home is where your food is [or something like that]

happy Thursday! happy Anna Howard Shaw day! [if you got that, well done] I’m actually trying to stay up on all the things I promised either myself or others to accomplish this next week. even the things I really want to get done seem to get swept under the rug, in the name of exhaustion or distraction. no more!

the big news, both for myself and the entire family, was that our tax return posted. when we filed, we were floored at how much we would receive. but, being the working poor for a year with two children apparently came in handy. we had two options: 1.) put the funds towards a down payment or 2.) pay down a ton of debt. we got into talks with a mortgage broker to see where we stand. our house in KC had to be sold as a short sale, which dinged us. our actual numbers aren’t so bad; it’s just that mortgage rules say you have to be free and clear for three years before anyone will give you another mortgage.

that was a bit frustrating, to be honest. it wasn’t our fault that we had to short sale it; we tried to sell it three times before we went down that path. we refused to let it go into foreclosure, and the banks told us the only way we could short sale was to not make payments. I was certainly wrestling with frustration and anger at a situation that I didn’t create but had to live out.

there were a lot of positives in those conversations though. we can’t buy a house, so we paid down debt. and it was AWESOME! for those of you who have paid off all your debt, or are in the process, I know you can relate. it felt like an incredible, massive weight had been lifted off my back. I totally see what Dave Ramsey and all the folks who give testimonials on his site are talking about. I physically feel better. isn’t that amazing? we are in such a better place now, with back up funds and debt paid down and a plan to have the rest paid off shortly. R is doing a ton of extra work this year, which is funding our travel. he’s headed to London, we’re headed back to KC in the summer and winter, and we’ll have both of those paid off no problem.

we feel like grown-ups now, having our finances in order and what not. the next step is to save for a mortgage as well, and I think we have a few options that will help us get into a house right when the ban is lifted. in the meantime, we’re looking for a cheaper rental with 3 bedrooms. we love our current place, but with only 1 bedroom for the kids, it’s getting tight. we’re asking a lot, though – we don’t want to move off this island, we don’t want to be too far away from work and school, we don’t want to have to drive that far to the beach, and we want something cheaper. [throws head back, and cackles] yeah, that’ll totally happen.

right.

I think we’ve found the church we want to stay with. I may have mentioned it before, but it’s a local Episcopal church. it has a nice mix of old and new, thoughtfulness and emotion. everyone is really friendly, and the kids really enjoy the nursery set-up. I’ve already been invited to their Bible studies, and am going to make that a priority this next week. as long as the kids are healthy [which they were not this last week], I have no excuse as they offer child care. it’s a win all the way around.

speaking of health – I think we’re all spiraling towards colds. there is one that’s going around S’s school at the moment, and she’s come home with a stuffy nose these past few days. it’s clearly not the flu, as we’re still functioning and not crowding the bathroom. it’s just a nice, slow-moving cold that is lingering. I’d say we’d just rest this weekend, but we’ve invited friends over for dinner and cousins are coming into town this weekend. maybe Monday? S doesn’t have school, so maybe we just crash? done.

R & I found a new burger place that we really liked. as great of a food town as Charleston is, they don’t have the greatest burgers. and that’s fine – their forte is seafood of all kinds, specifically shrimp and grits, not Angus beef. I had a real craving for a burger, though, a couple of nights ago. thank goodness for Google, eh? we found a place called the Sloppy Cow, which came recommended from some other transplants and online reviews. they stuff their burgers, add a couple things on top and they were DELICIOUS! I got the ‘smoking cow’, with bacon, gouda, and grilled onions. R got the ‘spicy cow’, with jack cheese, peppers and chipotle mayo. they’re not five minutes from us, so if we can’t eat in [which we could not have done that night], pick-up only took a few minutes. if we had decided to go for lunch, the kids could totally go.

isn’t it funny, what it takes for a place to feel like home? finding our own go-to places totally makes for me. I’m starting to use my map function less often for basic errands; we’ve frequented the mall a few times now for clothes and shoes; church, the beach, and school are all basics now; we have a pizza place, a burger place, a barbeque place [yes, it’s a mustard sauce, but given their geographic location, I’ll forgive them]. we do still need a Chinese food place – the first one we checked out was awful.

I feel like I’m in such a better place now. we’re not quite as stressed out about money as we were; G is sleeping through the night again, so I look like a normal person in the morning; we’ve made some wonderful friends, and know we can afford to go back to Kansas City when we want to. and, the Father was so patient with me when I was feeling down, alone, and tired. [oh, so, so tired!] I’m sure if I looked back through my previous posts, ones specifically about me, it wouldn’t look too pretty. I tried not to whine too much about it, because we were all sad about the move and I didn’t want to make the folks back home even more sad. I’m sure, though, some of it crept through.

as I told R, though, when we first moved out here – I’m thankful for jobs. and airplanes. I still am, but also for grace and peace.

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she’s getting so big!

just a quick post, in trying to get everyone caught up with the family. S is next on the docket, as we progress through. I fully realize it’s now February, but I feel like this year has gone by so quickly! if I slow down long enough, I really see the differences in the kids from even a couple months ago. it’s startling, to be honest.

S is doing well. she still loves school [which I’m praying it stays that way!], and has really grown socially in these past couple of months. I wasn’t sure how well she was getting along with anyone at school, and was about to inquire with her teacher. then, we got back from our Christmas travels, and they all seemed to really miss her! all of this means that she has weird friend rivalries, odd style choices [based on other girls’ odd style choices], and some friction as they all learn how to communicate and engage with one another. it’s good times.

we found out that she got into a fabulous charter school. we’re really excited about it, as there weren’t necessarily a lot of spots on and based on a lottery. it’s about 20 minutes away from our current place, so it means some driving on both our parts. R volunteered to drop her off most mornings, so that frees G and I up to take the mornings a little slower then I first thought. we’ll get her in the afternoons, and have a chance to get the run down of her day. we’ll have more on that as time passes, once PTA meetings kick off and kindergarten orientation happens this spring or summer.

she has a hilarious sense of humor. being around R has certainly paid off. she jokes just like him, and then grins so mischievously, followed by a “I’m just jokin’!”. a crack up, that one. she’s still very into art. her lessons start up at the end of the month, thanks to her Granny. she’s been experimenting already with different mediums; she likes to use chalk on construction paper, nail polish on computer paper, acrylic paint on whatever she can get.

she’s a fabulous big sister. as G has become incredibly mobile, she’s helpful with getting the floor cleared up and keeping an eye on him when he crawls into their room. school has been helpful in this, too, because she’s got her own space and her own friends in the morning, and therefore is not stressed that she had to be with him all day. that’ll change in the summer, but we have plans to be at the beach often so that should take care of itself.

she’s amazingly inventive and creative. I certainly hope that her new school and art lessons continue to foster that for her. she’s an amazing person.

here’s some photos to hold you over. I know some are planning trips eastward, but it all seems so far away still!

from KC - getting set to go outside in the freezing snow!

from KC – getting set to go outside in the freezing snow!

post-snow. yes, it was extremely cold!

post-snow. yes, it was extremely cold!

she informed me that she wanted to run errands dressed like this. oh, okay.

she informed me that she wanted to run errands dressed like this. oh, okay.


not totally of her, but she's in there [I promise!] she and R built a sand castle the last time we headed to the beach. we had an extremely warm spell, and headed out one afternoon. it was awesome.

not totally of her, but she’s in there [I promise!] she and R built a sand castle the last time we headed to the beach. we had an extremely warm spell, and headed out one afternoon. it was awesome.

li’l G – well, he’s not so li’l anymore …

fabulous readers! I’ve decided to break this months posts down into specifics of each family member. and honestly, let’s just start with the littlest and cutest member of the family. [see all photos below for proof] I also decided to post them chronologically – it just seemed easier, given the sheer amount of photos I wished to publish. hope you enjoy!

flying back to Charleston from KC - to say we were sleepy would be the understatement of the week

flying back to Charleston from KC – to say we were sleepy would be the understatement of the week

need I say more? he certainly was tired. and I will stop typing now as to save future embarrassment from comments I had wanted to make.

need I say more? this was taken on our first full day back home.  he certainly was tired. and I will stop typing now as to save future embarrassment from comments I had wanted to make.

this isn’t necessarily the greatest shot ever taken [and thousands of photographers all nodded their heads simultaneously], but it does highlight his new adventures.

this isn't necessarily the greatest shot ever taken [and thousands of photographers all nodded their heads simultaneously], but it does highlight his new adventures. cords, cords, cords galore! we didn't think we had that many thinks out that he could east. he proved us wrong in about three minutes.

cords, cords, cords galore! we didn’t think we had that many thinks out that he could eat. he proved us wrong in about three minutes.

such a sweet baby. and a sweet smile.

such a sweet baby. and a sweet smile.

this is a mite fuzzy - I apologize for the suckiness of my photography skills. and, to be honest, this one was probably taken at 4 am. because he is a punk. sometimes. regardless, this was chosen to highlight the enormous size of his head. it's incredible.

this is a mite fuzzy – I apologize for the suckiness of my photography skills. and, to be honest, this one was probably taken at 4 am. because he is a punk. [sometimes.] regardless, this was chosen to highlight the enormous size of his head. it’s incredible.

adorable and sweet, this kid is. and definitely willing to smile for the camera post-meals. full bellies equals happy babies!

adorable and sweet, this kid is. and definitely willing to smile for the camera post-meals. full bellies equals happy babies!

the time stamp on this photo is 5 am. gross. and notice, he may be full but he's not quite as happy. I think he's learned his lesson with early mornings.

the time stamp on this photo is 5 am. gross. and notice, he may be full but he’s not quite as happy. I think he’s learned his lesson with early mornings.

last photo! as always, happy, happy, happy. also, we're learning how to use a cup. he's pretty much mastered getting food into his mouth [his pincer-like grasp of small objects is hysterical]. transferring to an item that also gives food or drink does not seem to be a big deal to him at all. as long as he gets fed, eh?

last photo! as always, happy, happy, happy. also, we’re learning how to use a cup. he’s pretty much mastered getting food into his mouth [his pincer-like grasp of small objects is hysterical]. transferring to an item that also gives food or drink does not seem to be a big deal to him at all. as long as he gets fed, eh?

I hope by the end of this week to get some photos of the other li’l one. this weekend has been a full one! [read: no time for blogging. or reading. or anything else I wanted to do in particular]. I took the GRE on Saturday [we’ll keep you posted on how I did], we made it to church [ah-ma-zing! and on time, too!], and I did about ten extra loads of laundry because apparently my children thought that peeing on everything was extremely entertaining. I, as you might imagine, did not.

regardless, I hope you enjoyed the lovely, li’l G. he’s got a doctors appointment later this month, so I can report his official weight. if it’s no 20 lbs, I’ll be floored. because my triceps are informing me it has to be that much.

anyway…happy superbowl sunday! look for a posting by Thursday or so!