Katelyn has arrived!

Lilypie First Birthday tickers

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Another Christmas Comes and Goes -or- Pensive.

So, that time of year is here... and passing quickly. Christmas is easily one of my favorite times of year; yet I am always *so* glad when it is over. Our family made out well this year - and best of all - we did it almost exclusively in cash! Our cupboards are a bit more bare this week as a result, but the holidays felt so much better knowing that we weren't going to be making minimum payments on the credit card for the next ten years paying for our hour of enjoyable gift-opening.

Now, a New Year is upon us, and with that, I am trying to pin my husband down to one goal. To find a shared goal that we can work towards during 2009. Not so much a resolution, but more of a commitment to make some type of impact in where our family stands. There has been much talk of adding a new family member - which certainly has impact! - but I was thinking that perhaps we could commit to something bold that will positively impact our bottom line. (Not that a new baby doesn't have positive impact!) Something like:

No using credit cards. -or-
No dining out unless it is a special occasion (i.e. birthdays, anniversary, etc.) -or-
Moving into a more budget-friendly rental, or perhaps back into my father's home.

As time passes, I realize that I am approaching mid-30s without much to show for all my hard work over the years. I have no retirement savings. We have no life insurance on either of us. We have managed to live way beyond our means this past year (and we have the balances to prove it). So, as 2008 ends, I challenge us to find a way to bring positive financial change to our lives.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How to get the things we want -or- Learning.

I recently received my yearly bonus from my employer. In a sense, this is my hospital's form of "profit sharing." My share this year was nearly $700 - not too shabby!

So I was recently approached to consider a family trip to Florida. That bonus would have been a good start to paying towards our rental and gas expenses... It is tempting!

Instead, I let the practical and growing-older-and-hopefully-wiser side of me decide to apply the money towards debt. It absolutely irks me that although I made twice this year what I have *ever* made in the past, the mortgage companies I contacted all nearly fell out of their chairs laughing when I sought pre-approval for us to buy a house with a maximum value of $100,000.

How depressing! And so, I am hoping to turn a new leaf, reduce our monthly obligations, and eventually find ourselves a home to purchase - or at least be able to vacation more often with cash in hand, rather than relying on plastic. Here's a link to one of my favorite budgeting and frugality websites:

I've Paid for this Twice Already...

The 12 Days of Christmas series that is spread amongst various financial wisdom blogs is where I really found my motivation to go ahead and send in the funds from my bonus towards some of my credit card debt. I invite you to search out the information available there. It certainly helps me put things in perspective - and makes me angry that we throw away $775/month on rent!!! Anyhow, check it out. Your monthly budget will thank you.

Monday, December 1, 2008

We're Home! -or- Inertia.

We've been back home for nearly 2 weeks now. We miss the 85 degree weather. And I, specifically, miss my hammock with built-in audio of crashing waves. However, it was great to get home and see the kids!

We've now had our Thanksgiving celebration at my sister Jill's house (I managed to forget my camera); good food and good times were had by all! I also attended the Heritage Feast for Elizabeth's first grade class; they asked parents to bake a traditional family dish and then come to share that dish with all the kids in the class (also managed to forget my camera for this one).

My sister and I managed to hit a few Black Friday sales at 5:30 a.m.; the ONE thing I truly wanted a deal on was sold out but we did manage to find a few good deals on things we were giving or needed for ourselves. We acquired a Dyson DC07 vacuum and that was hugely exciting to me, but not so enthralling to the others in the house. (I'm the only one that seems to be impressed that I vacuumed up nearly 2 pounds of lint and hair with that new machine!!!)

Other than that, we've been fairly sluggish since returning home. Er, well, I have been. Jonathan has been working his arse off with the demands of Walmart during the Christmas retail rush. I worked the first weekend we were home and this Saturday night, but alas, I was home ill last night as I seem to have contracted a nasty cold and did not need to share said illness with the three fragile patients that were in the ICU this weekend.

This week's projects: find 2 more strings of C7 lights for the roofline (we grossly underestimated how long our house is) and continue preparing for the holiday season. I'm going to have to find a little less inertia and a lot more motivation! Happy holidays~

Monday, November 17, 2008

One Last Mexican Blog -or- Melancholy.

So, we're headed home tomorrow. I am thrilled to get to see the family again, but I am very sorry to have to leave this beautiful place we've come to love. Here are the last few photos we will post while in Mexico; the rest will wait until we are home. Enjoy!

A conejito left for us on our bed:

Even the ashtrays are beautiful here:

Jonathan and the Sea of Cortez:

Me and ol' man Cortez:

Happy sandy feet:

Jonathan was awed by the weaving of the palm fronds to make cabana roofs:

Love on the beach, in a hammock, while the sun sets. In other words: perfection:

Friday, November 14, 2008

O Ye Sister of Little Faith -or- Proof.

This post is for everyone, but specifically for my sister who seems to need proof photos that we are actually in paradise at this time. So, here is your proof along with a few other pictures of the past day:


Last night's sunset:

A poolside towel cabana:

Our room service desserts:


And this morning's sunrise from a hammock on the beach:


Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Great Beginning -or- Los Cabos.

So, here we are, in San Jose Del Cabo, B.S.C., Mexico. Just a few pictures to share with you:

Our hotel terrace:

Our hotel beach:

Horseback riders on the beach:

The view from Napa, our favorite restaurant in the resort:

"Crunchy Asparagus" appetizer at Napa:

My dish, "Chicken from Napa Ocean":

Jonathan's dish, Coconut Breaded Rack of Lamb:

More pictures to share in a more organized fashion. For now, it's off to the beachside bar Caribeno for a banana daiquiri and some delicious Mexican snack foods!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Our Family is Growing -or- Kitty!

Last week, we had a new addition to our family! With great pleasure, we are proud to present:


Trogdor (our faithful cat of 1 year):

Here's Troggie, just hangin' around:
Hangin' Around

With sharing these pictures, I reveal to you something I've only recently discovered for myself... I *heart* my cats! Quite a revelation for a person who would have previously sworn she was an anti-cat person. Soft and cuddly with a purring motor... I love my kitties!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Places I Love -or- Oregon.

Today, as the weather continues to turn chilly, I am thinking fondly of Oregon where winter rarely brings snow, and the state offers an entire spectrum of climates from which to choose.

Here is a link to a website I found before I moved to Oregon, and I still peruse her photos regularly. Take a moment to behold the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. It will be worth your time, I promise.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

2nd Trip to Walgreen's -or- Fun!

So... just got back from WAGs. Some terms for those of you who are not familiar:
WAGs = Walgreen's
BOGO = buy one, get one free
OOP = Out of Pocket
RR = Register Rewards
MIR = mail-in rebate
Q = coupon

1st Trans:
Wisp Candle x 2: 5.99 - BOGO = 5.99 ($3 RR)
Crest Paste: 1.99 - 1 ES Q = 0.99

Total: $8.54 - 4.50 RR = $4.04 OOP with $3 RR

2nd Trans:
Scrubbing Bubbles Shower Cleaner starter x 2: 19.99 - 10 manu Q - 10 MIR = FREE!
Shout: 2.50 - 1.50 manu Q - 1 MIR = FREE!
Pledge: 3.49 - 2.00 manu Q - 1 MIR = 0.50
Windex: 2.49 x 2 - 2.00 manu Q - 2.00 manu Q - 1 MIR - 1 MIR = 1.00 PROFIT
Fantastik: 2.49 - 1.50 manu Q - 1 MIR = FREE!
Wisp Candle x 2: 5.99 - BOGO = 5.99 for TWO
Glade Gel Warmer x 2: 1.99 - BOGO - 1 MIR - 1 MIR = FREE!
Glade Gel Refill: 1.99 - 0.55 manu Q - 1 MIR = 0.44

Bottom Line: 35.18 OOP (used previous $3 RR) (includes tax) with $3 RR and $28.00 + 10% MIR yet to come

Total after MIR deducted: $4.98 and $3 RR in hand!!!

Just imagine the ZERO OOP I would have had if this wasn't my first month doing this! Next month, I'll have my hot little GC with all my October MIRs on it - I've got nearly $40 coming to me for this month!


Sunday, October 5, 2008

More Frugal Shopping -or- Walgreen's.

Alrighty then. I did my first big shopping trip at Walgreen's with carefully-followed advice from the gals over at FrugalMomsRock.com. I ran in to a few wrinkles with items that were not in stock since Saturday is the last day of their weekly deals, but nonetheless, I rocked it! Keep in mind that I did not have one single manufacturer's coupon with me for this shopping; it is strictly built around Walgreen's special deals and Register Rewards.

The value of what I bought: $93.65. My out-of-pocket costs: $28.72 with $9.50 in Register Rewards remaining!

Register Rewards are cool because they are basically cash to use at your next Walgreen's stop! There are a few caveats such as: RRs earned by buying Proctor & Gamble items can't be used on more P&G stuff... and often you can only use one RR coupon per purchase (depends on the clerk checking your stuff, as well as the store management, I believe.) Anyhow, without further ado, I introduce to you the beginning of my Walgreen's bargain shopping:

Not pictured: 2 gallons skim milk and 1 package Walgreen's Cold and Sinus (20 tabs) which ARE included in the above numbers.


Friday, October 3, 2008

Late Night Visitors -or- Popularity.

So, last night, around 10 p.m., our doorbell sounded several times. Being fairly naive, I went to answer the door. My head didn't put together the connection it perhaps should have.

When I visited Dollar General earlier in the evening, the manager was commenting on how the high school kids had purchased nearly all of her toilet paper in stock.

This is Homecoming Week in our district.

I have a son in tenth grade. Sure, he doesn't play football. But he does have long curly hair and seems to be quite popular for his incessant comic deliveries of sarcasm both in and out of class.

So, as I answered the door and found no one there, I was momentarily confused. But then I saw it. The fluttering of long streams of white. And instead of feeling annoyed that we had been struck by the Toilet Paper Bandits, I felt grateful that my son is popular enough at school that his yard qualifies for TP-ing even though he isn't a football player. I may even find it a bit amusing that the school I attended most my life and never qualified as "popular" at has found my son irresistible to the point of including him in their high school shananigans.

Happy Homecoming, Ballard High School!


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Totally Completely Enraptured -or- October.

Yay! It's finally here! Autumn has found its way back to us, and I couldn't be more in love with the weather. The past two days have been in the 60s with crisp breezes and full sunshine. I love LOVE LOVE it!!!

Hello, October. I just called... to say... I love you~!


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree -or- Spirit Week.

This is Homecoming Week at our school district. Michael - who rarely takes an active part in "extra" school activities - shared with us last night that today would be "-er" day as part of the dress-up theme week that always precedes Homecoming in our high school. When I took him to school this morning, we saw a runnER, a plungER, and I'm told that my nephew Christian was a gangstER.

Well, Michael chose to dress up. I was shocked and pleased! What did he choose? Something not far from his heart, but oddly enough, close to my heart as well. Now, mind you, this entailed a new bandana, wristbands (which Jonathan had on hand), one hoop earring, and best of all: I made him up with eyeliner before school! What a kick I got out of that!

Michael was: an 80's Metal DrummER:


Saturday, September 27, 2008

Michael's Birthday Soiree - or - Enthusiasm.

Here is how enthused Michael was to be celebrating 16 with the fam:


And here is his candle-moment:


Needless to say, he is obviously very enthused.

A Day at Aunt Shellie's - or - Yoplait.

So, I had the pleasure of spending yesterday caring for my 22 month old nephew, Zachary. We had a good day, but mid-morning we made a discovery: Zachary *loves* yogurt. He ate two full containers of Yoplait - Peaches 'N Cream and Raspberry Cheesecake.

That being said, I decided this young man would be the perfect new Yoplait advertisement. Unfortunately, my camera did not pick up how much of the yogurt he was wearing along with savoring in his mouth. Here he is:



Thursday, September 25, 2008

Like winning the lottery! - or - Coupons.

I am proud to announce my first success as a newly-schooled "Frugal Mom." I recently joined a forum of women who specialize in being frugal. They do insane amounts of saving their money; they can show receipts reflecting $100 of purchases which are acquired with as little as $10 out-of-pocket (OOP). While my success was not quite that remarkable, I was able to reduce today's grocery/toiletry shopping trip by quite a bit.

I used perhaps a dozen coupons printed from various Internet coupon sites and combined these savings with Jonathan's 10% discount on taxable items at Wal-Mart. My biggest rule of the day: I could not purchase anything that we would not normally buy. (i.e. I did not use coupons that lured me into buying things you won't normally find stocked in our household.) The result:

$168.xx in purchases
$14.xx in coupons
$ 8.52 in employee discount

New total: $145.xx!!!

I saved $23.xx just by printing a few coupons and having a husband who receives a retail discount! Not nearly the 90% discount I've seen out of my friends at FrugalMomsRock.com, but a success nonetheless!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to You! - or - Michael.

Boy, things just aren't quiet in our house between June and September. Birthdays and holidays galore!

Today, we honor the 16th anniversary of Michael's birth. He's no little boy anymore! He is preparing to become employed and to attend Driver's Education classes in October. We ordered his class ring two weeks ago. This truly is not Mommy's little Magoo any longer...
All sixteen years of him have been a joy. No, that isn't a mother's bias; Michael truly is one of the best kids to have come along. He's smart, he's wise, and he's just plain funny. (He truly is a Steoger. Any of you who know my sister Jill and my father knows exactly what this means!)

I present to you: Michael Eugene Steoger.


Aruba, Jamaica... ooo I wanna take ya... - or - Vacation.

After much thought and discussion, Jonathan and I have decided to take a little journey - just the two of us - this year. We had a *great* time on vacation with the girls this summer and have both been anxious to plan our next trip.

We've kicked around a lot of great ideas... including returning to Oregon, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, or a warmer coast stateside (Key West, South Padre Island, etc.) Well, the decision has been made. I present to you:

Cabo San Lucas!!

This scene is Los Arcos at Land's End (the tip of the peninsula):

Los Arcos

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My favorite picture of us. - or - Happiness.

You will find the following photo to be one that you may have seen before. But today, as we plan our upcoming "just-the-two-of-us" vacation, this picture comes to mind. I love this image of the two of us, and I hope that we'll have many more great pictures upon our return from this next adventure.

Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Capers 7/27/07:


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Blogging is actually work! - or - Procrastination.

Well, time keeps slipping away, and each day I glance at the browser tab that houses my blog and think... "Jeez, it really does take dedication to update a blog nearly daily!" I've always wondered - when viewing other people's blogs - why they can't seem to make entries regularly. Well, I don't have to wonder anymore.

Since my last post, we've had a birthday party for Lauren, a volleyball game, and autumn has become much more obvious.

Here are the photos with the evidence of all these things:

A princess turns 12.
Lauren turns twelve 1

A novice volleyball girl who outperforms all others:
Volleyball 2 9-13-08

A solitary leaf gives it all away:
Solitary Leaf

The tree that gives it all away:
A Maple Conversion

Maple conversion:
First signs of red

I have decided that if I am going to blog and begin digital scrapbooking, I am going to have to become better friends with my digital camera, so you may find random pictures posted that do not have particular significance other than I photographed it. This morning, the girls were my victims:

Elizabeth 9-17-08

Lauren 9-17-08

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Happy Birthday to You!!! - or - Lauren.

Today is a remarkable day. At 12:32 p.m. CDT, our daughter Lauren Michelle marks her 12th year on this planet. The years have zoomed by with a speed no one can imagine until they are in the situation of parenthood for themselves. Twelve years. A dozen years. A decade plus two. Wow!!!

Lauren has become a beautiful young woman who is academically gifted, physically blessed, and she has more potential than even her wildest dreams might portray. Lauren, you are a remarkable girl who is growing into an even more remarkable young lady. I am so proud of you, and I love you more than words can say.

Today is your day, Princess. May it be even one tenth as special as you are (as that would be QUITE a special day!!) Happy birthday, Lauren!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

First signs of Autumn - or - Ecstasy.

It is finally here! Our first markedly obvious signs of autumn being just around the corner:

The temperature has dropped since this afternoon to a beautiful brisk 60 degrees.

A few crisp leaves are beginning to appear upon our grass.

The next door neighbor's tree is converting to yellow.

Wal-Mart is stocking their Halloween candy.

Lauren and Michael are dropping birthday wish list items into all conversations.

And perhaps most importantly... we shut off the air conditioner!!!

Here are the photos I've caught of the first signs of fall...

Reverse Photosynthesis?

The first few leaves have hit the ground:
Autumn leaves?

Our home - First week of September:
House 9/4/08

And not so much Autumn, but just as Awesome:

This is Jonathan, my husband, doing the one pass-time that he truly loves. And I love him.