Change Into Who You Are

By on September 20, 2017

“Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust. Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.” -Paulo Coehlo

I absolutely adore this quote I found from The Alchemist. Now, to be honest, I’ve yet to read the book, or any of Coehlo’s work (sorry!), but that doesn’t mean you and I can’t benefit from his words. In fact, I’m deliberately not even researching the background of the quote because I don’t need it. I don’t need to know which character says it or what the circumstances are; I just want to focus on the act of changing into who I am. 

Our blog is all about what the name says: changing our default. Yes, we mainly like to spend our words on financial wellness, but it’s all within the greater context of changing our normal behaviors to attain contentment. Of course, with my friend’s recent passing, I’m thinking a lot about how to best spend my life. Life is too short to waste being anything other than who you really want to be. So let’s think of Coehlo’s words in relation to the changes we desire in our own lives. 

Shut the door.

Whatever is holding you in the past, don’t be afraid to shut the door on it and open up other doors that will serve you better. Is there a major fear that’s held you captive far too long? Put it away in its own closet and shut the door. Do you harbor room in your mind for past disappointments, betrayals, rejections? Close the door on those too. 

Change the record.

That same old depressing or discouraging tune that’s been playing over and over in your head for weeks, months, even years? Time to bust out some new music! Sing a new song. Dance to a different band. Let there be a new soundtrack to your days, one that’s life-affirming and daring and exciting. Don’t keep listening to that sad country song where you’ve lost everything. Make room in your playlist for confidence, for hope, for new beginnings. 

This year, my “record” is quite different from the past. Where life used to be filled with lesson plans and staff meetings, it’s now filled with dinosaur toys and cartoons and potty training. Where I used to be sad dropping my kids off at daycare, I’m now enjoying a lot more closeness with my kids.

Clean the house. 

Mr. COD is the cleaner and organizer of our household. It drives him bananas to see toys strewn all over the house, mail and papers scattered on every counter and table, and dirty clothes on the floor. I don’t love messes either, but I have a greater ability to turn a blind eye to the clutter sometimes. However, the weeks while we were showing our house and still living there, we found out how much better we felt with a clean, uncluttered house. We’re working on keeping a neater house for our own sanity. 

Cleaning house literally improves your outlook, your environment, giving you a fresh sensation. When we spring clean, we tend to push open all the windows, letting in all the scents of the outdoors. A clean house means open spaces to let your creativity run wild. It gives you room to breathe and to think and to start something new. 

“Cleaning house” might also mean doing relationship inventory. Letting go of toxic relationships, or at least affording them less space in your life. As we declutter our homes, we might also benefit from decluttering our lives in other ways.

Shake off the dust. 

In the Bible, Jesus told his disciples that if any place didn’t welcome them and their gospel message, they should shake the dust off their feet as they left. Taylor Swift also sang of this powerful act (haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate…do you hate me now for putting this song in your head?). We can apply this to the changes we need to make. Anything that’s not advancing our progress toward goals, we shake it off and leave it behind. 

Has someone damaged you with degrading comments or tried to actively sabotage your success? Have you been carrying baggage from old relationships, failed careers, lost talents? Give yourself permission to shake all of that off.

A big struggle for me is letting rejection roll off me. I tend to let negative thoughts drag me down, and every time I get rejected in terms of freelance jobs, friendships, or anything else, I have a hard time moving past that. Shaking off the bad makes room for the good. 

Break Away!

Shall we borrow some words from the first American Idol winner as well? “Take a risk, take a chance, make a change…and break away.” Kelly Clarkson’s debut hit may seem really old nowadays, but it still rings true when I’m craving some inspiration. I need the positive encouragement from songs like that. Sometimes we have to break away from what’s easy or comfortable in order to grow and get to a better place.

Change ain’t easy. We all are well aware that it’s much simpler to keep doing things the way we’re accustomed to, the way that’s comfortable and familiar. Change hurts. It stretches us and bends us and leads us along paths that can seem dark and scary.

I can’t forget this one chapel speaker from my time at Wheaton. Her central message was how to deal with the inevitability of three things: change, loss, and pain. While I’m sure she presented a few useful points, all I can remember is how she punctuated the sentence every time she said the three things. She would count them out on her fingers emphatically: “Change, loss, and pain,” then pound on her chest with a fist and say, “Ouch.” It was so comical; we mocked her rather unkindly afterwards.

But no matter how painful, change (to the right things) is worth it. Whether it’s a change to a healthier lifestyle, a more stable financial future, a supportive relationship, it’s worth every bit of research and time invested. We can break away from our old habits, our old defaults, and create new ones that fit who we are. As said in The Alchemist, we can stop being who we were and start being who we are

When you look at yourself today, do you see the person you want to see? Or do you have a picture in your mind of who you’d like to be one day? Whatever sacrifices you have to make to become the new version of yourself, they just might be worth it. 

 


Of Legacy and Loss

By on September 13, 2017

I’m not quite sure of how to begin this post as I know my words will be sorely insufficient. It’s been an upsetting week, to say the least. For the purposes of this blog, I’m framing recent events in terms of a reminder. A reminder of what really matters in life. A reminder to let go of the junk that doesn’t matter at all. 

My hometown was rocked with a huge loss one week ago. A classmate of mine passed away suddenly, the victim of an auto accident. Just an ordinary day, going about the routine, and a sixteen-year-old’s failure to stop at a stop sign changed everything. Thankfully, none of her family members were with her in the car, but my friend Emily died at the scene. 

Just like that. One moment, she was thinking of any of a thousand tasks she needed to do, as a busy wife and mother of six. The next moment, she was gone and her sweet family, plus countless other loved ones, were left grieving. What an unspeakable loss.

It’s the kind of thing that happens all too often, yet when it happens to you or someone you know, it feels completely surreal. Impossible. Not her. I first heard the news from my mom, who of course follows all of my school friends on Facebook and had seen comments that hinted at the tragedy. She called me late that night to see if I knew anything, and within a few minutes I had learned that it was indeed our Emily, and the shocking truth that she was gone. 

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” Psalms 139:16

I know my words will fall far short today, but I still want to share a little bit about this woman because she was so amazing. I hadn’t seen her or spoken to her in real life since college, but thanks to social media, we’d kept up on each other’s milestones. Just a few days before her accident, I had been pondering and for some reason realized that Emily was the only person I’d gone to school with my entire life. Kindergarten through undergrad. I thought, hey, that’s kind of neat and probably pretty rare. I can’t think of too many memories of growing up that didn’t include Emily in some way. 

Growing up in a very small town means everybody knows everybody. Our class was filled with kids who had known each other forever. We all went to school together, played together, celebrated birthdays together, did Scouts together…you get the point. In our eighth grade year, we consolidated schools with the next town over (not a huge deal, since we would have done so for high school the following year anyway). Still a small school, same vibe. 

Emily and I didn’t hang in the same core group of friends, but we did marching band and Lifesavers (peer counselor group) and cross-country together. She became a Christian early in high school, and that soon became her ultimate focus and passion. She was one of those rare people who made Christianity cool. Everyone knew where she stood, and even if they didn’t agree with her, they respected her for her convictions. She and I led team prayers before each girls’ cross-country race our senior year, and not all on the team were believers. But no one minded, and they appreciated the ritual. I’m fairly certain that was thanks to Emily’s kind way of sharing her faith. 

We ended up attending the same private Christian college (Wheaton) and crossed paths occasionally, in the dorm or at track meets. She always had a smile on her face. 

In the years since college, Emily married her college sweetheart, he completed medical school, and they began growing their family. Three biological children were followed by adopted twins, followed by another biological child. By all firsthand accounts, she rocked at mothering such a large brood. She also managed to keep it real on social media, often admitting her failures and shortcomings as a mom. She didn’t sugarcoat the challenges of adoption or of raising a large family. Always tying everything to the anchor of her faith in Jesus, she constantly maintained that everything she did was only by the grace of God. On many occasions, I found myself convicted by her posts to seek God more fervently. 

Now here we are. This friend won’t get to finish raising her beautiful children or continue loving others around her as she did so well. I didn’t attend her memorial service; a 14-hour drive each way was just too far. My heart was torn on Monday as I longed to be physically present with Emily’s family and friends to grieve. I’m thankful for the woman who live-streamed the service for those unable to attend, so we could mourn her loss and celebrate her life from afar. 

It’s so unfair. It really is. I am angry and so unbelievably brokenhearted for her closest family. I am not God, and I definitely wouldn’t have chosen this way to write this story. The knowledge of Emily’s deep faith brings comfort, and I trust that she’s rejoicing in heaven right now. But at the same time, the thought of the crushing grief her husband, kids, and all of her family are experiencing, is hard to accept. What God is doing in all of this pain, I don’t know. 

“You will show me the way of life, granting me tell joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” Psalm 16:11

No matter what, this is a reminder to me, to all of us who cared for Emily, to embrace the life we’re given. Sometimes I think we forget how, in the end, we really have no control over our fate. I don’t fully appreciate the gifts of my life or the sweet moments as they happen. Emily’s death is reminding me, all the time, to take what God gives and do my best with it. Whether my life ends in fifty years or tomorrow, am I making the most of the gift? Am I being obedient to God? Am I telling people how much I love them? Am I truly living out that love? 

I’m reminded of song lyrics by Nichole Nordeman: 

I want to leave a legacy.

How will they remember me?

Did I choose to love?

Did I point to You enough to make a mark on things? I want to leave an offering. 

Child of mercy and grace who blessed Your name unapologetically…to leave that kind of legacy.

Surely Emily has left an incredible legacy of love and faith, and that’s what I hope to do whenever my time comes. 

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

What kind of legacy do you hope to leave in the world? How do you want to be remembered?

How Not Working Impacts Your Views on Money

By on August 30, 2017

It’s been a year of not working for me. About one year ago, I received my final paycheck from my school district! A year of not setting an alarm. A year of not following a set schedule. A year of freedom to travel during the week with the kids. I find it fascinating how this has changed my views on money; perhaps I never realized how important work is to a person’s identity. While my perspectives on work and money are likely vastly different from those of someone who is not unemployed by choice, I want to explore this topic a bit today. 

Whether contemplating stay-at-home parenthood for a period of time or retiring permanently from a paying career, it’s important to keep in mind some factors. Obviously, we’re all built differently, but if you leave your work, these are a few changes you might encounter:

MINDSET CHANGES

  1. You find yourself pinching your pennies more than before. Every expense must be more carefully planned for and monitored. Non-essentials may not fit into the budget. Although I was fairly frugal before quitting my job, being out of the workforce has made me think much more before spending any money. Most of my discretionary purchases that were just for me? They’re out of the picture.  
  2. You actually crave the routine and structure of a work schedule. Even though I’m used to having long stretches of time off (yay for one of the only perks left to public school teachers!), being absent from work beyond that typical 10-week summer feels weird. Not following any required routine is always a highlight of vacation time, but I’ve found that it’s lost some of its appeal. Now that a non-routine is actually routine, any kind of motivation can be hard to muster. On some lazier days it feels a lot like being sick (staying in pajamas all day, barely leaving the house, watching the same shows again and again). 
  3. Your definition of a small or large amount of income adjusts. For me, not working a full-time, steady job with a steady paycheck makes me really savor and appreciate the occasional income I make. (Of course, Mr. COD is still working, but I’m referring to my own freelance endeavors.) Side hustles aren’t earning me enough to make a dent in our retirement savings, but they are sufficient to finance the occasional Raising Cane’s dinner out for the fam! While I (obviously) hope to eventually earn more than $20 or $25 for writing gigs, as long as it’s a reasonable trade of my time/effort for the money, I won’t sniff at that pay level. (Sometimes my devotionals only take 15-30 minutes to write, earning me $25. Not a bad rate!)
  4. Occasionally, you might feel guilty if your partner is still working to support the family. Fully retired folks are not in the same boat, but I absolutely encounter moments of guilt as I think “oh, we could save so much money if I were still working”. While that’s true, I am confident in the choice we made for me to stay home with Junior and Mini COD. 

It’s certainly a different lifestyle, not getting up and heading to a job every day. I miss the paychecks and the sense of security they gave, but I can keep in mind that this is only a short period of time. My kids will only be little once, and I want to enjoy this brief sliver of life with them as much as possible. It’ll feel like a blink of an eye, and suddenly my kids will be grown and on their own. As long as Mr. COD is still on board, I can deal with these adjustments to our financial situation. As with most things in life, they are temporary. 

Have you ever been out of work for an extended period of time? How did that affect your views on money? 


    Budget-friendly Moving Tips: Guest Post

    By on August 14, 2017

    Hey everybody! Mr. COD started his job at EKU last week, and we have a few budget-friendly moving tips for you all. I’m featured over at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff today! Thanks to my friend Crystal for having me there at BFS once in awhile! 

    Click on over to Budgeting in the Fun Stuff to read our top ten tips for moving on the cheap! 

    Us on our weekend hike…pay no mind to our slightly weird expressions 😉

    Any tried-and-true moving tips to share, fellow frugal friends? 


    I’m Back…

    By on June 26, 2017

    So to say the least, it has been awhile. In the last year I have taught my first graduate class, or any class, since I taught ELL classes in South Korea in 2004. It was part side hustle and part “Am I ready to move to a new career?”.  I really enjoyed teaching the career class to future counselors so much that I decided to explore teaching full time at counselor education programs.

    For those who don’t know, counselor education programs are graduate programs which train counselors for mental health, higher education, or school counseling positions. I limited my search to certain locations that met living criteria for my family: location, size of community, not too far from family, etc. Fast forward October to June: 12 applications, 6 phone interviews, and 2 on-campus interviews….say hello to a new job at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. I really took the changing our default to heart and decided to uproot my entire family.

      (more…)


    An Escaped Cat and Other Moving Adventures

    By on June 8, 2017

    I’m writing this in our new town in Kentucky! We moved last Friday and are settling in little by little. No Internet is set up at the new casa yet, so I had to come to a coffee shop to use their WiFi. (I’m not complaining…Mr. COD took Jr and Mini to a park and I’m soaking up the tranquility!) 

    Bonus points if you can identify this coffee shop!

    MOVING HELPERS

    I still need to be rather quick with this, but wanted to update y’all on our progress. We left our home in Illinois on June 1st and closed on the new house in Kentucky on the 2nd. We utilized tons of help from friends, family, and neighbors throughout the process. My mom made the trip to our place three times in the final month in IL, and having her there for a couple of days at a time allowed me some precious packing, painting, and errand time. The last day in Illinois, I had three different local friends come over to entertain the boys at staggered times throughout the day. They were awesome, allowing me to continue packing, cleaning, going out for more storage bins, and all that fun stuff that accompanies a move. 

    My amazing sister-in-law and her family showed up the night before the move. They had to drive four-plus hours from their home in Iowa to help us pack the truck, then do the entire long 7-8 hour trip to Kentucky the next day. They and their two kids were SUCH a huge blessing during the move! Ty, my nephew, mowed the lawn at the old house so it would look nicer for prospective buyers. Trista, my niece, kept an eye on the little guys for much of the time. Everyone pitched in to carry boxes, load up the monster moving truck, and finish up all those last-minute tasks we forget about until it’s time to go. 

    We had (naively) hoped to be on the road by 10 AM, and of course we weren’t ready until 1:30 in the afternoon. Mr. COD and my brother-in-law, Jimmy, were especially beat from doing the bulk of the physical lifting and loading for hours on end. Then, we began getting the three felines into their carriers for the long trip. Sadie and Sasha went with minimal complaint, but then Kimchi was another story. 

    AN ESCAPED CAT

    Kimchi, cat number three, decided to pull a Houdini on us at the final loading time. We COULD NOT FIND HER. Keep in mind, our house was nearly completely empty by this point (except three or four furniture items we just couldn’t quite fit in the vehicles and can do without until the house sells). So you would think that finding one cat in a virtually empty house would be a pretty simple task. NOPE. She had just disappeared. 

    Long story short, we had to leave without her. I know, I know! It sounds absolutely terrible. But we were already way behind schedule, were going to lose an hour on the drive, and had to close on our new house at 10 the following morning. So, we told ourselves that she must have gotten out during the moving hullaballoo, she still had all her claws, and she’d survive on her own. I texted our pet-loving neighbor two doors down to alert her to keep an eye out for our cat, and we set out on our way. Along the way, she called Mr. COD and I to let us know that escaped cat Kimchi was fine, but still IN the house! Fortunately, they got in using our old backup key hidden outdoors and brought her to live in their basement temporarily. (We’ll have to go back and retrieve the little escape artist in the next few weeks.) 

    VARIOUS CRITTERS

    Several large bugs and creatures showed up in the moving process. During our final walk-through of the house before closing, we found two dead birds. A third one appeared later on, when we moved the piano that came with the house. (Yay! Free piano!)

    I encountered a nice wolf spider in the downstairs shower. Then, while fixing the A/C, my brother-in-law and Mr. COD met a spider they claim was four times that size! Ewwww. SOOO GLAD that I did not have to witness the thing! Jimmy had nightmares and trouble sleeping that night because of it. Teresa, my SIL, refused to go downstairs after she heard about it. 

    Since then, no enormous insects have made their appearance. We do have a lot of dead bugs in the windows and corners, since the house was sitting empty for three months before we moved in. Now, the only bugs we’re really hanging out with are the variety that Junior and Mini COD are collecting on the porch and in the yard. They’re having a blast. 

    inspecting lightning bugs with cousin Trista

    Space to roam!

    BIG PURCHASES

    Unfortunately, a new house tends to require a few purchases. This one did not come equipped with a washer and dryer, so that was high on our list to get in there as soon as possible. We’d hoped to find a used one in the area, but nothing showed up, so to Lowe’s we went. In addition to the washer/dryer set, we pretty much had to get a big ol’ tractor-like mower for our ginormous yard. It’s about 1.25 acres and quite sloped, so a bigger mower is paramount. We found a marked-down one that Mr. COD approved of at Lowe’s. All three big items will be delivered next week! 

    shopping helpers

    Internet will cost quite a bit more as we’re somewhat rural now. We’ve definitely been missing our unlimited internet since getting into the house. We do have quite a few movies downloaded on Mr. COD’s laptop, so we’ve watched a movie a day during downtime. However, the plus side is that the boys have adjusted to less screen time. They have so much more space to run around now, both in the house and outdoors, so they’re not getting nearly as bored as they used to. 

    Enjoying the playground in town!

    I hope to update more on the blog once we have Internet again! What are you all up to this summer?

     


    House Hunting in Kentucky

    By on May 26, 2017

    Oh, you guys! I am woefully behind in blogging these days, so I apologize (to myself as much as to you). Life has been a whirlwind of change, leaving little time or energy for writing, unfortunately. However, things are going swimmingly, so I cannot complain one little bit! 

    Today, I thought I’d jump back into the blog with the story of our house hunting and buying in our new town. Everything is happening incredibly fast, but we also have been talking and dreaming about this move for years, so in a way, it’s been a long time coming. 

    Mr. COD interviewed at Eastern Kentucky University on March 28-29th. He was offered the position (unofficially) on April 7, then officially on April 10. The following weekend was Easter, and at first we thought it would be too soon to think about housing. However, as we drove to visit some friends on that Friday, the more we talked, the more we realized we didn’t want to wait. Hence, on Easter Sunday, we loaded the kids into our van and drove south! 

    COD HOUSE WISH LIST

    • At least two bathrooms. Our current home has just one, and it’s adequate most of the time, but anytime we have company, things become a little stressful. You just don’t want to have any issues when there’s only one bathroom, so a backup is desirable.
    • A more spacious house. We’re tired of every room in the house feeling too small. We don’t care about filling up every room with beautiful furniture or tons of stuff; we simply want room to breathe and not be tripping over each other all the time. Plus, since we’re moving further from all of our family, it’s important to us that we have ample room for guests to stay comfortably. We’d hate for our parents or siblings to feel they have to pay for a hotel room every time they visit.
    • Great outdoor space. With two small boys, our dream is for them to have plenty of adventures in our own back yard! Plus, we’re now extremely close to neighbors on all sides, and while those neighbors are fortunately wonderful, we’re ready for a lot more room between our house and any others.
    • Proximity to the university and the rest of town. Mr. COD’s drive to work is currently about thirty minutes, and while that’s not terrible, a shorter commute sounds great. Less driving time means more time for doing anything else! Working out, house and lawn chores, fun with the family are all better options than driving to work.  Plus, it saves moolah on gasoline!
    • Move-in ready, with some willingness to do small cosmetic changes over time. We’re not opposed to some DIY improvements such as painting and eventual appliance upgrades, but major foundational and structural issues were what we wanted to avoid. 

    Mr. COD emailed a realtor for more information and managed to arrange for house showings on Monday, April 17. We’d already started browsing homes on Zillow and other sites and had a pretty good idea of what we wanted. 

    Our appointment with the realtor wasn’t until afternoon, but being impatient, we just had to drive around in the morning and take a peek at a couple of houses we liked online. One of them was a stately old place in a beautiful neighborhood. Quiet, little traffic, yet just minutes from downtown. The yard sloped to give a beautiful view of nearby farms. 

    We also took a gander at a home further out away from town. It was on a wooded lot and boasted a lovely screened-in porch in the backyard. Our first impressions were that it was pretty, but a bit too removed from town and neighbors, and we would prefer a place like the other one, where meeting people and plugging into community would be fairly easy. 

    Our realtor turned out to be incredibly helpful and friendly, and we just loved working with her. After viewing half a dozen homes that Monday, we were 90% sure of which home we wanted. The in-town home we had originally liked best was a big fat NO after seeing the inside! It was a foreclosure, which didn’t necessarily rule it out for us, but it had extensive water damage, and the rooms were overall too small. Too much work to get it up to our standards! 

    Anyway, we returned to our Red Roof Inn that evening worn out and fairly certain we wanted the country house. Though it was not perfect, it filled all of our must-have criteria. Plus, seeing the weird layout and required fixes at the foreclosure made it easy to focus back on the country house. 

    It was during our dinner that night (we picked up pizza from the top-rated pizza joint in the area) that our realtor called to inform us that our #1 choice had just gotten an offer. WHAT?! Of course, that would be our luck. The house had been on the market for three months at that point, but the day we came to see it, somebody finally made an offer. 

    We told our realtor we were close to making an offer and asked her to do what she could. She got the owners to wait and give us 24 hours before accepting the first offer. (We hadn’t even met with a bank to get financing set up, and planned to do that the next morning.) We spent the rest of that night anxious and worrying that we would lose the house. Meanwhile, Super Realtor was arranging additional showings for the next morning, before the bank meeting. We tried to remember that this one house was not the ONLY house we might ever like. 

    TUESDAY

    We looked at five or six more homes that morning. The boys, again, were troopers, amazing us with their patience in driving around, walking through houses, over and over. Nothing stood out this time, except for an incredible property further out in the country. It was beautiful and the surroundings were beautiful, but it also seemed to possess some risky structural flaws and damages. Plus, it was already out of our comfortable price range, so adding unknown repair costs was unappealing. 

    Mr. COD had to meet with the banker, where he remembered he had frozen his credit (a recommendation by Clark Howard for security), so un-freezing it took a few extra minutes. I took the kids to a playground to burn off some energy, and we picked Mr. COD up after his meeting. Financing was in place! 

    Next, we still had a couple more houses to see, sort of to make us really sure we wanted to put in an offer on the first country house. One was completely turnkey, with redone kitchen and bath and everything very nice, except for the loud highway noise audible from the backyard. Another had a funky layout and wasn’t a terrible house, but the location was awful. Right on a busy corner, with nearly zero yard space. It was after seeing this house that we were certain of our choice: the first country house (the first one we drove past before the realtor even got us in). 

    Super Realtor went to her office to draw up the offer as we waited in our hotel room and put cartoons on for the boys. We agreed to go in at full asking price because we figured the other offer must have been low for them to wait on our offer at all. She called us around 3 PM to go to her office and sign everything. (Yikes! We were cutting it so close to get done by 5!) 

    Fortunately, signing all of the offer papers was really easy. We didn’t even sign paper copies, just did it all digitally and quickly. We were armed against misbehaving children with a purse stocked with M’n’Ms and Mr. COD’s phone with downloaded movies. The boys didn’t go too wild in the office, but when they got antsy, we pulled out Angry Birds on the phone so we could finalize all the paperwork.  Everything was submitted by about 4 PM, just in time, so we breathed sighs of relief and waited. 

    Junior and Mini COD watching Angry Birds in the realtor’s office

    As another thank-you to the boys for putting up with all the house hunting shenanigans, we got them ice cream and cones to eat in our room. It wasn’t long before Super Realtor called back with the good news that we GOT THE HOUSE! 
    I could hardly believe it. What a crazy couple of days! Just eight days after accepting a new job, we bought a new house! 

    Little helpers

    Now, of course, we still need to sell our current home…it’s been on the market about a week and is getting quite a few showings. Let’s hope we can celebrate its sale very soon as well. Fortunately, we have funds available and therefore aren’t relying on the house sale to purchase the new one. If we were, we’d be stuck renting a smaller place for awhile.

    We should close on our new place in one week! It’s all moving so quickly, and we are super excited! 

    Our future home’s screened-in porch and wooded view


    A New Job For Mr. COD!

    By on April 25, 2017

    A new job! Yep, IT’S HAPPENING! Mr. COD has accepted a university teaching job! He’ll be joining the counselor education department of the grad school. The CODs are headin’ south, baby!  (more…)


    FOMO And Our One-Year Blogiversary

    By on April 14, 2017

    FOMO can be a total goal-killer. That Fear Of Missing Out can cause us to buy stuff we didn’t want until we saw someone else had it. It can make us join groups and organizations even when we’re already stretched too thin. We joke about it at our church, that FOMO is what drives people to uber-participation. Overall, it has power to convince us do things we don’t really want to do. (more…)


    The Death of Shopping

    By on April 7, 2017

    Shopping used to be entertaining. A relaxing activity. A harmless pastime. 

    Except…Um…It was never harmless. 

    Shopping used to numb my wounds. It made me feel like a grown-up (ironically, since I would spend money I didn’t really have, being in debt as I was). Meandering store aisles offered a cure for boredom. Shopping was a way to make myself feel better, whatever was going on. 

    Students sassing back in class? A new outfit will cheer me up and help me look forward to tomorrow despite the hoodlums. 

    Envious of friends getting married and having babies while I’m still single? Go buy some Twizzlers and jellybeans to scarf down in front of the TV. 

    Nothing to do on Saturday afternoon? Wander the aisles of Target. You don’t need to need anything, you’ll find 817 things you didn’t even know you wanted!

    A NEW MINDSET

    My recent Kohl’s visit opened my eyes to how my shopping mindset has changed. 

    Where I used to cross that threshold and be instantly transported into a veritable Promised Land, I now walked in purposefully. Only to spend the $20 Kohl’s cash we had earned when Mr. COD unexpectedly needed to buy a new suit for interviews. I intended to spend as little as possible, targeting that $20 mark. 

    Where I used to go to Kohl’s to fill up empty time, I yearned to use up the accumulated rewards cash as quickly as possible and get out. Part of that change is due to small kids in my house; I always feel hurried to get back home on the rare occasions I get out. A smidgen of mom guilt I need to release somehow.

    Where I used to be thrilled each time I received a new coupon to use at my fave store (those 30% off ones were pretty sweet), I now receive multiple offers via email daily and use them rarely, if at all. I think I purchase from Kohl’s maybe two or three times a year now, always when I need my running shoes replaced. I get the same brand and style every time and avoid the stress of trying on and debating what to choose. This is especially helpful as I need custom orthotics, which I know will fit my good ol’ standby sneaks. 

    Where I once would spend 100 bucks or more, so pumped to walk out with a huge bag o’goodies, I now am a more thoughtful consumer. Even if all seven of the new shirts I bought were $7 or less due to discounts, did I actually need those new shirts? Or would I now have too many choices of what to wear, making it tougher to decide? Would I end up tossing them out a few months later due to poor quality or my capricious style whims? 

    Walking around Kohl’s that day felt so foreign to me. I would have just ordered something online, but was loath to pay extra for shipping, thus, to the actual store I went. I knew I wanted a digital food thermometer because Junior COD had recently broken ours, so I made a beeline for that section. 

    I found the one I wanted and grabbed some socks to use up the rest of our Kohl’s cash (it went a little bit over, but socks are always disappearing). Yeah, I know stores only offer those promos to get us back in to buy more, but at least I ended up with a necessity! Not a super exciting shopping trip, but it was just what we needed.

    REASONS FOR THE CHANGED ATTITUDE (WHY HAS SHOPPING LOST ITS MAGIC?)

    1. I no longer have a job, so our household income is (duh) a lot less now. 
    2. I think of stuff my kids need more than the stuff I want. (Not always, but I’m getting there.)
    3. If we move in a few months or a year, I want to pack up as little as possible to take with us. Less shopping=less to pack and organize! 
    4. I am trying to adopt more of a “use what I have” mentality versus a “buy more” mentality.
    5. I continue to learn and relearn that just because an item is supposedly a “deal” doesn’t make it a good deal for me. 
    6. With two kids, chances to shop alone are rare, and shopping with them in tow is a chore, not fun.
    7. So many are suffering or needy in this world, and I’d rather be more able to give generously than spoil myself. 

        What’s your relationship with shopping? Have you always loved or hated it, or has your perspective changed  over time?