Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!


I love jump on a bandwagon every now and then.... which is why I wanted to wish you a happy halloween. These are the Bailey family pumpkins. From left to right: Mikaela's, Aeddon's, Owen's and Alexanders. Mine is still uncarved. I dont think I am going to carve it. Alexander wants me to though..... so I might carve it during nap time. Only time will tell on that one.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I have been making!

Making a baby makes me want to make other stuff! So I have been on a making kick! First, as you may remember I made my sister, Rachel, a hat. She finally sent me a picture of herself wearing it... It is a cell phone picture though... not the best quality! Oh well! Here is the hat on its intended wearer:


Then I made a hat using the same pattern for Mikaela. Hers doesnt have a flower though cause I cant find a pink yarn that matches nicely without varigations. I think since the hat itself is varigated, it would be too much to also have a varigated flower!

IMG_7485 copy

Then I decided to finish some of the Summerlin dresses that I started this summer! They are so friggin cute! I am so glad that the ladies at Kathryn Ivy decided to give this pattern out as a freebee! I love it! The first one came out ok... but I really should have worked on centering the large pattern on the fabric better. Oh well it is still cute!


She refused to stay still... so this is the best picture I got of her in it before she played in it and got it all dirty!

Then I decided to try again and finish another Summerlin:


Ha! I like that in the last picture you can see her looking at my blogger account. No unmoderated comments for me! (I had already moderated them!) See what I mean though about the second one being way cuter?!

Not only have I been making crafty things... but I have also been baking. Yesterday I baked three huge loaves of Zucchini bread. Of course I didnt think to take a picture of that! Oh well.

I wonder if in all this making mojo I will finally finish my "tattoo scarf". That would be nice since I am still just under half done. It is kinda boring knitting.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Our Halloween themed weekend of Fun! Part 2!

Ok. I think that it is about time that I posted the second half of our weekend of fun.... so I can tell you about other stuff happening in Baileyland without leaving you hanging....

On Sunday we went to Zoo Boo at the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. The kids wore their costumes. I am all for them wearing their costumes as much as possible... since those things arent free!

Mikaela was a cat:


Aeddon was a vampire and Alexander was Optimus Prime:


I know. So cute you can hardly stand it! Me too!

They had lots of activities around the zoo. We did almost none of them. In fact the only Zoo Boo activities that we did were the two arts and crafts that they had in the aquarium area.... One was making a spider web picture using paint covered marbles. I did not get a picture of that. I know. Sad. I was pathetic with my camera on sunday. I only took about 20 pictures total.

The other craft was making a bat out of a toilet paper roll and some construction paper. Alexander thought the craft was lame. The only part he was able to do for himself was glueing the ears and wings to the bat. The craft helpers did all of the cutting and even glued the construction paper to the tp roll. I drew the faces cause the kids asked me to.



Alexander thought it was so lame that he gave his bat to Mikaela to play with.


After that... all the kids wanted to do was play on the playground. So they did. After an hour or so we left. Alexander wasnt being very nice to the other kids and he knocked over my warm apple cider. So we called it a day and went home. Thank goodness we have passes to the zoo! If we had paid to get in to Zoo Boo I would have been ticked. Since the passes have already paid for themselves in admission fees.... I figure it was totally fine that we spent an hour at the really fancy playground.

So that concludes the fun filled weekend. For the record, the pumpkins are still in the back of the van.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Our Halloween themed weekend of Fun!

Owen and I decided that this weekend we were gonna have as much fun with the kids as humanly possible! So we planned to go to Halloween themed activities. There were a couple to choose from this weekend. There was the pumpkin patch at Schiller Farms, and Zoo Boo at the Point Defiance Zoo. Owen and I couldn't decide which one we wanted to do the most.... so we did both! This post is gonna be about the Pumpkin Patch.


On Saturday we went to the Schiller Family Farm Pumpkin Patch. The FRG for Madigan was having an outing there. There was an option to ride a bus there, but I know my kids. One of two things was gonna happen if we took the bus. Either 1. they would be done for the day long before the bus was ready to go back to post, or 2. they would still be having fun when it was time for the bus to head back. Neither seemed like a great option. So we drove. It wasnt far. Just a little under a 30 minute drive to the outskirts of Olympia. The farm was awesome. They had several places you could go to pick your pumpkin, plus tons of other activities.

First on our stop was the petting zoo. I would just like to say that I never have understood why they are called petting zoos. None of these animals would be found in a regular zoo. They are farm animals. Shouldnt it be a petting farm? Oh well. Whatever. On to fun with kids.

This is probably the worst focus on a picture I have ever posted here.... but look at Mikaela's face! The black sheep in the background had just sniffed her face as it was walking past to the food. Mikaela got all excited, cause as far as she was concerned, the sheep had just kissed her.

Then Aeddon pet, and then kissed a pig. The picture of him kissing the pig just looks like he is sticking his butt out at the camera. Owen was taking the pictures at this point. Enough said.

Alexander was very excited about the whole thing... although he moved from one animal to the next so quickly that we never got a good picture with any of them. Oh well. Maybe next year.

Then it was on to the first pumpkin patch area. These pumpkins are close to the activities so that if you dont want to walk all the way out to the actual field.... you dont have to.

We posed everyone in the scarecrow cut out....





And last but not least:


Then we went to take the posed "kid trying to lift a big pumpkin" pictures that my mom wanted. She is a scrapbooker and wanted essentially the same picture of each kid.




Not to bad for unedited! My favorite part is the bird poop on the pumpkin. I am trying to decide if I should edit that out or not.... After all it is for my mom.

Then we decided to go on a haybale ride.


This is the driver. Not to bad looking.... he was a serious flirt.

These are pictures taken on the haybale ride. They are just misc pics I took for Owen's first seargent. Why is it that Owen feels the need to inform his chain of command that I would LOVE to be the group photographer? Oh well. At least that way if people ask me why I took their picture, I can give them a good excuse.

Random people having fun picking their pumpkins by the cart full. Some people bought over 100lbs of pumpkin! Sheesh!

This is the entrance to the corn maze. We did not go in the corn maze. I didnt see it going well if Aeddon started panicking that we were lost. So I just took a picture of it... They also had a haybale maze in the barn... we didnt go in that either. Again, Aeddon having a panic attack was the logic in skipping that one too.

The other Haybale ride doing its thing.

Owen was determined that there would be pictures of me at the pumpkin patch... so he took this picture of me on the haybale ride. I handed him my camera when Mikaela wanted to sit on my lap instead of his. She kept trying to climb off the moving ride. He took one other picture of me on the ride. I am playing with Mikaela. Do you wanna see it? Fine. I will show you.

Nice. He loves pictures of me like this. Thanks honey.

After the haybale ride the kids wanted to play in the kids play area. That place was a total rip off if you ask me. I think that the only reason that they charged for it was because they had this neat little water toy in there and they charged for the area to cover the cost of the water... but I could be wrong. It was $3 a kid. There was a fort/slide made of haybales, the watertoy thing and a small track with two little John Deere bike/tractor things. That was it. But hey if it made the kids happy....

Aeddon loved the slide the best. I thought it was really steep. So steep that when Mikaela went randomly flying down it on her belly, Owen couldnt catch her in time before she landed at the bottom..... on her face.


She had mud on her face for the rest of the day after that. She didnt want it wiped off. Her face must have really hurt.

Alexander liked the watertoy the best.

The idea behind the toy is that you put a rubber ducky on the shoot/pipe thing then pump the waterpump until the water sends the ducky swimming down the pipe thing into the water trough on the other side. Alexander sent duckys swimming for almost 45 minutes!

Aeddon gave it a try too....

Without Owen's help.... he just couldnt get it to work right. Eventually he had a melt down cause he couldnt do it right. So we quickly left the area.... but not before getting a really cute picture of Mikaela on the mini tractor bike thing!


We loaded the kids up in a wheelbarrel (barrow?) and went off in search of the perfect pumpkin.

Aeddon wanted one he could roll:

Mikaela wanted a white one:

Alexander just wanted to take them all home.

In the end we took home one big orange one for Owen to carve, One Lumina (white one) for me to carve, and three small ones for each of the kids. We will probably carve theirs for them.... or have them paint them. not sure which.

Alexander decided that he wanted to make the haybale ride run over a pumpkin.... so he picked one that was already rotting and put it in the path....


Then he and Aeddon inspected the damage....


Then Owen decided to make people think he was crazy


He very dramatically dropped to his knees, touched the smashed pumpkin, then threw his face to the heavens and in a very dramatic voice cried out "Why God? WHY!!!!!!!"

I almost peed myself laughing. No really. I had to go pee so bad, laughing was not helping! Isn't it way to early for the baby to be affecting my bladder?

Then we found a catapillar:

Alexander was the only kid willing to touch it.

Aeddon found a puddle to play in:


Mikaela found some flowery looking plants to play with:


Even Owen found some future Christmas Trees to play with:


All in all it was a successful day at the pumpkin patch! We spent less than $30 the whole day, including the pumpkins!

An update on housing....

Owen went in on friday to speak to the onpost housing people. The housing rep that called us made a small mistake. The houses that are available to us are not in the best housing area. They are in the second best housing area.... which is actually even better for us... Why is second best better, you ask? Well because the "best" is a two story house. The "second best" is a one story. Anyone who knows me knows that when you live with chronic pain like I do, you cant always make it up the stairs. In the "best" house all the bedrooms were upstairs.

Also, notice that I said houses? Plural. She gave him two choices. One is open on November 4th. The other is open on December 5th. We are gonna take the one that is available in December.

We talked to The Landlords. They figured that when we called and asked to have a sitdown meeting with them that we were gonna tell them that a house had opened up on post. They said they were more than happy to let us break our lease. They wanted us to do what was best for us and they said that the fact that we were willing to stay in the house a month longer to give them a chance to find a new tenant was amazing. They were expecting us to tell them they had a week or something! See! They really are friggen awesome people! They even wanted to know if we were gonna need help moving on post. They also wanted to know if we were gonna keep in touch with them when we moved. They said they really like us too and that they wanted to stay friends whether we live in their house or not.

The Lord works in mysterious ways my friends. Truely.

My next post will be alot more fun than this one! We spent the whole weekend having Halloween themed fun with the kids! I have lots of pictures and everything!

Friday, October 17, 2008

What am I gonna do?

I am very confused right now. Here is the thing: We are not wealthy. We have enough money to do what we need to do, but not much else (there are no cruises in our immediate future!) We are a family of 5- soon to be 6 living off of one income, and not a six figure income either. So here is my problem.

We put ourselves on the list for on-post housing when we first moved here to Tacoma. We were told that we would have to wait between 6 and 12 months for a house to open up. So we set about getting a rental. I didn't want to get an apartment cause we have a dog. (a cute dog for the record) Riley is not a big dog, but he is not a little dog either. He needs more space than an apartment has. So we rented a house from a really fantastic family. They are alot like us. They have 5 kids and one income (although I have no idea how much that income is. None of my business really....)

The Landlords (names changed) need a tenant in their house. See here is the thing, they are renting a bigger house than this one from a friend. So they need a tenant to be able to pay their mortgage and their rent. Make sense so far?

Well here is the thing. A house opened up on post for us. It is available now. It is in the nicest housing area on post. It has a fantastic floor plan, a master suite, a gourmet style kitchen, and a garage! If we move on post, all of our bills are covered by our housing allowance. Plus on this post they take a percentage of your housing money and put it in a savings account for you. When you move out of on post housing they give you all of the money that they saved for you in a lump sum check. As far as I know, that money is tax free cause it came out of his paycheck once, so if we were taxed on it again, it would be double taxed ( I could be wrong on that though!)

Living in The Landlords house we spend almost all of our housing money on just rent and the bills take almost $200 out of our "living expense" money. So if we moved on post we would have an extra $200 a month! So moving on post is the best thing for my family. The problem is that I really like The Landlords! They are fantastic people. They moved out of the house two weeks before they had originally planned to so that we could spend less time in a hotel. I really don't want to screw them over by moving, but if we stay it will be hurting us!

So what do I/we do? Do we do what is best for our family? Or do I stick it out for a little longer until they can find a new tenant? (if we wait the chances of us getting another house in the best neighborhood is slightly smaller than slim to none.) I am confused. I don't want to hurt them, but I don't want to hurt us either. What would you do in my place?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Tightening the belt, so to speak.

With all the talk of economic crisis (not that I talk about it much and my husband knows better by now) I was inspired today by a question posed on one of my favorite blogs. Cathy, AKA Noble Pig wondered what people have been doing to tighten the belt, economically speaking. I started to write a long winded response to her question, and then realized.... "wait! I have a blog of my own! I could use this as a topic! And if I throw in cute pictures of my kids that have nothing to do with the economy and everything to do with children finding joy no matter what, people might actually read the whole thing!" So that is exactly what I am going to do! Here we go! I think I will start with a picture!

Mikaela playing "Duck duck" with bath toys.

So Owen and I started tightening the belt around 3 years ago. We were sinking and sinking fast trying to make it as a family in sunny, crazy expensive southern California. Every month we had to borrow at least part of our rent money and at least part of our food money. We were living off of our wic checks and our friends and families desires to not see us homeless. We had two babies (obviously the boys) and I wasn't working. Of course I wasn't working cause when we sat down and did the math it was actually loosing us $50 a month for me to continue to work instead of staying home with the boys. We factored in things like gas and car insurance for two cars, work wardrobes, child care, etc. We were very careful with our math. Even my dad, who has a masters in business finance said our numbers looked right. So here we were with about $1300 a month in income from Owen office job, give or take a few hundred for if he got to work a lot of overtime, and almost $1700 a month in expenses. Then we got the news that changed our lives. Owen was warned by his boss that he was gonna get laid off by the company some time in the next month or so cause they were changing the computer system they were using and that would mean they had one extra person on staff. As the least senior member of the team, he was the most likely to be on the chopping block. So we did what any family in our situation would do. We panicked and started sending out Owen's resume everywhere we could!

Alexander with a spoon on his nose.

Just as we were loosing all hope (rent was due in two weeks and in our "sadness we had blown all our money on junk) Owen got a call that changed our lives. It was the US Army. They had seen his resume on Monster and wanted to talk to him about recruitment. They dazzled us with their talk of security and financial freedom and enlistment bonuses, and free health care. We were hooked. So we went out and cut off all of Owen's beautiful hair (no really wanna see?)
Family Pictures 06 016
See I told you it was beautiful. Anyways. I cut it all off and carefully preserved his braid. The next thing I knew he was off at basic training. That is when the crazy journey of us becoming a low consumption family began.

As an Army wife I have met all sorts of interesting people. Some of them are still in my life in some capacity (Internet relationships and such) and some have just faded into the past already. But along the way I have learned alot about living within your means.

Once Owen was done with all his training we started getting what I call real army paychecks. When they are in training you get things like separation pay and a bunch of other stuff you wont get once you are back together living under one roof. Once our pay had settled to normal we realized we had about $1700 a month to work with. The difference this time was that our housing was already covered, as were all of our basic utilities like water and electricity. (Yay army housing!) So how does a family of 3 (yes by this time we had mikaela!) live off of $1700 a month? Well first you make a little list. I don't do spread sheets cause all the little boxes make my head hurt. So instead I do this:

What we Have to pay:

Car payment: $200 a month
Car insurance: $100 a month
Star card: $30 a month
Life Insurance: $70 a month
Cell Phones: $150 a month
Lane Bryant card: $30 a month
Cable bill: $110 a month
Gas( for car): $160 a month
Food: $500 a month
Loans from Army: $100 a month

So then you add all that up and you get $1450 a month.
So then when you subtract that number from your pay, you get $250 a month left over. So then you can sit there and make a list of things you would Like each month, but don't need.....

A Date night: $100 a month
2 or 3 new DVDs: $50 a month
New clothes for kids(including shoes) $400 dollars twice a year.....
Yarn for me to knit/crochet with: $20- $100 a month
Books at the bookstore: $50 a month
fast food: $60 a month

So then you add all that up and you end up with $280 a month if it is not one of the two months were I have to buy new cloths, and I only buy $20 worth of yarn.... up to $760 if we had to buy clothes and I spent $100 that month on yarn....

So that is the reality list and the fantasy list. Most of the time what would happen is I would spend almost nothing on yarn and I would skip paying a bill for a month if it was a month that I had to buy clothes. Keep in mind that this is also before I had to start buying Mikaela's clothes.... I didn't have to buy her any clothes till she was a year old! Hooray for people loving to buy babies clothes!

Well I was going over this with a friend and she pointed out that almost $100 dollars a month of our food money was actually going to buying disposable diapers for Aeddon and Mikaela. She pointed out that if I switched to cloth diapers that I would have to spend $200 once but that after that I would be covered on diapers till Mikaela potty trained. I tried switching Aeddon, but he wanted nothing to do with it.... so Mikaela went to cloth and I started saving $50 a month on her diapers. After 4 months her diapers were paid for in disposables savings! Then my friend also pointed out that we lived on post! Why was Owen driving to work when we lived in a warm climate and he could ride his bike? So there went almost half of our gas money. Amazing how they wanted him to run less mindless errands that made him drive back and forth once he pointed out that he no longer had access to the van and that it would take him twice the time to run the errand cause he had to ride his bike! Now we were saving $50 a month on diapers and $80 a month on gas! That was $130 a month that was freed up!

Aeddon in Daddies running shoes.

Then she asked me I was spending each month on foods I could make myself.... She went shopping with me and pointed out that I had just spent $100 on foods I could either make myself or live without! So there went almost another $100 off of my food bill! I was down another $100! $230 freed up so far! Another $10 a month when she pointed out that I didn't need both drier sheets and fabric softener.... so I was up another $10. Then she showed me they sell quality knitting supplies (yarn too!) for very affordable prices. Twenty dollars worth of yarn became $10. $100 dollars worth of yarn became $50. And if I waited a month or so and bought $50 worth every few months instead of $10 here and there I didn't have to pay for shipping! As far as I was concerned it was like knitting/crocheting for free!

Then she looked at my cable bill one month and asked me why I had premium channels like HBO when I owned almost all of my favorite movies on DVD and that I watched those when I wanted to watch a movie and that I turned on HBO once a month if that. There went $30 off my cable bill. I went down to just enough cable to continue getting Noggin and Nicktoons. ( I was not giving up Avatar!)

So just by going over what I really needed and showing me ways to save money on things I was gonna buy anyways... My friend had helped me save $270 a month. I started paying off Debt that I had from the dark ages (anything pre-army).

Now the numbers on the paycheck and the numbers for the bills have changed with time.... but I learned a valuable lesson from my friend. See she was a stay at home mom to 5 girls and was getting by on one firefighters salary. She had to live within her means too. She had trashed her credit when she was younger and was under the mistaken impression that she was only successful in life if she had a big house and a nice car and to much stuff to fit in that nice house and car. So she had to live within her means, or run the risk of not being able to do the things that really mattered, like keeping a roof over her girls heads or feed those girls.

So in the midst of this economic crisis.... I am calm. I have very little to worry about. The army is not going to lay Owen off. He is a medic and he will continue to be needed wether we are in a war or not. As long as he is in the army we will not have to worry about affording a place to live, the army will not allow us to be homeless. I don't have to worry about us going hungry. The army will not let us starve. There are families in the army who cant afford food. They eat at the Dining facilities with the single soldiers. Everything else is a luxury. One that we can live without if we have to. If the generations who came before us survived without TVs and cars and fancy cameras and 35 pairs of shoes, then so can we. We don't have a house of our own to lose. We could lose our car I guess... but Owen still has his bike, and the house we live in is close to the grocery store. Close enough to walk. Mine and Owens parents have lived within their means. And if, when they grow to old to work, they cant afford to live on their own cause the economy has crashed.... well then Owen will add them to his list of dependents and we will find a place to put them in our home. We will get by. I refuse to believe that the people of 1 BC were better able to cope than I am.

Take that, Plummeting economy!