New Home Love

By on June 14, 2017

We’re feeling a ton of New Home Love around the COD place lately. There are so many things about the new house that are vast improvements over our previous house, and we’re enjoying it! To be sure, there are also negatives, but I’m not even going to address those here today. Mr. COD’s and my seventh wedding anniversary was this week, and it was lovely to be celebrating it in our new home. Nearly two weeks in, I wanted to record a collection of things we LOVE about our new Kentucky home!  (more…)


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

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?


      Feeling Stuck

      By on March 21, 2017

      I’ve been feeling stuck in a bit of a rut lately, so I haven’t posted in awhile. Hello there! I think this is the longest absence I’ve taken from posting on this blog since we began about a year ago. Lots of other blogs I read have recently celebrated their one- or two-year blogiversary, so we’re in good company! (I am nowhere near the prodigious amount of writing of Picky Pinchers or Our Next Life, but we all need someone to inspire us, right? Check out the stats on how many posts they’ve published in their blogging lives! It’s insane!)  (more…)


      Valentine’s Day and Risks

      By on February 14, 2017

      The COD team hopes that you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Of course, if you’ve been reading this blog, you already know we subscribe to the goal of simple and meaningful for all of our holidays, and Valentine’s Day is no exception. You’re probably wondering why the word “risks” is in the title. Read on to find out!

      A SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY 

      (more…)


      January Daily Goals: How Did Mrs. COD Do?

      By on February 1, 2017

      The first month of 2017 is behind us, so it’s time for a little rundown of the January daily goals. As I mentioned, I decided not to make a resolution for the new year and instead created five daily goals just for the first month. Here’s how Mrs. COD fared in the January 2017 Daily Goals Challenge!

      We’re off and running in 2017! 

      (more…)


      On A Mission To Move

      By on November 16, 2016

      We like to talk dreams around here. On the too-rare occasions Mr. COD and I find more than ten seconds of peace and quiet, our conversations generally turn to the potential of our future. When we’re enjoying a frugal drink on our deck after the boys are asleep, that’s a time for vision casting.  Road trips are chances to talk at length about our hopes and dreams. What our next steps may be. 

      img_20161003_111512255.jpg

      Dandelion wishing

      Dreams are fun, there’s no doubt about it. It’s exciting to imagine a life outside of what has been normal in the past. We’re pretty darn happy right now, and with good reason. But no matter how great things are in the present, there are plenty of goals we want to accomplish in the future. 

      Last March, when I gave my notice at work, conversations between Mr. COD and I often turned to possibilities. Perhaps taking a leap in one area of our lives opened up our minds to other potential leaps. I had never really considered changing the status quo: teaching high school was all I would do for practically forever. Now, almost without warning, I was soon to be unemployed. Staying home full-time with my kids would be a reality. Suddenly, our minds opened up to other possibilities! Different careers I might be able to pursue one day. Ways I planned to teach my kids while I’m at home. Potential locations where we might live. Side hustles that could enable us to travel more. It was exhilarating.

      At work, my colleague and I would chat over lunch duty about our latest ideas. It was fun bouncing ideas off each other, sharing our “someday” dreams, even though many were far-fetched. It provided some entertainment, as we stared at lunching students staring at their phones, to dream of future plans. (Incidentally, this is the same friend who, during the course of several conversations about her time as a stay-at-home mom, helped to convince me to take the leap and quit my job! Thanks, Brenda!) 

      Moving Away

      Mr. COD has been itching to move back to his home state of Wisconsin…well, pretty much as long as he’s been in Illinois. Fortunately for him, living in this strange land led him to meeting and marrying me, so it’s worked out well! But when we married, we agreed we’d likely head north eventually. It’s become a long-running joke with us, the “in 2-3 years” plan to relocate. Will this finally be THE year? 

      One of our early ideas was to move to Dubai and teach. The pay for American teachers is supposed to be rather lucrative there, including extras to cover your housing, potentially saving us a huge chunk of change in just a couple of years. It could boost our retirement savings in a BIG way if we did that once I was done with the stay-at-home mom gig.

      Dubai came…and went…pretty fast from our conversations. For the reasons you’d expect: too far from home, too hot, too “extreme” a change. (Relax, Mom, at least we’re staying in the U.S. for the foreseeable future!)

      Next up: we toyed with moving to someplace foreign, yet not quite so far away as the Middle East, such as Panama or Ecuador. Teaching would also be an option there, and cost of living would likely be low, again allowing us to save like crazy. Plus, what an awesome experience for us and the kids… learning a different language, participating in a new culture. Good stuff. It’s a dream we have harbored for years: making another country our home. (It may seem ironic to say that in light of recent political events and the crash of Canada’s immigration website, but our expat dream wasn’t brought on by the election.)

      Every time we visit our families, we’re again torn about the idea of moving farther away from them. Proximity to them is important to us, especially so our kids will have strong relationships with them. Despite our long-held dreams of living in another country for a few years, we’ve decided to remain stateside for the time being. Yes, moving overseas has a certain exotic appeal, but not at the expense of family and friends. We value our relationships with parents and siblings and nieces and nephews, and moving so far away would obviously hinder those from growing. 

      Here’s where we are now…

      • Mr. COD is teaching a course as an adjunct professor at the university where he earned his doctorate. This is confirming for him that he really does want to teach at the college level, and those are the positions for which he’ll apply throughout this school year.
      • He’s enjoying the teaching gig so much that he’s willing to move to a state other than Wisconsin. We hope to “end up” on his home turf eventually, but we’re okay with a temporary move elsewhere if it opens up a teaching opportunity for him. Two years in North Carolina… Montana…Georgia…???… may be a fun adventure as well!
      • As I said, our relationships with family mean a lot to us, so we hope they’ll come visit us, wherever we go next year! Our kids are cute, so we assume that’ll help outweigh the added hassle of traveling farther. Skype and FaceTime might be handy tools to help us remain close no matter how far apart we may be.

      Where do you want to go? Any big moves on your horizons?


      What If You Lost Your Sight? Thoughts On Seizing the Day

      By on October 10, 2016

      Sight. No one would ever want to lose their sight. It’s such an integral part of our lives and hard to imagine living without the ability. Losing self-reliance, losing ability to do what we love, losing freedom. Think of all the breathtaking sights you’d miss.

      Sunrise near my hometown last week

      On the Today Show a week or two ago, I caught a segment about Rebecca Alexander, who is suffering from Usher syndrome. It is gradually stealing her eyesight, and she’s been sharing her story for years along with her brother, journalist Peter Alexander. In this segment, her brother spent an hour blindfolded as they lunched, camera crew in tow. The little experiment was eye-opening, so to speak, for him, as he learned a little bit more about the challenges she faces daily. He pointed out his sadness for her, knowing that while he got to take the blindfold off after an hour, she would never be able to do that. She’s accomplished some incredible things (including climbing Mount Kilimanjaro!) even with her disability. Check out more about her life here.

      Stories like this one inspire us because we see real people achieving great things in the midst of adversity. It’s also key to do the things you want to do while you can. YOLO, right?

      One of Rebecca’s comments during the interview struck a chord with me. The gist of it: If you knew you were going to be blind in five years or two years or ten, what would you want to accomplish or see before that happened?

      If I received a diagnosis of a degenerative eye disease like this, and I knew with some certainty when I’d go blind, you can bet I’d be booking plane tickets as soon as possible. Strolling the streets of Paris one more time would be high on the list. I’d also want to visit some of our most beloved national parks. The sight of my husband and children would be even more precious than now, and I’d strive to memorize every little detail of their faces.

      It’s the same with any diagnosis with a timeline. Alzheimer’s, cancer, MS…they all give the person facing it a prognosis…a deadline. Maybe it’s five more years to see, so the urgency to see becomes paramount. Maybe it’s a muscular disease, so you know you have limited time to play guitar or run a marathon. Maybe it’s a mental condition such as Alzheimer’s, so you try to prepare by saying everything to loved ones and taking all the opportunities you can. Maybe it’s cancer, and you want to do it all before it’s over.

      My heart goes out to our family friend who received a sobering diagnosis about a month ago. Aggressive and advanced cancer, with a shockingly short timeline: 3-6 months. Every doctor’s opinion has confirmed this. They’re faithful Christians and that faith is what’s holding them together.

      What do you do when facing such agonizing circumstances? How do you cope when all hope seems lost?

      As a Christian, I believe that no matter the terrible trials we may face, God is greater. Hope is not lost. There are higher purposes in play here, purposes God ordains and we don’t always understand. So while our friend may suffer and soon pass away from this world, her family is not without hope. They’re doing their best to have purposeful conversations and make special memories in the time left. Many tears will be shed, and there will be dark days to come, but her children and husband will carry on.

      Her story, like countless others we’ve all heard, prompts sorrow. It also provides a sobering reminder of how short life is. We can’t put off our most precious dreams forever, or they might never happen. So while I’m advocating hard work and saving more now, to enjoy retirement later, I would never say you should give up everything along the way. Kids are a great example. They grow so fast and they’re only young once. Parents, we know we can’t get a do-over later if we don’t make time for our kids now. Whether or not you’re a working parent, you can be an awesomely present parent.

      So today, my challenge to you and to me is to…yep, seize the day. Carpe diem. I’m sorry; I know it is cliche. But how precious our time is, and how brief! I know I want to use and appreciate the abilities and opportunities I have while I can. Those of us who have a deadline on health or abilities can perhaps use that deadline as a motivator to seize the day.

      We want to hear from you! What would you want to see or do if you received a deadline on your life or sight or other abilities? If you’re already facing an illness like Usher Syndrome, how are you handling it?