolution Post, I thought I would share some goals the Charming family might have for 2017 and beyond and may share if we have made any dents in them yet. So here you go!

The StepMomma’s 2017 Goals:

  1. Decluttering
  2. Fixing up House A
  3. Fixing up House B
  4. Making healthier food and life choices
  5. Saving more moolah
  6. Paying off all debt (excluding student loans, mortgages)
  7. Weekly Bible Studies with the kiddos
  8. Reading my entire bible all the way through
  9. Hosting a Bible study in our home
  10. Becoming a DBA and LLC for my personal business
  11. More family time
  12. Learning to cook one decent meal for the family
  13. Only wearing jeans one day/week…
  14. Read more.

Some of these are totally realistic. Totally attainable. Like for Goal 1, this weekend, Prince Charming went to a local store and raided their cardboard stash from behind the building and brought home probably 40 boxes- we filled every. single. one. We sorted through our office and got rid of all but enough to fill our hallway shelves. We boxed up all of our DVD’s except the family ones. We boxed up my cameras that are on display. We pitched not one but TWO old, rickety book shelves (and have one more to go!). We have a donation bag FULL of books, movies, clothes, etc. JUST FROM THIS WEEKEND. We rocked it. Hard. We formed an assembly line with the kids to get everything into storage- as we are trying to tidy, we are preparing to sell our house and decluttering is one of those things that New Home Buyers really appreciate. Lets just hope they don’t peek in the attic.

Doing weekly bible studies with the kiddos will be a challenge. 12 is uninterested and unconcerned with our faith and wants nothing to do with it. It’s a good thing he’s not the head of the household. Becoming a DBA is challenging just trying to follow the paperwork- I have it all in my purse right now, but I have to learn the language and really understand what they are asking me. I’m so excited for this to happen!

Number 13 is my favorite. If you’ve followed me, you know that I’m a leggings connoisseur and am slightly, mildly, wildly obsessed. I sort of -jokingly- said “I’m not wearing jeans in 2017” and I think I honestly could go 3 weeks without having to wear anything but leggings. But I wore them yesterday to prove to my boss that I still have real clothes, so 1 day/week isn’t bad 🙂 I also really want to read more. it’s been a goal of mine to read more once I graduated college and had more freedom in the books I read. I’ve been out of school since August and I’ve read 4 books and am now on my 5th- it feels so good.

I’m curious to learn if you and your family set goals together? Or if you do your own? Do you set goals at all? I love talking about upcoming plans and people bettering themselves. Leave your plans below!

Top 5 Date Nights with Charming

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Something that I love to hear about and I love to share about is date night. Always. I love date night. I crave date night. I love one on one time with my husband, without tasks to complete, laundry to do… time set aside for just him and I. My favorite thing he does is when he will text me before he gets out of work and ask me if I want to go out somewhere, he usually has a plan.  I love it so much because 1) he’s at work and he’s thinking about me 2) he wants time with just me 3) he initiates it

Now, we are not fancy date-nighters. We’ve probably never dressed up to go anywhere except a wedding, we like the same places, we usually don’t plan nights- they just happen (which I think is better anyway). But we go on dates a lot (perks to not having to find a babysitter any time we want to go somewhere, since we have nights away from the kids). So I thought that maybe some of you would like to share your date stories or  your favorites, or just learn some easy ideas on how to date the one you love. My Top 5 list is compiled of my favorite memories and the simplest, but best, dates.

  1. Our First Date (and now a repeat location of ours):

images There’s a little pizzeria about 25 minutes from our house that I used to go to with a bunch of my friends and I’d told Prince Charming about (he has no recollection of me suggesting this place, but knows he got a good review from a work buddy, so he took me there….right.) Charming picked me up and I was giddy as ever. I asked him what he had planned and he had 8 different things written down and let me choose (someone who took time to plan out dates and alternative dates? dreamy). So we went to eat and then saw a local orchestra perform, it happened to be Valentine’s weekend, so there were a ton of lovey dovey things to do. But this place, this pizzeria, has THE BEST garlic knots I’ve ever had. We got hooked and now this is a favorite (more expensive) date night. Pizza is always the best.

2) Standard Movie Night- We have this movie theater that is just getting blown out of the water, so they’ve made Tuesday nights a $5 date night. We can go and buy two tickets, a large popcorn and a medium pop for $18 or less and we LOVE it. Sometimes we go even if there’s nothing exciting to see, just as something for us to do for a good rate.
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3) My favorite kind of dates are the ones that happen on warm summer nights with the windows down, sitting next to my husband in our car, searching for our future home. We drive around town and look at things we love in houses and things we could never settle for. We listen to music or talk shows and laugh a lot. We have tried to bring the kids to these dates but they HATE it and they don’t understand that we have the ability to change the way that houses are set up (PC is quite the handyman) and that we can and will avoid certain things if we know the kids hate it. I love dreaming with my man. I love looking to our future and setting goals for us. This is the best way to my heart. 100%o-COUPLE-DRIVING-AWAY-IN-A-CAR-570.jpg

4)Antiquing!!! We love old things. We love trinkets too much and we love to restore items, if we have the time. For our anniversary, we spent the day in the biggest Antique store I’ve ever seen and sifted through THREE floors and a basement of old, crazy things! We found old newspaper keys and have them in a newspaper drawer, hanging on our wall. We bought keys that resemble things in our lives and we have plans to make this our anniversary tradition. I can’t wait for more.michigan-s-largest-finest.jpg

5) The best. The easiest. The cheapest. $1.25 pizzas and Netflix. We are all about the Netflix and chill lifestyle. We do actually make this date night-ish though. We make food, I lock the dogs up and we eat in the living room, which is a Cardinal Sin in my house. We find some silly show that I haven’t seen because I was born in a different decade than my husband and he laughs at me when I scrunch my nose at the bad animations or effects. I love this date. Leggings or sweatpants, t-shirts, ponytails- just as we are. We overeat, drink too much soda, usually buy candy or chips, and stay up too late watching silly shows.

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Those are it. My Top 5 dates with Prince Charming.

What are your favorite dates? Do you do any of these things? Give us date ideas!

Christmas Wish List!

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Just for fun, I thought I’d compile a small list of things that have caught my eye and could make their way into my closet with no sense of push back. 🙂
I love to shop, I go in spurts and right now I’m forcing myself to hide my debit card from myself and suggest items to my husband instead. You know. If I know what I want and send him links to it, maybe he’ll get me perfect Christmas gifts? (He’s actually really geat at gift-giving. He’s a big romancer.)
So anyway. Here it is:

 

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I didn’t think to mark these items by letter or number, so just bare with me.

LulaRoe Carly Dress First, I love flowers. Love ’em. I love bright colors, except I’m typically a dark-color-wearing gal. But I love this dress. But lets be honest, if you’re buying me a Carly, I don’t really even care what it looks like. They fit so well, they’re extremely comfortable, super soft. I’ve never loved a dress more than the Carly I just got two weeks ago, so clearly I need it in every print available. Size Large please.

Fish eye lens As a wedding photographer, lenses will always be on my list. Fish eye is the next one I want to play with and this one is a cheap way for me to learn how to use it. Fit it to my Canon Rebels, please 🙂

Swing I really want this because it matches a hammock my dad gave me years ago. And it’d be great to sit on the porch and swing life away (Cue Rise Against song here)

Memory Cards Again, photographer. Always and forever will I need spares.

Ring Wrap My husband is so sweet and got me a brand new wedding ring on our wedding day and I love it. But it is just a solid ring and people think I’m 20 and engaged instead of 26 with a husband and a bunch of kids. I really want a wrap to complete it. This one is $600, they make them for $5 and I’d be happy with that. He doesn’t like this idea, but I’ll keep whining 🙂

Catan–  because CATAN!

Light Set – photographer problems here, guys.

Amber Earrings– Charming brought me back an amber necklace from Poland and I wear it every day, I just want some simple earrings to match it.

That’s it. Pretty much anyway. Really, we have everything we need. These are just huge wants. Things I could go without (except the Carly dress. I might actually die without it.)
I’m thinking about setting up a PO Box in case you guys want to pool your blogging dollars together to get your favorite step-mother a great gift this year!

Just kidding. Maybe.

What’s on your list? How does your family do gift-giving? Merry Christmas, y’all!

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Getting Busy

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This is a really terrible picture of my planner from last month. If you’re not able to tell from all of the scribbles, arrows, highlighter marks, pinned notes, stickers and more. Last month was busy. In fact, life has been busy for too long.

I recently graduated with my Bachelors in Business Administration and expected to have down-time, and to be bored in the extra hours I should have had free up post-graduation. It seems that, if possible, life has gotten even busier. Like the things that I wasn’t quite able to tackle when I was a full time student, part time employee (35 hours/week) with another side job that rears its head at the most inconvenient times, volunteer and having kids at the house- they came out of the woodwork! In full force! I can’t even pinpoint what these things are- it seems like I’m doing the same things i always have done.

This weekend was very similar to the past 9 weeks. Wake up early, work, come home for lunch, work more, come home after dark. Sleep for 6 hours, wake up and repeat. and now i am feeling it. Busy-ness.png

I am feeling the aches of not sleeping well. I feel the lingering cold/bronchitis/death sickness that I had for 3 weeks.. never leaving. I feel fatigued. I feel distance from my husband who is just as overworked as I am and craves recoup time, while I crave his time.

We have been challenged with the command of Sabbath days. I used to practice them regularly, it was simple when I lived alone and only had to take care of myself. It was simple when I could manipulate my coursework to fit into the needs of a sabbath day. Now, the day we have “off” is usually replaced with side work. It’s hard to turn down when we are attempting to pay off some student debt and purchase a new house. Even if we don’t have side work, we have to play catch up at our house. Sundays are usually filled with meetings or work days after church- we often are gone from 9am-5pm, even on Sunday.

I’m challenged with prioritizing what is important. If I look at my schedule, it’s honestly difficult to find something that isn’t worth my time. Everything I do is either work related or spiritual growth. I hardly have social outings that aren’t tailored toward ministry or outreach.  How do we find a balance? How do we say that “extra work” is too much work?

How do we find balances? Sometimes, we come home and we are too tired to even try to talk over top of the television- which is really only on as something mindless to help us wind down from the day. We eat dinner together 99% of the time, I can probably count on one hand how many times we have not sat together and ate (unless one of us isn’t home). We really value that time.

Here’s a regular weekly schedule. Please remember to factor in house cleaning- laundry, dishes, mopping, sweeping, dusting, trash collecting, organizing, dog bathing/grooming, etc. I try to attempt at least 2 of these things/day so that I’m not overwhelmed by it at the end of the week.

So here I am, maybe this is just a confession or maybe it’s me taking a real step toward cutting some out of my life.

How do you practice the Sabbath day? How do you make your time Holy time, like we are commanded?

 

Bet the title of this made you think this post was going to be about something different, huh. 😉

 

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to succeed or not to succeed…

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Success: defined as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” by a dictionary somewhere.

what’s it really mean though? so many people define this word in such a variety of ways. does success mean checking a task off your list? (if we’re talking about me here.. YES. can i get an Amen from all my Type A’s?) does it mean finding your dream date and getting them to down on one knee with a shiny rock in their hand? or having the 2.5 kids and white picket fence? how about the 4 digit bank account… PRE DECIMAL. the great grades, the shiny house..?

or does it mean accomplishing the feat of reading your entire stack of books you’ve been putting off for the past two years. cleaning the gutters. saving every penny of what you need for your summer vacation. does it mean having a happy kid? healthy dogs and a smiling spouse?

who gets to define this? some days i feel like i’m a million bucks. like hey you, world. watch out because this broke, full time student part time barista is comin’ atcha and ain’t nobody gonna rain on this parade. days like that i feel successful. i feel complete and whole and i think sometimes the feeling of success can change.

because the next day, i can be reminded of the pile of bills against my minimum wage income, my list of homework due in 2 days, the masses of kids clothes (where do all of these come from? i swear i did laundry yesterday…), the beaten down car i drive and whatever else comes in to tear me down. those days, its harder to call myself successful.

today i feel good. this week, my work is extremely slow and i’ve gotten more chances to talk to customers than normal. we’re all sort of dying for human contact lately and i think they should’ve hired someone to make sure that we all go back to our jobs instead of talking at the coffee stand as long as we do. this week, i had one customer just share how much she loves me being a part of our workplace, that i am always happy and have a great personality. today i had someone tell me that i had a beautiful soul. another one compliment me as i told her i needed a real job. i had 3 people take business cards for my photography side job and seriously consider hiring me. i felt like a million bucks. but where did it come from? i thought about what i use to validate my feelings and how sometimes, a person can say the exact same statement to me one day and the next, and they’ll trigger new emotions in me each time. i thought about how my kiddos are overall happy and very well taken care of, they don’t dread being around us (anymore!), my husband and i are both working as much as we can and busting our butts in school, and our smelly dogs have food. i think about how i am grateful for my relationship with Christ and the way he teaches me that worldly success isn’t something i need, but something that i strive for, personally.

i wonder if anyone else feels this way. how do you validate your success? do you feel like you are successful? in what ways are you not… how can you be?

#hustlehard ladies, it’s worth it. whether the hustle is at home washing clothes and cleaning up the spider webs or in a gas station, selling jerky and 20 oz sodas. do what you have to do to find what makes you feel successful and keep at it. you’re a badass mom who is working hard to keep what you have and to better yourself and your family. if you weren’t, you wouldn’t be reading a blog that’s trying to link us all together, right?