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Thursday, October 5, 2017

"Ladera Days" and other random thoughts




We love our "Ladera Days" with the sister's family - I mean, how could we not? That place is one giant movie set of perfectness, it's so dang lovely. Every time we make the trek down there to hang with the ol' Fitch crew, I spend the first half of the visit wondering why the HELL we moved away from it's wonderfulness. Then during the second half I think, "hey it's all good, at least we get to visit Gina here. She better not ever move away!" And then by the end I'm always ready to head back home to Corona - the cycle happens EVERY time! It's so funny!

If we lived there though, we wouldn't be able to hang out with our babies while re-doing our closet like what's going on down here. The bath tub is honestly the best thing ever. Grace is corralled in there while the older two use the whole thing as a type of jungle gym. So great!



Anyhoo! That's all! G babe is crying up there so I've got to go grab her. Also! Chad and I have an out-of-town wedding this weekend!!!! We are so dang excited to get out of dodge and MOST IMPORTANTLY to celebrate our amazing friends - they've been together longer than Chad and I have and we've all just LOVED watching the two of them walk through their journey together!!!! Truly an honor! So yes, we are very excited. Cheers to love!!!!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Fall time!




Fall, fall, wonderful fall!!!! We are so into it this year. I've made a goal to buy one seasonal thing each time I go into a store and I've got to say - best idea ever. I'm beefin' up on the pumpkins but will soon switch to permanent decor to last through the years! It must be the house that's doing this to us. Just the thought of it possibly being a forever home type of situation makes us all want to cozy up and nest. THE BEST.

In other news, Grace will be ONE in 18 days!!! Isn't that just freakin' incredible? The fastest year of our lives, that's for sure. We've decided she will be our forever baby (closin' down shop, over here), so any challenges she presents us with is sort of viewed in a this-isn't-so-bad type of way. It's really a lovely way to live (in opposition to how we were with Carter - poor oldest child and all the insanity parents load on them! Baha!). 



And that is all! Woohoo! Back to consuming carrot cake!!

Monday, September 18, 2017

A summer corral of life updates



Now that it's feeling a bit like fall, I've got to corral a summer update from the House Cisneros! We've been plowing through projects like crazy, all documented here at the ol' DIY blog that I love so much. Up there, Chad and Carter were installing a legit baby gate for Gracie. That child sure does love to crawl like a speed-demon over to the stairs, dog food area, any and all bathrooms, as well as dart toward the bed in the playroom that she's now able to climb onto - it's nuts!! I love it so much.


Here was THE LARGEST PROJECT WE'VE EVER DONE AND THOUGHT SEVERAL TIMES WOAH HOLY CRAP, WE HAVE SO MUCH RESPECT FOR ACTUAL FURNITURE MAKERS OUT THERE - that stuff was HARD!!!!!! Our wonderful friend connected us with a woman in the community who was in the process of opening a shop here in Corona (and who goes to our church - bonus!). We ended up falling into an agreement where we made a TON (well, a ton for us), of furniture for the store!!!! How cool is that?! All in all we made 2 10' tables, 4 10' benches, those two arbors you see hanging over the tables (1 was 7' tall, the other was 9'), then a kids table with two little kids' sized benches. I mean - IT WAS AN UNDERTAKING! (And awesome undertaking!)



While we project, Gracie hangs out!!!


I mean, I guess these two have to get older in life, despite my "stay young forever" vibes I've been sending into the universe since the day they were both born. Speaking of these two and getting older, we recently measured them - they both have grown FOUR INCHES IN 10 MONTHS!!!! How is that even possible?! Chad and I were like "woah." Up there on the left is Carter showing off his handy work when we were re-doing our pantry.


My men!!!! There Chad is on the right constructing a table for a friend of ours (it came out so freaking great I want him to build another one just for our house). Y'ALL WE'VE HAD THE BEST LUCK LATELY WITH WOODWORKING! It's been so fun!


What else has been going on? Chad and my lives have been even more ruled by Game of Thrones than it was previously, so there's that. Hmmmmm. I don't know what else is going on but I've got to get off of here! The minutes are ticking down until Gracie wakes up baha.

So there's a mini wrap on a summer of awesomeness! Now I'm going to go out into the garage and see if I can continue this awesome streak we've had going in terms of our projects out there. We've got a TON of scrap wood so I'm hoping to create something cool out of it all. Yesterday I made a scrap wood tray on a whim and HOLY CRAP I LOVE IT SO MUCH I CAN'T BELIEVE I MADE THAT! So dang fun! Okay, over and out!

Friday, September 15, 2017

2nd grade and Kinder - what is happening in the world

They're both in elementary school - what is actually happening in the universe?!!!!!

This fact though, albeit mind blowing, is pretty dang awesome. Carter is enjoying how he is the authority on all things Susan B. Anthony Elementary in general, and Kota is just enjoying chasing the boys around the playground. Can you believe that?! I can't remember if I wrote about it up in here, but when Carter was in kinder, he was chased by a group of girls - it perturbed me to no end. I thought it was going to define the rest of his life - Carter being overly aware of girls chasing him (or something like that hahaha). I was so torn up about it! I even had a conference with his teacher over the matter bahahahaha. (Got to love first-child-over-sensitivity bahaha.)



BUT GUESS WHO'S LEADING THE BOY CHASIN' BRIGADE NOW?! Dakota!!!!!

So now I'm thinking that's just what girls think is fun? Bugging the boys? Who knows!!! Bahaha how about that?!

Anyway, that's just been one of the fun learning experiences from the last month while these two have been gone from me everyday. Kota is away for a whopping 4 hours and Carter goes all day - it's great, man! Gracie and I spend the mornings alone (where she takes a nap for half of our time together), then once Kota gets picked up it's just the girls and I for a few hours, then Carter joins the group, at which point Gracie goes down for another nap, so I get to hang out with the older 2 for a bit. Heaven!

On top of this already-awesome schedule of ours, we got into a carpool with a super fun family from the Kota's TK class at Crossroads - how dang cool is that? So every other day we switch off taking the kids. Talk about cool!





It did take me a bit of time to adjust to the whole "two kids getting ready everyday" thing. Coupled with the massive increase in our sports life for them (an activity 6 days a week - it's been insane), school was slightly overwhelming for a bit there! It forced me to get UBER ORGANIZED. We now pick out Carter and Kota's clothes for the ENTIRE week on Sunday evening. I place those outfits along with clean socks, shoes, toothbrushes and hair products in the play room's closet in these nifty organizational little shelf things. THEN! I made it super easy for the two of them to pack their own lunches. We recently redid our pantry, partly because I wanted the kiddos to be able to easily access snacks each morning to put into their lunch boxes. Lastly, I have the kids get as much homework done as possible either on the weekend or during the early part of the week. We keep it fun and light, so that way they don't loathe homework later in life, but on the inside I'm really pushing for them to get as much done as they can. It makes sports easier and also just an overall feeling of calm going through the week.

Those organizational efforts has really made a difference! I feel like Chad and I get to enjoy ourselves through the week, especially because so much effort is being put into their activities nowadays.



SO GREAT!!!!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Dave Ramsey Update - 4 YEARS!

Y'all! We've been doing Dave Ramsey for 4 years. FOUR YEARS!

Holy cow, that is a long time. It feels like just yesterday we were little 25 year olds who literally called ourselves "great cash jugglers" - those are actual words from our mouths, kill me. The hilarious thing was, according to the Rams (and the rest of the world), we were TERRIBLE cash jugglers at 25. Also at 24, 23, 22 and 21 - all of the years we had been married at that point bahaha. (Funny now, not funny then.)

But anyhoo! Here is the original post where we had been using his methods for a year and here is the follow up one I did last year, when we were 3 years in.


Okay! So I left that 2016 post with the info that I had taken over the ol' finances in September (a pretty life changing thing for little ol' me). I had written that I was excited for September of 2017 to see how my methods had "performed." Well, I'm here to tell you that living an absurdly strict life, telling your husband that "no, we are not going to buy a pool-appropriate volleyball because we don't have the money for it," pays off. We've made a considerable dent in our baby step #2 endeavor and MOST IMPORTANTLY, have continued to feel DANG PROUD OF OURSELVES. And that's what this whole thing is all about right? Financial self-esteem!

Without Dave, we wouldn't have been able to buy the new house. We wouldn't have been able to take the trip to Hawaii (despite our current baby step #2 status) and we sure wouldn't be able to say yes to Carter and Kota's sports life because we would still be lying around in a wasteland of financial stupidity - SO THANKS FOR THAT, DAVE!

But here's a cool thing that I've come to terms with during the past year: we have a family where our kids are getting older - funneling every available dime to baby step #2 is just not going to happen BY OUR CHOICE. We want to take vacations so that the kids can experience new things (the envelope method comes in clutch here). Carter's hockey obsession costs a pretty penny - but we're not going to say no to it because, hey, it's his childhood and he enjoys it. Dakota doesn't deserve to get the shaft either. If she wants to up her gymnastics game (or return to dance... a mom can only hope!), then that's going to be okay. Grace will come of age one day too (DEAR BABY JESUS IN HEAVEN, PLEASE LET BABY STEP #2 BE OVER BY THE TIME GRACIE WANTS TO DO ANYTHING - THE HUMANITY). But when she does, we're obviously going to be super supportive of it all.


Those revelations are the product of Chad's fun ways mixed with my no-nonsense strictness. It also has to do with priorities. Of course we COULD say no to anything and everything "extra" - we didn't have to go on any vacations over this last year, we could also say no to sports and we could also never EVER go out to eat - but we feel like we've already done that in the very beginning when our kids were young enough to not really be affected by it and, although that is a great way to go and IS effective, it's not how we are CHOOSING to do it now. NOWADAYS, I've made a goal for myself: every week make some form of a payment toward the hideousness of the student loans and BE - HAPPY - WITH - WHATEVER - THAT - AMOUNT - IS.

It can be $10. It can be $1,000 - it doesn't matter, as long as it's SOMETHING.

That being said though, I think "gazelle intensity" is the way to go! It's what got us going in the first place! So if that's what you're doing right now, hats off to you my friend!

But yeah! And just like last post, I'm not going to sit around and be bummed about STILL being in baby step #2 - like I said, we're CHOOSING to not funnel every dime in that direction, but that choice has created a great sense of balance for us and, best of all, a feeling of TEAMWORK between Chad and I. That's something I didn't feel like we had going for us during the first few (yuck that I'm saying years) but YEARS of us living the Dave life. I always wanted STRICTNESS AND NO EXCUSES, he always wanted to just enjoy our lives and had the attitude of "ONE DAY IT WILL ALL RESOLVE ITSELF."


Also, just like last year, if you'd like a little advice from an EXTREME baby step #2 veteran (bahahaha that fact is half pathetic, half awesome), then here are a few things we've done over the last few years to allow for any progress:

- As I mentioned in that first post, we got rid of our brand new car in exchange for a BEATER! I'm still so proud of us for doing that! We've since gotten ourselves new cars, but that was a pretty dramatic commitment to good ol' Dave.

- We started using the envelop method which allows us to save up for cool "extra" things (and non-extra things like Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries and car registrations). THIS IS CLUTCH. Having that extra cash around really can help you out. Entertaining for Thanksgiving and you want to buy a few extra place settings but your budget is tapped that week? Borrow from the car registration envelope and pay it back  (IMMEDIATELY) the following week. It's great!

- DIY. People. Chad and I have literally learned to be handy because what we want from retail stores can just be TOO EXPENSIVE. Learn to do things on your own!!!! Sure, your products may not look as awesome as what you could expect from Restoration Hardware, but guess what? It won't cost you $4,000 now will it? If you've got style but feel weird about dishing out thousands before paying off that one credit card, then head to Home Depot and make it yourself. Also, if you get good, you can sell what you make! Extra dough!

- Set realistic budgets for things in your life. Before I took over the finances last year, we always aimed for absurdly low grocery shopping budgets. We were trying to feed a full fledged family on next to nothing. Not surprisingly, this always led to us feeling frustrated and literally HUNGRY! Hahaha. Now we've set a high grocery budget for peace of mind and comfort. It keeps us on track HAPPILY.

Okay I'm trying to think of more things (while also feeling like a douche for assuming I'm someone who can  tell you how to do this since we've clearly been on step #2 forrreeevvveeerrrr).


All in all, this is part of our journey and I've chosen to walk it joyfully (as opposed to 25-27 year old Nicole hahaha - I was so bummed that we had gotten in such a funky position and was SO HARD ON OURSELVES - what a waste of time and energy!). Like I've said before, once this whole baby step #2 is over it will be freakin' awesome! But until then, the fun is in the journey (kind of bahahaha). Wooo!

(And just in case you're wondering, I know that we're still in baby step #2 because things have changed so much during our Dave life - and that's okay! Part of the damn journey! Bahaha!)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Hawaii! Our first big family vacation to Aulani

Well gosh be-darn, we went on a big family vacation in April! It was truly what dreams are made of. This was the first time that we took the kids on a trip that was larger scale than entering a car and driving for hours. Chad and I have taken several weekend trips over the last 8.5 years, but we always left the kiddos at home - NOT THIS TIME THOUGH! 

We had been talking about going to Hawaii with the kids for a few years and even set the date before I knew I was pregnant with Gracie! Talk about a timeline. In fact, the night I told Chad baby #3 was on the way, we both were like, "well, what does this mean for our Hawaii trip?" Hahaha! Clearly our priorities were in order.





So anyhoo, we decided to go with Aulani because we would be travelling with baby G who was going to be a whopping 6 months old at the time. We knew that Disney would do it right for every member of the family, which would mean that we wouldn't have to rent a car and haul a baby around the island in pursuit of cool things to do. We wanted to check into a resort and just stay there the whole time. We'll do an adventure-filled Hawaii trip when the kids are older, but for right now? Hanging at a legit resort checked all of our vacation desires.

...but listen to this. So our plan was to go Monday-Friday (cheaper hotel room rates during the weekdays), but we sort of wished we could go from Sunday-Friday. That would give us an extra day to hit up the Costco we kept hearing so many great things about (where we would stock up on goods so we could actually afford the trip hahaha). But that was okay! We didn't want to be complainers about going Monday-Friday versus Sunday-Friday - we were just glad we were going at all. BUT THEN my father-in-law called me on my birthday and told us that he had a ton of points with the Marriott - how would we like to spend Sunday night in Waikiki and, while he was at it, would we like to use points for our airfare - UHHHHHHH WELL MR. FIL, WE SURE WOULD APPRECIATE THAT!

Because of his awesome generosity, we had a bit of excess in our little Hawaii fund, so we did end up renting a car for our first day in Waikiki to transport us to a few tourist locations and drop us off at Aulani the next day, and we were able to eat out a few more times than we had originally planned for (allowing the Costco trip to not be as important to us hahaha - it's a good thing too, because we discovered that when one flies across oceans to vacation, one does not enjoy eating Costco lasagna's just like they do at regular ol' home baha!).









So we flew on down to good ol' Oahu!!! It was so fun. The kids were stoked to go on a plane and Chad and I were happy that Gracie was pretty dang great the whole way. Once we secured the car, we checked into our Marriott and hit Waikiki beach - SO MUCH FUN. Not going to lie though, that particular beach is probably best for humans who are not walking around with three kids and a stroller - talk about chaotic. People were there to party - definitely a spot for just adults, ya know?

The next morning we checked out, headed toward North Shore (which I'm now obsessed with) and then got-to-goin' to Aulani. Chad then had to leave us to take the rental car back to the airport, leaving the kids and I to hit the extensive pools.

WELL I'LL TELL YA WHAT - IT'S NOT A GOOD IDEA TO LOSE YOUR TWO OLDEST CHILDREN WITHIN THE FIRST FEW HOURS OF HOTEL TIME. Yep! I lost Carter and Kota almost as soon as we got down to the pool area - talk about freaked out. They had both grabbed these huge floatie things that they would need to go down one of the giant water slides and then just disappeared! I wouldn't have been worried if it wasn't for those giant floaties - I mean, they could have gotten caught underneath them, ANYTHING COULD HAVE HAPPENED. I was trying to play it cool, so I casually asked a lifeguard if she had seen "a boy and a girl" - YEAH GREAT QUESTION TO A LIFEGUARD WORKING AT AULANI WHERE THERE ARE 5,000,000,000 "BOY AND GIRL" PAIRS WALKING AROUND.

But straight up - it was terrifying!!!!! FINALLY Carter was spotted and very quickly afterward we found Dakota. They both were like, "what's wrong Mom, we can swim!" Palm smack to the forehead.



Chad then joined us and we got to enjoying the rest of the BEST WEEK EVER.







^^^Oh you know, just some casual $27 GOGGLES!!!! I KNOW.



^^^Is this not the coolest picture ever? Grace was sleeping!



And then we went to the luau - IT WAS AMAZING. We even got seated next to one of the directors of Moana!!! How cool is that?!





Everything was just so dang pleasant and wonderful! We did take advantage of the kids club for about 1-2 hours a day. At first we felt weird about the whole thing - after all, we wanted to actually HANG OUT during this giant vacation we had been planning for months. But after taking a tour of the place, I really felt great about signing them up for a few activities (where they would be served dinner or lunch). Not only would it allow Chad and I to go on a date (with G who was usually sleeping), but it really did give them a break from the sun. Also, they swam from sun-up until sun-down - this was a great way to give their little bodies a break. It was great!





I mean, the whole thing was WONDERFUL. I'm so proud of us for setting out, planning for this thing and saving the dough to do so. Very cool!

We had so much fun. We all LOVED every minute - truly amazing!


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