Saturday, November 30, 2013

Holiday Season 2013.... in our new home!!!

It's true..... we are no longer Little Bearfoot Farm!  We have officially moved off of the farm, and into the city (City of Sumas, WA).  We are completely done with our Trapline Rd property as of November 26th.

Life is so very good so far in our new home.  We still have so very much to do here, as far as unpacking and trying to find a place for everything.  Lots of things to put up, put away, and probably even get rid of still.  But, our new home is so very comfortable for us.  It is a great fit, and we have made it ours, with taking the time to add color through painting before we moved in.  We celebrated Thanksgiving here this year, and it was wonderful.... in fact, it was our very first home cooked meal since moving in!  :-)

With November coming to a close, and Thanksgiving now behind us, we will start getting busy again around here.  Time to get Christmas lights and put them up, to find our Christmas decorations and get them up, and to continue unpacking the multitude of boxes that are all over the inside of our home.

We have managed to get the computer hooked up, and the satellite and TV working...... which were big accomplishments!!!  Now, to keep the progress going!!!

No time for blogging right now.... busy, busy, busy!!!  :-)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A New Chapter, A New Home.....

So, first off, I kinda sorta completely missed the month of October.  Actually, I missed September as well.  My last blog post was back on September 1st.  A lot has gone on and happened in our lives since that time, and for some reason, I just failed to sit down and ever update my blog about it all.

Quite simply, we have been in back to school mode with our kids, and back into football season with Evan.  We held our annual LBF chili cook-off for the last time here on the farm, but most certainly not our last chili cook-off.  In addition, we have continued the process of preparing for a major down sizing and transition in our lives, all the while not knowing exactly when the time was going to come.

Well, now we are here in the first week of November, and the time has finally come for the winds of change in our lives.  It is a bitter sweet time for us.  We took possession of our "new" home in Sumas as of yesterday.  It is now ours, and ready for us to move into at our leisure.  We made all of the calls yesterday to get the utilities turned on and into our name.  However, the gas company wasn't able to come until today...... somewhere between the hours of 8am and 5pm!!!  Go figure!!!  So, the house was a balmy 54 degrees yesterday..... which left us not wanting to do much over there without having heat to turn on.

And so, today I will be at the Sumas house all day long, waiting on Cascade Natural Gas to arrive and give us heat.  I am planning to take the utility trailer with me, loaded with tools and supplies, etc, that will allow me to keep busy over there all day.  I have some projects to work on, and a need to get the back yard prepped and ready for the new storage shed, which arrives tomorrow.

Our plan for this week is to do cleaning and painting, along with taking smaller things over that we don't still need at the Trapline house.  Our hope is to be ready to start moving in this weekend, the 9th and 10th.

Yes, I am going to miss our farm.  And yes, I am very excited to get moved into our new, much smaller, city and neighborhood home.  I am looking forward to a fresh new start for our family, and the prospect of finally becoming debt free.  This is going to be a huge change for us...... we haven't lived in a neighborhood setting in 8 years now.  And we haven't lived in a city of any size at all in over 20 years.

OK..... time to start thinking about paint, and painting!!!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

From Summer To Fall.... Change

Here we are.  September 1st.  Summer has gone by too fast yet again, and the kids are now back in school.  Evan, a seventh grader!  Sierra, in fourth grade!  Evan just celebrated his 12th birthday in fine fashion, on a trip to Portland, where we played and had fun all weekend long.  He took along his best buddy, Jacob Roosma, and the two of them together shared a long weekend of zip lining, obstacle courses, swimming, indoor trampolining, miniature golf, good food, and more!!!  Sierra will be celebrating her 10th birthday here at the end of this month!  :-)

As anyone who knows me already knows, Fall is my most favorite time of the year here where we live.  Why?  Quite simply, because we have some of the most beautiful weather of the year in the Fall here...... bright and sunny days, but not too hot.  Beautiful colors abound as the change occurs in the foliage.  The smells of people burning leaves and yard debris bring back find memories each and every year.  The bike rides are magnificent and glorious this time of year.  And the mornings are crisp and fresh and cool.... perfect for sitting on the porch with my morning coffee!!!  :-)

And so, it is a welcoming time of year for me, when September rolls around.  However, this year brings about a whole new set of changes for us here in our family.  This year will be our last year at Little Bearfoot Farm.  The hobby farm business is closing down, and after 8 years, we are moving on.  Of course, I am filled with a huge mixture of emotions over this.  But the simple fact is, time and money!!!  Money and time!!!  It takes a lot of both of these to make the farm work, and we have not been able to live up to my expectations for maintaining and caring for our farm.  As well, our family dynamics have and are changing.  We are getting busier with our lives, and especially with our kids.  School, sports, extra curriculars, and family time..... we need and want more of these things.  As this happens, we have less time to devote of ourselves and our money to the farm life, and it shows.  We have chosen family, and our kids to be the priority, so it is time to move on.

With that... change!  Yes, we are moving back to city life!!!  Well, OK, maybe not what you all think.... but for us, it's a huge change!!!  We will be leaving the farm life and our 12 acres, and we will be moving into a much smaller house, in a neighborhood, in the tiny town of Sumas, WA.  I am extremely grateful to be able to make this transition back to city life on a small scale.  :-)

It appears as of now that we will be moving into our "new" home around the end of October or first week in November.  So, we have time.  And, we need the time.  Still so much to do, so much to get rid of, so much to pack, so much to plan for.  I am praying for a very smooth transition as we make this big change in our lives.  And more so, I am praying that this change will be a wonderful and life giving change to our family unit.  More time together, in a closer and tighter situation.  More money in the bank, allowing less stress and more freedom to do things we need and want to do.  Less worry about the place we live in, and all that needs to be done, and more time to be active in both kids' lives on a regular and day to day basis.  :-)

In addition, I am prayerful that our kids will adapt to this new way of living quickly and well.  Having friends near by, and the ability to play with others without having to arrange play dates will be quite nice.  A safe and friendly neighborhood with street lights, and pavement all around will be fun for the kids.  A fenced yard for the dogs will be a blessing to us.  Scaling down our lives will be a blessing that I know we will appreciate after we finally get settled in.

As much as I am going to miss our farm, and this beautiful location that I have loved so dearly for the past 8 years now.... I am ready for our future.  I am ready to move, to get started, to make the change.

Welcome, September... and welcome, Fall.   :-)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Moving Sale Success!!!

WOW...... all of the hard work and many days of preparation leading up to yesterday, proved to be more than well worth it for us!!!  We had an amazing first day at our moving sale.  Far more people came than we could have expected or hoped for, in spite of  a sudden turn in the weather, which gave us much needed rain that we just didn't want over this particular weekend!!!

Despite the rain, and even though it was Friday (still a weekday), the people poured in like crazy.  In the first few hours it was non-stop.  At one time, there were well over 20 vehicles here, with people everywhere!!!  And, they weren't just looking.... they were buying!!!

We fought the rain, we worked in the rain, we sold in the rain..... and in the end, we were rewarded substantially for all of our hard work and preparation.........

At the end of day 1 of our moving sale, we brought in over $2100 in sales!!!!!     :-)

Today we go at it again.  Yes, we still have a lot of stuff to sell.  We have even more stuff that we hadn't put out as of yesterday, due to lack of space and lack of time to get it all out and priced!!!  We didn't bring furniture out from the house due to the weather, so we have plenty left to add to the sale even today, in addition to all that still remains from yesterday.

No, I don't expect another $2000 day today.  However, I can see another $500 to $1000 coming in still over the next two days.  And that, to me, is a very successful sale!!!

Time to get coffee on board, grab a shower, and start moving furniture out to the sale area.

Oh, and please..... if you are reading this, and know of anyone looking for lots of Christmas decorations or outdoor lighting, or anyone looking for used furniture, good clothing, and more... please send them our way today!!!  :-)

Thanks for reading along!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

All In Just One Week!!!

Already it seems like so long ago that we were over in Ellensburg for the boys 12U state baseball tournament.  While we were gone, our little farm went on the market for sale.  And before we came home on the 15th, there had been just one showing of our house.  But then, we came home, and everything changed in a real hurry.................

Over the next few days, three more showings occurred.  While this was going on, we were busy trying to get cleaned up from our trip... unpacked, laundry done, settling back in to the routine of trying to find our next home, etc.  As well, we had started the process, while in Ellensburg, of looking for a newer Suburban to replace our 2005 model with.  Although we really enjoyed our "Burb", the fact is that it was getting to the point of needing a lot of work done to it, that was going to add up fast financially.  The list of problems and needed repairs was quickly growing, and we decided that a newer model would be the best solution.  And so, we began the search online, and started the wheeling and dealing process with many dealers.  So, the first couple of days back home, I spent a lot of time on the computer, trying to narrow down the search, and trying to make a deal on one of three Suburbans we had decided upon.

And that brings me to what has happened all in just one week!!!  In just this on week that we have been home (actually, just five days!), we have had our home shown a total of five times.  After just four showings, and after being on the market just one week, we have an offer on our place!!!  In addition, in that same short week, I made a deal on a 2010 Suburban, fully loaded, with low miles and a beautiful blue granite metallic color.  Tracie and road tripped it down to Portland on Thursday afternoon, traded in our rig for our new Suburban, and drove back through the night, getting home at 3:30am on Friday...... in time for me to get an hour and half of sleep before going to work!!!  And to finish of the week, we headed down to Alger yesterday afternoon, to celebrate the retirement of one of my coworkers.  It was a great party, lots of fun, and a great way to finish off a crazy and busy and productive week.

Today, we will head to church this morning, and then meet this afternoon with our agent to discuss the offer that has been made on our place. 

So much has gone down in the short time we have been back from Ellensburg, that my head is spinning as I try to take it all in.  And now, we have so much work ahead of us, as we work hard to find a place to move to, and try harder to start selling stuff off in an effort to majorly down size our lives after seven and a half years of farm living.

We have a week and a half to get ready for the biggest garage/shop/barn/yard/farm sales that we have ever held.  First weekend of August is going to be the big sale here...... between that and placing tons of Craigslist ads, we have our work cut out for us.

OK, here we go........

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

July....Summer Came Early!!!

Yes indeed, summer came early this year for us.  Compared to years past, our month of June was very nice to us for the most part.  We even managed to pull of a heat wave that felt and looked just like summer, before July 5th, our traditional start of summer around here!!!

June was fast...... I feel like I just finished typing my last blog piece, and yet now it is already July 3rd.  We have been so busy, with so much going on in our lives right now, and with Grammy & Papa & Aunt Janice all here visiting...... the days just keep clicking away.

We managed to get a little camping trip in up at Silver Lake the last week of June, while the rain was still here!  We still had fun, and it felt good to just get away from home for a short time.

Next up, tomorrow, Independence Day.... The Fourth of July!!!  We plan to head out to Blaine to spend the day and evening.  In years past, they have provided a great way to spend the day, and have put on a nice fireworks show at night.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a fun day for us all.

This week, we have found that our house will go on the market next week, on Tuesday the 9th.  So, we are busy this week getting ready for that to happen...... cleaning up, clearing out, packing stuff, organizing things, deciding on what to keep and what to let go.  Yesterday was a busy and productive day of it, and the house already looks so much better.  We are on our way to down sizing and simplifying our lives, with moving from the old farm and huge amounts of work involved with it, to a smaller and more manageable place that will allow us to live the more active lifestyle that seems to be coming our way as our kids are growing.

Next week, as our farm goes up for sale, we head out of town to Ellensburg, for the state 12U baseball tournament.  More importantly, we will be on vacation, on the east side of the mountains, in the heat!!!  A time to relax, a time to have fun, a time to watch baseball, a time to not worry about the things back home!!!

When we return, it will already be the middle of July!!!  And then, we will be busy again, getting ready for trying to find our next place to live, trying to sell off as much stuff as we can around here that we will no longer need or want, getting ready for some family vacation time in August, and also with looking for a replacement vehicle for our aging Suburban.

I can see now that my next blog could easily be a month out..... so, thanks for reading, and stay tuned!!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

School's Out... Times Three!!!

Today marks the last day of the school year for our kids!  Evan is now moving on to the 7th grade, and Sierra will become a 4th grader!  Hard to believe... they are growing up so fast, and this school year went by in the blink of an eye for me.

However, that's not all..... no, we have another graduate as well.  Tracie has formally finished her Medical Transcription program, and passed her final exams..... with honors!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  :-)

So, it is official.... School's out for Summer!!!

OK, not actually, completely..... because Sierra has asked to go to summer school.  YES, that is correct... she actually wants to go to summer school.  In fact, she would rather go to summer school than to go on the vacations that we have planned for the summer!!!

As it turns out, the school is glad to have her as well..... because she will be able to develop her math and writing skills to an even higher level before the new year begins.  Of course, for Sierra, it's all about being with her friends and teachers.  I don't know that she understands that summer school will be different.... but hey, who am I to stop her from wanting to go to school?!?!?!?!   :-)

And so, it is time to celebrate!!!  We must celebrate that our kids have made it through another year of school.  And we MUST celebrate that Tracie has finally finished her schooling, and is now ready to start looking for employment!  :-)

Come on Summer..... we are ready!!!

And lastly, on a different note...... we are putting our home and property on the market for sale, in the next couple of weeks.  We plan to downsize substantially, and financially.  So, we have a very busy next couple of months ahead, as we start to pack, organize, sell, give away, etc.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Time Has Come.....

Well, it has finally happened.  After a very long and much anticipated wait, Tracie has completed her online studies for Medical Transcription!!!  This online course has taken her much longer than she ever anticipated or wanted or dreamed of, and was much more difficult than she ever had planned on it being.  But, after four years of working on it, she has finally completed the program!!!

Today is a very big day for Tracie.  Today she will take the final exam.  The final exam is expected to take her around 6-9 hours to complete!!!  She must pass this final exam in order to be done with the schooling, and to graduate the program.  This is a very big day, and a very big deal.  It won't be easy, as the testing process allows her to use open book and all available resources as she takes it..... which means it won't be easy.

However, she has studied hard, worked hard over the past month in preparation, and has great resources at her side.  We all believe that she will pass today, and that she will be on her way out of school, and on to the work force!

Good luck, Tracie!!!  I know you can do this..... you have come too far to not finish strong now.

Please be thinking about Tracie, and even say some prayers for her today..... I know she will appreciate every one of them!  :-)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend... and Beyond

Here we are.... Memorial Day weekend at the end of May already.  Today is Ski to Sea race day as well.  In typical fashion, the weather is unpredictable.  It is wet and gloomy outside as of now, but supposed to clear off and be better as the day goes by.

So many of us think of this weekend as the official opening of camping and BBQ season.  Others of us are completely focused on the big event called Ski to Sea.  My hope is that all of us will take tomorrow, Memorial Day, to stop and pay respect to the men and women who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Memorial Day isn't about remembering just anyone.  It isn't about those currently serving, or who have served and are still living.  This day is about those who paid the ultimate price for us all.  This day is about honoring and respecting and remembering those who died for our freedom, for our country.  We have other days set aside for paying respect to active members of service, and for those who have served and are still living.  We have days for remembering loved ones who have past.  We even have days for celebrating BBQ.  But Memorial Day isn't about these things, or these people...... and I am hoping that anyone who reads my blog will remember that, and take some time tomorrow to simply be quiet, pay a little respect, and maybe say a little prayer, for those men and women who sacrificed all for us.

As for today..... Ski to Sea!!!  My brother, Brad, is competing today with his team from Lynden Door.  The "Doorknobs"........ recreational division.  This is Brad's first race, and he is riding the 42 mile road bike course for his team.  I am excited for him, and hoping that he has a great ride, lots of fun, and that he does well.  We will be at Riverside Park to await his arrival when he comes racing in to hand off to the canoe team.  Afterwards, we will help Brad get back to his place to clean up, and then head to Fairhaven to see the race finish, and enjoy the festivities and celebrations of another year of racing this great event.  I raced last year, and am out for this year...... but, I miss it already, and am thinking ahead to next year!

As we head into this final week of May, our schedules our crazy busy for the next 6 to 8  weeks.  We have some big things to get done around the place, fast, so we can get our place on the market for sale.  I have already been listing things on Craigslist, and have sold a few items.  We have a ton of clean-up to do, organizing, and getting ready for some big garage/shop/yard sales to clear things out as well.  I hauled a big load of scrap metal to Z's recently, and got $130 in cash.  I finally managed to get the field fence all cleared and repaired, and finally super hot with electricity...... those dang cattle should be staying put from now on!!!

Grammy & Papa will come up with their motor home at the end of this week, and will be here on into July, when we head east to Ellensburg for the state baseball tournament.  I am very much looking forward to having their help, inside and outside, with getting our house all spruced up and ready for sale.  Curb appeal, and maximizing what the market will bear for us, while spending as little as possible.  I have a list of projects to work on... and many of them are labor intensive.  I suspect that the month of June is going to be gone before I even know it.

In addition, it is time to start working once again on my health.  My physical and mental health have been shot for some time now, and it isn't a good thing.  I worked so very hard to become healthy and happy, and I loved where I had gotten to.  I was happy, and I was happy with myself.  And then I had to take on that second job.... and things fell apart!  It was a long and painful six months, in which time I went backwards physically and mentally.  I have been in a major slump ever since, and have struggle to get going again.  Not being a part of a fitness club has hurt bad, and I haven't had time to ride much this year.  Excuses have been the death of me, and it is time for change.  I am tired of being unhappy with my body, and my level of fitness, and my unhappiness.  I am so very hopeful that I can make big changes in the month of June!!!

June..... baseball, baseball, and more baseball.  Getting the house on the market to sell.  Getting my life back in order again.  Getting back on my bike again.  Working on home improvement projects.  Selling off as much as we can.  Spending time with Grammy & Papa. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

'Tiz May......

Yes..... that is correct..... not a single post for the month of April.  Why???  Here's why.....

The first nine days of April were absolutely, completely, wonderfully and amazingly awesome!!!   We weren't here..... we were in Maui, Hawaii.  Oh yes, and it was so very, very, very, very good!!!  So good, in fact, that I can't stop thinking about it, and can't wait for our next trip over there.  I can't believe that I allowed 45 years of my life to go by without ever going to Hawaii.... that was plain crazy!!!

The rest of April, however, pretty much sucked for me.... and for my family.  After returning from Hawaii, my immune system must have been knocked down a bit..... because when I returned to my first shift back at work just a couple of days later, BAM!!!   I ended up sick with a most nasty respiratory virus.  This was so bad that is knocked me down hard for the next two weeks!!!  The only blessing to come along with it was the weather...... the weather was terrible, so it made it easier to sit in my recliner day after day after day, completely miserable.  And then, as I was getting about half way through it..... BAM!!!  I gave it to Tracie and both kids!!!  Oy vay, that pretty much wrapped up the month of April for us!!!

But alas..... we are all healthy now, and April is gone.  May is here, and it has come with the most wonderful and beautiful weather this year!!!!  Sunshine and warm temps, with the rest of this week getting better and better!!  :-)

So, we are back into life once again here.  Spring is in the air, and we are busy with baseball and softball games.  In addition, everything has come to life all around our property..... and so, my days are filled with endless work once again.  Mowing and weed whacking, pulling weeds, spraying weeds, cleaning up debris from the winter months, and trying to get things under control and looking somewhat nice around here.  In fact, I need to try and get things spruced up even nicer than I normally would, as we (apparently just I) have made the decision to try and sell our house and property.

Yes, you read that correctly.  It was a good run.  It was a good try.  But, the reality is this..... we can't afford this place, and we can't manage this place.  Our lives have changed as the kids are growing.  We are getting busier and busier, giving us less time here, and less money to spend around here.  Quite simply.... I can't keep up with this place, and we haven't made any real forward progress in the 7 years we have lived here.  I am ready to admit defeat and move on.  And so, with spring and summer approaching, it is time to try and make this place presentable to the right buyer, and it is time to place a for sale sign out front.

So, if you know of someone who is looking for a 3000+ square foot home, with a 40x60 barn, a couple of smaller outbuildings, and 12 acres of land...... send them our way!!!  :-)

For now, off to get the kids ready for school.  Then to start working on cleaning up the place a bit..... as a realtor  is coming by this morning to take a look and help us come up with a fair market price.

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Tomorrow late afternoon, we will be in Hawaii.... Maui to be exact!!!

We have never been, and this was all planned quickly, just four weeks ago.  I was very blessed to have been able to rack up 72 hours of overtime at the BFD last month, and so the money was available for us to go somewhere for spring break. 

After having an extremely difficult and disappointing past six months, I was desperately in need of getting away.  I have been so down and depressed, both due to the long winter weather months, as well as because of working the second job every day I wasn't at the BFD.  My overall healthy had suffered greatly.... physically, mentally and spiritually.  It was time for me to get out of my funk!!!

I quit working at Westside Pizza!  I earned a substantial extra income last month through the overtime!  I was already thinking about going somewhere sunny and warm and tropical for a week, just to get away from home  and recharge!  So, I booked us a trip to Hawaii!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  :-)

And so, tomorrow morning, we will leave our house at 6am.  Uncle Brad will go with us, and we will head to SeaTac to catch our plane.  Grammy & Papa will meet us in Hawaii, as they will fly out of PDX.

Eight days in Maui!!!  In a 4th floor condo, right on the beach!!!  In a most beautiful location on the upper west coast!!!  The weather forecast is for 79 to 83 degrees every day we are there, with lots of sunshine!!!  Sun, surf, sand..... rest and relaxation..... good food and good drink..... no worries about home and life!!!

I am SO looking forward to this trip.  We have NO agenda.  Our only big adventure for sure is to take a day trip out for snorkeling.  Other than that, we plan to lay back and play it by ear, one day at a time, one hour at a time!!!  We may do a lot, we may do very little...... but the goal is simply to be very relaxed and very happy!!!

ALOHA!!!   :-)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Birthday, Weather, Cycling, Kids, Hair.....

Today is the day..... my day.... my birthday.....  my 45th.  Don't feel any different, other than being about 20 pounds heavier than I wanted to be at this time.  Tired from being up at work, and getting up early.  Disappointed in the weather, since I had plans to ride today.  But alas, it is still my birthday!

The weather is crazy.  The forecast had been for today to be nice, and dry, just on the cool side is all.  However, so far today, we have had sun and rain and snow and hail.... and it doesn't show signs of great improvement that would lead me to getting my riding gear on!  :-(

Good news, the weather is supposed to be much better tomorrow, and I don't work!!!  So, letting go of the dream to ride 45 mile on my 45th birthday..... putting it off for one day.  I will go for my ride tomorrow, and maybe will be able to convince my brother, Brad, to go along with me!!!  :-)

My kids are amazing and awesome!!!  I love them so much, and they most certainly love me!!!  They spent 2 1/2 hours working together last night, to make a most awesome Happy Birthday Daddy sign for me, which they had hanging on the side of the house for me to see when I came home today!!!  It is awesome.  I posted a picture of it to FB, so you should be able to see it for yourself.  I can't wait to get my hands on both kids, and give them hugs and kisses like crazy!!!  :-)

Hair..... that is the hot topic around here this week.  We were supposed to get Evan's hair put into corn rows two days ago..... but, long story made short, it didn't happen.  Instead, we are heading back to Bellingham Beauty School today at 3:30pm, for Evan to be used by the head instructor, as she puts on a class for her students on how to put in silky dreadlocks!!! Yes, that is right.... Evan is going to get the dreads that he has wanted for so long now!!!  I will post photos this evening...... not sure at all what he is going to look like.

Anyway..... since I am not riding today, and Tracie and the kids are at school.... I am heading into B'ham to meet a fellow friend and firefighter, for lunch at Coconut Kenny's, and a couple of pints at Kulshan Brewery.   :-)

Just 10 days away from being in Hawaii...... and that will be how I celebrate my 45th birthday!!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hitting My Mid 40's.....

Today marks my final week of being in my early forties.  This Friday, I turn 45 years young, and it doesn't bother me at all.  The only thing I am upset about is the fact that I had hoped and planned on being in the very best shape of my life when I celebrated my 45th, and that just isn't going to be the case.  Sadly, due to a very rough past five months of working a second job that I hated, and losing out on the time that I once had for taking care of myself...... well, I lost what I have spent the past several years working so hard for.  I gained back about 15 pounds, and lost lean muscle mass at the same time.  I am very disappointed that I am in the condition that I am now physically, and that I won't be meeting my goal for myself come this Friday.  But, on the bright side, I also won't be working the second job any longer, and will now be back on track to get myself physically and mentally and emotionally healthy once again.  I am confident that I can be back where I want to be once again by the time summer arrives.... and I just have to move ahead and accept that is how it is.

Yes, I had really high expectations for my 45th birthday, and those expectations aren't going to happen.  I am disappointed, yes, but also happy, knowing that I am now able to start moving forward again towards being a much happier and healthier person.  I need that so very badly right now.

I am so very much looking forward to going away to Hawaii the first of April, to soak up some much needed sunshine and warmth, along with an escape from day to day life here at home.   I look forward to connecting again with my kids.  I look forward to once again starting back into a fitness lifestyle.  I look forward to just resting and relaxing on a warm, sandy beach.  I look forward to having fun, and laughing, and playing.  I look forward to coming back home fully rejuvenated and ready to forge ahead in life.

We have a lot to do over the next two weeks.  Getting everything ready to go, shopping still for things we need,  sports activities for both kids, brakes replaced on my Honda, getting our new house sitter acquainted with our home and animals, Biolife plasma donations to earn more spending money.

No doubt, the next two weeks are going to fly by.  We will be in Hawaii before we know it, and that is awesome.  I have been ready to go since we booked the trip!!!

For now, time to go start tearing into the Honda's brakes..... been running metal on metal for way too long.  I got a day or two of work ahead of me on this project.

Come Friday, I hope to log 45 miles on the bike, to celebrate my 45th birthday.  And then, I plan to enjoy a nice birthday dinner, and a couple of delicious beers.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Good-Bye Westside Pizza, and Hello Hawaii.....

After a very long, frustrating, unhappy and unhealthy 6 months of working at Westside Pizza..... I gave my notice yesterday that I am done as of the end of March!!!  Personally, this has been a good 3 months too long now, and my body and mind and soul have paid a dear price for it.  I have gained about 15 pounds, become depressed and unhappy, and have lost touch with the lifestyle of health and fitness and family that I so dearly loved.  I am no longer a cyclist, but rather a guy who loves cycling, and longs to become a cyclist once again.

Although I took on this second job for the right reasons, it has turned out to be one of the worst things I have done in a very long time.  As strongly as I feel about getting completely debt free, and being able to start building wealth and preparing for retirement....... the way things have gone for the past six months, I won't be around to enjoy retirement anyway.  This job has done nothing for me other than to take away what I worked so very, very, very hard for over the past several years.

And so, I am now ready to move forward once again.  I will miss the added income that this job provided, as it was helping to pay the debt snowball.  However, I will not miss the job itself at all.  I will not miss the time away from home, and from my family.  I will not miss the time away from my health and my fitness.  I will not miss the time away from my cycling.  In fact, I would love nothing more than to simply be done this week!!!

On the much, much, much happier and more exciting side of life....... I was so very blessed to have been able to work 72 hours of overtime at the BFD last month!!!  That's a lot of extra cash.  My very first reaction was to simply throw it all at the debt snowball.  But as I thought about it, and thought about unhappy and unhealthy I have become over the past 6 months, I couldn't help but think about how much I have wanted to get away from this place.....from the long, wet, dark and cold winter we have had.  I long for sunshine and warmth, something to revitalize my soul a bit, and help me get back on track once again.  And so, I decided that we need to go away for spring break this year........

And Hawaii it is!!!  Long story on how this came to be.  But, we are heading to Maui for spring break.  And, we have invited Grammy & Papa, and Uncle Brad to join us as well.  Family vacation, for a full week in the sun and the sand and the surf!!!  :-)

Now that we have everything in order for our trip, and now that I have made the decision and given notice at Westside..... I just want to be done, and I can't wait to go!!!  :-)

Sunshine, warmth, sand, snorkeling, good food, family....... our very first time ever to Hawaii.  Yes, this should make life a whole lot better I do believe!!!  I need this, and am really hoping that April will be a huge turn for me for this year.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

And Just Like That..... MARCH!!!

Here we are...... March has arrived!!!

In just 20 days from now, I officially hit my mid-forties, turning 45 years young.  I had some really big plans for this particular year for myself, but alas, most are falling through already.  Such is the way of life I suppose.  It has been a really rough past 5 months for me, and so I should have expected that things may not work out as I had hoped or planned.  Instead, I need to move forward and just go with the flow instead.  Tougher said than done, but it's what I need to do.  Who knows, may 50 can be the big year for me to hit the milestones I had planned for this year!

Crazy thing is...... it's now March.  The Winter months have taken their toll on my this year.  I am so done with the wet and cold and dark and dreary days!!!  I have become physically and mentally and spiritually down, and am so very much in need of a major pick-me-up.  And so, with the help of 72 hours of OT worked in the month of February........ I am taking that family to Hawaii for spring break!!!!!  :-)

Yes, we are heading over to Maui on April 1st (this is no joke), and returning on the 9th.  Our very first time ever to Hawaii.  I am so ready for it, I can't stand the thought of it being a month away still.  Sun, sand, surf, R&R......... it is going to be awesome!!!  I am hoping that this vacation will be life saving for my soul.  I am simply not meant to be a Pacific Northwester in the Winter months!!!  I need sun, warmth, dry.  I can see already that I need to plan ahead for each year, to go on a vacation somewhere sunny and dry and warm midway through the Winter.  Just the fact that I have this trip booked now, has me already feeling so much better!!!  :-)

This month is going to go by fast, I am quite certain.  The anticipation of going to Hawaii will be pushed aside as we deal with kids' sports, drum lessons, school, work, and getting ourselves ready to go.  I am quite certain that it is going to be time to go before we are even ready!

February is all now a blur, I can't hardly remember what all went on or happened, in order to write it here.  Quite simply, I worked..... A LOT!!!  My regular schedule with the BFD, 24 hours on exchange of time at the BFD, 72 hours of OT at the BFD, and all of my shifts at Westside Pizza.  I guess that is why I don't remember much about it.  I hope to scale that back for the month of March, but will still be working at Westside Pizza two days each week.  I also am hoping to pick up more BFD OT whenever possible, so we can have spending money for Hawaii that doesn't have to come out of our family budget.  Having the whole trip paid for in OT would be wonderful.  :-)

Still on track with the Dave Ramsey financial plan.  Exception that Dave wouldn't approve of is this trip...... I know for fact he would say that this money should go directly to the debt snowball.  However, I am still doing the debt snowball.  I am still working the second job.  I am still keeping our family budget in line and working.  The only thing that hasn't been working is me keeping my overall physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health through this process.  With that, I personally feel that I need to take this break.  I need to get those things back, so I can push forward once again.  Sorry Dave!

So, baseball season begins for Evan this month. Fast pitch softball starts for Sierra this month.  Evan is moving forward very well with his drumming and lessons.  Tracie is still working at the school, and is back on track again with her online studies.  I am working both BFD and Westside still this month.  Let the fun begin!!!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Waiting on Spring

BAM!!!  February 15th today.  And with being half way through this month already, I find myself in huge anticipation of an early Spring arrival this year!  It quite simply can't come fast enough for me.  I am dreading the winter months, and the cruddy weather.  I am longing for longer days, warmer days, sunny days.  I am really hoping that the darn groundhog is right this year!

And it feels like it's time for Spring around here now as well.  We have wrapped up basketball seasons for both kids.  Sierra did great, and had a lot of fun.  She learned a lot this year, and I suspect she will want to play again next season as well.  Evan's team made a huge come back the second half of the season, and went on all the way to win the championship game for their division!  And with basketball behind us now, we are already focusing in on Spring baseball season.  Evan will be trying out for the competitive 12U team in early March.  And Sierra has stated that she plans to play girls fast pitch softball this year also.  So, we are ready, and looking forward to a lot of outdoor fun in the months ahead.  Bring on the early Spring weather..... mostly sunshine please!!!

Another thing that makes it feel like Spring...... taxes!  I keep hoping that they will get easier each year, but it appears to be just the opposite.  Slowly, a little bit each day, I keep logging back in to Turbo Tax online, and making a wee bit more progress.  It isn't looking good so far, though, with us currently owing around $1200 still.  I really hope that will change by the time we get all the way through.

I have now been working my second job, at Westside Pizza, for 5 long months.  It hasn't gotten any better, and I do not like it any more than when I first started.  However, it has been helping greatly with our financial struggles, and with working towards paying off our debts, in an effort too become completely debt free, and to move ahead towards financial freedom.  On the bright side, it is working, and we are making progress with every pay period.  On the down side, it is a very slow process, and taking much more time that I had hoped on or planned on. 

Turns out, it can be a negative either way..... I can work less and make less, so it will take years longer to make progress and get the desired results, or I can work more and make more, but not ever be home with my family.  Already, I miss them so much and so often.  And already, I have lost control of my health, my fitness routine and my bicycling.  So, I am choosing to back off at Westside, and to now only work two days each week there.  It will still bring a bit of extra income to help pay down debt with the debt snowball program we are working.  And it will hopefully allow me more time to start trying to get my life back a little bit, and especially my overall health.  The negative effects of not being able to work out or to ride my bike have been overwhelming. 

So, the bright side is that we are still going at the Dave Ramsey approach to getting out of debt forever, and to becoming financially free for the future.  The not so bright side is that it is going to take us quite a bit longer than the average 18-24 months that seems to be the norm for most of Dave's examples that he uses to tell us about.  I am seeing that this may very well be a good 5 years for us.  And that means putting off early retirement for me..... a bummer for sure, but at least I started young enough to still be able to handle an additional 5 years with the fire department.  And thankfully, I absolutely LOVE that job, so it won't kill me to put in more time there.

We had a fun Sunday last weekend, celebrating Brad's 42nd birthday, with a big day of bowling, with our good friends, Kevin and Stephana Timmer.  We all had a great time, and I do believe we should do this sort of thing more often.  I know that the kids would agree with me here.

Grammy & Papa will be coming up at the end of this month to spend a week with us, as the kids have their mid-winter break from school.  Not sure what we will be doing, but I am sure we will have some fun.  For now, just trying to finish out this month, work on getting our taxes done, and work towards getting the kids ready for baseball and softball.

Anxiously awaiting Spring's arrival...... with much anticipation!!!  Have I mentioned just how much I dread the Winter months here in the PNW?!?!?!?!?!?  I really long to go somewhere, even for a week to get away.  Palm Springs, Arizona, Hawaii....... oh, how awesome would that be!!!

Good-bye February..... you will not be missed!!!  :-)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

And..... January Is Gone!!!

I should have known it would happen.  What, with working practically every day of the week, between two jobs, and still trying to find time to fit my family in on weekends, when not at work..... yes, January has come to a close already.  And for me, I don't feel like I have much to show for it, or report about it. 

I managed to get one..... yes, just one, bike ride in for the entire month of January.  For any of you who really know me, you know just how sick to my stomach I am about this.  I cancelled my Homestead Fitness Club membership this month, because I have been unable to make it work with my current schedule in life, to include exercise and fitness like I have been so used to now for the past several years.  And for those of you who really know me, you know just how sick to my stomach I am about this.

I have worked every day of the week, Monday through Friday, this month.... and have also worked one Saturday and one Sunday (both full 24 hours).  I put in nearly 45 hours at Westside Pizza the first half of the month, in addition to my 96 hours at the BFD.  And for the second half of the month, I will have 70 hours in at Westside, along with 96 hours at the BFD.  Crazy...... 72 hours per week the first half of the month, and 83 hours per week for the second half.  In addition to all of these hours of work, I have somehow managed to also find the time to get to Biolife and donate plasma a half a dozen times.  Another $160 to go directly towards the debt snowball.  No wonder January had basically come and gone, and I have really nothing to show for it!!!

Not completely true, though.  All of my hard work is slowly paying off and helping to work towards a future of financial peace.  I managed to fully pay off and close the account on our first credit card debt.  That felt really good!!!  Just three more to go now, and the debt snowball is starting to roll.

In addition to making progress with the debt snowball, I have also found time to work on ways to try and save us more money per month, and per year, anywhere I could think of.  The first, as I mentioned already, was by cancelling my gym membership.  A savings of $40 per month right there, which can now go towards credit card debt.  The next thing I did was to look into our home owners insurance, which had gone up by $700 over just the past two years!!!  Ridiculous, to say the least.  Long story made short, with a lot of work, a really great friend in the insurance business, and determination to make things better for us...... we have a new insurance agent!!!  Marty Stauffer has now taken us on with our home owners insurance, as of yesterday morning.  The switch didn't save us as much as I was hoping initially, but still came in at $300 per year cheaper!  In addition, in 6 months to a year, things will have improved more, and we may see the rates drop again!!!  Along with that, I was able to keep our auto insurance with Liberty Mutual, without any rate increase.  And in doing so, I discovered that by paying monthly, as opposed to in full annually, we are paying nearly $150 more per year!!!  So, I just saved us an additional $150 per year as well, because we will now be paying for our auto insurance in full upon renewal.

I also made a big decision to pull escrow off of our mortgage account.  All monies are coming back to me in the next week or so.  From now on, I am monthly budgeting the monies and placing them into one of our three savings accounts, where that money will gain .5% interest quarterly, rather than letting an escrow company have it.  I will make the payments instead, and reap the rewards of interest gained while the money is in our savings account!!!

I wish I had learned about Dave Ramsey about 20 years ago!!!  We would be pretty darned wealthy right now if I had.  Oh well, at least we are finally heading in the right direction.  If  I could just come up with a second job that pays more than minimum wage, it wouldn't be such a slow and painful process.  But alas, at least I have a second job that is working around my BFD schedule, is close to home, and that s slowly allowing me to pay down our credit card debt..... much fast than with minimum payments!

The kids have been busy with school and basketball this month.  We are wrapping up the basketball season this week and weekend.  Sierra had had a really fun time for her first time playing.  And Evan  has really grown as a basketball player this season.  No doubt, football and baseball are his primary sports..... but, the kid loves being active, and has had a really great time playing with his buds.

This coming weekend is Superbowl Sunday already.  I can hardly believe it.  Evan is very excited.  We will be watching it here at home, as a family.  Little smokies, chips and dip, and football.  :-)  We are cheering on the Ravens this year.

I am hoping and praying to have more time for taking care of me in February.  I miss cycling so very much.  I miss exercise so very much.  I miss feeling good about myself so very much.  I have backed off my work hours at Westside for the month of February by one day each week.  This will give me one day off during the week, besides weekends, to hopefully better take care of myself, and to get some things done that just aren't happening here now. 

For now, time to start thinking about and working on taxes.  Still waiting for all of the paperwork to arrive, but should be able to get them done in the month of February I would think.

For now, time to start mentally preparing for another long day at Westside......

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January 1, 2013...... YIKES!!!

YIKES!!!  It really happened.  A whole year came and went in the blink of my eyes!!!  Absolutely crazy, but here I sit, watching the sun rise outside on this first day of January, 2013.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to us all..... and may each and every one of us find new and/or renewed health (physical, spiritual and emotional), happiness and joy in our lives throughout the next twelve months!!!

For today, I pray that all of my family, friends and loved ones are able to just simply relax and take it all in....... reflect on the good things of this past year, and focus forward on plans for the upcoming year ahead as well.

Thank you to each and every one of you for being a part of my life.  Life.... it's messy sometimes, but I love it just the same!

Time to start thinking about taxes now...... Major Downer!  :-(

Have a great day, a fantastic start to January, and a fabulous New Year as well   :-)

Oh, and to end on a positive note...... today, I get a 2% pay increase at the BFD, and I also get an $0.11 per hour raise at Westside Pizza!!!  Things are already looking up for 2013!!!