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Monday, December 19, 2016

Our Dave Ramsey update

*Just like the first post I did about Dave Ramsey, this topic is a super weird one to "discuss" - I mean, personal finances isn't exactly polite to chat about, ya know? But truly, this whole Dave thing has been such a large piece of our lives, it's weird NOT to record it up in here. So I'm just going to get up and over feeling weird about it and will begin writing! After all, if there are humans who read this who have never heard of this dang process, then maybe this will help them out. Ya never know!
Well gosh be-darn, it's been over TWO YEARS since my last update, which came around the ONE YEAR anniversary of our first date with the Rams. PEOPLE. I am sick of Dave. He can go kick rocks. I'm so sick of him, but I love him - ya know? Without him, we'd still be stewing around in a wasteland of dumbness. So all in all, to keep it straight, we've been hanging out with the Rams for THREE WHOLE YEARS NOW - THREE! Not three weeks, not three months, THREE YEARS. (Which I'm kind of proud of, kind of sickened by baha! But for real, I'm proud of us for sticking with him for so long.)

Okay so quick recap:

1. That first post outlined a successful year undoing a large chunk of weirdo decisions made in the past. It was so cool! What a blast that was.

2. Then, since that post, things kept changing - we moved from Lake Forest to Ladera Ranch where our rent changed slightly. Car decisions were made (one of which wasn't the best - damn lease) which changed payment situations. We moved to Corona where our new mortgage was drastically different from renting. Rates dropped, so mortgage payment changed again. Car decisions were made... better than leases though, but of course payments changed (we know the Rams encourages buying cars in cash instead of financing, but hey sista we NEEDED cars right away, payments were our only option). What else, what else - I know there were more. These facts weren't necessarily a bad thing, just a bunch of shifting around. I was proud of us though, even though these changes definitely meant constantly switching up the "Dave Ramsey'ing" of our lives. At least with each of these changes, we had our heads screwed on straight as opposed to the early-20's version of ourselves. So that fact right there meant Dave had continued to earn his spot as the third member to the ol' Cisneros marriage bahaha! But with all of these changes, nothing really changed from that first year of working our butts off to get things under control. In fact, with the cars, it actually got a tad bit more intense. Tons of people told us to not be so hard on ourselves - after all, we were mainly focusing on car debt and student loans, two things that at least weren't the scum of the earth, like credit card payments (little did they know that we were working those too! Bahahaha it's all so horrid!). What they meant by trying to convince us to not be so hard on ourselves was at least cars were a necessity, not some luxury, and at least student loans were a "nobler" type of debt. Nice thoughts, but Dave's influence was too deep to "be cool" with even those payments.

3. Then a few months ago (September, to be exact!), big mama over here wanted to try her hand at bill-paying. We got to a point where I realized that all of the shifting had stopped for the foreseeable future - we both have reliable cars, mortgage payment is constant obviously, those type things - and as mentioned, I had never EVER done this before in my adult life, so I thought it would be prudent of me to give it a shot. Well tally-ho I ain't ever going back to not paying the bills! I looooooooove it. And that's where I shall pick up this post!...
Clearly we are still in the "debt snowball" area, just like gooooood ollllllllll' 2013. That's okay though, honestly. Before I was paying the beels, I felt desperately lame about how we were STILL in that arena. But now that I know what's up and am fully comfortable with how strict I am with the way we choose to spend, I'm actually quite thankful. Between Chad and I, I'm definitely the one who cares more about this whole "endeavor" than he does, so I just do my thing and KNOW that we are getting somewhere, unlike my total blindness to things beforehand.

I can't wait for September of 2017 to see how my "methods" have "performed." As more and more of my friends and acquaintances get to know Dave and his strict freakin' ways, my biggest piece of advice to them is to have the person who a) CARES MORE and b) IS MORE ORGANIZED to be the one "in charge." It will be an awesome day when we graduate to Baby Step #3, but in the meantime I feel calm about the process. This is part of our journey and I'm truly thankful to be doing it with Chad, the most fun guy on the planet, even if that meant that for a good 2 years we kind of just.... sat there. At least during those stagnant years we weren't going deeper into pointless debt (if you don't count the cars), meaning our habits had changed dramatically - truly the most important part of the whole "process." So it was all good in the hood!
So this post compared to the last post, I would say, is a kind of coming of age story in which I graduated from a manic human desperate to rid myself of the disgustingness that was a few weirdo decisions (LET'S TAKE OUT ALL THE STUDENT LOANS! AREN'T THESE GOVERNMENT DOLLARS FUN?!?!?! - naivete is a weird thing), into a butterfly of calmness. A few ways this calmness has been achieved... (if you're someone who's starting off with Dave and want some tips from an ol' Baby Step #2 veteran)...:

1. Utilizing the Rams' envelope concept really helped me realize that we could totally live a great life while STILL paying things off. Before using envelopes to save for things we wanted to do in life, I felt super sad about how we wouldn't go on a cool vacation with the kids for many years because we were down in the depths (Dave would say to shuttle every single dollar toward the payments, not toward something frivolous like vacations, which is great of course, but we have a family here! We want to do cool stuff with them and show them awesome things!). Using his envelope idea we've saved for a super awesome vacation coming up here in a couple of months, have had a completely stress free Christmas shopping experience these last few years, have planned great birthday outings for each of the older kids, and have had a super awesome "date night" life - all sans guilt! These cool envelopes coincided with payment pay offs - they're compartmentalized now. It's great!

2. This one is more mental than anything else, but I just had to STOP with the GUILT. The beating myself up? It needed to stop. Once I stopped stressing over the state of affairs, all went better. Our financial talks became way less tense and everything just flowed better. Yes it's not a great feeling to take a look at your finances and be like "WAY TO GO, YA EFFING IDIOT," but you are certainly not alone. It's tough to ease up on yourself, but dollars and cents are not worthy of my mental capacity to the extent I was letting it all get to me. Feeling fortunate for the dollars and cents available to make it all better? Now that is a great way to think!

Okay this post is getting SUPER long...
All of this "calmness" has not come without a fight or two (or a million tense conversations...) between Chadly and I, but again, it's part of our journey! It truly makes ya stronger, chap. So all in all, envelopes have done us well and we are calmer humans than when we started this whole thing. Peace of mind is what it's all about, and even with disturbing, constant payments, that can be achieved as long as you stick to your guns.

Again, I can't wait until next year's Dave Ramsey update post! I won't go 2 years in between again. It's going to be awesome. AWESOME!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

In which I outline my extensive thoughts on children's soccer

Why are my humans the most perfect bunch in the entire universe? They are the bomb!

Okay, what to say, what to say. Grace is sleeping, Kota is entrenched in Peppa Pig and I did a bunch of cleaning yesterday... there's nothing for me to do right now! Therefore the only acceptable action to take is to create my favorite type of post ever: one with no real point! They're the best when looking back.

Hmmmmm. Welp, Kota has informed Chad and I vigorously that she WILL do soccer again so that way she can get the snacks and run through the tunnel at the end of the game. THESE ARE THE ONLY REASONS SHE WANTS TO PLAY SOCCER AGAIN. Running after the ball? Nah. Scoring? Who cares! No, she's very honest about her intentions. Every fiber in my body wants to say no to this request because I do not understand why Chad and I will have to be subjected to sitting outdoors on a hot, dumb field when there's no passion behind her soccer-playing, but I don't think that's a good idea. I mean, if she wants to be on a team, who am I to get in the way? Yes, the team camaraderie isn't exactly her motivation, but what if she starts to love soccer and then plays for the rest of her life? That could happen! Merr. I'm still sad about the lack of desire to return to dance though... wahhhhh!!!!! But that's okay...

Speaking of soccer, Chad and I are thrilled that Carter doesn't want to go back to it hahaha! We are evil parents. He was good at it, scored tons of goals and everything, but his little heart lies with hockey (THANK GOODNESS). There were a few weirdo parents on his team - I'm pretty sure one of them thought Chad and I were teen parents or something, she was so mean and condescending to us! She even yelled at Carter for something harmless. Several times I wanted to ask her why the HELL her husband hadn't volunteered to coach like MY husband had if she was such a bitter human being and wanted everything done just so. I even ranted about the benefits of having children in your 20's so that way we COULD volunteer to coach soccer without the threat of a heart attack, UNLIKE THEM! Bahahaha okay this post is turning into a very weird one. But anyhoo... - that was just one of the factors which ultimately rubbed salt in the wound that was us hauling our lives to the soccer fields weekly. It was so sweet the way he told us he didn't want to play again though! He said, "Dad, I don't want to play soccer anymore, I want to play hockey. But don't worry, I'll finish out my season." My heart! Proud of him for understanding the bigger picture and why we even do sports in the first place: to learn life lessons like perseverance. Go Carter!

But anyway, I feel bad for being such a poop about soccer. Truly it's nothing against the sport! I would have the same reaction to hockey if neither kid was very passionate about it but yet we would have to make our way there every week. So all in all, if they LOVED soccer or any other sport, of course I would get into it.
 ^^^Kota at one of Carter's games bahahaha.
^^^Them plus Grace makes my heart sing!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

A day of firsts by an almost 29 year old

So when I was very pregnant toward the end of September, I had a full day of firsts. Both kids were at school, freeing me up to slay life in the jugular. Now these firsts are not that dang impressive, hence their noteworthiness. Most of them were so basic that I had to text my best friends just to let them know that I, Nicole Christine Cisneros, an almost-29-year-old, accomplished these things. It was quite the day!
So first of all, I paid a round of bills for the first time in my ENTIRE LIFE! Me! For the FIRST TIME EVER! Never had I ever paid bills before September of 2016. In college, my parents generously floated my over-spending boat and then I got married at 21! Chad paid all of our bills after that. The only thing I did banking related was to contributed 20% of my part time pay toward our savings, which came to an end once I had Carter bahahaha! So from 21 to 28, the whole of my "adult life," I skipped the part where one does this very basic, grown woman task - and guess what? I FREAKING LOVED IT. It was so dang fun to me! In my pure joy, I texted Liz and Whitney to tell them how amazing bill paying was to which they responded that I was a freak and if I could pay their bills with such enthusiasm I was welcome to it. So that was the first of the firsts!

THEN, oh then, I fearlessly BACKED MY VOLVO INTO THE GARAGE IN REVERSE. I know, it's a fete worth bounds of jealousy. I just whipped that bad bitch into the neighbor's drive way across the street, threw her into reverse, then floated backwards into the depths of our garage. Next, a picture was taken of my car and sent to Liz and Whitney to keep them updated on my epic day. They were super interested, let me assure you...
Next, mama over here scrubbed the tile on all fours. I remember my parents would sometimes do this to the tile in our kitchen, and I've thought about that several times, wondering why the heck they would put themselves through that sort of torture. But that day I was on fire! So while 9 months pregnant, I deep cleaned my floors for the first time in my LIFE! Not just while we've owned our home here in Corona, but in my LIFE. I've been a home keepin' woman since 21 and never had I ever truly taken care of my floors beyond a quick swiffer. I felt pretty dang proud of it!
What was next, what was next? I don't know, but I know there was something else on this list of firsts. It will probably hit me in the middle of the night when I'm feeding Grace or something. Anyhoo! Betta get to those kids' homework now! I have A HAIR APPOINTMENT IN 2 HOURS! I'M SO BEYOND HAPPY I'M GOING TO ATTACK THEIR HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS WITH VIGOR THANKS TO THE ENERGY THIS APPOINTMENT HAS GIVEN ME! Alooooooooooooooooooone time, here I come!


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Life with 3 bebes

I thought the jump from 2 to 3 bambinos was going to be hell - I've been told this practically my whole life. Everyone I've ever chatted to about families and children during my 28 years of being has reported that 2 is VERY doable, awesome, amazing, fabulous, wonderful and legit - 3 however... May as well go check yourself into the state asylum while you're ahead. The biggest source of this was my own madre! That's not to say she would have done anything differently - in fact once she even said she totally would have done 4!... had 3 not been such a wild roller coaster of puke-worthiness haha! - but she definitely conveyed to me several times how hard juggling tres bebes can be. The whole topic was perpetuated by Chad's former 2-children-nothing-more-nothing-less mantra for the first 6 years of our marriage. Everyone kept telling me to count my blessings because we had 2 great kids, a boy and a girl, both of which were very manageable, awesome and well behaved. Once we decided to go for 3 due to my extreme wishes to have more than 2 kids, there was a tiny part of me that was worried that IF little ol' me lost my mind because it was all so dang hard, THEN EVERYONE WOULD POINT AND LAUGH AND BE LIKE HAHA WE TOLD YOU SO, YA DAMN FOO!

So you could imagine my surprise when we brought baby girl home and we... are... all... still... AFLOAT! Not only have we stayed afloat, but we are actually THRIVING! What is happening over here? Even at my own baby shower, I remember joking about how I was so happy to have such great friends who I could totally call when I inevitably would bawl my eyes out due to how hard the whole 3-kid-thing was going to be! I truly thought it was going to be insane and I would just have to bear through it because this whole thing was my idea (obviously was Chad's too - he had to give the go-ahead after all! I guess he's kind of important in the whole procreating realm baha!). But hey! We are LOVING it. I know everyone says this, but she fits into our family perfectly. She's calm. She actually LIKES daddy! She doesn't get freaked out when Kota goes over the top with her scary screams. She let's Carter hold her for long periods of time. I mean. It doesn't get any better!

In fact right now she's just lying on our bed fast asleep. She's the coolest! She also makes me feel like Carter and Kota are my actual friends. Like they are humans who I get to hang out with. People to converse with, ya know? We get to talk to Carter about hockey, Pokemon cards and how much he likes his teacher. Kota gets to regal us with her dramatic TK playground stories. She can tell me if she wants to wear this leotard to gymnastics or that one. Grace reminds me how gosh dang INNOCENT children come! I wouldn't recognize that pure innocence though without Carter and Kota to compare it to! The dynamic has been great and we're only 6 weeks in! 

I know it's going to get harder eventually. One day Grace will become mobile and I'll be like woah, I thought the 3 kid thing was easy here in the Cisneros home - guess not. But for right now I'm sure as heck am going to appreciate the grace (see what I did there?) God has showered down upon us with making this whole transition easy, especially with all of my preconceived notions going into family-of-5 life. It's awesome! Very thankful!


Monday, November 7, 2016

Grace Renee's birth story!

Our third little munchkin has come! She's here, she's here! And my goodness, what a great transition it has been, adding her into the mix.
So this is the first baby where I was certain - CERTAIN - I was not only going to go into labor on my own (as opposed to getting induced with the other two), but I knew - KNEW- she was going to come early. How could she not? She's our third baby and I was having strong braxton hicks starting at 35 weeks. Not only was I experiencing the run of the mill braxton hourly, but I had these insanely painful leg feelings - like my knee would buckle due to how bad these shooting pains hurt. I read that those were contractions (when trying to figure out if it was a sciatic nerve thing), which got me very excited considering I felt so much so early on.

But anyhoo, come 39 weeks, I was still very much pregnant. It was depressing! You would have thought I was 45 weeks based on how I was acting! I went to Target 3 times that week to CHRISTMAS SHOP IN OCTOBER to make myself feel better about having not gone into labor by that point. TJ Maxx got DESTROYED by me with more Christmas shopping. It was STRAIGHT UP retail therapy. I just couldn't fathom making it all the way to 40 weeks with a third baby. Then, on the the day I hit 40 weeks, I went in to my doctors appointment to schedule my (depressing) induction date for 41 weeks.

"Well... I'll strip your membranes today, but we won't be able to schedule your induction until 41.5 weeks because Dr. Koning is out of town."

WHAT. 41 and a HALF weeks??!!! 10 days out from the day I was sitting there, 40 weeks pregnant and questioning why my body never wants to release my babies out into the world?! It was not okay! Why?! Why?!!! This happened on a Friday where I also had to go to my first stress test to make sure she was okay in there - something that annoyed me because I knew she was fine, given all of her bouncing around. Then later that same night, Carter ended up having to make a trip to the ER due to a hockey injury. When I registered him, they told me that our copay would be very high because the hospital was out of network for us. WHAT.
Immediately I was like, "WOAH, THIS IS WHERE I'M HAVING THE BABY, I'VE BEEN TOLD THIS HOSPITAL IS JUST FINE BY SEVERAL SOURCES. WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT'S OUT OF NETWORK?" She explained to me that it was fine to have the baby there, but for the ER it was out of network. What in the world? Okay... So he got all fixed up and we were out of there.

Then, on that next Monday, I went in for another doctor's visit where I was told that I had dilated more and they would be surprised if my water didn't break on my way down to my car! PROGRESS! SUCCESS! I was so happy to hear that!!!!! Truly it was awesome given my history of never going into labor!

A few days later though, when I still hadn't gone into labor, I remembered that Carter's ER visit had been out of network, so just to be safe, I decided to call my insurance to get the peace of mind I had been assured when we first found out we were pregnant and I wanted to know if I could deliver at the local hospital (insurance had told me all was well back in February). I started calmly talking to a representative, explaining the situation, and her response was, "Oh yeah, our insurance no longer has a contract with that hospital. It would be out of network." WWWWWWWHHHHHHAAAAATTTTTT???!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tears threatened immediately, I got off the phone and speed-texted Chad saying holy crap, we have a MAJOR insurance problem here!!!!! I then called my doctor and explained what was going on and they assured me that they delivered women with my insurance all the time, so don't worry about it. I couldn't NOT worry about it. I called my insurance back again to get a second opinion from a different rep, then called the group. The group said they were going to be the ones billed, so don't worry about it. Then Chad got back to me saying he had called the insurance, the group and my doctors and all was well - don't worry, it's not going to be an out of pocket expense. I still couldn't not worry, but with Chad, my doctor's office AND the group trying to reassure me, I guess the only thing I could do was to calm down and try to be a chill human right before having the baby. Truly, it wouldn't be a Cisneros birth without a major last minute insurance disaster.

So anyhoo, that was a Wednesday, Thursday was when I would turn 41 weeks but my induction date wasn't until the following Monday. Wednesday night, I finally became okay with the fact that I was practically 41 weeks pregnant with my third baby. I became happy that I got the extra time with my older two babies and hey, what if this baby was a wild thing who never ever lets me sleep for the rest of my life? Maybe it was a good thing that I was so overdue! To further the peaceful thoughts, I went on a solo walk around the neighborhood. It was not a psychotic speed walk like the rest of my "let's try to go into labor" struts. It was a "let's enjoy this lovely moment" type of meandering. I called one of my best friends and we had a nice chat. It was great!
Then the next day I woke up knowing I should go to Costco but not really feeling up to it. A few hours later Chad called to tell me that he was going to come home a bit early so maybe we should stock the house with food and have a fun day with our soon-to-be-non-baby-of-the-family, Kota. Some special time for her and our doggy! GREAT! I was so stoked for a fun day with the family, before he even got home I took a now-rare trip to the park with Kots and, hey hey hey, leashed up unruly Snow too. While at the park, I did walking lunges because, you know, I couldn't give up ALL attempts to go into labor despite my newfound peace. To make it all better, I started to have semi-painful "contractions" every 10 minutes. I'm throwing up quotes because I legit thought those little things were the real deal - since I've never gone into labor on my own I truly had no idea what an ACTUAL contraction felt like. But I felt blissful in my belief that THIS WAS IT! Once with Chad, we hit up Costco with those things hitting every 10 minutes, then to keep the pace up, went to Target to grab a few things where they went down to every 7 minutes. Around 3:30 I decided that we should let Chad's mom know what the deal was, but didn't want her to stress - after all I had no idea if those "contractions" were even contractions. She waited out traffic then got to our house that night at 8:00.

As soon as she walked in the door, not kidding, they stopped. STOPPED. I ceased to feel ANYTHING in the uterine area. NOT. ONE. THING. I couldn't believe it - simply could not. Around 9:30, I resigned myself over to the fact that once again my body was reminding me that it does not go into labor.

THEN!!!! At 11:00 pm with Chad fast asleep and doggy snoring, I had a REAL DEAL contraction. Like that thing HURT! I was like woah, holy heck! Then 10 minutes later, another one! Then like 15 minutes later, another - 9 minutes later, another - 13 minutes later, another! They were super painful but so inconsistent I didn't know what to do. I read a few of my favorite blogs and then had 2 minutes between contractions which freaked me out - I got up, got dressed and told Chad let's hit the road for the hospital at 1:30 in the morning. We told Chad's mom who was sleeping on the couch that we were going to go, then loaded into the car where I got scared I was being dramatic and they were going to send me home. We drove the 7 minutes down to the hospital, checked in at 1:43 am and got all hooked up. They checked me and said I WAS AT 6 CENTIMETERS AND THEY COULDN'T BELIEVE MY WATER HADN'T BROKEN YET! THIS WAS IT! I was sooooooooo happy!

I was playing around with not getting the epidural. At this point the contractions seemed so manageable! They were consistently 5 minutes apart and not too bad!  "Hey, I can do this!" It was great! But the nurses kept reminding me that if I was on the fence I better decided quickly given our third baby status. Chad was straight up nervous I wasn't going to get the epidural - he kept asking if I had made a decision hahaha! The look on his face! He was trying to be calm but the stress was pretty obvious!
Then, at 3:45 am I had one of those insane double peaked contractions. Like I could not believe the intensity of this thing. It came 4 minutes after the previous contraction which made me lose my nerve regarding this non-epidural experiment I had been debating for the past 9 months. As soon as that thing passed, I looked at Chad and told him, "I'm getting the epidural," hahaha! I paged the nurse and immediately started freaking out that I had possibly waited too long. She came in, checked me, told me I was at 8 and that the anesthesiologist would be in in 15 minutes. In my mind I was like "OMG I MAY HAVE TO EXPERIENCE 3-4 MORE OF THOSE INSANE CONTRACTIONS?! WHAT IF I DILATE IN 15 MINUTES?!" But thank goodness homie g with the goods strolled on in a few minutes later.

Also a weird side note, during the short time I was waiting for the guy to come in to shoot me up with amazing numbness, I thought about how much an epidural may cost and if this whole thing was going to be covered by insurance, then thought "NICOLE GET A GRIP! YOU'RE HAVING A BABY, GET THOSE THOUGHTS OUT OF YOUR HEAD! WHAT AN INAPPROPRIATE TIME TO THINK ABOUT YOUR BANK ACCOUNT, YOU FOOL!" Bahahahahaha!

After I laid back down from getting the epidural, I had the strongest feeling that I needed to push. I thought I had for sure waited too long and what the HELL had I been thinking. I didn't even want to tell the nurse about the feeling because I didn't want to have to do it!!!!!!!!! What if she told me I would have to deliver before the epidural spread?!!!!!!! It was true terror. But turns out it was my blood pressure that had gone up so they had to inject something into my IV and then all was good. At this point it was 4:00 and I had officially been awake for 24 hours (the previous day I had woken up at this time due to being a large, uncomfortable whale of a human). So I shut my eyes and instantly fell asleep, then woke up at 5:30 and they told me it was almost go time.

I started pushing at 6:00 and she was born at 6:10!!!!!! It was insane! I was SO NUMB, for sure the numbest I've been between the three babies, I was thanking God for the invention of the epidural. Like literally lying there and in my head thinking "Thank you, God, for providing the epidural." I don't know why that thought was so prevalent! It was like I was just so thankful to have had delivered a healthy baby after officially going into labor on my own, early in the morning with Chad drinking coffee right next to me, all in good spirits (aka NOT in pain)! It was all so 100% how I wanted it to go! So glorious!
Grace looked so much like Carter to me when she was born and in the weeks since has reminded me of both kids' looks, Kota's equally with Carter's. Her coloring is light so combined with her chunky-chunkiness it all reminded me of my big boy during those first few hours. She even had neck rolls straight out of the womb! I mean, it was just so wonderful. She has been the calmest of little sweeties, we are so blessed to have her here with us. It's just such a miracle! We are so thankful and in love!

Welcome to the family, Gracie!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Carter's first day of 1st grade! Wah!

 Well gosh-be-darnit, we have a FIRST GRADER UP IN HERE! How can this be? Wasn't he just born yesterday? Did we not drive home from the hospital just a couple of hours ago? I don't get it, I DON'T GET IT.
 He is now home from this wild thing called "All Day School" and is playing video games, per his request. The ONE RULE he said he MUST FOLLOW... are you ready?... was to NOT EAT THE TEACHER! The one rule!

Honestly I just can't believe it - he's in first grade. Truly this is the rest of his life. After dropping my baby off with his amazing teacher (Mrs. Jimenez! Exactly who I wanted him to have!), I pondered the several hours ahead of Kota and I before pick up. It was SO EARLY and we had SO LONG before 2:57. It was mind blowing!

I'm so proud of him. Truly - this kid. He's so confident, secure and ready for whatever is coming at him. From the outfit he picked out to his "seriously mom, no more pictures" words this morning as I walked out his classroom door, he's got my heart. 6 years old and a true master of his little universe - it makes me so happy!
 This is a very weird thought, but the other night we let the kids ride their bikes in the street - something we hardly ever do because Kota can't seem to get the whole "car" thing down. She thinks it's fine to just continue riding on when there's a huge hunk of metal hurling toward her. But anyway, I had this thought exactly: you know, parenting's gone pretty great so far. No complaints. So far, so good. I really like it.

Baha! Those were my actual thoughts! Like hey man, this whole gig is going pretty well. I very much enjoy these little people Chad and I are raising - they're turning out to be alright. It's the most obvious thought in the world but it totally popped into my head! It spanned from finding out we were expecting Carter to that very night where we were all hanging out in front of home in the street.

Truly, what a life! It's so wonderful. We are lucky we get to grow with these littles and watch them come into their own. What a joy!
^^^Love bug!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

So I made a DIY blog - there, I said it!

Okay so I've been turning over and over in my mind whether or not I would want to make a new blog for a pretty long time. My hesitation was just that I didn't know if I actually wanted to DO that. Leave this awesome family space? Eek. Put MORE energy into the ol' computer? Eh, it sounded as if something like that would conflict with the little aspect of my life called PARENTING - just a tiny responsibility I have ;)

But alas! I have made a new blog because I've had these INSANE (and I mean INSANE) needs for an additional creative outlet. It's like, the creation of a new web world I felt excited over was NEEDED. And since I've been pretty dang happy with the extent of our DIY's in the place where I feel most passionate (at home, yo!), I decided to just do it and make a separate space where us C's could document that portion of life. (I say "us C's" and pretty much mean... me. Chad is not exactly the blogging type hahaha).

HENCE WAS BORN MINI HOUSE, MIGHTY HEARTS! Go read about that in the new About Me section, why dontchya.

This creative "venture" I guess you could say is a direct result of nesting - THE NESTING WITH THIS BABY! It's clearly out of control, but hey, I love it.

SO! If you are an awesome individual who enjoys watching two humans mess up DIY's then try them again and again and again, go ahead and follow along. Apparently you would have to "subscribe" via email (following on a blog roll is a thing of the past in blogger? I don't know - I felt archaic when asking the blog designer lady where the heck the "followers" section was HAHA!). But if you would like to do that go right ahead, you awesome human, you!

If you follow along via Google+, I'm going to start posting those there just like this blog automatically does.

ALSO - oh my gosh, this has given me actual anxiety - I... kind of... figured out... PINTEREST! Y'all I have PINNED the pictures from Mini House Mighty Hearts! They're out there! On the internets! Just hanging out! On a board of mine! Can you believe it?!!!!!!!! I feel kind of douchey about that part, but a best friend of mine shook me out of my shyness and was like DAMNIT NICOLE! IF YOU GUYS DID A PROJECT AND IT CAME OUT WELL, SHARE IT WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH A SIMILAR PROJECT! DO IT!

So. I did it.

But I'm still going to go hide under a rock because it's slightly embarrassing. Oh well though - I really DO feel happy that I've been chronicling a few of our DIY's in their own little space, albeit in hindsight at the moment.

But anyhoo, I think I'm still going to post family moments up in here. I just can't WALK AWAY from 600+ posts since 2010 of my sweet family! That CAN'T happen! So anyway, yay. I'm slightly embarrassed, feel a bit douchesque, but oh well, what can ya do?! If you mozy over there I hope you like it!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Bass Lake 2016!

Well gosh dang, family trips are just the absolute bomb diggity. We just got home from a long weekend trip with the Paplia clan and I have to say, it was the BEST!

So we left home at 5:30 on Thursday morning (without closing our garage door, may I add -__- ). Chad left to get breakfast burritos while I packed up the rest of the goods and (hey hey hey), sneak in my pregnancy workout DVD, then we woke our sleeping cuties and told them IT WAS TIME TO GO! VACATION! WOOOOO!

Bass Lake (where my family would vacation growing up! It was a momentous trip: Gina and I would be bringing our kiddos with us to where our parents took THEIR kiddos - and my mom's parents even took her when she was a youngin!) is about a 4 hour drive from home, but we wanted to go the extra little bit and see some awesome Yosemite sights given that we would be so close. So we actually opted for the 5.5 hour drive to the national park, and because duh, we had to do it big, decided to explore Glacier Point (the the most scenic point of the place). After driving the winding roads all the way up the mountain, we found that we would have to wait in a long line for a bus to take us the rest of the way. We thought, "Hey it's all good! We are about 20 minutes into vacation, we can stand to wait a little longer for the bus!" but with the heat, it actually kind of sucked. There was even this really negative guy standing behind us! He was such a party pooper! His poor kids must really loathe family vaca's with his commentary constantly being voiced: "this sucks." "...who's idea was this?" "...we've got about 45 minutes left to go." "...well I'm just going to look at my phone because we HAVE to wait." - annoying man.

But we were fine! Just happy to be there, we were!
 ^^^In-line shenanigans.
^^^29 weeks!

 So I loved Glacier Point's amazing viewpoints, but Y'ALL. Those cliffs got me SO NERVOUS! I felt like one of the kids was going to go plummeting off at any moment. All of the youngins there were rock jumping from one large boulder to the next while their parents oo'd and ahh'd at the sights - my eyes were glued to Carter and Kota because I felt certain this was where they were going to fly off into Yosemite Valley. Terrifying! I felt like kind of a poop being so worried about them, but then I saw another mom yelling at her kids to stop jumping around like maniacs, so I felt better - haha!

So Glacier Point was a great highlight! Next it was off to Oakhurst to grab a few last minute goodies for our cabin and then it was BASS LAKE TIME!
 As soon as we got there, everyone quickly said hello to our cabin-mates (the sister and her family) and my parents who's cabin was down the way a bit, then we quickly changed into bathing suits and hit the pool. It was all so beautiful! Love it there.

The next morning we were all rarin' to go - IT WAS PONTOON BOAT DAY! Chad, Bear and my dad headed to Miller's Landing to pick up the rental while Gina, my mom and I hung with the 5 kiddos. Once they picked us up, we let loose the tube and got to extreme sportin' it up! The kids loved it. I seriously wish I could have tubed but being a 7 month pregnant whale of a human doesn't exactly allow for much wake-bouncin'. But anyway, that was a great day. Tons of great food, fun jumping off the boat and swimming. I'm pretty sure Carter is a professional chocolate ice cream-guzzler. That kid can seriously put away some frozen goodness.
 ^^^That night - THAT FREAKIN' NIGHT - the food. The FOOOOOOOOOOOOD! It's been said before and will be said again: traveling with a professionally trained chef is the way to go, my friend. There simply is no other option. Every trip we take with my sister and her family is THE BEST because we get fed like kings. It's simply UNBELIEVABLE.

But anyhoo. Boat day 2 was right around the corner! I didn't bring my humongous DSLR because instead of a tame pontoon boat, the boys got A SPEED BOAT! Yes! My parents opted to stay at the resort for this day, so us kids went wild with the toy.
 So I have to admit, I really wasn't all that excited for this day when we were in the planning stages of the whole thing. Chad and Bear were stoked on the idea of taking the kids out on a speed boat, but I legitimately was like "Well... I know my parents USED to water ski and such, but Gina has never done it in her life and obviously the kids would be doing it for the first time. I'm 7 months pregnant so won't be tubing OR wake boarding/water skiing... what is the point of this fast thing?" I thought it would be a great thing to do in the future but for this year? 5 kids ages 7 and under? I just didn't really get it. BUT I WAS WRONG! This was the coolest boat ever. Not only was it very relaxing because we were closer to the actual water as opposed to being propped higher in the pontoon boat, but there was SO MUCH STORAGE, so all of our coolers and whatnot were not within sight. The kids LOVED it and the speed was actually freakin' awesome. Carter got out there to wake board but didn't quite make it up, and then my niece tried and she got up for a few seconds! It was an absolute blast! We only ordered it for half the day but next year I want to get it for longer. It was soooooooo fun!
^^^Each family took a night to prepare dinner. First it was Bear and Gina with that amaze balls fettucini alfredo dish, then my parents did enchiladas and for the final night we made carne asada tacos. Such great food! We were all overly stuffed by the end.
^^^Okay, how cool is this picture???? It's one of those photos where I feel like we'll look at it when we're all in our 80's and be like "Hey look at us at Bass Lake in our 20's!" Totally one of those pictures the kids will look at one day and be like "Look at how young our parents were! Is Mom/Aunt Nicole pregnant with Gracie? I think she is!" So cool!
So yes, it was a great vacation if there ever was one. We loved every second! I was pretty impressed that Gracie let me hang in there as long as she did, and I'm dang glad that our kids are awesome. Seriously, what a life!!!!!

And last but not least, this picture has to be included...
^^^Hahaha! This is from when Chad was haulin' on the way to Yosemite and got pulled over! He went a strong 4 weeks in the new Chevy before getting a ticket. Carter and Kota were straight up LECTURING him when the cop was writing the dang thing! The whole reason he was going fast was to get in front of this slow lady, so Kota told Chad VERY POINTEDLY, "Daddy, it doesn't matter who goes first! We all have to share the road! You should have let that lady go ahead of you!" Hahahaha! The cop almost felt bad for us though, because he struck up a nice conversation with the four of us about visiting Yosemite and traveling to Bass Lake afterward. He even commanded Chad to roll down the back window so he could give Carter knuckles! Bahahaha!

So hilarious and awesome!
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