Friday, December 30, 2011

#Winning in 2011

I've always said that I never win anything.  It's been mostly true until 2011.  I just want to take a minute to thank the giveaway & contest hostesses.

1 - We won a family photography session & 11x16 portrait from C.S. Photography, Inc. We were nominated and friends from Twitter & Facebook made this happen for us.  Chris & I haven't had formal pictures taken together since we were married, so this was a big deal.  I cannot express how grateful we are to have won this package. A big fat thank you and sloppy kiss to everyone who voted for us.

2 - I won a BBC dvd set, The Rise & Fall of Margaret Thatcher, from All Things Fadra.  Shut up. I'm a history major and Maggie Thatcher is phenomenal. I am super excited about this.  Chris? Not so much. I haven't decided if I am going to make him watch it with me.

3 - I won Best Buy gift cards from The Little Hen House.  Yes, she let me interview her about raising hens and it was hilarious.  Chris has already commandeered these gift cards.  Hopefully, this will make it a little easier for him to watch the docudramas with me.

We did not win anything at the squadron Christmas party.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top 12 Posts of 2011

To close out 2011, I am using one of Mama Kat's prompts to justify listing some of my favorite blog posts.  This is definitely an exercise in self-love.  I hope you enjoy the list & maybe find a post that you haven't seen before.  Feel free to comment on the original post...some of them are quite controversial.

Just a little family shot to make things more interesting


The Dish on Diapers - a one stop shop for information and links regarding our switch to cloth diapering.  I compiled all of the information I wanted when I first began researching cloth diapers into one post.


You & Me, Free to Disagree - I pretty much got tired of people taking my personal parenting decisions as an attack on their different choices. I made my choices because, yes, I DO think they are the best choices. Who the hell decides to do something they don't think is the best choice? I share information, resources, and freely discuss the reasons & facts behind my decisions and I will continue to do so.


Klaw's Birth Story - I finally posted Klaw's birth story on his first birthday. It was definitely a birth I would have...complete with me calling a nurse a bitch. (In my defense, she WAS one!)


Jessica - The mood struck me to write about my friend, Jessica. She was taken from this world all too soon and my heart still grieves her loss.  She was a beautiful soul and everyone who knew her was better for it.


Never Forgotten - For Memorial Day, I wrote about my friend, Chris.  He was killed in Iraq while saving another soldier's life.


Spanking: The Problem or the Solution? - Yep. I tackle one of the big ones. I think it went pretty well.
Feather Hair Extensions - I'm cheating & doing two this month because I REALLY REALLY REALLY wish more people would read this & let the roosters live.


WTH is wrong with my face? - Totally worth looking at my almost anaphylactic face. I'm going to eat shrimp again sometime in the near future. I'll post it if my face swells up again.


10 Tips for Starting a Blog -  If you learn nothing else, turn off CAPTCHA.
Choices NOT Chains: Raising Our Daughters - A blog post set me off on a rant about we raise our daughters.


Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week - I hosted guest posts for Mitochondrial Disease Awareness Week. I hope you'll take a minute to read & share something that is very personal & important to our family.


Run a Marathon, Give Birth, Who Cares? - Yep. I'm ranting again - this time, I was set off by people judging the mom who ran a marathon & gave birth a few hours later.


Stupid Husband Tricks - This is the funniest video I've ever seen.  You can tell.  It was hilarious when I was filming it.


An Open Letter to Santa Claus - Contrary to what you might think, my mother actually found this funny.  A commenter got huffy with me and I quite possibly overreacted.  I wouldn't be me if I didn't overreact every now & again.

Mama’s Losin’ It

1.) The year in blog posts...choose a favorite post from each month of 2011 and share.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Livin' Like No One Else: Endgame

Want to start at the beginning of our Journey to Debt Freedom?

After leaving California, newly in debt AGAIN!  We knew we had to make a final change.  We camped our way across the nation to our temporary home in Rotten Groton, CT, where we lived for 6 months.  Then we made the move to our current duty station in Hampton Roads, VA.

We found a reasonable place to rent in New London, CT in a decent part of town, within walking distance to The Broken Yolk (awesome breakfast spot) and Ocean Beach Park (lame beach that costs too much with terrible sand and cold water).  I was not able to find a job for such a short period of time, so I focused on available jobs down in Virginia.

Dave Ramsey always warns about Murphy's Law when you are in debt and that happened to us big time.  We had been going along fine, even after we purchased my Highlander...and then it happened.

Holly got sick. She went into renal failure, in a rare reaction to a medication* she was taking.  Our vet recognized the signs, and worked quickly to get Holly into Ocean State Veterinary Specialists in Rhode Island so that she could get immediate, around the clock care, which would be the only way she had a chance to pull through and, thankfully, she did

Needless to say, five days at a specialist in another state is not an inexpensive venture.  On top of that, Holly now required IV fluids throughout the day, which I was taught to administer.  Although the animal hospital and a local pharmacy worked with us greatly to get Holly's supplies at cost, this was still a huge part of our monthly expenses.

This care for Holly had to continue as we made way for our move to Virginia.  We decided to buy a house this time since we'd be in the region for at least three years and the housing market was finally in the buyer's favor.  I continued, unsuccessfully, to look for a job.

We finally came to the realization that we absolutely had to get on a written budget if we were going to have to live on one income, care for our four-legged responsibilities, pay off my car, and pay off our new mortgage.  This meant moving back to the "envelope system" and using cash to pay for most of our day to day items, at least until we got our spending back under control.

*The makers of the medication reimbursed us for her medical costs directly related to the renal failure.  Due to a confidentiality agreement, I can not disclose the specific medication.

Almost 2 full years later (and with a 4 month old Klaw) on a written budget that helped us pay double on the car payment, it came time for Chris to receive his annual "bonus" from the Navy. We had planned to put the bulk of it down on the car debt.  When the amount was deposited, I realized we could pay off the remaining care note in its entirety, with enough leftover in our account to cover our budgeted expenses.  Chris was away but available by phone, so I called him immediately to make sure my math wasn't wrong.

In one fell swoop, we were able to pay off our final debt (not including the mortgage) and become debt-free for the second time in our marriage.  However, we made a commitment to each other to not put ourselves in debt again.  This has required patience.  A LOT of patience, a lot of waiting, and a lot of saving in order to buy things we would like to have (like a dining room table that we finally purchased this year).

This road was not easy for us and it was incredibly long (far longer than it would have been had we been more focused). We made plenty of stupid choices along the way, especially prior to getting married.  Our story is not to brag, even though we are very proud of this journey, but to show another example of how an "average" family can become debt-free.

Just make sure you like the taste of rice & beans. ;-) 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Where are we???

Hey, everybody!

I just wanted to give a quick & dirty update on some of the places you can follow Really, What Were We Thinking in addition to this blog.

Twitter -
@TheDanaK - I post about a lot of stuff, including politics & activism that I don't typically delve into on the blog. I cuss sometimes. Consider yourself warned.
@Yetibizzo - Chris mostly, um, complains about sports. He complains rather colorfully. Again, consider yourself warned.

Facebook -
Really, What Were We Thinking? - I post links to articles & blog posts I think people would find interesting.  I ocassionally share pictures & videos. I also pose random questions to our followers.

YouTube -
ReallyWWWThinking - Our YouTube channel is mostly videos uploaded for #VlogTalk BUT I have started uploading random videos (mostly of Klaw) that are not going to be published on the blog. So, if you are interested in more up to date videos of Klaw (I'm looking at y'all, grandparents!), you may want to follow Klaw's playlist.

 I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. Last Christmas set the bar pretty low, so I can honestly say this is the best Christmas season we've ever had with Klaw.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jesus, Take the Wheel???

C' KNOW this is better than toast.

ETA:: This is not paint. It's tubes & hoses just hanging on the back of the truck!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Evolution of a Tantrum

HEE HEE Look at me!!! I can run!!!

Huh...I guess they are coming now.
Oh, hai! Glad y'all could join me.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

An Open Letter to Santa Claus

Dear Santa Claus,

First of all, thank you for delivering many gifts over the years.  I really do appreciate it.  I especially appreciate the fact that you even delivered my brand new bicycle even though I had been misbehaving and being rude to Mama right before Christmas.  I realize you didn't have to do that.

I think the two page "note" explaining how much I did not deserve the bicycle but you felt you had to bring it because Mom had already paid for it *may* have been overkill.

I won't go so far as to blame that note on the fact that it took me three years to learn to ride a bike.  Although, guilt can do crazy things...

Secondly, I'd like to know why I only got gifts that my parents had paid for in advance. I don't remember this being the case for any of my other friends and they got a TON of toys each & every year.

Leslie always smiled.

What's up with that, Santa?

I know my neighborhood was rough. Did you feel like you deserved some monetary reimbursement for putting your reindeer at risk?  I'm okay with it now, but it kind of hurt my feelings at the time.

Thirdly, why did you mostly bring me underwear and winter clothes?  I wanted toys.  I would've settled for books.  Seriously.  Underwear.  From Santa.  Do you realize how mortifying it is to go to school and have everybody ask what you got from Santa?  Underwear.

Snoopy underwear is not happiness

Not cool, Santa, not cool.

Finally, I didn't intend to be so bitter about this.  I do appreciate everything I received growing up.  I'm not very materialistic and I definitely think that's a wonderful lesson to have learned the hard way as a child.

However, I'm really weird about receiving gifts now.  I'm not going to go so far as to blame you for this, Santa, but I do think you have to take a little credit for my strange behavior.

I didn't even need to be home to be weird

Oh, I'm sorry we never left any food out for you.  Mom said it would attract roaches and that you'd understand.

See you soon?


PS - I have technically never officially stopped believing...keep that in mind (iPad 2 with 3G)

Mama’s Losin’ It

Inspired by 3.) Open Letter To Santa Claus

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

PHOTOBOMB: Crappy Playgrounds

When you drive into our neighborhood, you may notice the nice green space with the cool looking play structure in it.  Additionally, there's a toddler playground right by our house (sounds awesome for moms of toddlers like Klaw, right?).

What you don't see is that both of the playgrounds are unsafe and don't even meet minimum Consumer Product Safety Commission public playground guidelines.  We've been here for 3+ years and didn't realize how bad it was until Klaw was old enough to run & play.

 The Toddler Playground

Yeah, definitely not enough loose-fill, huh?

hard to tell, but there's about 2" of space beneath the post

Broken gate

Broken picnic table

The Kid Playground

So much for a soft landing, eh?

It's missing railings

This trash can is ALWAYS full

I thought this was concrete, it's so hard

 Okay, I do laugh at the graffiti:

"amw is an ugly ass hoe"


I'm writing a letter to the HOA president because this is ridiculous.  Of course, the contact form for the property management group is broken and the HOA website has been suspended.

What the heck do our HOA fees go to?  I totally get that this is a first world problem but I'm paying fees that should cover care & maintenance of children's play areas.  It would be better to just have open, grassy fields for the kids than broken, damaged playground equipment.

Have you ever had to work to get a public playground maintained properly? Ever dealt with an HOA?  Do you have any tips you can share?  Please???

Monday, December 5, 2011

Find Me at "Life With Levi" Today

Hey, y'all!

After a brief holiday sabbatical, I'm guest posting over at Life With Levi about Why I Chose Cloth Diapers.  Take a few minutes to check it out.

BONUS:  You can enter the Stocking Stuff with Fluff giveaways all week long!
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