Ice Cream Therapy

Is it me, or is being left at school past closing time sort of a right of passage?

Allow me to explain.

When I was 10-years-old, I rode the bus home from school. Unless my dad was picking me up to spend the weekend at his house. On those Friday afternoons, I would get out of school and wait for him on the steps of our elementary school. Not having an iPod, Kindle, cell phone or electronic device of any kind, I simply waited.

One particular afternoon, I waited, and waited, and waited. Now there is such a thing my sisters and I refer to as "John McNamara time" so my dad being late wasn't completely out of the ordinary, but being an hour or two late was new.

Meanwhile, my dad was waiting for me to get off the bus at my mom's house. And waiting. And waiting. So there was a miscommunication at some point, but neither of us knew it then.

My 10-year-old brain had no idea what time it was when the janitor/last employee to leave the building emerged from the school and said he was headed home. This kind man also happened to be a neighbor of my mom's and said he would give me a ride home.

(Pause to reflect how different times are now then they were then. This story wouldn't exist if for a couple of cell phones. And the fact that I was able to pass the time without any electronics -- go 10-year-old me!)

I knew my mom and stepdad wouldn't be home when the janitor, whose name was Mr. Pike, and I arrived, but I thought maybe my brother would be. No such luck. Taking pity on me and not wanting to leave a 5th grader home alone, Mr. Pike invited me to his house for dinner. I left a note on the door letting whoever got home first to come get me at the Pikes' house and away we went.

Here's where I need to explain that I was a picky eater as a kid. Super picky. Plain cheese pizza kinda picky. And if there were two things in this world that I didn't like, they were meatloaf and creamed corn. (Just so you know, meatloaf is on my love list now, but creamed corn -- still a no go.) All that to say, guess what was for dinner at Mr. Pike's house that night? You guessed it, Nicole's least favorite foods.

My parents must have instilled enough manners in me that I choked that meal down with all my might. I then proceeded to introduce the Pikes, whose children were long grown and gone, to TGIF! We were having a great time when my brother finally showed up to pick me up.

When I got home, I listened to our answering machine and my dad's voicemails about what had happened. My mom and stepdad arrived soon after and I relayed the story to them. My mom was so impressed I ate creamed corn that she didn't even realize that someday I might need therapy for feeling abandoned.

Fast forward 22 years to Friday, Feb. 20. Rob and I planned to meet up at a local fish fry for dinner with the kids. Just as I hopped in my car to leave for work, my friend (who will remain nameless) called to catch up. Lost in our conversation, I missed my turn for the fish fry twice before I finally parked and we ended our conversation. I strolled into the fish fry and spotted Rob holding Gabby. Ah, time for some overpriced fish and a cold glass of brew, I thought.

"Wait, where's Faith?" I asked him.
He was looking behind me.
"Where's Faith?" he asked.


It was my fault. I was supposed to get her. The phone call. My poor driving skills. My overloaded brain from my first week at a new job. I completely forgot to pick her up.

We looked at the time. It was exactly 5:30 p.m., which is exactly what time preschool closes. Rob made a frantic call and said we were on our way. I told him not to throw me under the bus and use the word "miscommunication" several time once he got there. I took Gabby and we went to get food from Culver's fish fry.

I called my nameless friend on the way and told her she was obligated to pay for my daughter's therapy later in life. We laughed and hung up, and I immediately felt the mom guilt that comes with forgetting your kid. I was hoping Faith wouldn't remember this for year's to come when Rob sent me this (after he sent me a much-needed reminder to pick up my Redbox movie).

Rob said she had a short pity party about being the "last kid" but was smiling soon after!

Let's see here. A lifetime of therapy or a $3 concrete from Culver's? Done and done.

Gabby and I may have had a few bites on the way home. Why do you think they make those spoons so long…to reach the backseat! Truth be told, I've missed the turn for Gabby's school a few times and headed home on accident, only to turn around and make it to her daycare in plenty of time to pick her up. In essence, lil sis earned it too.

It was definitely a Friday to remember…or hopefully in Faith's case, forget.

Life as a Lindquist…on a Budget (a semi-resolution)

Money money money moneeeey…mon - nay!

I wish I loved talking about finances as much as I loved that song. But because I don't, Mr. Lindquist and I have never been "on a budget." Granted, we've followed a few staple rules:

-Don't spend more than you make.
-Pay off credit cards each month.
-And order water at restaurants.

OK, that last one might not be a game-changer, but I digress.

One thing we couldn't avoid was student loans. I am grateful I don't have a single one. Shout out to my parental units for helping me get my career started debt-free and for UNMC paying for the majority of my almost master's degree. However, Rob has racked up his fair share during undergrad and obtaining his teaching certificate.

Quick side note: I read my first financial book five years ago, mostly because my dad bribed my sisters and I with a quiz at the end that would yield cold cash the more answers we got right. It was extremely eye opening except for the chapter in which he argues against taking on college loans. Apply for scholarships, work during college or don't go if you can't pay for it, were all his words of wisdom. I couldn't disagree more. Even with scholarships and a job, it's almost impossible to "pay as you go" on your own with the price of tuition these days. I am really proud of my husband for earning his degrees despite the fact he had to take on the debt that came with it. It's made him who he is today and resulted in one of the best fitting careers for him. My going to college wasn't brave or noble. It was just what was expected. He is the one who took on the financial burden with the belief that it would pay off someday. He'd probably want me to stop talking about it at this point, so I will.

Anyway, I read another book a year or so ago (are you sensing a theme here? books are BAD NEWS!) and it was all about the "an experimental mutiny against excess." More on that here if you're interested. This book in combination with that damn Dave Ramsey book got me thinking: I'd really like to pay off those student loans. Completely. In a year or two. And not string them out until it's our daughters' turn to go to college.

This thought became an idea: 2015: THE YEAR OF NO SPENDING.

Enter Rob, worried about his golf game and Starbucks addiction.

I've spent the last month "crunching the numbers." Turns out, I prefer popcorn, but that's neither here nor there.

It also turns out we spend wayyyyyyyyy wayyyy way way way too much money on food. And shopping. at Target. While sipping Starbucks.

In our defense, other than the student loans, we have no other debt (save for our house and an interest-free couch from Nebraska Furniture Mart in our basement right now.) Coupled with the fact we have two daughters in daycare/preschool, are paying for Rob's masters as we go and finished our basement last year, this is actually quite a miracle in our eyes. And even though some of that financial burden will be lifted when Faith goes to kindergarten in the fall, Rob graduates this summer and the knowledge that we're not taking on any home reno projects anytime soon, I am still sick of those loans and want them gone! 

I should mention the total amount is somewhere around our ages followed by a few zeros. The ultimate goal is to pay them off completely in 2015. That would be awesome, but I would take half if unforeseen circumstances arise. We'll see how it goes. I will update as we go with more info and tidbits, but for now you get this.

15 resolutions/action steps we are taking pay off student loans in 2015.

1. Say NO! A lot. Especially to the voices inside our heads telling us we "need" things...

2. Within reason. We're not going to stop eating out all together or never shop at all. We still need to feed our family and clothe our growing children, so don't worry that we're taking away their birthdays and eating rice and beans for a year. The crunchy numbers are just being trimmed back in all categories.

3. Stores on the banned list for me: Kohl's, Hobby Lobby and Metro Crossing in general.

3.5 Stores on the banned list for Rob: Home Depot, Menards and comic book stores in general.

4. No more automatically reloading money onto the Starbucks app. The amount of money we spent on coffee last year would make grown men ugly cry, especially Dave Ramsey. That was with an inordinate amount of gift cards Rob received for his birthday, Christmas, and Father's Day. No more! *Rob editing here… maybe just a few Starbucks...

5. Grocery shopping smartly. I throw anything and everything in the cart. Oh, there's cheese that tastes like chocolate now? Must have! The Costco worker has a sample? I don't want to hurt his feelings by not purchasing the item I tried. Basically, I never look at the prices. It's time to start.

6. Two Target Trips per month with a $100 limit each time. This shouldn't be considered cutting back, but sadly for us it is. We are making a list and sticking to it. Avoiding the clothing, books and home improvement sections should help with our impulse buys.

7. Things we're giving up: big shopping trips, golf trips (sorry, dear) and other pricey getaways. Yeah, it sucks, but it's only for one year.

8. Things we're not giving up: our Iowa State football tickets, our zoo membership, and running races. So don't feel too sorry for us. Also, unlimited Redbox :)

9. We're also keeping cable and internet, but cutting back on both. Thanks to Rob's negotiation skills, we'll be saving close to $50 a month!

10. Though we'll still have to eat out occasionally, we aren't going to do it for lunch. We will grocery shop for quick lunch ideas and if we forget to pack one on a certain day, have a stash of snacks to get us through.

11. We're also getting allowances :) That way if Rob goes into caffeine-free shock, he can splurge on Starbucks. *Rob again… whew! Or if everyone if my office orders Indian food, I don't have to stifle the sobs coming from my cubicle. The jury is still out on how much we're going to pay ourselves for our chores.

12. Birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions won't go unrecognized, but experiences will be worth more than gifts.

13. We'll create a wish list for everything we want to buy all year long but can't and see if we still even want most of it at the end of the year. If we do, Christmas ideas will be very specific.

14. We are going to make one of those monetary charts, and fill in the amounts we pay toward loans every month, with help from our lovely assistants who love to color of course.

15. We are going to fail at certain points, fight during others, but mostly we're gonna try our best! And at the end of the day, at this time next year, instead of putting money toward an education that's already been earned, we'll be able to put more toward those of two that have yet to be. 

Wish us luck! 

Holiday Bucket Lists: The Untold Story

It's that time of year again, when we make our holiday lists and check them twice:

Yeah, right. Allow me to share with you what a holiday bucket/to do list looks like in real life.

1. Pinterest version: Visit Santa.

Real life Lindquist version: Force your "mama's girl" to sit on a stranger's lap.

2. Pinterest version: Decorate your tree with hand-made ornaments.

Real life Lindquist version: Scream hysterically when the Christmas tree falls on your young daughters and probably scars them (and you) for life.

3. Pinterest version: Remember this year forever with holiday portraits.

Real life Lindquist version: Push your luck partaking in an unwanted photoshoot with kids under the age of 5.

4. Pinterest version: Bring home the bargains on Black Friday.

Real life Lindquist version: Have your joy zapped by a retail worker who is pissed that your Christmas shopping is standing between her and a 10 minute lunch break.

5. Pinterest version: Sip hot cocoa by the fireplace.

Real life Lindquist version: Gain all your holiday weight in one sitting.

6. Pinterest version: String up lights to make the neighborhood glow.

Real life Lindquist version: Laugh/cry when your husband tells you to check back in a half hour to see if he's fallen off the roof.

7. Pinterest version: Attend an ugly sweater party.

Real life Lindquist version: Allow your husband to wear something you treasured in the 5th grade all in the name of winning a contest at work.

8. . Pinterest version: Make a gingerbread house.

Real life Lindquist version: Throw away the gingerbread house craft that's too ugly even for a mother to love.

9. Pinterest version: Involve family pets in your Christmas celebrations.

Real life Lindquist version: Torture your dog with jingly bells.

10. Pinterest version: Read Christmas letters from family and friends.

Real life Lindquist version: Become saddened by the realization the people whose last names end in S haven't read this chart:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years from the Lindquistes' :)

What's on your holiday bucket list?