A Rainy Weekend…

Still raining and cold here in Iowa. This is just a miserable Spring. Craig is itching to get in the field and we just keep getting more rain and cold and wind.

Last weekend was my weekend off so we decided on a day trip on Saturday. Craig’s Grandma and Grandpa wanted to see the kids and we wanted a kid-free date! It was a win-win!

Craig and I thought about it, I don’t know if we have had a date since our week long getaway in August on our mountain biking trip to northern Minnesota. The kids are getting old enough and independent enough that we don’t feel like we need a “break” from them as much as when they were little. If we go out to eat or shopping on our usual “date” activities, they usually tag along.

But Saturday it was just us! I don’t have a ton of pictures of the day but we went to our favorite restaurant, Craig and I LOVE BBQ! It’s called Starbecks Smokehouse and if you’re local to Iowa there’s a location in Cedar Falls on University Avenue.

Our favorite tradition at every restaurant, is to order cheese curds for an appetizer. We like to try and find the BEST cheese curds ever – Starbecks has them HANDS DOWN. THE BEST CHEESE CURDS! Not to mention literally every bite of the food was amazing. I can’t wait to take my family there some time! It is worth the drive!

We completed our original task which was to bring our old expired car seats to Target and trade them in for a coupon. Then we were off to Scheels to look at getting a smoker/grill. We’ve been considering it for quite some time and then our grill is no good. It’s going to cost at least $300 to replace our grill, might as well upgrade to a smoker! This is the one we went with, Craig is working on putting it together and it’s not as easy. The temp and settings can be controlled with an app on the phone which is kind of cool for the slow smokes. We are looking forward to using it this Summer!

We got a bathroom door at Menards – THANK GOODNESS! We haven’t had a bathroom door in our downstairs bathroom for 2 years, ever since that incomplete bathroom remodel we began in 2020. Craig got the door installed with just a few hiccups and I couldn’t be happier.

I decided to treat Craig with his favorite fruit brownie pizza. Gannon helped me whip them up while Carver was at Sunday School. You can find that recipe here: https://www.joscountryjunction.com/fruity-brownie-pizza/

That must have tired Gannon out because he fell asleep on his toy ambulance. He also was so excited about Grandma Dee’s armor she had at her house.

I ended the weekend feeling rather crappy, I started throwing up again on Friday after a long break from nausea/vomiting. I’m almost 18 weeks now so I was hoping we were over that, it was a nice 3 week break. Oh well. Life goes on.

That sums up the weekend! Thanks for reading!

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Spring 2022 – All About Carver!

Carver is my 5.5 year old son and because I took a 9 week hiatus from blog, I wanted to give an update on each of the boys. You can find Gannon’s post here: Spring 2022: All About Gannon! and here is Carver’s post!

Carver is in 4 year old preschool right now, he’ll end up being one of the oldest in his class. He goes for the full day of school 4 days of the week. He really enjoys school and is excited about learning.

Carver and Gannon LOVE to play outside but this April it has been so cold and windy. Carver loves to play Minecraft and Farming Simulator on the xbox and he’s probably been getting a little too much screentime lately. The temperatures don’t look like they’ll be getting above 60 for the next 2 weeks – even into the second week of May it will still be below average temperatures which is SUCH a bummer because the boys LOVE to be outside. He especially LOVES biking and he will be signed up for little league baseball this Summer.

Carver has always been a “daddy’s boy” but recently the dynamics have shifted and we seem to both be his favorite lately. We especially love watching Spongebob together and chatting about his day. He has to tell me three things about his day when he gets off the bus – they can be good or bad but he has to tell me three things. That’s a great conversation starter and usually leads to more conversation than just “how was your day?” and he says “okay” and that’s the end of it.

Another favorite activity of ours is looking up pictures of dinosaurs on my phone. He really loves Jurassic World and to play Ninjas with Gannon.

He is always asking to see the baby app on my phone to see how big the baby is. He seems much more excited than Gannon is about the pregnancy. Maybe Gannon will actually be more excited once my belly shows more or can feel the baby move.

That’s all I have to share about Carver for now! Thanks for reading!

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Spring 2022: All About Gannon!

Blogging has NOT been my priority the past 9 weeks so I thought I’d play some catch up and do a blog post for each of the boys and what they’ve been up to!

Gannon does not mind that I’ve been sick – he’s up for all the “nuggles” as he calls them. He’s great at taking naps with me in the afternoon, he loves playing legos on the bathroom floor while I soak in the tub, he’s been my little side kick cheering me on and reminding me that pregnancy is totally worth it in the end.

He spilled some milk in the kitchen the other day and got pretty creative trying to clean it up himself. I think he used every towel we had in the drawer. It made me laugh, I didn’t mind the extra laundry.

He LOVES little legos, he’s turning into quite the builder! He loves to build boats and lawnmowers and police cars. He’s always got some little toy or gadget he’s working on.

We were all laying in bed before bed time when Craig found out that Amazon Prime has all the seasons of Spongebob Squarepants – my absolute FAVORITE TV show as a kid. I had no idea that my brain held so many quotes and episodes of Spongebob until we started watching and I could recite some episodes word for word. Now Gannon is a huge Spongebob fan and I love watching it with him.

He had a visit to University of Iowa to meet with the neurology team about some episodes he’s been having. We wonder if he may be having absence seizures so we will be watching him very closely. If you recall, he had a prolonged unresponsive episode a few weeks ago, Sunday SCARIES! and another one about a week later where we couldn’t get him to respond or look up when we were driving in the car at night. I tried to get a video, videos are extremely helpful for healthcare professionals when evaluating seizures but I accidentally got a picture instead. We were driving home from eating out, he was chattering on and on about the train until he just stopped and wouldn’t respond, his eyes hardly moved, he just sat there like this.

It was spooky but he did come out of it once the car stopped. We are taking the watchful waiting approach and hopefully nothing comes of it. Gannon’s random health issues have me a little calloused, I don’t get as worried as I used to because he usually pulls through just fine. We know what to watch for and we have a plan.

My mom watches Gannon during the week while I sleep – he’s usually her only kiddo during the day so she’s compiled a list of all the funny things he’s said over the past few weeks, you can find that post here: https://www.joscountryjunction.com/gannonisms/

They’ve become quite the buddies and I love watching their relationship grow.

That’s all I have for a Gannon update! Next up, I’ll have a post all about Carver to catch you up on the “man boys.”

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Personal Finance is PERSONAL!

Whenever I tell someone about our debt free journey, I get mixed reactions and a LOT of unsolicited advice. I hear things like:

“Debt is a tool.”

“You’re always going to have SOME kind of debt.”

“Debt is good for your credit score.”

“Debt is fine as long as it is an investment.”

“Well it’s totally fine and normal to have a car payment.”

But that’s the thing about PERSONAL FINANCE – it’s personal!

What works for me, may not work for you. We don’t have to think alike to reach our own goals.

I saw a quote on instagram the other day that I really loved: “I’m not anti-credit card. I’m pro know yourself and your discipline level with credit cards and act accordingly.” The same thing can be said about debt.

Craig and I have proved that we spend way more foolishly when we are spending other people’s money whether that be for a car, on a credit card, on a home remodel, etc.

When I hand over a credit card to pay for something or say I get a loan, it feels easy and light. I don’t feel the same gravity or weight of what it feels like to pay cash for something.

In 2020, we had spent our very first year paying off debt and to “treat ourselves,” for our hard work and discipline, we launched a bathroom remodel with the intention of cash flowing it all. We thought it’d be around $6,000, no biggie. By the time the actual bills started rolling in, it was around $15,000 and we found it all too easy to reach back into debt for a credit card to keep things moving. It was pretty easy to spend someone else’s money on thousands of dollars in mountain bikes. We didn’t feel the weight of it.

Even after our rock bottom, after our year of crawling our way out of financial ruin, we still found it SO easy to lean on debt. We learned a hard lesson, one I’m reminded of every day when I see our unfinished bathroom remodel: We can’t be trusted with debt.

WE cannot be trusted with debt. That is OUR personal choice. That choice is not made to offend you. That statement is not said for you to convince us otherwise. That’s how WE are committed to living our lives.

Does everyone have a little bit of debt? Most people do. We don’t want to be like most people.

Can debt be used as a tool? Most people can use debt responsibly. We cannot.

Do most Americans have a car payment and that’s okay and normal? That’s fine, but not for us.

When I share about our debt free journey, a lot of people are interested but then the excuses start.

“Well a car payment is good for our credit score.”

“My income is inconsistent so budgeting would never work for us.”

That’s okay for some people, but that’s not okay for us. When we hit our rock bottom, it scarred us. It was painful. It hurt. When people do their debt free screams on the Dave Ramsey show, he asks them what their “moment” was. Our moment was so incredibly painful and traumatizing that we have felt the heavy weight and burden of debt ever since, it’s something we could not ignore.

You can read about that here: We Couldn’t Afford Cafeteria Food.

So if you’re able to get through without a budget, that’s okay. If you think having an inconsistent income is enough reason to not have to budget, that’s okay. If your “why” isn’t stronger than your excuses, that’s okay. If you haven’t hit your “moment”, that’s okay. If you can continue to justify debt in your life and THAT’S OKAY!

We just can’t. It hurts too much. And that’s our PERSONAL finance decision.

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I cleaned my fridge!

Alright, so last post I was feeling better, I had another week of misery (seems to be the pattern) but now I really do think I’m out of the woods! I had a few days where all I did was literally sleep – I slept for just about 16 hours straight one day – and after that funk I’m feeling fab! My appetite is back, my food aversions aren’t nearly as strong, they increased my thyroid medication so that is helping a ton too.

I felt so much better in fact, I woke up at 7 am the other day and tackled cleaning out my fridge. That doesn’t seem like a big deal but I’ve been in a pile on the couch for the past 9 weeks so this was a huge accomplishment. I baked a cheesecake and I made an actual meal for the fam for the first time in a long time. Mongolian beef has never tasted so darn good!

Also, this dairy free ice cream, I’m not sure where I even got it from – I think WalMart – has been my GO TO! It’s so delicious, it hardly even tastes “healthy.” Please ignore our cracked fridge drawers, we are stretching out these appliances as long as we can until we can remodel!

I think I was honestly a little depressed. The weather here in Iowa has been so crappy and cold. February and March are usually hard months for me to begin with because I get a little blue in the winter but April really isn’t showing any signs of Spring yet either. I also have felt so down about how sick I’ve been, it is depressing when you can’t eat or you’re always nauseated or knock out tired.

This same time last year I was also in a bit of a funk if you recall, I’ve not been well… and I came out of that spell just fine too. This week it’s at least supposed to get to 50 degrees so maybe we are snapping out of this cold spell.

No big plans for this weekend, Carver woke up puking in the night so we had to cancel Easter plans + I work all weekend. I ALWAYS seem to work Easter weekend. I’ve worked every third weekend for as long as I’ve been a nurse and my weekend ALWAYS lands on Easter. I actually calculated it out, if I stay on this weekend rotation (which I have my last three jobs), the next Easter weekend I’ll have off is in 2025.

My travel job is going really well. Even though I’ve been so sick, I haven’t had to miss any work. I’m working to negotiate renewing my contract. My first contract was for 16 weeks and I like it here so I’d like to “renew” as we call it in the travel nurse world. During COVID you usually got a pay bump if you renewed your contract but now that travel nurse rates have dropped, sometimes nurses take a pay cut to stay in the same position. I’m not sure how that will go but I have faith that I’ll figure something out either way! I’m still picking up shifts at the “big hospital” I work at and I’ll always have that safety net to return to if needed!

That’s all I have for this post, I hope you all have a great Easter weekend, thanks for following along and checking in on me!

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