33 Years and 33 Months

When I turned my lucky number 33 in September, I thought "this is the year I": finish my thesis, workout 6 days a week, maintain a spotless house, read more books, write one book and maybe even solve world peace in between binge watching Parks and Recreation (love you, Amy Poehler) and now Fuller House (damn you, Mary Kate and Ashley). Anyway, age 33 is half over and here I am, with none of the above accomplished save for the Netflix episodes. Coincidentally, my precious 2 almost 3-year-old just turned 33 months and it got me thinking how I view myself and how she views herself, which I'll tie together at the end. Until I reach my point, here are the similarities and differences between 33 months and 33 years old.

At 33 months, Gabrielle Grace struggles to wake up each and every morning. This little night owl sings herself to sleep each night for at least a half an hour, hence why she assumes the form of a teenage boy at 7:30 a.m. the next day. At 33 years old, I'm an early bird whose friends are worried if I'm awake past 9:30 p.m.


At 33 months, Gabby refuses to wear "wiggly pants" which is anything but snug leggings. At 33 years old, I wish it was acceptable for me to wear wiggly pants to work.

At 33 months old, she still can't spit out her toothpaste, so I brush her teeth and she swallows most of it. She wants to use the floss sticks even though most of her teeth don't even touch. At 33 years old, I'm so over flossing, except for the night before my dentist appointment.

At 33 months, she squeals with delight every time we see a school bus on the way to preschool and longs to ride one again after her last field trip. At 33 years old, no thank you.

At 33 months, she wants to hold my hand as I walk/she hops into her classroom each day. At 33 years old, I hope this never ever ends and think I should start holding my own mom's hand again.


At 33 months old, her thick and beautiful, long blonde locks are the envy of most grown women. At 33 years old, my stray grays are just not that cute.



At 33 months old, she can and will bust a move in the toy aisles at Target. At 33 years old, I embarrass my husband when I try the same thing.


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At 33 months old, Gabs doesn't like scary movies and covers her eyes if a suspenseful part comes on. At 33 years old, I do the same thing. We also ask a similar number of questions during feature-length films (Who is dat? Why? What's gonna happen? Huh?)



At 33 months old, she wants to wear her swimsuit (or birthday suit) around the house at all times. At 33 years old, oh hell no.



At 33 months old, she cries easily. The other night when she finished having her moment she said. "Look mom, no more tears are coming out!" At 33 years old, I have the same leaky eye problem.

At 33 months old, she hates having her hair combed and cries before I even touch her head with the pik. At 33 years old, I would pay someone to brush my hair for five minutes.


At 33 months old, she loves hide and go seek, though she hides in the same spot 90% of the time (behind the curtains). At 33 years old, I still find this game fun.

At 33 months old, she and her sister are both suckers for the Funny Face at Village Inn. At 33 years old, I would never even think of stealing any of their pancakes!



At 33 months old, she cannot wait for her birthday party and the "jumping castle" that will go along with it. At 33 years old, I will take advantage of the jumping castle when everyone goes to bed.

At 33 months old, she love finding Easter eggs, but thinks my hiding spots are lame. I tried to take it easy on her, but she proclaimed, "Mom, you forgot to hide this one!" At 33 years old, I find it's even more fun to be the hider!



At 33 months old, she is super into any and all mascots. At 33 years old, I'm pretty partial to Cy.



At 33 months old, she loves me to tell the story about how she peed on me right after she was born. At 33 years old, a good urinary mishap is still surprisingly funny.



At 33 months old, she can sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game." At 33 years old, her dad has brainwashed me to say "Cubbies" instead of "Home Team" too.



At 33 months old, she's a major mommy's girl. At 33 years old, so am I!


At 33 months old, she may have said the F word already. It was my fault I asked her to rhyme something with the word "truck." Duh moment. At 33 years old, I plead the fifth on my use of this word.

At 33 months old, she has an unmatched sense of adventure. At 33 years old, I'm done with that. You can find me holding everyone's belongings at the exit of the roller coaster.



And finally, even though at 33 years old I still think I should be doing or have done so much more with my time, it's a 33 month old that teaches me that motherhood is an everyday accomplishment in and of itself. The other day I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. In the video below you can see her think about it for a brief moment and then say with complete certainty: a mom.

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It was a lightbulb for me that what I'm doing here is already enough. I don't need to have a book under my name, a master's degree, a clean house, a killer body or ANYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD to feel successful. I'm not saying it's not important to challenge yourself (and eventually finish that damn thesis for the love of all things holy), but I am saying that it's important to recognize that because certain things aren't checked off your to do list doesn't mean you're a failure. It means that you're busy being a mom. And that's really all children want us to be.


Faith's First Sleepover

I don't care if it's a tooth, a word or a step. There's simply nothing like a "first" milestone to force the reality that your once tiny baby is a full on kid.
For me, the 5-year-old's first sleepover was just that. I thought I had more time before she requested to spend a night away from home, other than with relatives. I'm pretty sure I was at least six years old before Sara, a blonde girl in my first grade class, asked if I wanted to have a slumber party at her house. I'm sure I had fun, but the only thing I remember is not being able to fall asleep because I missed my mom so badly. I distinctly recall lying there in my sleeping bag in Sara's living room, the hall light on so it wasn't pitch dark, and the unmistakeable ache to go home to my mom. Now I may have been a mommy's girl, but I did have a little pride. I kept my mouth shut and eventually fell asleep. The next morning I woke up and realized it wasn't so bad after all. Sleepover success.
So when Faith and her friend Brynn, who lives just down the street from us, cooked up a plan to have a sleepover at her house, I made sure to tell Faith it was OK to miss me and that if she wanted to come home in the middle of the night that would be just fine. I envisioned the call and me showing up .2 seconds later like Batman on the doorstep.
Now you might think this was planting a seed of doubt in her mind. I worried that too, until she looked me in the eye and gave me the 5-year-old equivalent of "there there." She may have patted my head as well.
But talking a big sleepover game and walking one are two different things. I wondered if I might still be receiving a batphone call in the wee hours of the morning. Until I started receiving texts from Brynn's mom, Carrie. First, this picture:

Now does that look like the face of a girl who is distraught from missing her mom? No, no it does not. Which made me happy. And a little sad. Faith is now identifying with her peers more and more. It was bound to happen and I'm glad it has, but sometimes there's no reasoning with a mom heart. Just as I was thinking it was nice not to have to listen to the other end of the karaoke machine, I got another text.


And in case you thought I was the only one "dealing" with my daughter's first sleepover, Mr. Overprotective chimed in.


She had her friend's mom check her breath for freshness! Dear lord! We started doing this at home because we felt she might be half assing her toothbrushing when we weren't looking. It was not something I expected her to ask of a non family member at a sleepover. But the more I thought about it, it makes complete sense, as does her request to read books at 7:45 and go to bed. We expose our children to routines and rituals at home and then send them out into the world where all they have is what they know from experience. As parents, we give them the base and they take it and apply it (sometimes a little too perfectly) to life as they go. I find myself learning to trust her and the parenting job we've done (and are doing) more and more as I have less and less control over her interactions every day. It's not easy, but it's times like this when I realize she is listening, she is getting it and she does understand that fresh breath is important. But we must talk about who is on the list for the checks. Thanks for taking one for the Lindquist team, Carrie! I suppose it's my turn next.



A Budget Update

A year ago, I strayed from my usual resolutions and instead wrote 15 ways we planned to save money and pay off ALL $34,000 ish of student loan debt in 2015. 

Well, I hate to be Sally Sadness (Debbie Downer's cousin) but we did not "do the damn thing."

HOWEVER, I will note that we kind of rocked it. We are officially down to approximately $18,000 ish left to go and plan to bring that number down to zero by the end of 2016. Fingers crossed.

In my 2015 resolutions, I discussed how this debt was unavoidable for my husband and thus me when I married him. I stand by that, as his education has changed his life in more ways than one. He officially went from Mister Lindquist to Master Lindquist last month.


And since I can't help myself (that and I haven't taken the time to come up with 16 non-budget related resolutions for this year) I'm going to make a list of 16 things we did right and wrong in 2015 as well as things we will and will not do in 2016 to finish the job. Enjoy the 16 random photo from my phone. Here goes.

WHAT WE DID RIGHT

1) We said NO! To vacations, girls trips, guys trips (single tear for Rob) and to things with price tags big and small. I'll never forget the first basketball game we went to right after the new year. We sat there staring longingly at the beers and food being consumed by the people around us. While trying at the time, just that instance along was an extra $20 dollars in our pockets....$25 if you count the ice cream I ordered in my head.


2) Stopped shopping. This included staying away from the stores on my banned list, Kohl's and Hobby Lobby. (OK, ya got me, I went to Hobby Lobby twice, but it was for specific projects!) and online shopping in its entirety except for select purchases. If you don't walk in (or log on), you can't spend money. Rob also did well with reducing his Starbucks habit (well, the majority of the year -- he fell off the wagon when he went back to school in September). Here's to his newfound Starbriety in 2016.


3) Got raises. Not exactly something everyone can take action on per say, but I said yes to a career move that while more work, meant a boost to the bank account that has gone directly to this fund. And Rob got a raise with the completion of that master's I mentioned above. I realize this doesn't seem as doable as cutting back, but attacking debt at both ends is a good strategy if you can do it.


4) Put our home on pause. Nothing got an upgrade this year except for our laundry room which we painted with leftover pain and built a bench out of a wood scraps that we already owned. My apologies to our neighbors who had to endure our complete lack of any landscaping whatsoever. One thing that helped this process was keeping a list of things we want to do when we're finished with the loan payments. I'm looking at you Master Bath!


WHAT WE DID WRONG

5) Brainwashed by the Bullseye. My plan to limit our Target trips two $200 per month failed in spectacular fashion. For two reasons: #1) We suck at impulse buys (OK, it's me and my love of reading real live paper books) and #2) We get invited to more birthday parties than a clown. My advice for spending less at this Godforsaken shopping Disneyworld would be limiting trips to once a month.


6) Lack of meal prepping and planning. I'm the first to admit, this is not one of my strengths. So when Rob asks what's for dinner, I think of what I am hungry for, realize we didn't have any of the ingredients to make it and then send him to the grocery store. See chicken casserole nightmare here. While there is a ton of potential for us to do better in this category, the chances we will are slim.


7) Too much action, not enough talk. Everyone has highs and lows when trying to save money and the commitment to the process ebbs and flows. Some days ya just feel like a splurge. I think we could have done a better job of continuing to talk about our goals, both weekly and monthly, to remember why we were doing this. That way we would have been more accountable when we walk by Starbucks (cough, cough) or the scarf section of any store, like, say, a gas station. Instead we spent and refrained from spending based on how we were feeling individually. Your bank account partna is the best one to keep you in check, no pun intended.


8) Forgetting friends and family. These are the people we know and love who want to spend time with us. Of course they do, we are fun people, sometimes even when we're not drinking. But since these other people weren't on budgets, they'd want to do dinner out, or see a movie, or go to Mexico to eat dinner and watch a movie when the truth is we're doing our damndest to resist those temptations and it's hard enough without invites. Loop in your loved ones so they can support you.


GOING FORWARD - WHAT WE WILL DO

9) Fill it up! We never made a chart to fill in any of the $16k + we put toward the debt. That makes me sad. I think it will keep us motivated as well as at the top of our minds if we can create this for 2016. I know just the place to put it and the tiny humans to color it in as we go!


10) Continue to choose experiences over gifts. Instead of exchanging presents with my sisters for Christmas, we are all going out to dinner sans children to reminiscence about our youth. I bought my mom tickets to see Cinderella with Faith for her gift (any maybe some respite for myself from a 5-year-old who plans never to nap again). And I'm going to surprise Rob for one of the holidays this year with a race instead of gift. While some might find that gift offensive (here's a 5K, go run!) he will love it!


11) Coupon it up. I'm not ready to bring a binder to Hy-Vee, but I would like to get back to cutting out deals on things we already purchase like I did before the girls were born. And waiting to buy certain foods until they're on sale. I need to learn what a good price per pound is for meats, etc. Maybe my budding mathematician can help me. We may need to take off our socks to count though.


12) Make Rob read the Dave Ramsey book. To be honest, this whole thing was my idea, not his, and I know he struggles with my desire to do this from time to time. The Total Money Makeover was my inspiration, and while he cheated on my dad's quiz regarding this book several Christmases ago and won 1st prize, he didn't actually read it. So it's time. (Surprise, dear!)


GOING FORWARD - WHAT WE WON'T DO

13) Forgo fun. These are prime memory making years with our daughters and we don't want to skip out on experiences just to pay off this debt this year.And occasionally we like to go out just the two of us a) to spend time as husband and wife and b) so someone else has to put Gabby-the-singing-night-owl to bed. So this year we plan to go skiing, ride the rides at Adventureland, see Duluth, Minn., go boating, take in a Cubs game and maybe just maybe if it all works out, go to Disneyland in December. Don't tell!


14) Buy new things that don't need replacing. Phones. Kindles. Televisions. Hair styling tools. Cars. Etc. If it ain't broke don't fix it will be our family motto!


15) Worry. I think this past year showed us that if we put our minds to it, we can climb a mountain of debt and end up on the downhill slide. We will be college-debt free while we're still relatively young and therefore won't worry about how long it would have taken us if we didn't do it this way.


16) Forget. The feeling of paying off such a large chunk of change feels good and we want to remember that feeling all year long so that this time next year, we can save it or spend it as we please. I'm sure a venti caramel mocha will be in order!


I would love to hear your tips and tricks for saving more and spending less in the comments. Fire away!