Thursday, October 23, 2008

Being a Baby is Tough

Well we went to the pediatrician today because Emily and I have had colds since this weekend. We have all been just plain miserable, and have been trying to offer it up, especially in light of the upcoming election. Emily was running a low fever (100.7) and did not sleep last night because of her runny/congested nose. I am so thankful to have a wonderful husband who helped me calm her down between 4-6:30am, even though he stayed up until midnight studying. Turns out that she has an ear infection, strep throat, and a sinus infection. No wonder!

Two weeks ago more urine samples were taken to follow up from her previous infection--awful procedure for a little girl--and traces of blood were still present. After being on antibiotics for 10 days, we were a little surprised. We continued medications, and thankfully the doctor agreed to hold off on further tests (ultrasounds and blood tests) for 3 more weeks for her current medication to take affect. When we went back today, one week early, tests showed that we could discontinue her meds and no further tests are necessary! What a blessing! Thank you for your prayers. Keep them up! :)

Alumni Weekend

A few weeks ago the University of Dallas held their annual Alumni Weekend. It wasn't a special anniversary year for Eli and me, but it was my Uncle Will's 20th anniversary. What's cool about UD is that the students and professors are very close-knit, and tend to keep in touch for a lifetime. You meet several "legacy" families which makes the UD world very small and wonderful. UD has been making a lot of changes lately, but the same traditions remain.

10 great things I miss about UD:
1. The faith life--several students go to mass, adoration, and pray the rosary everyday
2. Genuine People
3. The Rome Semester (including exploring Europe and falling in love)
4. Reading the classics--Plato, Aristotle, Dante, Homer, Nietzsche, Locke, Cervantes, Aquinas, just to name a few
5. Watching Eli play Rugby
6. Groundhog
7. Charity Week--the jail, male auctions, tuck-ins, shave-offs, air-band
8. TGIT--where else could you find $1 beers and live music?
9. The Mall and Cap Bar
10. Mallapalooza, Octoberfest, Battle of the Bands

Here are some pics from that weekend when Uncle Will, Aunt Jacquie and the boys stayed with us:
Charlie and Colman Colman (my first cousin) is 8 months older than Emily
Playing cards with my Godson.
Check out her 1982 UD Shirt!
My Dad is a Winner! (Eli's position is Winger...)
Aunt Lauren, Cousin Clare, Aunt Mary, Emily and me watching Eli play in the Alumni Rubgy game.

Trying to run around with the boys! Align Center

Trying to send telepathic messages to the baby in utero to be a girl.

Good ol' Club Schmitz

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


The first thing on our new budget was adjust to being less entertained. You have no idea how difficult this was for us! We are in our early 20s, still live in our college town, and still hang out with our single college friends who don't often worry if they're spending money that was meant to pay the pediatrician. Eli and I have always been "doers"--every trip we take is jam-packed, and every weekend we try to find something new in Dallas. Naturally our activeness outside the home was put to a halt when Emily was on medical house-arrest from November to April of last year.

We absolutely loved being together as a family doing nothing but hanging out in our apartment. In fact, that's all we dreamed about when we put up a privacy screen around Emily's isolette in the NICU and tried to drown out the alarms and crying of the other 15 babies in her room. However, when the flu and RSV season came to a close, you betcha we were out trying to make up for lost time.

Can you see the screens in the background?

This is where trouble starts, and the costs pile up. We all can enjoy the free and simple pleasures in life. Here are some of the activities we do to try to get out of the house:

-Go for a walk around your neighborhood. We are so lucky to be close to a jogging trail on the water which has beautiful landscaping. Emily loves to feed the ducks and turtles.

-Make use of your public library. Free internet, free books, free magazines, free movie rentals, storytime, nighttime classes for adults.
-Have a game night--way better than going to see a movie together where you don't talk.
-Go to the parks or museums when they are free or discounted.
-Volunteer for a good cause. Right now 40 Days for Life is holding prayer vigils outside abortion clinics. Not only will you be helping others, but you will understand the meaning of true happiness.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Don't Take After the Government

"I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now"

Have you heard this song? It's on a credit card commercial promoting the ability to receive a text message stating how much you can spend until you reach the credit limit.

Americans are sucked into it: overspending. The bailout adds up to close to $11 trillion in debt. 33% of Americans carry over $10,000 in non-mortgage debt. (Source: Center for American Progress) Society tells us that we need that new car or that big house.

Eli and I needed our 2 bedroom apartment in a safe area of Dallas to start our family. With four incomes and no kids, (we both had two jobs) we signed our lease as I fell in love with the big kitchen, laundry room, and bright open floor plan. We are guilty of thinking, sure we'll be able to pay! Just plain dumb. Our rates increased while our income decreased. Today our rent, water, and electricity add up to more than 70% of our take home pay. Thankfully, this is a lease and not a mortgage, and we will be moving soon.

I sympathize with those who rack up credit card debt because they just can't make ends meet. Those who frivolously spend money beyond their budget on the other hand, are doing nothing but shooting themselves in the foot. What's the joy in buying a beautiful new fall wardrobe if it takes you the next 10 years to pay it off? That money could be going to more important things! (i.e. an emergency fund)

The fortunate lesson is that we are humans with free will. We choose what to spend and where to spend it--or rather what not to spend. We can focus our attention on many more wonderful things in life instead of a new pair of shoes that bring us little fulfillment. What a miserable life we would paint for ourselves if we were imprisoned by the thoughts of need every second of the day. So go outside and enjoy the beautiful fall weather...for free!

Monday, October 6, 2008

#1 Rule

Keep your faith. It's that simple! Life is a roller coaster of ups and downs which you cannot control, leaving you helpless and frustrated sometimes. All the more reason to let go and let God take over. He will ALWAYS provide, and he has a plan for you. We've all had many times when things didn't go as planned, but in the end it turned out for the better.

For example, Eli and I had planned for an easy, natural birth with little intervention. After all, I'm young and healthy, had no problems during the pregnancy. I followed every nutrition and resting suggestion, and exercised practically everyday. We got wrapped up in preparing the nursery, washing the little clothes, and reading about how babies are wonderful.
Then one day Eli's company started to go under, and he was laid off along with half of his coworkers. This made two unemployed people, as I had resigned as a teacher at the end of the year. Two weeks later my water broke, randomly when I was 6 months along (now they think it was due to infection). When we went to the hospital, I thought we would be going home in a few hours after they gave me some medicine to fix the problem. Boy were we wrong! 48 hours of labor later, our beautiful Emily Beatrice was born. The labor as you could imagine had a lot of intervention, and things were out of my control. This was not the way I envisioned it!
Emily was swept away before I could even see her. We held her for the first time 7 days later. Again, not the way I thought it would be. Leaving her at the hospital for 82 days was not what I had in mind either. Of course we could have said "God, why me?" and probably did a few times.
But look at the result: the sweetest little miracle there ever were. And since Eli was unemployed, he was able to visit Emily in the hospital everyday for the first 3 weeks until we started temp jobs. He was also able to dedicate more time to studying, as he was taking 13 hours of grad classes at the time. To top it off, Eli found a job through another parent whose daughter was in the NICU. We relied on God to get us through, had to let go of control, but he had a better plan for us in mind.

Finances are often the same. Some months we are in the red, but some months we are able to save. No matter what though, we have faith that God will provide, and He ALWAYS pulls through!

Do you have a similar story of learning to trust in God's Will when everything has gone wrong?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Don't Buy Stuff You Can't Afford

Let's face it; times are tough for a lot of people right now. The past year has been especially difficult for our family in regard to finances: we switched to a single income home one year out of college, endured one long layoff, and were heartbroken by Emily's three month NICU hospitalization. Nevertheless, this year has been the best of my life--not only because we received the most amazing addition to our family--but because Eli and I had a few wake up calls and are learning to mature and make our lives more meaningful.

The next few entries of the blog will share my experiences of learning personal finance, oftentimes in the hard way. We still have much to learn and are hoping for some insight from our readers. Start by watching this hilarious 2 minute Saturday Night Live skit.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Big News!

Drumroll please...we're moving here! Can you believe it's going on 7 years that we've lived in Dallas? A lot has happened, meeting our best friends, falling in love (well, really that happened in Rome), getting engaged, our first home, our first baby, our first salary jobs. I could go on and on. We plan to make the move after Christmas and are excited to be closer to family, but are sad to leave our good friends behind. We had already looked into moving down and Eli had started to send out resumes, when a change in his job position encouraged him to resign and move on at the end of the year.
I thought that finding a job last year would be difficult, but this year's recession has us worried about how much hiring companies will be doing in the future months. Eli is the hardest worker I've ever known and scarecly takes even five minutes for himself to relax. His capstone class is very labor intensive, but also interesting and well worth the hours he puts in each night. In December he will graduate with his MBA and take a break from school for awhile (but seriously, who knows what he'll do next!). At TEMSCO he is the marketing director and at his previous job he was the marketing manager, so naturally he will be looking for a marketing job in a large company.

I wish I could bottle Emily and save her in this age forever. What a sweetheart! Apparently she had been going through a phase of being a little difficult (not sleeping through the night, not letting me put her down or leave the room, fussing all day, and not playing by herself) for the last few months. I chalked it up to sleep deprivation and severe stranger anxiety, and am pleased to say she has moved miles this month!! Oh I wish you could see her crawling and cruising around the room. She plays independently for a good portion of the day and rarely cries! Finally she is going down for 2 naps easily and bedtime is 1000 times easier than in the past. I'd like for her to sleep past 5am (since she goes to bed at 7), but I'll take what I can get! I think she's used to going to mass with me and although she still wants to talk and play, she has shown a great improvement in her patience. Emily still eats like a champ, eating everything I put in front of her--all vegetables, fruits, meats, beans, breads and pastas. I tested her dairy allergy yesterday with a pinch of cheese and she still got hives, so we'll continue to wait. I've begun to wean her (those top teeth are vicious) and she likes the soymilk and is learning how to drink out of a sippy cup. The cloth diapers are still easy and are better for her diaper area than before. We have a pedi appt on Friday to see if the medication is helping her condition, and we may do an ultrasound as well. Keep our little trooper in your prayers:)
I realized that I never really talk about myself, and so I thought I'd take this chance to update on what I've been up to. Besides taking care of Emily all day everyday by myself, I've been working on my faith life. I enjoy reading about saints' lives and am strengthening my devotion to Mary. When I was having a hard time with Emily in the hospital and when she was such a high need baby, I was able to put my life in perspective with remembering the seven sorrows of Mary. To keep the faith during hardship is nothing but an extreme necessity for us all. I also spend a lot of time reading about strenghening my marriage and family in the Catholic faith. It's tough having just a few hours to spend together as a family a week, and even tougher on a marriage if you never see each other! We know that full time school and work are what allow me to stay home with Emily, and it's worth it. I also spend my time doing marriage counseling and teaching about Natural Family Planning. This weekend we're starting up our pro-life involvement with the life chain and 40 days for life vigil in front of the abortion clinics. Of course for fun I recently taught myself how to knit and sometime soon my cousin will be teaching me how to make bread from scratch.