Tuesday, April 29, 2014

We Love Dirt

Someone in our family is cutting teeth, and it's not Reagan. It's ME.

Haha.

Years ago I was told that I didn't have any wisdom teeth. Awesome - wasn't going to complain about that! So imagine my mild surprise a year ago after some x-rays at my current dentist when I heard them say, "Oh, and there are your wisdom teeth getting ready to come through."

Huh? What, did they just materialize out of thin air? I guess so, cause those suckers are pushing their way through right now, and it's annoying. Not only is it making the surrounding teeth ache, it's also giving me an ear ache for good measure. But hey, always looking for the silver lining - now I have an extra special bond with my son. You and me buddy…we're in this thing together.

So, how was your weekend? :) Ours was very laid back, and it was wonderful. The kids spent a lot of time with grandparents, which meant I got to do a little cleaning and we were able to have date night kid-free…woot! Living large.

Our family is praying for all of those who were hit with bad weather over the last couple of days. I know there were families who lost their homes and/or loved ones, and we pray peace and comfort for them and strength to rebuild. I can't even imagine. Thankfully our area stayed safe and sound for the most part. In fact, the weather was gorgeous here yesterday.

It was so lovely, we decided to put the kids to work outside! :)

First, I tried to take a picture of the kids to send to Eric before Evie went to school. They were all wearing their shirts from our trip to The Hermitage, and it would have been a proud nerd dad moment. :) Unfortunately, this was the best shot I got, so you can imagine how the others went, haha.

When Evelyn got home from school Grandma Joan came over to help the girls plant some flowers in our bed of weeds outside the front door. :) 



Bless her. I don't have time for this stuff, and Grandma always tries to help us beautify our little walkway in the spring. It was looking pretty awful. A hangout for dandelions and other weedy rabble. It's looking much better today!

All three of the kiddos enjoyed playing in the dirt, and the girls discovered a new love of wiggly worms. Grace especially liked picking them up and playing with them…and trying to get them to stick to mommy's shirt, haha. She is a little tomboy. :)



They even made a dirt cup to house some new worm pets. Which eventually got knocked over. And now I don't have worms hanging out on my kitchen counter, so I can't say I'm all that sad about that. :)

After most of the weeds were pulled the girls took turns digging holes and plopping in some much nicer looking flowers, with Grandma Joan's help of course!



It was a fun way for the kids to spend a warm Spring afternoon. Thanks to their grandma for helping our poor place out and spending time with the kiddos!

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down, and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil - that is the gift of God. Ecclesiates 3: 1-4; 11-13
Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Our Trip to The Dave Ramsey Show!

I am very pleased to say that the Robert family survived our very first road trip - at least our first trip with all three kids in tow! We made it to Nashville and back last Thursday and Friday all in one piece. We were there for one main purpose: to be interviewed on Dave Ramsey's radio program and scream, "We're debt freeee!!!" Thankfully everyone traveled fairly well without too many rounds of "Are we there yet?" We knew there would be potty breaks once an hour and that meant it would take us twice as long to get there, but it wasn't terrible. However…talk to us about how much we're looking forward to quadrupling that distance for our Disney trip in four months. It's gonna be interesting. :)

Speaking of potty breaks…my children became very familiar with the strange and mysterious phenomena of public restrooms on this trip. Some left particularly strong impressions with the girls, and if you ask them about the trip they will tell you all about it. On our way home as we passed some stops we made on the way there, Evelyn would yell at the cars passing by and warn them, "Do NOT eat at that Pizza Hut! The bathroom is DIS-GUST-ING!" Haha.

Anyway, it seems that I ended up taking a lot more video of our journey than pictures. My hope is to post a vlog of our experience eventually. (We've sent our other computer off to be repaired, so hopefully within a couple of weeks.) So I'll fast-forward past all of the extra first day stuff and just get to That Day. <- Obviously an important day in our lives. :)


It was Good Friday, and the kids were bouncing off the walls after spending the night in a hotel - which was like, the best thing in the world according to our children. Never mind that when we checked in we did not get our request for two beds and instead got one king size for us all to enjoy. We should have known then our old pal Murphy, the one who always dropped in for visits during our debt-free journey, decided to stowaway in the car for this trip. Dun dun dun….

:)

Thankfully our room also came with a pullout couch, and one of the children actually made it all the way through the night on that thing. Thank you, Gracie.

Our biggest challenge for the day was this: We had to be all dressed and ready to go and check out of our hotel by 10:00am. Our interview for The Dave Ramsey Show wasn't scheduled until 3:00pm. We had five hours to kill and lunch to eat before it was go-time. Neither Eric nor I knew how in the world we were going to keep our clothing or our sanity intact for the better part of the day. Truth is, I kept blocking that part of the trip out of my mind until we had to come face to face with it. What the heck were we gonna do with ourselves?

We decided to mull it over some coffee at the nearest Dunkin Donuts. As we were driving through town that morning, we just happened to come across our eventual destination for the day, Financial Peace Plaza, the home of The Dave Ramsey Show. Friends on facebook already know that we got a little sneak preview of our day just then. :)

We were at a stop light just in front of the building when we saw Dave's tour bus with the doors wide open right in front of us. Tucked away beside the bus was a bright red Stingray Corvette that could have only belonged to Mr. Ramsey himself. We were freaking out that we were just feet away from Dave Ramsey's car, haha. And then, just as our light turned green we see the corvette door open and out steps a baseball capped Dave Ramsey, acting all nonchalant, like he's not Dave Ramsey or something. :) Pretty sure we stopped traffic for a few seconds. We laughed and laughed about the impeccable timing of it all.

It's now about 10:30 or so, and we finally have to decide where we're going to go. For weeks before the trip Eric had been bugging me to go to The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson's home. I knew it was a bad idea. Last year when we visited Lincoln's home we said over and over "I'm really glad we didn't bring the girls here. It would have been super stressful." I mean, they don't want people touching stuff that's hundreds of years old. I didn't need the extra stress on this particular day.

But Eric. I love him. I knew how badly he wanted to go. He was still begging me about it…and really, what else was there to do? So against my better judgement I said, "Okay, let's go."

To be fair, it wasn't an awful experience. Except when Evelyn tried picking flowers on the estate, and succeeded, I might add, right in front of an employee…and when Reagan screamed bloody murder unless he was allowed to throw rocks in the gardens…and the massive amounts of dust on the walking trails - yay for clean clothes! Haha. I kept shooting Eric "I told you so" looks at every turn and he just smiled innocently back.



Enjoying The Hermitage. Unfortunately, Eric realized as we were walking around in the lovely Spring air that he had forgotten to bring his allergy medicine with him. Haha. An emergency stop to Walgreens was in order so he wouldn't sound like his nose was plugged on the radio. :)


We survived it…a little dusty and frumpled and slightly frazzled from chasing three kids around a historic sight all morning. But we made it back to the car and went in search of the least messy lunch we could think of. We decided that sub sandwiches were probably our best option. No grease, no ketchup…we'd be good to go. Unfortunately I wouldn't allow myself to eat more than a few bites, because I knew it would upset my stomach. So far I hadn't even had a moment to be nervous about the interview, because we were so busy corralling kids. Suddenly I could hear a clock ticking in my head, and I knew we were getting closer.

We were told to arrive at the studio at least 45 minutes before our time, and that we could be there any time before that if we wanted. So when we saw it was about 2:00pm, we thought we had timed things out just perfectly. We pulled into Financial Peace Plaza, got the kids out of the car, walked up the steps just outside of the studio, and shuffled into the main waiting room. Another couple had just done their debt free scream, and you could see the look of relief on their faces as they were standing there. :) We were able to chat with them for a few minutes and congratulate each other. Everyone in the studio that day was so sweet and supportive - many having a camaraderie of having completed the same journey.

Soon we were approached by some staff, and that's when Mr. Murphy showed up again. As if we weren't already tired from keeping our kids well-behaved all day, we were immediately asked, "Are you here for the 3:30 interview?"

Say what? 3:30? Cause….we were told 3:00. *Face palm.*

I don't know if we were given wrong information or if things just got shuffled around or what, but the point is, we now had to keep our children acting civilized in a radio studio for an hour and a half before  going on the air. It was not an easy feat. They were already DONE with behaving for the day, haha.

Fast-forward about an hour. The time is getting very close now and we're being given instructions about what is going to happen and all of that stuff. The children were, understandably, restless. So with 20 minutes to go, we decided to take the kids outside for some fresh air. Within minutes Reagan trips on the concrete, face plants right into the ground, and ends up with literally the biggest goose egg I have EVER seen right in the middle of his forehead. He was hysterical, and of course we're freaking out. We run back inside in search of some ice and to calm our upset kiddo.

We now have 10 minutes to go. Reagan is resting on my shoulder and suddenly he decides to pop up, grab the brand new necklace I was wearing and rip it right off of my neck. The little stinker broke it right before we were going on, so I hurried and threw it in the camera case as our kids were being handed off to other people and we were getting miked up.

All of the events leading up to this moment, all of the little things that added all up all day, were just crazy. It was an extremely crazy day. There is just no better way to describe it. From a long day of travel the day before to the events of the day, we were literally running on exhilarated exhaustion.

Now one thing to note about Dave Ramsey's studio is that it is always open to the public during operating hours. Anyone from off the street can walk right in and sit down to watch the show being broadcast. This means that not only are there cameras and the realization that your voice is being broadcast to millions of people on a nationally syndicated radio show, but there is also a bit of a live audience as well. No pressure. :)

Finally, it was time. In our ears the producers were counting down, before us directors were cuing the audience, and a few feet away, behind the glass, was our interviewer starting the segment.


There are so many things you want to say in just a short amount of time. There's years of stories to tell and struggles to share and tips to give. But the reality is that you only have a few minutes to spit out answers that are meant to be "brief and to the point." In hind site you think of a million things you wish you would have said, but in the moment you say all you can. It's live and there's no going back and you just hope that you don't say something really dumb. Eric has quite a bit of experience with all of this in his many years of working for a radio station, but I sure don't. :)


I cannot even tell you the relief I felt as they brought our babies back to us in preparation to do the debt free scream. At that point the hard part was over and we were able to just have our moment as a family declaring our freedom. I can't tell you how many times I've watched the end of our video. I skip the interview and just watch that scream. And I watch Evelyn's little face glowing and the cute little wave she gives, which she later told me was to her "babysitters" that were watching the kids during the interview. :)

That moment made everything so worth it. The stress just melted away. Aside from a souvenir goose egg, everything that had been so crazy earlier seemed hilarious now. What were we thinking bringing these kids along?? Haha. We were thinking we wanted to share that one moment all together. And…I'm really glad we did.



Some of our best memories of that day weren't part of the actual interview. Not only were we interviewed by Dave Ramsey, but we got the opportunity to talk with him more than once. He gets a lot of flack sometimes because of his blunt attitude and answers when people come to him for advice. He really doesn't sugar coat anything, which quite honestly, is one reason we like him so much. In fact, we think it's pretty funny. :) And there are some people, even some "christian" people who have tried to drag his name through the mud by saying he preaches a "prosperity gospel." I don't think Dave Ramsey is an un-flawed human being. I do not worship at the altar of Dave Ramsey. But I do know that those people don't know what they are talking about.


He was super kind to us and asked and answered all of the usual types of questions when you first meet someone. Eric and I both agreed that it felt so normal to meet him and talk with him. We have sat through enough of his classes and listened to his podcasts for so many years that it truly felt as if we already knew him. He also shared a bit of his heart with us in those brief moments that we were able to talk with him. Even Dave Ramsey has feelings, and even he is hurt when people spread false things about him and his motives. I was actually quite surprised by his honesty and openness with us. And he thanked us numerous times for teaching Financial Peace University classes. Just a really sincere guy.

Eric was so impressed that Dave took the commercial time he had between segments to come out and greet people in the lobby. Typically a radio show host uses that time to regroup and prepare for the next segment, but he was out there almost every time. We thought we had seen the last of him as we packed up our things and were getting ready to leave the studio, when from out of the corner of my eye I see Dave jogging out from behind the glass doors and making a bee-line for my husband. :)

"I'm not supposed to be out here," he said, "But I wanted you to have this."

He quickly signed the pages of a book that he handed over, and I was shocked when I saw what it was. It was a brand-spanking new copy of "Smart Money, Smart Kids" that he co-wrote with his daughter Rachel, and which hadn't even been released yet. (It just came out yesterday.) We were literally one of the first people anywhere to get our hands on that book. It. Was. Awesome. :D

"Thanks again for teaching the classes!"

And with that, he was off.

What an amazing, whirlwind experience!

We had seen and done so much in just a little over 24 hours. We were leaving Nashville just a couple of hours later than we had left home the day before. I'm so glad we did the show as a way to commemorate the end of this chapter of life.

Signing the wall at Financial Peace Plaza.

I have had several people message me in the last few days asking for advice on how to get started on the road to being debt free, and I direct anyone to start with the book, "The Total Money Makeover" by Dave Ramsey. It's everything he teaches in a nutshell and is a great way to get started. If you are ever able to go through Financial Peace University - DO IT. Do it do it do it. Reading the book is one thing, but the classes are so valuable. And the accountability and stories from people going through with you will keep you motivated. We have gone through and led the classes three times, and it was valuable to us each and every time.

Eric has even generously agreed to teach the class AGAIN for a fourth time if there is enough interest. That is a huge commitment for him, as the class is several months long, meeting once a week for two hours a class. But I know he has a heart for helping people in this area, and he's serious about doing it if any of our friends could benefit from it. FPU not only covers dumping debt, but also insurance, investing, all that kind of stuff. It would likely take place in the summer months this year, so…if you are interested…let me know! Won't hurt our feelings either way, but hey….maybe someday you can do a debt free scream at Dave Ramsey's studio, too! We would definitely be cheering you on. :)

Thank you for all of the wonderful support and encouragement that we always get from so many of our friends. One of the things I was really hoping to mention on the air, but was not given the opportunity to, was to say how grateful we were and are for our support net of friends and family over the past few years. We didn't do this alone. Ultimately we give glory to God for his provision in our lives. Without his grace we couldn't have done any of this. We thank him for opening doors for Eric, for our health, for the people that have been placed in our lives…without any of those things we wouldn't have been on that radio show last weekend. From the bottom of our hearts we praise our God and we thank our friends and family for always being there. Love!


Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014

We're going to be doing things a little out of order from the weekend, because I'm POOPED. :) Talking about our trip today feels like a mammoth undertaking that my brain cannot handle at the moment, haha. It was a great experience. I am glad we did it. Not everything went according to plan…but most of those things we are already laughing about. Most of those things. ;)

Easter is fresh in my mind, and it's nice and easy to blog about. We had a wonderful day celebrating Jesus' resurrection. It was long day, but a fun day, and it all started with the kids getting their Easter baskets.


I can't show you any pictures of our kids actually getting the baskets, because they ran out in their underoos. Those pictures will remain in our family albums, haha.

We had a giant task of getting everyone bathed, fed, dressed, and ready for church before 9:30am and still have time for our egg hunt. It was crazy, but we did it!




After egg hunts it was time for church. We had a great morning in Sunday School and church services, even if the kids were, once again, a little wiggly. It had already been a full morning and they knew there was more fun ahead. Needless to say, it was hard to sit still. :)

By the time we were leaving church, it was lunchtime, and we made the drive to Eric's uncle Bruce's house to spend the first part of the afternoon with the Robert family. We had delicious bbq here…mmm…there was so much food. It was all good. All of it. Of course, the kids were more worried about playing with cousins!


Reagan was particularly feeling the cousin love. Oh my goodness…he was being so sweet to Tessa, walking up to her and giving her giant hugs. They're only one, so I guess I don't have to burst his bubble and let him know that the cousin thing can't really happen. :) But you should have seen him put the moves on her with a whiffle ball. Well, actually, I can show you!

I present to you, Reagan: The Smooth Operator.

"Okay, guys, check this out."

"There's a cute girl over there. Looks like she could use a whiffle ball."

"I am just the man to help her out."

"No turning back now. Let's do this…."

"For you, my dear."

"Nailed it."

Hehe. His face! He was so proud of himself. :)

The kids spent their time swinging, hammocking, playing hide-and-seek, and of course, more egg hunting….




It was so nice be out in the beautiful weather, but man, it was downright hot in the sun! The boys wanted to change clothes before we went to our next stop, so we made sure to get a family picture before we left. We'll never get a "perfect" family photo, haha, but we'll always try!



Next up was dinner and more Easter fun at my parent's house.

So. My mom had prepared these really nice Easter buckets for all of the kids. They were sitting on a table in the living room in all of their glory while the adults were chatting in the kitchen. Then Grace comes walking in with a sucker in her mouth and I ask, "Where did get that sucker, Gracie?"

We all looked at each other and walked into the living room….

There was Easter grass everywhere. The buckets were demolished. A chocolate bunny box laid open on the floor, but the bunny was MIA.


The little stinkers. Notice John hiding in the background. My mom asked, "Who ate this chocolate bunny??" John came walking up with his face covered in chocolate and holding something behind his back. "It wasn't me!" he said.

Baha.

Needless to say, Reagan was the only one allowed to keep the contents of his bucket for a while. He was the only one who wasn't up to no good. :)


My mama always outdoes herself by cooking up a delicious meal. We had dinner next and the kids went out for their third egg hunt of the day!




Somehow they never get tired of this stuff! :)

After even more playing outside there was dessert, which included, but was not limited to, my mom's annual bunny cake.


Whew. I am exhausted just writing about it. We do it for the kids. And for grandparents. And for memories. And yes, it is all fun. But…ask Eric to take a picture at the end of the day, and this is what you'll get.


Er….Happy Easter?

Haha. It was a great day. What you can't see in all of the pictures is that, in addition to all of the traditional Easter festivities, we absolutely do make sure that our kids know the real meaning of why we celebrate. You know, Christmas is an awesome holiday, too…but without Easter…Christmas would mean nothing. He is risen!! 

I hope that you had a blessed day with the ones that you love, too. I'm going to try my very best to recap our experience at The Dave Ramsey show tomorrow…if…I can get a nap in. :) Have a great day!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ready to Go!

Hi there! Our house is abuzz with excited kids playing and parents running around getting things done. We are leaving for Nashville this afternoon. We'll be picking Evie up from preschool and then we'll be on our way!

I'm posting this today for anyone who may not be friends with me on Facebook. This is a link to the Dave Ramsey show online where you will be able to see our family tomorrow - Friday, April 18 at 3:00pm CST.

If you aren't able to watch tomorrow there will be a Youtube video posted of our interview in about a week or so.


I hope that you'll be able to tune in! I'm not really nervous anymore. :) Just looking forward to having fun and getting a chance for our family to take our first little trip after being debt free!

See you Monday! :)


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Tuesday Weekend Wrap Up!

Well, I'm a day late but what else is new? :) My phone was being dumb yesterday, and I couldn't access half of my pictures from the weekend…lame. I'm still blogging via the trusty white computer that is on it's last leg. There's too much stuff coming up though…we have to get this fixed.

We had a really great weekend and enjoyed the glorious weather that teased us for a couple of days.

On Friday evening we attended the annual Life Network banquet, which was a treat. I tried to sneak a picture of me and my mister on the way there. :D


We feel blessed and honored to support the work of Life Network in our community. It is a wonderful organization that does not judge, but loves…does not push, but counsels…does not charge it's clients, but offers them so much. Over 1500 lives have been spared because of the work done through Life Network since it's inception 20 years ago. Countless other lives that have been changed because of the love they were shown there. Praise God.

On Saturday I packed up all three kids and met my mother-in-law for an afternoon of egg hunting in the park. I'm getting braver at this mom stuff, I'll tell you what! Last year I sent the girls on their merry way without me, haha. :)


Reagan does not believe in lining up with his sisters for a picture.


He'd much rather be the star in front.


What a ham! He got a haircut this weekend, the poor shaggy thing.

By the way, we no longer have straw just hanging out on our front porch in all of it's redneck glory. It was officially spread out on my parent's garden this weekend. :)


Once at the park, Evelyn couldn't wait to see the Easter Bunny.


Gracie, however, was not getting near that rabbit. 


Grace claims that she will not have the same reaction to Mickey Mouse, but…I'll believe it when I see it. She does like Chuck. E. Cheese, though. Not sure what gives there, cause Mr. Cheese is definitely creepier looking than a fuzzy bunny. :)

The kids had a blast running around and playing at the park. The actual egg hunt was a little bit of crazy. Reagan was more interested in throwing his basket around….


Grace did a great job, though!



Evelyn was in a different age category, so I couldn't really see her. There was enough space on my phone for one more picture, so I stuck my phone up in the air and prayed for the best. And…this is what I got.



Haha.

Sunday was an awesome family day. Lots of church time, lots of time outside. We had a delicious dinner out and then another "Managing God's Money" class. I'm really thankful to Eric for leading the class - thank you, dear! I am learning a lot and being really challenged about stewardship…not just in regards to money. But stewardship with my time, my friendships, my talents…it's very eye-opening. 

This week I am trying to focus on getting our house in order, because this weekend is going to be nuts! We are off to Nashville on Thursday, doing our thing there, and then driving home to prepare for Easter Sunday. Many people have been asking us where they will be able to tune in and see us on Friday, and I promise we will post links here and on Facebook when it gets closer. It would just get buried otherwise. :) 

Hope you all are having a great day! If not, I pray that it turns around…if you're breathing, it's not too late to change things for the better! :)

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