Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Perfect House(s)

I don't think we have ever come across a house that we both agree is perfect.  Travis and I have been casually looking at houses to see what's available in our price range.  We could be homeowners in March.  Or, we can wait, boost our credit and gain more in savings and potentially qualifying for a little more if we wait until fall.  So we've been looking to get an idea of what we want to do.  It's become a nice little date night for us.  We get something super cheap to eat and drive around together.  We talk about what we like and don't like - and sometimes we'll act like we already own the house - just to see what it would feel like for a brief moment.  We talk about our future, and we dream together.

As we have been casually looking around, we found 2 houses that we just fell in love with.  Terrible timing!  We shouldn't have started looking!  I knew this would happen!

These houses have been on the market for a while.  I'm saddened by the thought that these houses might not be on the market anymore when we are ready to make an offer.  But at least we got to see them.

Here's our #1 pick:

No one buy it - PLEASE!!

Here's our #2 pick:

Now I feel heartbroken.  I'm not looking at any houses anymore.  I'm just going to end up sulking because we didn't get it.

When you were house-hunting, when did you start looking at houses on the market?  Did you miss out on a house that you really wanted?

**ETA:  So we found out today that we do not want House #2 because it is a Short Sale.**

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Always Keep Track of Everything - Update!

It's super important to keep track of everything.  Whenever you make a payment, it is always best to either write on the bill when you paid it, how you paid it, and if you spoke to anyone about your bill, the person's name.  It's also super important that anything you pay online, you get a copy of your payment, print it out, make sure it says how you paid it, and again: if you spoke to anyone, their name.  And it's always important to file everything - from your bills to your bank statements - and have it filed in a way that you can easily find things.

I have had collectors call me in the past and try to convince me that I did not pay a bill.  All I had to do was go into that file, find the bill, and I could tell them "I paid it on this day, with this check/credit card, and I spoke to Joe on this other date." They would fumble and say, "we'll note this on your file!"  If I didn't have that, they would probably try to persuade me into paying extra.

One collector in the past tried to tell me that I didn't pay a bill.  I did.  The debt was 100% paid off.  They kept calling, kept harassing me, and I kept telling them no.  For months, they bothered me.  AND, they continued to hit my credit.  Then, they sent me a letter saying that if I didn't pay a certain amount, they were taking me to court on December 4, 2011.  Needless to say, I paid them.  It is terrible to get summoned for a collection debt.  That will hit your credit super hard.  They were wrong.  In 2012, they were audited.  They had to fix my credit score from the damage they did to it, and they were required to give me back the extra amount I paid.
Which reminds me that I need to send a copy of the letter to Kari....

Always keep track of everything.  It is so easy now with online payments and automatic withdraws for companies and collectors to get sticky fingers.  Which is what I experienced today!

I have not been late on my student loan payments.  I have always paid on time.  Since we are trying to boost our credit, we never wanted to run the risk of being late on a payment.  I set up automatic withdraws for my monthly payments.  I thought that my bills would be paid on time.... Apparently not.

Last Thursday, I checked my student loans online.  I owed $283.  I noticed that there were no pending payments listed.  Worried, I tried to pay the bill anyways.  A notice came up saying that since I was signed up for automatic withdraws, any amount I paid would be ADDITIONAL.  Currently, I do not want to pay anything additional.  So I assumed that the payment would go through on it's due date (today).

I went back to the online bill pay for my student loans to find a lovely notice saying I was past due!
Say What??
HOW can someone on automatic payment withdraws be past due??  I tried to pay it, but again, I got a notice saying that since I am currently set up with automatic withdraws, it would be additional.  Now, how in the world am I supposed to pay this bill?  I decided what the heck, I'll just ask to be reimbursed the additional amount.  Then I was presented with this lovely message:
Oh, well that's convenient.

I checked my online bank account.  Sure enough, there was the student loan company's name in all capital letters.  They took out the payment from my bank account!  Not only did they take out a payment, they took out $357.06.  That's $73.20 more than my monthly payment.

Well look at that!

I will be updating this post after I speak to customer service.  This cannot hit my credit!  I am freaking out a little bit.  This is criminal.  They have to fix it - and they have to guarantee that it will not touch my credit!  Saying I'm mad is an understatement right now.  However, if they don't fix it, a friend of mine told me that his family (who own a law firm) will have no problem speaking on my behalf.  If it has to go further, his family will represent me pro bono (aka, free).  Hopefully it won't have to go to that extent, but just in case, it is nice to know I have that leverage.

*~*~*~*~*~* UPDATE *~*~*~*~*~*

So I called customer service this morning first thing.  I was so mad and confused.  The Customer Service Rep (CSR) did not make matters any better.  Travis had to take the phone away from me and talk to her.  What can I say, I was more than frustrated!

We'll go back a little ways.  Usually, when I think of "Due Date" for bills, I assume that is the day the payment is due.  I'm never a day late on payments.  Because Travis and I live paycheck to paycheck, we budget hardcore.  Each week, I have it planned to pay a little bit towards all of my bills - based on priority.  That way, my bills are paid BEFORE the due date.  It also helps us to live our lives on a week to week basis without fear that our bills won't be paid.  It's all planned out and we do our best to follow our plans.  On top of that, it's always best to pay the bills with the highest interest rate early because a greater percentage of the payment will pay towards the principle balance - not interest.  By the time the bill is due, majority of the payment will go towards interest.

On January 3rd, I paid $75 towards my student loan bill.  On Friday, January 4th, I called the company and spoke to a CSR about lowering my monthly payments.  It's not that we can't afford it, necessarily, but we'd rather use that money at this time to purchase a home.  That way, we can always pay more when we can or when we want to.  The CSR gave me a few options, and we worked out a plan.  He told me that my next bill will be $282 (and some odd cents - I always round up).  I asked him about my $75 - and he said it would be applied towards my bill of $282.

On January 15th, I did the dumb thing and signed up for automatic payments.  I should not have done that.  Once I signed up for automatic payments - that $75 became an "additional" amount.  I did not know this.  On January 24th, I checked my online account to see if the payment had gone through yet.  It didn't.  There were no pending payments.  However, it said my monthly payment was $282 (and some odd cents).  Because the loan company recently changed their website, I could not find a statement anywhere saying what amount was paid or not.  Because the CSR told me that my monthly payments would be $282, I assumed the amount listed was the total bill.  I figured the $75 would be applied, because that's what he said!

Sunday was the due date.  I checked my online loan account, and you all know what I found.  So this morning, bright and early, I called the company and the CSR got an earful.  She would not give me a straight answer.  I was so confused, that I just lost it.  It sounded like no one there knew what in the world I even owed!  Once Travis got on the phone, and I calmed down, things started to become clear between us.

Turns out, the previous CSR did not change my monthly payment plan and never made a note on the account.  So technically, I owed $357.06.  The balance that was showing up online was the amount after the $75 had been applied.  HOWEVER, because I signed up for automatic payment withdraws, those automatic payments take out the full amount.  So this company not only took out $357.06 - they also took out an additional $75.  Basically, we "lost" $150 this month.  I asked if, because of the confusion, they could reimburse $75 or apply it towards my next bill, and they said no.  There was nothing they could do.  We are just out that money.

We set up a new payment plan with this CSR.  I have her name, and I recorded our conversation.  I won't let that happen to me again.  Once she knew she was being recorded, she certainly changed her tune.  Now, we're back to what we were originally paying in December:  $303.  Whatever.  Now I have to update our budget again.

This has me super upset.  I could have used that $75 towards our House Fund.  Here's why:  Travis and I have been working with credit advisors and what not to boost our credit.  Our credit advisor suggested that since I paid off my credit card completely, I should put $100 on it and pay it down to $10-$20 to develop a consistent history of revolving credit.  I followed their advice and put $110 on my credit card.  I WAS going to use $75 for paying down my credit card - but it looks like we're going to have to pull $75 from our House Fund savings account to pay the credit card.  Thanks student loan company! **obviously sarcasm**

Saturday, January 26, 2013


I HAVE to brag.  I feel like such an idiot for not asking for a signature or picture.
Way to go Liz!  A big deal walks in the door and you talk to him, and you have this 365 Photo Project but, nah, we won't take a pic or anything to share.  BAH!

Next celebrity I meet, I'm getting a picture!

I work in a hotel.  I love it there.  You never know what in the world the next day is going to be like or who you are going to meet.  A local music.... I don't know what they are called.... they book concerts and make sure the musicians have a place to stay.  Well, majority of their country musicians stay at our hotel.  A lot of times, they are not your super iconic celebrities.

BUT, today, I said hello to Brantley Gilbert.  Ok, ok, you might be saying "who?"  He's growing in popularity in the country/class rock genre.  This is the dude:

It was so funny.  He walked up, was texting or something on his smart phone with all of his luggage, just checking out of his room.  I had to do a double look because I thought he looked familiar.  Hence, this is why I said hi to him - so I didn't seem super awkward or anything. ::rolls eyes::  The hotel manager, Lisa, had a message for him, so she chatted with him for a bit.  I could not figure out why he looked so stinkin' familiar.

Once he left, Lisa asked, "Is he some famous country singer?  He was with *name of client I cannot disclose*"  For some reason, the name sounded familiar but it didn't click this morning.

Gladys, one of my coworkers, replies, "I think so."

Lisa commented that he doesn't look like the typical country singer.  She and I both said he looked more a rocker dude.  Gladys agreed, "I don't know if he's country.  He has way too many piercings to be a country singer."  Gotta love Gladys!!! :P

I looked him up online.  Once I saw his most popular picture on the computer and the titles of his songs, I knew who he was!

I wish I had gotten a picture.  I wish I had gotten pictures of all the celebrities I've met:  Wenona Judd, Ron White, Meg Ryan, Howie from BSB, Angelo Pizzo.... *sigh*  I never think about getting an autograph or picture taken.  Who does that?!?  I cannot believe I spaced it.  I guess this pic will have to do.

WKLB Country 102.5

I have not forgotten about my 365 Photo/Video Project.  Tomorrow is my day off and I'll be uploading all of my pictures onto my computer and what not.  A lot of times, I'll take pictures throughout the day - and then I select the best pic from that day.  It's been a pretty stressful week.  Catch ya tomorrow!

Friday, January 25, 2013

A Little On The Personal Side

This might be a long one.  However, I need a way to put this in the right words.  I know that I don't know everything.  But I have always been a huge supporter of equal rights in this country.  For someone that doesn't know this, they obviously don't know me well.  It's something that fuels me.  It's a topic that I find incredibly sensitive.  Today I had to delete a few posts from a supposed "friend" because of something they said that could have hurt a lot of other friends and people I know.  I know people don't like "dirty deletes" - but when it is something that is full of sarcasm and bigotry that is going to hurt people - I find deleting these are appropriate.  I don't want that on my profile. AT. ALL.

Honestly, politics are ridiculous.  I lost my cool this past election because all topics that were brought up involved equal rights.  I could not comprehend how people could be so cruel and narrowminded.  I could not understand why people were fighting AGAINST equal rights.  I lost it.  This past year, I've been so sensitive to the topics of equal rights - that I have gladly, without double thinking, unfriended Facebook friends and stopped talking to those who disagree with me completely on the topic.  I have even stopped contact with cousins because we cannot see eye to eye - so much so that it interferes with our relationship.  People may think I handle it immaturely, but I don't.  Why would I want to have people in my life that I feel do not agree with my morals, who do not support my beliefs (whether or not they agree with them), and who purposely say or do things that could hurt those I care about just out of spite?  I can't handle it.  Because I can't handle it, I cut it out of my life completely.

I will never apologize for sticking up for Gay Rights.  I will never apologize for speaking up about women's rights in areas I feel it is neglected.  And I will never tolerate someone making fun of my beliefs or gay individuals.  End of story.  If you expect an apology for that, then you won't find it here.

Growing up, I've had to talk 2 friends out of suicide because they were gay.  I stuck up for my friends when kids at school would make fun of them.  I remember long, late night talks about their fears about the day they tell their parents.  One important influence in my life was a Buddhist and he is gay.  I will always, for the rest of my life, stick up for gay rights and freedom of religion because I owe it to that important person.  He was a teacher who taught me a lot more from life than any hateful bigot I've met.  He was there when I needed someone most in my adolescence.  I owe it to him to make sure that he has the same rights in this country that I do.  He opened my eyes to a life I didn't know existed.  The least I could do for him is stick up for a life he deserves to have.

I don't care if I'm a Christian Episcopalian.  If you are a Buddhist (or any other religion), why would I have any reason to have hatred or unkindness to offer you?  Why would I not stick up for someone's rights for freedom to love who they want and receive the same benefits in this country as I do?  Why would I not stick up for someone's rights for freedom of religion if I want to protect my rights to worship how I choose?

Mock me all you want.  I've heard it a million times.  "Put your cape away."  "Quit pretending to be a hero." "You won't end up a martyr, so why are you trying so hard?"  I grew up sticking up for people.  When I see people ganging up on someone, being mean just because they can, or practicing straight up bigotry - YES, I will stick up for someone.  You better believe that if you aren't around, I'll stick up for you too.  I won't just sit back and let everyone have at it.  I don't think I'm some kind of hero.  I don't pretend to care.  But if I see someone getting BULLIED - you better believe I'll speak up.  Why?

Because sometimes, the person being bullied cannot!

I have known 2 people who have taken their lives because they felt people treated them unfairly.  They felt like they couldn't speak up.  They felt like they didn't matter.  I'll be damned if one more person I know suffers that without knowing that at least I stood up for them - no matter how big or small it is.

I don't care what color you are.  I don't care where you grew up.  I don't care who your family are.  I don't care if you are straight, bi, gay, or trans.  I don't care if you are Atheist.  I don't care if you are a little more sensitive to people's comments.  Some of us don't naturally carry thick skin and a backbone.  I have witnessed sweet, quiet people looking for belonging get trampled on because that's all they want:   A sense of belonging.  If you want to fit in, you aren't going to have that thick skin and backbone until someone shows you what thick skin and backbones even are!  You aren't going to have any idea what it is like if everyone is beating you while you are down.

I will not apologize for sticking up for people.

I will not tolerate people saying hateful things without me having a say.  Guarantee, I will be the lone ranger in a hateful crowd.  I will not let it slide.  In my eyes, there's too much to lose if I do.

Most importantly, I will not apologize for sticking up for myself.  If you are nice to me, I am nice to you.  But if you want to call me and cuss me out - I'm not going to listen to it.  If you want to send me mean messages, I'm going to delete them.  And if you are going to attack me, I'll defend myself.  I will never apologize for that, either.

If you don't like it - then move along.

EDITED:  My former teacher, Marc, posted this tonight.  It was fitting for this post.  I'm quick on the defense and I get emotional.  It's something I need to work on.  It doesn't do me any justice to flip out.  Anyways, I wanted to share this with you all.

“When a simpleton abused him, Lord Buddha listened to him in silence, 
but when the man had finished, the Buddha asked him, ‘Son, if a man 
declined to accept a present offered to him, to whom would it belong?’ 
The man answered ‘To him who offered it.’ ‘My son’, Buddha said, ‘I 
decline to accept your abuse. Keep it for yourself.’”

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Liebster Award!

::sniff sniff:: It's so beautiful!

I'm super excited to announce that I've received my first blog award!  YAY!  Special thanks to Ryanne for the nomination!  Definitely check out her blog at A Method in the Madness.  Hop on over to her blog and say hi!
ETA:  A big shout out also goes to Jamey over at A Fraction of the Whole for nominating me as well.  Her blog is super cute - so check it out, too!  And show Amanda some love over at A Whole Lotta Somethin'!  Her blog is pure delciousness!!

So what is the Liebster Award?
The Liebster Award nomination goes to those bloggers who have a following of less than 200 to promote other bloggers to comment and share - even get to know each other!  I think this is great, because it gives you the potential to gather a larger following!  If you get nominated, you cannot nominate the person who nominated you (No tagbacks!).

The point of the Liebster Award is to answer questions, tell 11 secrets about yourself, and nominate 11 other bloggers who fit the criteria.  Here it goes!

11 Things About Me

  1. I absolutely hate spaghetti.  I have no idea why.
  2. I own land by my great-grandparents old homestead in Kentucky.  It sits high up on a mountain.  Unfortunately, the land isn't really anything I could build a house on or do anything with.  My uncle rents it for his horse pasture.
  3. My favorite color is orange, second favorite is teal.  Travis's favorite color is Teal, and his second favorite is orange.
  4. I am a Scorpio to a T.  My zodiac sign fits me perfectly.
  5. I am so sorry to say this, but I don't like musicals.  ::runs and hides::
  6. I always had this dream to write a book - a fiction fairytale-like book.  But, let's be honest, I'm way to lazy to attempt it.
  7. I can't stand the sound of my voice.  It's too girly and makes me sound naive.  I wish I had an "adult voice."
  8. I am most self conscious about my big ears.  I'm like Dumbo.  These suckers can make me fly.
  9. I play Devil's Advocate in most political debates.  1.) I find it funny that some people get way too bent out of shape about it.  2.) It's no one's business who I actually vote for.  3.) It really helps strengthen my points of view and my morals on certain issues from trying to think about it from a completely different perspective.
  10. I was a ballroom dance teacher.  I quickly learned that dancing is better as my hobby than a career.
  11. I absolutely, 100% hate winter/snow with a fiery, burning passion.  I cannot stand to be THAT cold. And I hate having to drive and walk in it, especially when I have to clear off my car of all the snow and ice.
11 Questions

1. Why did you decide to start a blog?
     A:  This blog is dedicated to the journey Travis and I embark as a couple.  We're building our careers from the start.  We lost so much.  We've endured enough as is.  After losing so much from medical debt, we've persevered.  We're rebuilding our lives together.  That's the point of this blog - to document the journey.  It gives us hope that things will work out.

2. How did you know that your spouse was THE ONE?
    A:  Travis and I just clicked.  It was the way he laughed.  It was the jokes he made.  He had an unbelievably open heart.  It was the way he smiled and looked at me.  It was the way I felt in his arms.  He was the only one that actually got me.  He understood me.  He is such a loving person, inside and out.  He shines and lights up a room.  I don't think I ever had someone that meshed with me so well.  I love him.  He's my rock when I need it.  He's amazing.  I love him with all I have.

3. Name the 3 most important people in your life and why they are so important.
   A:  I'm having a hard time selecting 3 - so I'm going to choose 4.  Number 1 is Travis.  Travis and I have walked together, side-by-side, through the good times and the bad.  We work as a team.  It took us a while to get to that point - and it was pure dedication on both parts.  Travis has saved my life and I have saved his.  We've never left each others' side.  Number 2 is my mother.  My mother has always provided me with the best advice in so many different ways.  She's put me in my place when I need it most, and she's given me utmost love and affection when I needed it most.  She always raised me with the concept of "I'm not here to tell you what you want to hear.  I'm here to tell you what you need to hear because I love you and I care."  I don't know where I would be without her guidance and humor.  Number 3 is my father.  He has always made time in his life for me.  He always dove head first into all of my silly hobbies and activities that I pursued throughout my life.  He has always been proud of me - and he tells me regularly.  My dad will put his life aside for me.  He would give his life for me.  I know this, and I feel truly blessed to have such a strong willed, big hearted, hard working man take such pride in me.  I don't know what I would do without my daddy.  Number 4 is my sister Stephanie.  She has always been my best friend.  We would hang out together on a regular basis.  We stayed up late - just like it was a slumber party with your BFF.  We told stories, we told secrets - and today, we share that same bond.  Whenever I need to talk or escape from daily life, my sister is always there.  I couldn't walk this life without my big sister being around.  When we are old and grey, we'll be sitting on the front porch, watching the kids and grandkids play - as our husbands do what old guys do - and we'll laugh, yell at the kids, and enjoy the sunshine with our Pepsi cold in a glass.  We'll live our lives together - and the husbands are totally fine with that.

4.  How do your personal beliefs (social/religious/philosophical) differ from your upbringing now that you are an adult?  How have they stayed the same?
   A:  I won't lie and say I've always been the same.  I've grown.  I've matured.  When I was younger, I thought life was much simpler.  Even in college, I was very naive.  But I have noticed that life isn't supposed to be taken seriously.  While it is more complicated as an adult - there are questions I still cannot find answers to - it isn't worth the stress.  Life is meant to be lived without a chip on the shoulder.  Don't carry the baggage.  People come and people go - and that's ok.  Life goes on, and new memories are made - new people are met.  But most importantly, I've developed a strong belief that even when I am alone - I'm not actually alone in this world.  I have God and my Guardian Angels always watching out for me.  I'm not as fearful as I once was.  My personal beliefs that have stayed the same - it's best to keep life a mystery and not have all the answers.

5.  If you had a million dollars, how would you spend it?
   A:  I'd buy a house.  I'd pay off my student loan debt.  I'd buy Travis and myself a new car - since our cars are wearing down.  I'd pay off my sister's debt.  I'd pay off my parents' debt.  I'd give my parents back the money they spent on me.  I'd have babies and start college funds.  Whatever is left will go to the American Cancer Society in memory of all my loved ones that have been lost due to cancer.

6.  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
   A:  Owning a home, having children, still married to Travis, and working a stable job that provides a decent living.  And having really really old kitty cats named Coheed & Smokey.

7.  What is one way you are seeking to improve yourself in one year?
   A:  Building my career.  It's my main focus.  

8.  What is the best book you have ever read?
   A:  UGH - making me choose only one?!?!  The first one to pop into my head was "Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro.  I cried like a baby for hours when I finished it.  I couldn't put the book down. Ask Travis.  I was obsessed - and when the book was done - he left me alone to grieve. lol

9.  What song describes your mood today?
   A:  Even though it was a Thursday... "Manic Monday" seems to be the best fit.  It was stressful.

10.  Do you have any pets?
   A:  TWO adorably handsome kitty cats named Coheed & Smokey. :D

11.  Do you have a Bucket List?
   A:  Only on Pinterest.  I don't think I really have a real bucket list.  

11 Questions for You
  1. What is your favorite color and why?
  2. So, you have a blog.  Why?
  3. What is your goal for this year?
  4. What is the best song to describe your mood today?
  5. Who are the 3 most important people in your life and why?
  6. How did you meet your significant other? (if single, what do you look for in a significant other?)
  7. If there was a $100 bill laying on the ground, would you take it?  If so, what would you buy with it?  If not, why?
  8. Compare yourself to your 15 year old self.  What would you tell him/her?
  9. What is your worst vice?
  10. Take your age and double it.  Where do you see yourself at that age?
  11. What is the best life advice you can give your followers?
And the nomination goes to:
The top 11 blogs I have chosen are as follows (in no specific order):

Sunday, January 20, 2013

365 Day Photo/Video Challenge 2013

I've always wanted to do this - but never stuck to it.  So, here it is - for 2013 - Travis and I will be sharing a picture or video a day every day for the next year, just for fun.  Click on the tab above and it will take you to our 365 Day Photo/Video Challenge blog.  I am still editing it and formatting the blog, so please be patient with me while it is under construction.

Here is my first post on it:

I know the 365 Day Picture Challenge is supposed to be where the author takes a picture every day from something that day for a year.  It is supposed to be for those who want to work on photography skills or who want to be more disciplined in documenting their life.  Honestly, I'm just doing this for my own personal entertainment.
I will be documenting something from each day as a photo journal simply just for fun.  Why did I not start on January 1st?  Because I didn't think about it.
I started taking at least one picture a day on Instagram.  Sometimes, I'll record a video and save it on my computer.  They don't really get stored anywhere.  Often times, they aren't used for anything else.  Why not share my pictures and videos on our blog?  Our blog is about our life together, right?  What the heck, let's see what happens!
I've actually had quite a few friends tell Travis and I that we need to start documenting our lives.  Some people said we should have a YouTube account to share our daily life.  Let me tell you this...  I think I can be pretty boring.  But life with our family and friends is anything but boring!
Who knows, maybe you will find my life is just the average Joe's boring typical life.  Maybe you will find the events that happen to us funny!  Maybe you will get some entertainment out of it, or maybe it will help pass the time.  Which ever is the case, thanks for stopping by!

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I Want to Be A Mommy Too

I have been cleaning the house, doing laundry, and just hanging out on my day off.  I talked to my sister today, and I decided to clean up my computer.  I'm getting rid of old blogs, old websites, old emails (if I can ever figure out the passwords), and deleting old files.  My computer is full of ancestry photos and documents, portfolio stuff for work & from school, and random pictures.  I use my personal computer a LOT for work and volunteering, so I am "Cleaning House" so my computer doesn't get overloaded.  I found an old blog that I never really shared with anyone.  And I found this old post.  I wrote this a few months after my miscarriage.  I just felt like sharing it here.  It was intense emotions that I was feeling at the time. 


One of the greatest blessings in the world is to have your baby healthy and safe in your arms.  To hear his little footsteps as your toddler runs across the floor.  To hear their giggles turn into a voice.  To smell her and feel her breathing as you rock her to sleep.  Even preparing to have a little one is exciting.  Getting to see the clothes they will soon wear and hear your baby's heartbeat for the first time.  To plan how you will raise your child, even though once the baby arrives, you realize your plans just aren't feasible.  It's dreamy.

For a long time, I felt bitter.  Maybe I still am, and I'll willingly admit it.  When I was 17 years old, a doctor told me that I might not be able to have children.  Being 17, that's a lot to take in.  I'm only a kid with a life to live.  I shouldn't have to worry about whether or not I can have kids right now.  As I got older, I was ok with putting those thoughts on the back-burner.  I lived my life.  I had fun during my wild streak.  I learned a lot of valuable lessons about becoming an adult.  And when I thought I met the man I was going to marry, I saw a different doctor who said the same thing.  "There is a 50/50 chance you will be able to conceive."  I thought I had a solid relationship at the time.  We weren't married or even engaged, but we were in a strong 5-year relationship where all signs were pointing to marriage some day.  So, I broke the news to him.... heartbroken.  I will never forget the day.  After I told him, he watched TV for a minute or two before our friends called asking us to come over and watch a movie.  In the car on the way to our friend's place, he was quiet.  I asked him what he was thinking.  He replied, "I'd like to have a son some day."  I replied very melancholy, "I would like to be a mommy some day."  And that's when I got a slap of reality.

"If you can't have kids, I'd have to think about whether or not I want to be with you."

That relationship went downhill after that conversation.  I moved on with my life and found an amazing guy.  Because of what I had been through in my previous relationship, I decided that when we got serious, I would break the news to him early.  My friends thought I was crazy telling my boyfriend so early when it'll just scare him with the idea of having children.  I didn't care.  I was adamant about not falling head over heels to get hurt the way I was hurt before.  If it is going to end, the earlier the better.  When I told Travis, his reply was, "Oh well.  There's always adoption.  Plenty of children out there need moms."  I was relieved.

After we were married, we found out on our 1 year anniversary that I was expecting.  I was nervous, like any other new mother would be.  I felt confused.  When I was expecting, I had a lot of health issues going on - and all fingers were crossed that this baby would live.  Travis was a nervous wreck - like any other new father would be.  But, he was mostly worried about my health.  We prepared for our little one.  I finally felt ready to be a mom.  Those words both the previous doctors had told me became very real when I lost my baby.  The doctor I had been seeing at this point told me that while I can conceive a child, carrying is going to be a risk.  It is very likely that I will have more miscarriages, and very likely that I will be forced into pre-term labor as early as 6 months.  Having a baby is not going to be an easy feat for me like many other women.  And this is why it is so sensitive for me.

Ellie knows how I feel.

Multiple times, over and over again, I have been told, "It just wasn't meant to be,"  "It's for the best,"  "Maybe you aren't meant to be a mother,"  and the most painful:  "You don't know what being a mother is like."  All of these comments, I cannot understand how they can make me feel better.

It wasn't meant to be?  Like a 14 year old having a baby is meant to be?

"It's for the best."  My baby died, and that was for the best?

"Maybe you aren't meant to be a mother."  Like some drug addict with multiple children is?

For the last comment, my answer is always: "You don't know what it's like to lose a child you wanted." 

People get frustrated with me frequently because this is sensitive to me.  I can't help it.  I would love to be a mom.  Right now, it would be difficult due to our current circumstances, and I am fine with that decision.  But you know, Travis and I are preparing ourselves so that we can try to have children soon. We are in the works of establishing ourselves so that we can provide not just for a child - but for losing another child.  We are preparing for the high risk pregnancy.  We are preparing for the costs that we will endure to have a baby.  We are financially, physically, and emotionally preparing ourselves for whatever is to be thrown our way.  And I don't feel like I should have to apologize for feeling so sensitive about this topic.

How many mothers out there have ever planned how they wanted to raise their children?  How many thought they knew it all before the baby arrived?  A MILLION, probably.  Many soon-to-be parents have made comments like, "I would never have my child eat that" only to find out that if your child is a picky eater, and as long as they eat something, it's better than nothing!  Or, say, "I would never give my child a pacifier that fell on the floor" - and after the child is here, the baby drops their pacifier or hides it in random places and POP it goes right in their mouth.  Or, "I'm going to breast feed and use cloth diapers" only to find that they just can't keep up with it due to their lifestyle or because the baby won't take on to breastfeeding.  It's ok to make plans.  It's ok to have your own ideas of parenting.  It's ok to have your opinions - because more often than not, life lessons will show you if that is even going to work for your child or not.  So, of course, I have my own opinions on parenting.  It doesn't mean I'm right or wrong - it just means that that's my plan as of right now.

I remember talking to my mother about this.  Her reply was, "You don't really know what it is like to be a mom, though."  And I told her my repetitious remark, "well you don't know what it is like to lose a child you wanted."  She went on to say that I can't take those things so personally.  But my question is, why is that if I bring up my opinions on how I want to raise my kids, people disregard me because I "don't have a clue," or they take my opinions offensively because I am "telling parents how to raise their children."  If I have to be so cautious with the words I say to certain people, then why can't others have the same cautious effort with the choice of words they say to me?  If I have to be either considerate of other people's feelings or let them voice their feelings - why can't I have the same?  My mother's answer was spot on:

"Because it's depressing."

Yeah.... it is a sad story.  

And I can't talk about it.

A dear friend of mine and Travis's knows a doctor that works with high risk/complicated pregnancies.  He has worked with intestinal malrotation and my other birth defects - but I have no idea if he has handled them all in one case.  Either way, our friend is going to talk to him and see if we can get an appointment to speak with him.  Travis and I are serious about having kids.  When we have children is still a mystery, but we're going to try to make this work.  I want at least one doctor who is going to look at this in a positive light.  I'm praying that there is a doctor who will say, "You WILL have a baby."  So far, 3 out of 3 doctors haven't given me much positive news.  After all, I'm going on 26.... my clock is ticking and I want to hear something good.


I remember feeling heartbroken when I wrote it.  Losing Anjelica was a bad dream that came to life.  It was as if all the doctors who told me I couldn't have kids were right.  This was the proof.  And worst of all, I felt less of a woman.  I felt less... human, I guess.  I know during this time I was incredibly confused.  I know I was not in my right mind when I was sick and when we lost our baby.  Everything hit me all at once.  I was mean.  I was bitter.  And I probably hurt a lot of people I shouldn't have, because let's be honest - misery loves company.  I was miserable.  I had racing emotions I couldn't control.  All of the bad memories wouldn't leave me alone.  While I know I can't give excuses for poor behavior, it's the truth.  I am incredibly sorry for anyone I have offended or been rude towards.  That is not me.  That is not my nature.  But I know I did it, and I am holding myself 100% accountable for all the wrong I have done to hurt people's feelings.  It is inexcusable for me to be so bitter and cold, especially towards those who don't deserve it.

Travis and I are not planning on having children yet.  Obviously, we have our goals that we are working to accomplish.  Travis enjoys talking to me about kids.  We talk about how we want to raise them.  He's going to have to be the bad guy, because I have a feeling it's going to be so hard for me to punish my wittle babies, even if they do wrong.  If my child cries, I'll probably turn into a mushy lump and say "I'm so sorry!"  Maybe not... but maybe so.  But we joke frequently, and we talk about what kind of parents we want to be.  Neither of us are ready yet.  For now, when we go out, Travis will let me scope out the baby aisles.  I get to look at adorable baby clothes, and tell Travis how I'm going to dress our children.  I check out baby furniture and live in my dreamy little world.  The best part is:

Travis joins in, too.

Someday... just not today.  And we are completely ok with that.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Close Call! Where's My Cat?

Totally random post, but I just had to share the events that took place on Friday.

I worked late to finish up some big projects at work.  Around 7 PM, I headed home.  It was super windy outside, and I didn't really think anything of it.  I was on the phone with my mother when I pulled into the drive.  Where Travis and I have to park, it's a little parking area Travis and his dad created across the street.  No one lives across the street, and my grandfather-in-law (I'll just call him Grampa from here on out.  That's what we all call him.) owns the property across the street.  It's just a thick wooded area.

So I parked the car, and I wasn't in a rush to get out of the car since it was so cold outside and my car was uber warm.  My mom and I were chatting when all of a sudden I hear a loud crashing sound.  I look up, and a big tree branch falls onto the telephone pole - which then breaks the telephone pole down.  The branch and telephone pole land about 2 feet away from the back end of my car.  I thought it was going to land on my car!  The street went black.  I could see that the power lines were on the road right behind my car.  I couldn't get to the house without crossing the down power line.  I freaked out, and my mother - who was on the phone the entire time - kept saying, "Oh God, don't get out of the car!  Whatever you do, don't get out of the car!"  

I was startled and asked her, "What do I do, Mom?"  She replied, "I don't know.  Call 911!"  So I got off the phone and called 911.  Just then, I heard a knock on my window.  It was Travis's dad, Steve.  What in the world was he doing walking around outside with a down power line?!  He asked if I was ok, and if I saw what happened.  I told him what happened.  After we talked for a few minutes, I could hear the sirens in the distance.  Steve walked off, and there I was in the car alone.  I was too freaked out to try and get out of the car.  Then I saw flashing lights.  Firemen came to the rescue!

Firemen to the rescue!
**Sorry for the blurry, dark photos.**
I had my window down, so when the firemen approached me, they ordered me to stay in my car and told me not to move my car at all.  They walked up and down the street, talked on their walkies and what not.  Then two firemen came up to me.  They asked, "Are you coming or are you going?"  I told them I just got home from work.  They asked where I lived, and I told them "Across the street."  A helicopter flew over with the spotlight shining down.  It kind of felt like a movie....

A few minutes later, the same two firemen came back and said, "If you want to go to the house, go now.  We're taking precautions and we'll walk with you."  I grabbed my things and stepped out.  When I got close to the wire, I told the firemen, "You guys are in these big rubber boots.  I'm in these heels.  Are you sure that once I step onto the pavement that I won't get blown up?"  They laughed and said, "We don't believe it is live."  I responded, "Well, I guess we'll find out in 2 seconds!"  The firemen walked me up to the house, and I didn't get blown up. :P

Firemen blocking off the street.
If you look closely, you can see the power line in the neighbor's yard.

The firemen blocked off the road.  I told them my husband was on his way home from work.  They told me to contact him ASAP and tell him that he had to park on another street and walk around the other way to the house until they got it cleaned up.  I called Travis to let him know.

Another fireman came up to the house and asked me if I reported the incident to 911.  He had another person's name written down, but apparently, there were quick a few calls because the sparks were bright and the crash was loud.  I answered a few questions, and he explained that they were waiting for the electric company to come out.  

Right before he left, I stopped him and said, "I know this is super cliche, but someone let my cat outside - so he's out here.  I saw him right before the whole thing happened.  I'm sure he ran off into the woods, but I'm super worried about him.  If you see a grey cat, he lives here."  The fireman laughed a little and said, "Eh... they've got 9 lives."

I joked with him, saying, "Come on, man... that's my cat!"  He replied, "I'm sure he's fine, but if turns up, we'll bring him home."  I thanked him and went inside.

Of course, I had to post everything on Facebook.  I was wired. (haha, see what I did there?)  My friend, Jess, lives just around the corner from us.  We were talking on Facebook chat, and when I brought up my grey cat, Smokey, she told me a funny story!

Apparently, her girl kitty cat, Nala, is in heat.  Smokey and his homeboy (who is a big orange cat that lives next door to us - we'll call him Charlie) have been hanging out at Jess's place!  They will meow all night and stare in through their windows.  Talk about creepers....  Don't worry, Smokey and Charlie are both neutered.  But, Jess and I carried on for the rest of the night - joking about Smokey/Nala kittens and kitty support.  We think that since Jess is holding some of our furniture in her sunroom until we get a place of our own, Smokey has been coming to her place and hanging out around the sunroom because he smells us.  Poor kitty must get really confused sometimes.  Either way, at least I know if he's not home or next door, he's over at Jess's place.

That was my crazy Friday night!  I'm ok.  My car is ok.  My cat is ok.  It ended up being an ok night!  And I am super thankful that my Guardian Angels were watching out for me.  It could have turned out worse!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

He Got a Promotion!

Travis has been working so hard at his job.  He pulls long hours, and he's been working his way up through the ranks in a short amount of time.  Travis works at a local discount factory warehouse - and he started as a temp working in the back putting furniture together.  They hired him full time because he was a hard worker.  After his bosses got to know him, they decided he'd be a better fit on the sales floor during their auctions.  Travis nailed it.  Not only was Travis making great commissions, he still would help out in the back with inventory and set up.  Because of Travis's pure dedication and determination, he has been promoted to Manager in Training!

I'm so proud of him!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Better Than I Thought!

So, all of our hard work and efforts paid off!  Our credit jumped up.  Our debt to income ratio is right where I wanted it at the time being.  AND, we can qualify for more than we originally thought we would.

A dear cousin, Kari, has been giving Travis and I advice about building our credit and paying off our debts so that we can own a home.  The woman is a genius.  I am so totally clueless about this homebuying stuff.  However, Travis and Kari were on the same page the whole time, and they explained things to me in more simpler terms so that I could understand.  There were so many things I learned, I was amazed!

Kari pulled our credit reports and gave us an updated, accurate credit score for each of us.  She sat down with both of us and went through every page on our credit report, telling us what lenders look for.  She pointed out areas that we could fix, and she pointed out areas where we should leave things alone!  I was surprised that there was one thing on our credit report that she told us NOT to touch until after we buy a home.  If we messed with it, it could potentially hurt us because of when it will be reported - and she explained why it would negatively impact us.  This one thing was a collections account.  This debt was actually paid through the hospital between 2008 and 2011.  However, it was not updated on our credit report.  Even though that debt technically does not exist, the agency did not report it to the credit bureaus.  It is not hitting our credit negatively to leave it alone the way it is.  At first, I thought "OMG, that needs to be taken off!"  But Kari explained to me the moment that there is any activity on the account, it will come across as a negative impact on our credit and bring our credit scores down.  She told us to wait until after we buy a home to update it.

Kari also told us where we can dispute things on our credit report.  She told us the best places to talk to in order to handle credit disputes.  There was ONE medical bill that we paid off that had not been reported to the credit bureau.  Unfortunately, because we paid it, it's possible it will bring down our credit score.  But oh well, live and learn.  It'll be ok.  When Kari looked at our previous debts and saw that everything had been paid off completely, she told us we did everything right.  That was a relief to hear!  I was worried that I was messing up.  Kari reassured me that we are not in a terrible position, and because we have a good record of debts being paid in full - even though our credit scores weren't as high as I had wanted them to be - that will look more favorable because it shows we pay off our debts.

She ran our numbers through a program to see how interest rates would fluctuate between FHA and Conventional loans.  She showed us every possible outcome.  She told us the pros and cons for each type, and how they would affect us.  Ironically, where we are, monthly payments won't be much different for either type of loan.  When going through the possible outcomes and different costs of a home and calculating a different percentage for a down payment, we were looking at possibly a $7 - $30 monthly difference between the two.

She asked us if we had been searching for a home at all lately.  I told her one house in the neighborhood we live in that I have had my eye on.  She ran the numbers for both types of loans with the amount the house was selling for and she took taxes into consideration.  This is where I was super surprised.  A Conventional loan was $7/month more than an FHA, but it was also more than likely a better option for us.  Then, we took another home into consideration.  An FHA was a better option for us on that one!  I was really surprised how minor adjustments made a HUGE difference!

After going through adjustments and comparisons, Kari told us that we were "finance-able" where we currently are.  She told us that we could qualify for much more than we originally thought.  Granted, we told her that we were looking for a lower cost home and wouldn't mind doing repairs.  This one really surprised me:  she told us that with where we stand, we should NOT get a house less than $50,000 because insurance and interest would not work in our favor.  The lowest we can look for a house is currently $54,000 without getting hit with huge insurance costs and higher interest rates.  I never thought there would be a minimum amount for getting a better deal.  If you go too low compared to what you qualify for, the bank won't see it as a loan being worth it - and we could potentially get denied because - well - it isn't worth it to invest in that much with where we are.  Interesting....

Again, these were all "approximate" and fairly accurate simulations, but it let us know where we currently stand on getting a home.  Worst case scenario, Travis and I will be home owners in July of this year.  If we continue doing what we are doing, handle a few minor adjustments on our credit reports, we could be homeowners by March!  AHHH!!!

Kari then calculated taxes, down payment, closing costs, appraisal costs, fees, etc. and gave us a total that we need to save for.  It's more or less a "goal" amount for the least that we should save for, and we need to save up that amount and keep it untouched for 2 months.  Only small additions, like $20 or $50 from a paycheck that is easily traced, can go into the savings.

Kari is going to run a few more simulations with another program with a lender.  This is going to tell us where we could be in 3 months up to 6 months.  Kari is going to see how long we should wait to get the best deals, without having to wait forever and not move forward on buying a home this year.  The lender is also going to talk to her about our credit report and give advice on what she would like to see us do before she'd be willing to approve us for certain amounts.  Basically, a lender is telling us what we should do in order to get our credit scores up higher in a short time frame and also what is going to work in our favor this year.

I cannot tell you just how relieved I am!  Travis and I left there feeling so proud of our accomplishments and determined to do whatever we need to in order to put ourselves in an even better position.

Not going to lie, this homebuying process still looks like Greek to me.  But I am glad that I have Kari to hold my hand and mentor me through the process.  Travis is on the same page with Kari - so it makes me feel better knowing that he understands this more than I do.

Here we are... step number 1 towards buying a house is accomplished.  Now on to step 2!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Proposing to the Husband

Previously, on Beautiful Surprise!

Travis and I agreed for Christmas, our gifts to each other were new wedding bands.  Travis's wedding band arrived the other day.  I went to pick it up without him with me, and I came up with a brilliant idea!  Why not propose to my husband just for fun?

I asked a few people what creative suggestions they had.  Everyone gave me some awesome ideas.  I had everything I wanted to say planned out.  I knew I wanted to get down on one knee.  It was going to be the works!

I kept the ring in the box in my purse.  Travis doesn't really go through my purse... ever.  He calls it the endless pit.  BUT, I didn't have my purse zipped up.  It was open and laying on the floor by the bookcase.  I got lazy, what can I say?  Sure enough, Travis came home and lo and behold, there was the box sitting right on top.  ::FACEPALM::

Travis got excited and asked if it was his ring.  I grabbed my purse and tried to hide it from him.  He asked me, "Why can't I have it?  I want to wear it!  Are you planning something?"  I nodded.  He told me that was ok and that he wanted the surprise.  He said he'd wait, but he couldn't wait too long.  This was back on Sunday night.

I still have no idea how to propose, and the poor guy is about to freak.  I'm getting all crazy butterflies.  Jeez... this isn't even for real!  No wonder guys get so worked up about proposing!  I don't know why I'm so shy about it!  I will never give Travis a hard time about his proposal ever again.  I'll definitely share how I propose with all of you.

Anyways, here's his ring!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Facebook Addiction

I am making another promise to myself for 2013.  I am absolutely addicted to Facebook.  I'm on it every. single. day.  It's a horrible habit.  I waste hours of my day on Facebook.  So I am making a promise to only get on Facebook once a week for the entire year.  Yes, it is drastic.  But I need to do something a little drastic.  I am a Facebook addict.

I've realized that Facebook has some upsides to it.  I can reconnect with old friends.  I can stay in touch with long distant family members.  I can share photos for genealogy or even share photos of my adorable nephews and watch cute videos of them dancing or saying a new word.  I stay updated on news going on around my city.  It has its perks.  But because I am on it ALL the time, I've found it brings a lot more harm than good in my life.  Cutting back would bring more of that positivity back because I wouldn't be so exposed to things that bring me negativity.

I see terrible pictures of animal abuse on my newsfeed.  I'm flooded with mean political remarks on their status updates.  I see religious arguments going on between family and friends.  I've always been one who would say that people can post whatever they want on their profile - and they don't have to hear anyone else's opinion.  They could delete posts that disagree with their views.  I think people can have total control over what is on their profile.  If people disagree with that person's stance, they shouldn't take it so personal - and if it offends them, they can just hide the post (with that handy dandy arrow in the top right corner) or stop following the person they find offense to.  If it is super offensive, then they can unfriend the person all together.  Whatever.  People don't always post things on Facebook just to start a fight.  If they do, ignore it.  I don't understand how hard that is.  People are entitled to share their own thoughts and views without being hounded for it - as long as it is on their profile.

However, I do know that if someone posts something on Facebook, they are sharing it.  Knowing that, the person should know that other people are going to probably instigate an argument or throw in their two cents - even if it wasn't asked for.  But you have the right to delete the posts you don't like or continue with the debate.  But every time it goes into a debate, some people just don't have the ability to not take things incredibly personal, even when it was never intended to be personal.

I have become so bitter and anti-social because of Facebook.  I've seen some true colors come out in people that I can't even comprehend.  What's super annoying is people take Facebook out into the real world.  I can't tell you how many times (one particular person comes to mind) where I will share something or say something I agree with, only to be harassed about it outside of Facebook on a daily basis.  Worst part is, I can't run away from it.

Another thing I've learned is that I've shared too much to everyone.  Why does anyone care about what I wore today?  Why does anyone care about seeing Coheed with his Christmas presents?  Why do I have to share what days I'm working and what days I have off?  Why do I have to get on my phone and share a picture immediately even though I'm having dinner with friends? It is absolutely redundant.

I've tried restricting my profile from selected groups.  I've made lists and set up privacy settings for each list.  Even though I'm protecting my page the best I can, not everyone knows how to do this.  So of course, it is automatically assumed that I'm sharing everything with everyone when I'm not.

I know we haven't been handed the smoothest road to travel, but Travis and I are doing ok.  I know this.  I'm ok with that.  But I could be using my time better elsewhere.  I could be doing something more proactive than sitting around in front of a computer screen.  But yet, I sit here... and I see everyone else sharing pictures of their babies, making announcements about a new bun in the oven, showing off the new home they've purchased or giving themselves mad props for getting promoted or a new great job.  I get jealous.  I'll be honest.  Instead of working on bettering me, I'm tearing myself down comparing myself to everyone else's joys.  I don't know why I do it.  I just know that I do it.

Why do I even use Facebook?  I like to stay connected with friends and family that I'm not that close to personally.  I really do enjoy hearing my friend had the perfect proposal.  I love finding out that old friends are having babies.  I like knowing that people are actually succeeding in this world.  People share some really funny things too.  I love to see what everyone has to share.  Except for the negativity and prophesying - it gets overwhelming.  But I can only control what I respond to.  Restricting myself down to one day a week will make me focus more on the positive and fun stuff, because that's what I search for.  It's only when I stick around and get bored do I let the negative things get to me.  I can't let myself do that and make myself more bitter and upset.

I've had a lot of ups and downs lately.  2012 was a rough year - but it was easier than the previous 2 years.  I want 2013 to be better.  I want to better myself in anyway I can.  I am going to force myself to do more drastic things this year to hopefully bring more positivity in my life.  Facebook is the first to be cut down.

So for all of my friends on Facebook, I won't be around as often as I was before.  But you can always call me!  My number is on there!