Faith's First Sleepover

I don't care if it's a tooth, a word or a step. There's simply nothing like a "first" milestone to force the reality that your once tiny baby is a full on kid.
For me, the 5-year-old's first sleepover was just that. I thought I had more time before she requested to spend a night away from home, other than with relatives. I'm pretty sure I was at least six years old before Sara, a blonde girl in my first grade class, asked if I wanted to have a slumber party at her house. I'm sure I had fun, but the only thing I remember is not being able to fall asleep because I missed my mom so badly. I distinctly recall lying there in my sleeping bag in Sara's living room, the hall light on so it wasn't pitch dark, and the unmistakeable ache to go home to my mom. Now I may have been a mommy's girl, but I did have a little pride. I kept my mouth shut and eventually fell asleep. The next morning I woke up and realized it wasn't so bad after all. Sleepover success.
So when Faith and her friend Brynn, who lives just down the street from us, cooked up a plan to have a sleepover at her house, I made sure to tell Faith it was OK to miss me and that if she wanted to come home in the middle of the night that would be just fine. I envisioned the call and me showing up .2 seconds later like Batman on the doorstep.
Now you might think this was planting a seed of doubt in her mind. I worried that too, until she looked me in the eye and gave me the 5-year-old equivalent of "there there." She may have patted my head as well.
But talking a big sleepover game and walking one are two different things. I wondered if I might still be receiving a batphone call in the wee hours of the morning. Until I started receiving texts from Brynn's mom, Carrie. First, this picture:

Now does that look like the face of a girl who is distraught from missing her mom? No, no it does not. Which made me happy. And a little sad. Faith is now identifying with her peers more and more. It was bound to happen and I'm glad it has, but sometimes there's no reasoning with a mom heart. Just as I was thinking it was nice not to have to listen to the other end of the karaoke machine, I got another text.

And in case you thought I was the only one "dealing" with my daughter's first sleepover, Mr. Overprotective chimed in.

She had her friend's mom check her breath for freshness! Dear lord! We started doing this at home because we felt she might be half assing her toothbrushing when we weren't looking. It was not something I expected her to ask of a non family member at a sleepover. But the more I thought about it, it makes complete sense, as does her request to read books at 7:45 and go to bed. We expose our children to routines and rituals at home and then send them out into the world where all they have is what they know from experience. As parents, we give them the base and they take it and apply it (sometimes a little too perfectly) to life as they go. I find myself learning to trust her and the parenting job we've done (and are doing) more and more as I have less and less control over her interactions every day. It's not easy, but it's times like this when I realize she is listening, she is getting it and she does understand that fresh breath is important. But we must talk about who is on the list for the checks. Thanks for taking one for the Lindquist team, Carrie! I suppose it's my turn next.

A Budget Update

A year ago, I strayed from my usual resolutions and instead wrote 15 ways we planned to save money and pay off ALL $34,000 ish of student loan debt in 2015. 

Well, I hate to be Sally Sadness (Debbie Downer's cousin) but we did not "do the damn thing."

HOWEVER, I will note that we kind of rocked it. We are officially down to approximately $18,000 ish left to go and plan to bring that number down to zero by the end of 2016. Fingers crossed.

In my 2015 resolutions, I discussed how this debt was unavoidable for my husband and thus me when I married him. I stand by that, as his education has changed his life in more ways than one. He officially went from Mister Lindquist to Master Lindquist last month.

And since I can't help myself (that and I haven't taken the time to come up with 16 non-budget related resolutions for this year) I'm going to make a list of 16 things we did right and wrong in 2015 as well as things we will and will not do in 2016 to finish the job. Enjoy the 16 random photo from my phone. Here goes.


1) We said NO! To vacations, girls trips, guys trips (single tear for Rob) and to things with price tags big and small. I'll never forget the first basketball game we went to right after the new year. We sat there staring longingly at the beers and food being consumed by the people around us. While trying at the time, just that instance along was an extra $20 dollars in our pockets....$25 if you count the ice cream I ordered in my head.

2) Stopped shopping. This included staying away from the stores on my banned list, Kohl's and Hobby Lobby. (OK, ya got me, I went to Hobby Lobby twice, but it was for specific projects!) and online shopping in its entirety except for select purchases. If you don't walk in (or log on), you can't spend money. Rob also did well with reducing his Starbucks habit (well, the majority of the year -- he fell off the wagon when he went back to school in September). Here's to his newfound Starbriety in 2016.

3) Got raises. Not exactly something everyone can take action on per say, but I said yes to a career move that while more work, meant a boost to the bank account that has gone directly to this fund. And Rob got a raise with the completion of that master's I mentioned above. I realize this doesn't seem as doable as cutting back, but attacking debt at both ends is a good strategy if you can do it.

4) Put our home on pause. Nothing got an upgrade this year except for our laundry room which we painted with leftover pain and built a bench out of a wood scraps that we already owned. My apologies to our neighbors who had to endure our complete lack of any landscaping whatsoever. One thing that helped this process was keeping a list of things we want to do when we're finished with the loan payments. I'm looking at you Master Bath!


5) Brainwashed by the Bullseye. My plan to limit our Target trips two $200 per month failed in spectacular fashion. For two reasons: #1) We suck at impulse buys (OK, it's me and my love of reading real live paper books) and #2) We get invited to more birthday parties than a clown. My advice for spending less at this Godforsaken shopping Disneyworld would be limiting trips to once a month.

6) Lack of meal prepping and planning. I'm the first to admit, this is not one of my strengths. So when Rob asks what's for dinner, I think of what I am hungry for, realize we didn't have any of the ingredients to make it and then send him to the grocery store. See chicken casserole nightmare here. While there is a ton of potential for us to do better in this category, the chances we will are slim.

7) Too much action, not enough talk. Everyone has highs and lows when trying to save money and the commitment to the process ebbs and flows. Some days ya just feel like a splurge. I think we could have done a better job of continuing to talk about our goals, both weekly and monthly, to remember why we were doing this. That way we would have been more accountable when we walk by Starbucks (cough, cough) or the scarf section of any store, like, say, a gas station. Instead we spent and refrained from spending based on how we were feeling individually. Your bank account partna is the best one to keep you in check, no pun intended.

8) Forgetting friends and family. These are the people we know and love who want to spend time with us. Of course they do, we are fun people, sometimes even when we're not drinking. But since these other people weren't on budgets, they'd want to do dinner out, or see a movie, or go to Mexico to eat dinner and watch a movie when the truth is we're doing our damndest to resist those temptations and it's hard enough without invites. Loop in your loved ones so they can support you.


9) Fill it up! We never made a chart to fill in any of the $16k + we put toward the debt. That makes me sad. I think it will keep us motivated as well as at the top of our minds if we can create this for 2016. I know just the place to put it and the tiny humans to color it in as we go!

10) Continue to choose experiences over gifts. Instead of exchanging presents with my sisters for Christmas, we are all going out to dinner sans children to reminiscence about our youth. I bought my mom tickets to see Cinderella with Faith for her gift (any maybe some respite for myself from a 5-year-old who plans never to nap again). And I'm going to surprise Rob for one of the holidays this year with a race instead of gift. While some might find that gift offensive (here's a 5K, go run!) he will love it!

11) Coupon it up. I'm not ready to bring a binder to Hy-Vee, but I would like to get back to cutting out deals on things we already purchase like I did before the girls were born. And waiting to buy certain foods until they're on sale. I need to learn what a good price per pound is for meats, etc. Maybe my budding mathematician can help me. We may need to take off our socks to count though.

12) Make Rob read the Dave Ramsey book. To be honest, this whole thing was my idea, not his, and I know he struggles with my desire to do this from time to time. The Total Money Makeover was my inspiration, and while he cheated on my dad's quiz regarding this book several Christmases ago and won 1st prize, he didn't actually read it. So it's time. (Surprise, dear!)


13) Forgo fun. These are prime memory making years with our daughters and we don't want to skip out on experiences just to pay off this debt this year.And occasionally we like to go out just the two of us a) to spend time as husband and wife and b) so someone else has to put Gabby-the-singing-night-owl to bed. So this year we plan to go skiing, ride the rides at Adventureland, see Duluth, Minn., go boating, take in a Cubs game and maybe just maybe if it all works out, go to Disneyland in December. Don't tell!

14) Buy new things that don't need replacing. Phones. Kindles. Televisions. Hair styling tools. Cars. Etc. If it ain't broke don't fix it will be our family motto!

15) Worry. I think this past year showed us that if we put our minds to it, we can climb a mountain of debt and end up on the downhill slide. We will be college-debt free while we're still relatively young and therefore won't worry about how long it would have taken us if we didn't do it this way.

16) Forget. The feeling of paying off such a large chunk of change feels good and we want to remember that feeling all year long so that this time next year, we can save it or spend it as we please. I'm sure a venti caramel mocha will be in order!

I would love to hear your tips and tricks for saving more and spending less in the comments. Fire away!