March 2014 archive

Horsin’ Around

Despite that nasty wind, today turned out to be decently nice out.  Wrex spent the morning digging up a busted pipe out by the well and we spent the afternoon with this handsome fella…

s15

Ozark the pony

Ozark is a sweet, sweet, sweet old man.  Wrex’s family bought him when Wrex was around 12 years old.  He stayed at their place for quite a while and then was sold to Wrex’s boss’ family in Denver.  Once we got settled out here on the plains, they generously gifted him back to us for our kiddos to ride; THAT was a superb, emotional day.

We’re not sure how old he is but our best guess is around 28-30.  He doesn’t have a tooth in his head and we spend a few dollars on feed each month…that then must be soaked in water so he can scarf it down…but he’s so very worth it!

He is such a good, solid guy; so calm and collected and trustworthy.  (Some of the same traits as my sweet hubby, I might add).  Sawyer loves the stuffin’ out of him (as do I) and I think our newest little cowboy does too.  Wryder got to go for his first ride today and I’m pretty sure that it was the highlight of his life thus far!  I had to literally pry his little chubby hands off of the saddle.

Look at that smile!

Look at that smile!

We don’t know how much longer he has on this ole earth but we are overjoyed and honored that he gets to live it out with us and we intend to soak it up as much as possible.  Horses are incredible creatures and we’d like our kids to learn to care for him and gain some horsemanship before it’s time to graduate up to the next level.

Gettin' all the dead winter hair outta there...

Gettin’ all the dead winter hair outta there…

How do ya like that outfit?

How do ya like that outfit?

We learned several years ago that Phipps means “lover of horses.”  I know that’s true for my hubby and I’m proud to say it’s true for our two cuties too…even though loving Ozark is pretty darn easy.

She's such a good big sister...

She’s such a good big sister…

Hold on tight!

Hold on tight!

Adorable, I know!

Adorable, I know!

My loves...

My loves…

Loving these guys is, too…

Financial Freedom

Ok, so if I thought yesterday was a big day at the Phipps house, I was completely and utterly wrong.  Today’s events have been much, much more significant.   Are you ready for it??

Outside of our home loan, we are 100% DEBT FREE.

That is something to celebrate, people!!!  I’m going to get pretty personal with numbers here…and I feel no inhibition in doing so.  This has ALL happened at the hand of the Lord so to Him, we give every ounce of credit and glory!

When Wrex and I got married, we had a little over $100,000 in debt between the two of us.  Yes, you read that correctly.  $100,000.  YIKES.  (That honestly makes my stomach quiver now…)

How did we have that much, you ask?  Well….

  • We both had vehicles that we were still paying on…
  • He had bought a trailer house to live in during senior college, that promptly lost over half of it’s value once it turned 10 years old…
  • We both had student loans…some of which were for out of state tuition, which isn’t cheap…
  • We both had credit cards that had been used frivolously and whose balances were at their max…
  • We had signed up for a buyer’s club of sorts that was designed to rob young adults of membership money under the guise of savings lots of said money as they made big purchasing decisions…basically, an incredibly unwise decision…
  • We were simply living beyond our means…and had been for a few years…

I distinctly remember our breaking point…and it was ugly.  It came on the heels of a bad weekend anyways and it only got worse.  Long story short, Saturday night we ran to McDonald’s to get a quick supper, only to have our card declined.  Yeah.  It was that bad.  We couldn’t even afford to eat off of the dollar menu.  We.  Were.  Broke.  And?  Wrex still had to get to work Monday morning with a diesel truck that was sitting on E.

The Lord provided even in the midst of all of that reckless living.  I had won employee of the month at my job for the past two months and had been rewarded with “Downtown Dollars” – money that could be spent at any downtown business.  Thankfully, there was a Safeway grocery store downtown and we purchased gift cards with my “Downtown Dollars” and took those to a different Safeway that had fuel.  It wasn’t a very fun weekend.

It was, however, the turning point in our financial situation.  Wrexy had lots of windshield time between driving to work and driving the tractor, so he had been listening to Dave Ramsey quite faithfully.   (He’d been listening to Dr. Laura, too, but that’s another gag-inducing story).  He had come home several times telling me about the “debt snowball” and he thought we could do it, or should at least try.  I was quite hesitant because our situation just seemed plain hopeless to me.  I hadn’t even been tithing regularly because “we couldn’t afford it.”  (I remember conveniently leaving the checkbook at home on multiple occasions because the thought of handing over even more of our paycheck was terrifying).

After a lot of Scripture reading and a lot of pushing from Wrexy, we decided to do it.  What did we have to lose at this point??  I remember sitting in the pickup and listening with him one day.  On Fridays, people get to call in and tell about how they got debt free and they get to scream, “We’re debt freeeeeeeeeeee!”  I bawled at all of them because it seemed like such a wonderful goal…but one that was so far away…

To get started, we sold his old gooseneck trailer for $800 and paid off one of our smaller credit cards and then the snowball started.  We reigned in our spending and eating out and started tithing regularly…and it felt GOOD.

We moved soon after we started this process and the people he was working for provided our housing and utilities as part of his pay.  With this new situation, we opted for living off of my paycheck and paying off debt with his.

The Lord was soooooo faithful during this process!  Some things were cake to pay off and others felt like we were working for years…and we were.  We were dealing with the consequences of years of irresponsible living.  It hurt to think of all of the things that the money we were paying out towards debt could’ve been used for…

We took a break from our debt snowball when I was pregnant with Sawyer.  We only had Wrex’s largest student loan left and we went back to paying minimum payments for a number of reasons.  We had private health insurance and at the time, since we had gained enough financial freedom for me to quit my job and start the journey as a stay at home mom.   The state of Colorado didn’t require private insurers to cover maternity claims, so ours did not.  We knew a $10,000 – $20,000 hospital bill would soon be staring us in the face in a few short months.  (The Lord TOTALLY provided but that’s another story for another day.  Are you seeing a theme here??)

Soon after, Wrex left his job in an obedient leap of faith and we were soon jobless and homeless so the minimum payments continued.  Then, we found a job, found a house, made lots of improvements, had another baby and never really finished….until today.

The Phipps’ are DEBT FREE.  And?  You better bet your bottom dollar we’re calling big Dave on Friday! 

I’m not sure I can fully express the freedom that comes from owing no one.  The Bible talks consistently about the borrower being slave to the lender and it is so true.  When you are strapped for cash and saddled in debt, you can’t do the things that the Lord calls His people to do!  We love to give, and give abundantly, but when the money’s not there because you owe so many people, you can’t do that.  You can’t stash away for emergencies…you can’t bless people on a whim…you can’t afford a car breakdown or birthday gift or a broken leg…you just can’t.

But when all of those unnecessary expenses are gone and you budget and live within your means, you’re able to save for the future and you’re able to give in abundance and you’re not blindsided by unexpected expenses.  Your whole lifestyle changes!  Your thoughts shift from your bank account and “how in the world am I gonna pay for that??” to “what is the Lord asking me to do with this excess now?”  Financial issues are one of the top five reasons for divorce but when there is financial security, there is FREEDOM.  You don’t have to think about money all of the time…you can think about each other.

The benefits to being debt free far outweigh the sacrifices you have to make to get there.  Of course there were times when we just wanted to throw in the towel and call it good enough and just go buy a new car or go on vacation…but we knew we didn’t want to go back to living like we were that fateful Saturday at McDonalds.

The Lord’s heart for His people is FREEDOM…and that includes financial freedom.  He took our measly efforts and our $800 trailer check and helped us blow the door wide open on our debt.

I’m so thankful for my husband’s obedience, yet again.  Getting out of debt has changed our family forever – we don’t even own a single credit card – and we are MORE THAN FINE WITHOUT THEM.

I say all of this one, to brag on the Lord.  It is only by His hand and His provision and His prompting that we are here and two, to encourage you!  If you have a mountain of debt and it feels insurmountable, may I just say that IT IS NOT.  We have unburied ourselves from over $100,000 in a little over seven years (thanks to that two year sabbatical).  It can be done. 

If you have questions or want to know more or want help with a budget or a plan, call me, message me, track me down – we are more than willing to help!  Financially free IS the only way to live…

Next goal?  Ten year house payoff – ow ow!

Now show us some debt-free love, would ya!?  WOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOO!

Cuts and Crawls

Today was a BIG day for a sweet little girl…Sawyer got her first haircut!  In her three and a half years of life, she hasn’t needed one, mainly thanks to her pretty curls.

At around 18 months...

At around 18 months…

and around 2 years...

and around 2 years…

Now that she’s gotten even more hair, her locks needed a little cleaning up…and after Wryder got his first haircut two years before she did, I think she thought it was her turn. ;)

She’s been begging me to call “the haircut lady” so today, since we were in town, we did just that.  I got trimmed up and so did the little lady…who loved EVERY minute of it!

Just getting started...

Just getting started…

Washing up!

Washing up!

Checkin' herself out!

Checkin’ herself out!

She did such a good job of following directions and sitting really still.  Miss Kris straightened up her ends, chopped some straggles and added a few layers towards the bottom.  She looks just as cute as ever!

The after!

The after!

And a silly one because she insisted...

And a silly one because she insisted…

One of my favorite, favorite, favorite things to do is to get my hair cut and styled and I’m thinking someone else liked it just as much.

On another note, this little guy finally learned to crawl on all fours!  He’s army crawled like a mad man for a while now and something finally clicked this week and he’s officially? crawling now – ha!  Forgive the poor picture quality – he’s on the move, people!

IMG_4186 IMG_4218Everybody’s growing up around here…

Full Weekend, Full Heart

What a fun weekend we’ve had!  I know it’s only Sunday, but Friday and Saturday were full full full…

On Friday evening, Sawyer and I got to attend Anley’s Royal Tea Party to celebrate her (Anley’s ) 5th birthday!

Sawyer and Anley, the birthday princess!

Sawyer and Anley, the birthday princess!

She picked out a fancy dress and we dolled her up with a little pink eye shadow and some barrel curls.  She looked ADORABLE, if I do say so myself.

Isn't she a beauty?!

Isn’t she a beauty?!

We had real, hot tea with cream and sugar and dined on sweet and savory little treats.

DSCF1305 DSCF1295 DSCF1292These girls had so much fun and looked fabulous, to boot!

DSCF1320 DSCF1322We got home late that night and then Saturday, we braved the snow to head to Denver for a quick little trip.  We had a few errands to run and a few people we wanted to love on – it was lovely!

We ate a yummy lunch and then headed to the thrift store to grab some pants for WD.  He was down to one pair of jeans that fit his growing self, so we snagged four more…and a couple pairs of shoes…and a sweet little dress for Sawyer…and a few more things.  Ahem.

Then, we dropped into Target to grab some baby snacks for Wryder and stumbled upon a diaper sale…be still my heart.  They had eight of the mega boxes of Pampers Swaddlers, size 5 diapers on sale for $26.  The boxes with 60 diapers were $25.  These with 104 are normally $41.  So, we did what any thrifty parent would do…we bought every box.  SCORE!

We got to see our sweet Stukas friends for a few fleeting minutes.  When we were eating lunch, we asked Sawyer what one thing she’d really like to do while we were in town and she said, “Play with Vaeh and they.”  (Vaeh is the youngest Stukas girl).  How sweet is that?!  Of all the things she could pick…adorable.

Then, we headed to the adopted fam’s house for a family birthday party for two of their main men.   It was sooooooooooooooooooooooooo good to see all of them!  There is just something about being there that I just love; it’s “home” in a sense.  To be in a place where you are loved unconditionally and cared for and encouraged and hugged on…and a place where you can trust your kids with everyone in the house because they all truly do have their best interests at heart (and common sense)…is just a comforting, lovely thing.  Makes me not want to leave……and to cry when I do…

Sawyer go to love on sweet baby Eva, the other highlight of our trip!  She offered to trade Aunt Dessa straight across the board – Wryder for Eva – but it didn’t work.  :)

Sweet girls...

Sweet girls…

She spent the rest of the evening play with the big girls, who were so incredibly kind to her.  Wryder did so well for getting no naps for the day.  He was beyond tired but just kept clapping and squealing – he liked being there, too.

We walked in the door about midnight last night so we’re taking it pretty easy today.  Laundry, coffee and snuggling are on the agenda and not much else…besides stacking up all of those diapers…

Showered in Love

I’m in event planning mode, which is a great place to be if you’re me.   Between spring weddings and first birthdays, I am ready to par-tay…er, decorate at least.  Today’s lovely spring weather got me thinking about one of my favorite events EVER – my ridiculously awesome baby shower.

My adoptive mom and sisters threw Sawyer and I the most beautiful shower I’ve ever attended, and I’ve been to a few.  It was bright and girly and whimsical and fun – all things that describe Sawyer today.  There were paper chains and flowers; homemade paper fans and pinwheels; little containers of homegrown grass and goldfish in flower vases…no detail was spared – it. was. perfect.

In honor of “throwback Thursday” feast your eyes on this beauty of celebration!

On the sidewalk leading up to the locale...

On the sidewalk leading up to the locale…

The entry way, complete with a bubble machine!

The entry way, complete with a bubble machine!

The gift hut and family style seating - my fave!

The gift hut and family style seating – my fave!

Oh yes - isn't THAT adorable?!

Oh yes – isn’t THAT adorable?!

The table centerpieces...

The table centerpieces…

I still have every one of these to give her one day!

I still have every one of these to give her one day!

We were so blessed to receive so many things we needed for our sweet girl!

We were so blessed to receive so many things we needed for our sweet girl!

One of my favorite parts - the pregnant dress form...

One of my favorite parts – the pregnant dress form…

Everything was so charming and whimsical...

Everything was so charming and whimsical…

And of course there was lots of pink!

And of course there was lots of pink!

There were lots of sweets and tasty treats...

There were lots of sweets and tasty treats…

Yummy looking and yummy tasting!

Yummy looking and yummy tasting!

How cute are these?!

How cute are these?!

Lots of pinwheels...

Lots of pinwheels…

Sweet little goodie bags...

Sweet little goodie bags…

Sugar scrub as thank you gifts - another fave!

Sugar scrub as thank you gifts – another fave!

It was a wonderful celebration!

It was a wonderful celebration!

I would love to do it all over again - it was just so fun!

I would love to do it all over again – it was just so fun!

Bumps!

Bumps!

The only thing that could’ve made the day better would have been a little less wind (anybody remember the hurricane force gusts that ripped through Colorado that day?!), but it was still one of those days that I’ll cherish forever.  I’m reliving it now…with extreme fondness…

It’s Great to Skate

Our church hosted a kids potluck and skating day on Sunday and it was too much fun!  We gathered after Sunday school and munched on everything from corn dogs and sloppy joes to Marshmallow Mateys and tater tot casserole.  After that, it was off to the rink!

Sawyer was sooooooooooooooooooo incredibly excited to skate!  I think she barely slept Saturday night in anticipation of having cereal for lunch and then strapping on a pair of skates.  She wouldn’t even go to the nursery during church because she was afraid she’d miss the action – ha!

Hurry, dad, hurry!

Hurry, dad, hurry!

I wasn’t quite sure what she’d think if she didn’t catch on right away so as we were driving to the rink, I explained to her that she might fall down a few times.  I told her not to be scared or give up and to just get right back up and try again, to which she agreed.

Adorbs

Adorbs

Well, there wasn’t much need for that little speech – she did AMAZING!

Let's go!

Let’s go!

I have about as much grace as a drunk, blind alley cat trying to maneuver fence with a barking dog in tow but thankfully daddy is quite impressive on skates!  He later traded these quads in for roller blades and really went to town!

Get low!

Get low!

They even did the limbo!  (And no, I had NO CLUE Wrex could get that low!)

The older kids were so incredibly kind and cautious regarding all of the little tykes.  Sawyer’s good friend Meredith took her for quite a spins – which she loved!  Sidenote: Meredith, if I was your size I’d steal all of your clothes!  Better watch your closet…  ;)

Big girls...

Big girls…

She also skated with her friend Lauren (sans daddy) for the last 30 minutes or so which was fun to watch.  She was completely confident out there!

Luvie Lambs

Luvie Lambs

Aren’t they sweet??  They made lots of laps and had a ball dancing in the disco lights!

Wryder didn’t do any skating but he was awfully encouraging to those who did by screaming and waving on the sidelines.  He got lots of snuggles and playtime in, so he was a happy camper!

WD and Mr. Bill

WD and Mr. Bill

It was an incredibly fun day and we are so blessed to have such a wonderful church family!  We left the skating rink feeling so loved and content…and at home.  There are so many young families and so many mentors for those young families – we’re a blessed body of believers.  Let’s do it again, soon!

The Lucky One

Happy St. Patty’s Day from two of the cutest little leprechauns I know!

DSCF1280

I feel so “lucky” to be their momma.  During our naptime prayers, I thanked the Lord for the desire that He placed in my heart to stay at home full-time with my  kiddos…and I thanked Him for allowing me to be a momma.  Even on the hardest of days (and today has NOT been easy), I wouldn’t trade this “job” for anything else on the planet.

I’m the lucky one…even though I’m not wearing green.

Fun Friday

The weather yesterday was absolutely divine!  As much as I’m an extremist in most other areas of life (cleanliness, organization, event planning, grocery shopping, etc.), I’m not when it comes to weather.  I freeze to death when it’s 50 or below and I sweat to death when it’s 80 or above.  I like a constant 75 with a gentle breeze – is that too much to ask?

We spent a little time outside yesterday because, despite our colds, we just couldn’t help ourselves!  Sawyer chased down Paint the Cat, who has grown significantly over the winter.

Fat cat

Fat cat

Wryder’s hair had gotten really long on top.

See how long that middle section is??

See how long that middle section is??

We’ve been combing it over and it had gotten way over, so yesterday he got his first (redneck) haircut!

Daddy's also a barber...

Daddy’s also a barber…

I was afraid he would absolutely hate the clippers but lo and behold, he loved them!  I think he’d have sat there all day.  He looks quite handsome with his new do.

Awwww...

Awwww…

We also finished re-organizing the garage.  Sigh.  Are we the only ones that do that??  You get it all straightened up and then life happens and then it looks like a tornado hit it and you have to start all over again?  Drives me nuts.  Sometimes it takes a swift kick in the rear and some nice weather to get some of that stuff done.  We have a friend staying with us for a little while so we needed to make adequate space for a few of his things.

Speaking of said friend, I made breakfast on Tuesday morning…french toast…one of my specialties.  I didn’t eat any since I’m doing the no-gluten thing but Sawyer didn’t really dig right in, much to my surprise.  She’s been sick so I didn’t think much about it…until I tasted a piece of hers.  That’s weird, I thought.  It tasted familiar, but it did not taste like cinnamon.  My brain started running through the catalog of spices and it hit me – NUTMEG!  Oh, it was NOT good…not in that quantity, at least!  Poor guy ate all three pieces I put on his plate.  Sigh.  Not my shiniest culinary attempt.

But back to the weather…today is just as nice out, there’s a new baby calf in the corrals, we’re all feeling a little better and daddy should have a pretty short sale.  Sounds like a fun Friday to me!

The Christmas Story (Sort Of)

Yesterday morning, Sawyer donned her princess dress and butterfly wings and joined me in the kitchen.  She wanted to act out the Christmas story; she would be the angel and I would be a shepherd who would be afraid when I saw her.  I easily obliged.  She loves to pretend and act things out and I know the Christmas story is one of her favorites.

While she left the room, I sat down to feed Wryder and she soon returned.  I did my part and proclaimed, “Aaagh!  I’m afraid, I’m afraid!  Who are you?”

She replied, “Do not be afraid!  I’m an angel.  A Savior has been born in Bethlehem.  You should go and see Him.”

Knowing that she knew the story of Christ’s birth, I did my part to foster the conversation to lead us into the second act and allow her to have more dialog from the story…so I asked, “How will I know where to go?”…thinking she would reply something about following a star.

Nope.

She replied, in her best Dora-esque set of directions, “First you’ll go past crocodile lake.”

I about fell out of my chair!  She finished her instructions and I thought, this can still be salvaged!  Thinking she’d mention something about swaddling clothes or a manager, I asked, “How will I know it’s baby Jesus?”  To which she replied…

“You’ll have to look closely.”

How funny is she!?  You may disagree but I just have to believe that the Lord was busting a gut right along with me; her innocence was overwhelmingly adorable! I grabbed pen and paper and immediately wrote down our little exchange.  These are the little things I don’t want to forget…these are the things that bless my heart.

Pinterest Picks

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Seriously. I need seven of these…

Chalk art for kiddo photographs - we WILL be doing this come summer!

Chalk art for kiddo photographs – we WILL be doing this come summer!

This quilt needs to be in my bedroom.

This quilt needs to be in my bedroom.

I don't think this kitchen could be any more perfect!

I don’t think this kitchen could be any more perfect!

Don't these look fun!?

Don’t these look fun!?

This.

This.

Yes Yes Yes

Yes Yes Yes

This bag is BEAUTIFUL!  Isn't it so me?!

This bag is BEAUTIFUL! Isn’t it so me?!

A lovely life verse...

A lovely life verse…

Good letter...

Good letter…

What LOVELY letters!  ;)

What LOVELY letters! ;)

 

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