Catch Up Light Speed 2012-2013

Wow what a year.

Last year Dave had quit his job and we ran our own business from home, Dave going out to make sales almost every afternoon through evening, and I processed the paperwork when he got home and before he left.  It eventually wasn’t working and it wasn’t our fav, so Dave started interviewing in the fall of 2012.  After a couple of months, the PERFECT job landed in his lap mid November. Perfect timing as our lease was up on our condo in December.  While Rancho Bernardo, where we had lived less than a year, is only about 20 minutes inland from the beach, it was too far for us.  Dave’s perfect job, and our perfect condo were found in Carmel Valley, only 2 miles from Del Mar, the beach we now frequent weekly. Hallelujah!

So we moved in November, then OOPS! In December I got pregnant.  The first words out of my mouth when I got the positive test in the beginning of January were “This thing better be broken!”  We’ll, it wasn’t, but my attitude quickly changed in about a week.  I became very excited to have my two kids so close together.  Fast forward through a very difficult pregnancy that included an ER visit and week long hospital stay for Meningitis (I had no idea how scary it could have been when the Dr gave me the diagnosis), and another ER visit during our New York Babymoon trip for pre term labor at 27 weeks.  The duration of the summer was spent on modified bed rest (yeah right, try that with an active 1.5 year old) but gave way to the most PERFECT birth experience to my 9lb 6oz baby girl in the early hours of Sept 9.  We casually went to the hospital, they gave me the epidural before I was really in pain, the Dr broke my water, and less than 2 hours later my baby girl was born after 3 pushes.  It was so easy, it was fun!   I have vivid memories of me saying to Dave “This feels so cool! This is awesome! I love this!” I never would have expected that.

I was terrified that Adam would hate her, be jealous of her, and throw things at her all the time, but he loves her and loves to give her kisses.  Unfortunately we’re at the stage of being excited about body parts so he accidentally pokes her in the eyes daily, but that’s much better than I was expecting.

Now Valerie is 6 weeks old, has been sleeping through the night for weeks (can we have two Hallelujahs in one post? Ok, HALLELUJAH!) And life is good.  We think we’ll most likely be done having kids since my pregnancies seem to take a toll on my health and I look forward to starting a part time career in a few years that might also help us afford a house someday in crazy San Diego.  Sometimes the crazy part of my mommy brain envisions us having a third, but that will probably only happen if we have another Oops.  I get so happy envisioning our little family of four throughout the years, I really couldn’t ask for more than my Adam and Val :)

Here’s to a wonderful holiday season full of giving and love!  I’ll keep you posted more soon

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Becoming the Mom I Said I Would Never Be -AND- 5 Month Birthday

Today Adam turned 5 months old. Funny how when a month used to pass by in life, it was kinda no big deal, but now, what a difference a month makes. I take photos of Adam on the first of every month for his month birthdays and looking back through them today, I am shocked at how much he has changed. I feel like he still looks just the same, just longer and heaver, but when did this baby …

become THIS baby?

He did today I guess, that is one of his 175 photos from today’s 5 month photo shoot. Yikes. I have every photo of my childhood in one photo album, this kid is going to have to have libraries. The fate of the first child I guess.

Another big transition that has occurred in the last 5 months is ME. Fact: No, I have not lost all of the baby weight, that’s not it. The transition is that …

I am becoming the mom I said I would never be

How so, you might ask?

1. I chopped my hair off last month.
After fighting with the long frizzy mess that never got done, I decided to finally do what I have been contemplating for a couple years – a shoulder length bob. I always told myself I would stay the sexy wife with my long voluminous hair, but whatever, not with an infant and no sleep and no time. Here’s my passport photo that we took last month – I’m not trying to be cool, they just tell you not to smile. So I practiced looking sexy without smiling … it’s really hard.

{passport photo removed when I saw that people were coming to my blog trying to steal a “female passport photo” – there is probably an international criminal with my photo now}

2. I find myself shopping for toys.
Remember my minimalist kick not too long ago? I’d like to think I still am a semi-minimalist and enjoy having an uncluttered home. Before baby, I told myself I would be a minimalist mom and not gather a lot of toys and “stuff” – but as I watch Adam have so much fun playing with his few toys from Grandmas, I admit, I have browsed Amazon.com a couple of times thinking about future toys I’d like Adam to have, like floating bath creatures or building blocks. Here’s to hoping I can maintain balance.

Oh and by the way, Adam’s favorite toys to play with today were an empty milk jug and a baby spoon.

3. Mommy blogging.
I used to say I hated mommy bloggers. But here I am, blogging about being a mommy. Oh well, I am what I am.

4. Last and definitely WORST.
I found myself admiring a minivan driving down the street. WHAT?!?!?! I have always sworn that I would NEVER drive a minivan. It was a very cool, black minvan though that I am sure had a TV inside and some really hip decals on the back.

Here’s to embracing who I am and embracing my new, adorable little family every day.

OH and if I left you hanging on a cliff at the end of my last post when I promised to write my story of Adam’s birth next, I wrote it out and let’s just say it was horrendously long and maybe too personal to post on the web. So long story short, it was amazing and a little scary and not what I planned, but so wonderful.

Here’s a couple more photos to hold you over until next time:

And this is what happens when he is sick of getting his photo taken. Still adorable:

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Neighbor Gifts and Moving Update

We moved! Only about 20 minutes from where we lived previously, so not far, but it was quite stressful packing with a less-than-3-month-old.  We love our new place, especially since Adam gets his own room and we don’t have to tip toe around him on our way to bed hoping we don’t wake him.

One funny thing about our new place though, we have lived here for over 2 weeks and only officially met one of our neighbors this last weekend, and only because he was washing his car as we walked by.  So rather than wait for them to come welcome us and introduce themselves, which it doesn’t seem like they were going to do, I decided to extend the first hand.  I made neighbor holiday gifts!

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While at Costco the other day, I spotted a 4 pack of Martinelli’s for $6.99.  That’s a great deal, I have since seen them in advertisements for $2.50-$2.99 each as sale prices, but I got mine for about $1.75 each!

I used tags from one of the many paper related blogs I follow, you can download the free printable sheet by clicking here to go to Jones Design Company. I used photoshop to make a sheet of just this tag, since it is my favorite.  I wrote a note on the back apologizing in advance for any crying they may hear from our direction, and letting them know they can stop by if they ever need a cup of sugar.

The main dilemma happened when I tied my first bow and realized I don’t know how to tie perfect bows.  Pause for a moment to exclaim how much I love the internet!  A quick search on YouTube and I came up with this video tutorial for how to tie the perfect bow.  It worked! I am so excited that it took less than 5 minutes to watch, and my gifts will look better for the rest of my life.

And here are some pictures of the progress in our new place!

Daddy putting together the new crib

The beginnings of a coordinated nursery!
(see the video baby monitor up on the wall? that thing has been amazing!)

My beautiful baby
(don’t worry, he can’t kneel like that on his own)

Adam is now over 3 months old and started to be fussier, until I realized that he is just bored!  He is going to be an active kid, as soon as I sit him in the bumbo or help him practice standing, he is really happy. He thinks standing on me is the funniest thing and will laugh and laugh! We are trying to get it on video soon.

I have been meaning to post about Adam’s birth for months now, but this week I think it will happen so stay tuned, I have been pondering about it a lot this week as we prepare for the celebration of the birth of another important baby boy.  My heart is filled with gratitude and joy, which I will share in the next post this week.

Merry Christmas!

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Time to Buy Gold

by David Hawkins

In 2008 I sent an email to some friends and family suggesting that they start investing in gold and silver.  At the time gold was at $700 and silver was at $10.  I felt so strongly about the metals that I was offering to fund their online account with free ounces if they just signed up and bought some on their own.  It was going to be a gift.  

Nobody took me up on the offer.  Some of the responses I got were “we can’t afford it yet” and “gold doesn’t earn interest” and “gold is expensive right now”.  In hindsight, that was a missed opportunity because gold is now above $1,700 and silver is at $40.  Over the same timeframe the stock market is roughly flat and the dollar is down.

Well that time has come again – to recommend gold and silver!  I can’t offer to fund your account with free ounces this time, though there is a company called BullionVault that gives you a free gram of gold when you sign up.  (I can’t recommend them though since I have not used their services.)

Well, you say.  I know that gold and silver have done well, returning 20-30% / year for a decade while the value of the dollar and stock market have plummeted, but why should I get into it now, and how?

Why to Buy Gold

I could write a book about the reasons to buy gold and I have certainly read many books on the subject, but it basically all boils down to one reason for me:  we are in the middle of a long term upward trend in precious metals (a “bull market” in industry lingo).  Nobody can doubt that now.  The fundamentals driving this bull market are government deficits, money printing and market uncertainty.  If you think that those trends will continue to get worse before they improve, then you should buy gold.

To me it all starts with the out of control government budget deficits, which causes the Central Bank to print money to buy the government debt (called Quantitative Easing), which leads to market instability.  The irony is that the politicians and central planners actually think that printing money helps an economy.   Since these trends are well in place and will get much worse before they get better, gold will continue to outperform just about every other type of asset.

How to Buy Gold

There are a couple of ways to buy gold.  Let me review each that I use and make a recommendation for what you could do based on your circumstances.   Here goes:

Visit your local Coin Shop

This is a good option if you want to actually hold the metals in your hand.   However, you will want to purchase at least $2,000 at a time as sales taxes may apply otherwise.   In San Diego I like Liberty Coin in downtown Del Mar.  They have very knowledgeable staff who won’t try to talk you into buying a numismatic coin.  Numismatics are old or rare coins that derive their value from the idea that they are collectables, not from the metals themselves.   I don’t recommend numismatics.  I recommend what is called bullion – purchasing a coin or bar of gold or silver for the value of the metal that makes it up.

Purchase a Stock or Fund

If you already have a brokerage account for trading stocks then this is an easy way to do it.  Many investors don’t like this option because there are so many entities between you and your gold.   They point out that technically you don’t own the gold, you own an entity that owns gold.

I own the following funds that hold gold and silver: Central Fund of Canada (CEF), GLD and SIVR. Also, I invest in GDX, which is a fund that owns precious metals mining companies.  Obviously, mining companies increase in value as the price of the metals goes up.  However at the same time they are known for being more volatile and having leverage.  So, if the metals increase by 10%, you can expect a mining company to possibly increase by twice that amount or more.  They don’t always do that at the same time though.  Gold and Silver are up over 30% in the past 8 months.  GDX hasn’t budged.

Storage Programs

Storage programs are the preferable method in my opinion.  The way these things work is you open an account much like you would an online bank account.  You fund the account and then purchase gold that they store in their vault.  The key to look for here is a company that will allocate and store the metals in your name.  You don’t want a pooled account where defining who actually owns the metal can be iffy.  Depending on how much money you have to invest, I like two companies:

GoldMoney is great if you have $5,000 or more to invest at a time, since the account has to be funded via wire transfer.   The cool thing about this company is that the vault is located in Switzerland so you can tell your friends you have a Swiss account.  It is also the cheapest option if you have that much to invest.  Be sure to file the FBAR with the government if your account balance ever exceeds $10,000.  Also, there is a somewhat lengthily verification process that involves a notary since you are opening a foreign account.  I am told that they might have streamlined this process recently.

The other option, SilverSaver is better for investing smaller amounts at a time and it is much easier to sign up since it is a US firm.  SilverSaver has found an easy and automated way for investors with limited funds to start accumulating precious metals on a monthly basis. It only takes about 10 minutes to open an account on their website and link it to your checking account.  Minimum investment is only $50 / month and they store your gold or silver in your name.  You can sell it back to them any time at market prices or even take delivery to your front doorstep.

SilverSaver has set up a system where you can automatically deduct a monthly amount from your checking account to have it saved in gold or silver.  That is a good idea for those of us who need help with the discipline to set aside savings every month.  You can also just make a one-time purchase if you want.

Transaction fees are pretty competitive with what you will find at a dealer or any other company (7.49% to 2.99% depending on how much you buy).  Storage fees are incredibly low at .6%.  You can’t even invest in a mutual fund for less of an annual fee than that.

Conclusion

There are no excuses anymore.  The writing is on the wall – when it comes to incompetence in Washington D.C. and the bull market in Gold and Silver.   We should all be buying gold to profit from this trend and to protect ourselves, should things get really out of hand.   Fortunately, with minimums at just $50 / month we can all afford to do so.  Please feel free to leave comments and let me know if you have any questions.

 

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Sew your own … Gift Wrap?!?

If I were to write a comic strip describing heaven and … the “double-hockey-sticks” place, I would probably include that the latter should be a customized experience of things you dread and hate the most.  Unfortunately, my list would probably consist of tasks that most Latter Day Saint girls are expected to enjoy and excel at.  Could you picture a little stick figure Tammy sitting at a little desk with a sewing machine surrounded in darkness and flames?! See?! It looks pretty grim.

But I have recently had an exciting transition where I have learned that I can sew some basic things.

Pretty much anything resembling a pillow case.

I recently tried to get my amazingly talented Step Mom to sew a cover for my iPad so I could throw it in my purse and not worry about scratches.  But she was smart enough to make me do it on my own. And it was just that, basically a glorified little pillow case.  After one failed attempt, I tried again and am intensely proud of the result.

Today I needed to fill up my Sunday afternoon with a wholesome activity so I thought of what I needed to check off my To-Do list.  I have a baby shower to go to on Thursday, but hadn’t wrapped the gift yet.  I don’t own wrapping paper and don’t really want to buy (and store) a whole roll, so I had to get creative.  I realized I have a small collection of fabric that I was never going use for anything else and could SEW my own gift bag!! So long story short, here she is!

Notice my crooked hand stitching and mismatched hems? Who cares! (And thank GOODNESS for a little product called Stitch Witchery so I can just iron the hem and not have to sew it perfectly)

 Pillow case!

Gift inserted with a sheet of tissue paper

Tie it up and voila! Beautiful!
(The gift card was created with printable cards from one of my
favorite bloggers, Jones Design Company)

Now unfortunately the gift wrap is more exciting than the gift itself so if you’re reading this Heidi, don’t get too excited :)  But how fun is that?! And maybe making gift wrap like this will allow the receiver to re-use the little bag to store something, rather than just crumple up some paper and create more trash in the world.

COMING SOON: The conclusion to my Card Catalog revamp! Finally! It will be done and on here for you to view within a couple weeks since (exciting news!) my parents will be serving a (local) mission starting in July so my Dad is rushing to finish up all projects before that starts :)

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Card Catalog Bliss!

As many of you know (because I had some pretty obsessed/obnoxious facebook statuses a few weeks ago) we are the happy owners of a new iPad 2.  We have lovingly dubbed it “Paddy” after a week of feeling a little stupid and presumptuous saying the word “iPad” over and over again.  We already owned a “Lappy” (thanks to Strongbad for that moniker) so “Paddy” just came naturally :)

Fortunately and unfortunately, Paddy has the capability to download some pretty cool apps.  The best being … CraigsPro+ (Really just a glorified Craigslist search).  I have already sold $80 worth of things we have replaced and no longer need and have purchased 2 of the coolest furniture pieces ever.

On Wednesday, I drove down to Imperial Beach (practically Tijuana) and purchased a Card Catalog.  You know, those things with all those drawers you used to have to look through to find the number for the library book you wanted?  They have become one of the hottest items of DIY restoration and repurposing in the blogosphere for the last couple of years.  They are really difficult to get your hands on these days.  If you do find one, chances are the seller is asking hundreds of dollars, as seen here.  Mine was listed at under $100 and I even negotiated the price down a little because one of the drawers is missing a piece (that I will easily be able to fix).  What a steal!

What would someone use all of those little drawers for you might ask?  My vision is … a baby dresser! Babies come with all kinds of tiny little things, right?  So rather than have a couple drawers with all of those little things floating around, I can have organized (and labeled!) little drawers for each little item.  Here are some before and after pics, and the future concept rendering:

Before:
(dirty and sticky)

After:
(all cleaned up and labeled)

Look how many little onesies I will be able to fit in one drawer! Probably about a dozen!

Whenever I finish any kind of crafting project, I always force Dave to “ooh and ahh” over my work – he has gotten pretty good at it and I really think he appreciates my craftiness, or at least he does a great job at faking it, which I really appreciate.  While he was checking out this stage of the project, he saw the drawer labeled “blankets” and looked over at the giant blanket on our couch.  “You’re going to fit BLANKETS in there?! …..  OOooohh, you mean like, for babies?”  I just love that guy :)

 

I am so in love with this piece, BUT I still don’t like the idea that it doesn’t have legs and just is a big box on the ground.  So I have enlisted the help of my dad and within the next couple weeks, we will add a platform with legs like this

or this  

I also realized that since this will be our baby central, there are a couple of things that unfortunately wont fit in the drawers so I want to build the platform with an extra shelf of open storage to fit things like a box of baby wipes or a boppy pillow.  Here is the concept rendering of what I want it to end up looking like:

What do you think?


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Banana Bread and Other Highlights

For the last few days, Dave has been pestering asking me to make banana bread.  Because he was the one that wanted it, not me, today I suggested that maybe he could make it.

From my spot in the other room where I was lying, reading a book (see below for more details) I was fielding questions such as, “which one of these is baking soda?” and “do we have flower and sugar?” and giving directions where to find each item.  First I was happy with myself that I could remember and describe exactly where everything was, but I also was happy that I was empowering my husband to make something without having to wait for me to do it.

My favorite question came when all of the ingredients were found and it was time to mix them all together. “Now how do I mix this all up?” I then described what the hand mixer looked like and where to find it and the beaters.  A light of recognition came on in his eyes:

“Oh, you mean those things I lick when you’re done making cupcakes??”

As for other updates, this new gig of “staying home” is turning out to be exactly what I was hoping for.  I have the time to get things done that I didn’t before, but also to accept invitations to do new things that otherwise I could not.  Here are a few highlights of my past 2 weeks off:

1. Join a walking group
A small group of young moms from church meet together to go walking several mornings a week.  I am grateful to them for inviting me since it gets me up and out at a specific time and I don’t just let the morning waste away.

2. Join a friend for his flying lesson
One of Dave’s good buddies is getting his pilot’s license and invited us to fly for a couple hours one morning that week.  Dave had to decline because of work meetings, but I was free to go and enjoy the new experience.  I may or may not have gotten sick in my jacket as we were landing the final time, but our friend doesn’t exactly know that yet.  I was too embarrassed to say anything …

3. Spontaneously stop at the local farmer’s market
The local Carlsbad strawberries are amazing right now and I felt proud of myself that I was feeding baby some healthy fruits and veggies

4. Read a book
My dear sister-in-law, Sarah, got me a book for Christmas that I have been anticipating for a while, “The Happiness Project” by Gretchin Rubin.  Gretchin spent a year researching tips and facts about happiness, while choosing a category of her life to improve every month.  I find myself appreciating little things, like the fact that Dave is whistling in the kitchen as he is doing the dishes from his banana bread adventure (thanks honey!).  I also find myself holding my tongue when I have the instinct to say something rude or nagging.

5. Do nice things for my husband
Dave’s truck needed some big repairs after it was broken into in January, but we didn’t have the time to take it in (plus we knew I would be quitting my job soon so it could wait).  The repairs turned out to be more complicated than we had expected so I it took quite some time, and I eventually had to leave it at the repair shop for a few days.  When picking it up, I took the time to fill it up with gas and even take it for a nice car wash so that it would be as good as new when he used it next.  I was very happy with myself for being such a loving wife :)

There were many more great experiences, but these have been some of my favorites.  I will continue to post highlights and lessons learned as this journey continues …

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