By , April 25, 2011 9:11 pm

Yep. I’m Major Mom now. Here are a few pics of my promotion ceremony last Saturday. Enjoy!

Dad and I before the ceremony

Zeke and his iPhone entertainment

Friends and Family

Haus and Bubba "pinning" the new rank

Dad and Zeke with my beret

Dad administering the oath of office

Congrats from my Godfather

Blue suits for all!

Dad and I... yep, I'm his spittin' image

Dad and I... I'm kinda his spittin' image

Fam and friends celebrating that night...

Full of Greek food and wine. Perfect ending to an amazing day!




Our Budget

By , April 11, 2011 1:11 pm

After taking the Financial Peace course, Haus and I realized that I am a bit of a control freak (shocking, I know) and Haus is more of what Dave Ramsey would call the “Free Spirit”.  In other words, Haus doesn’t really carry long term worries, thinks it will all work out in the end while I watch pennies with precision. Because of our money differences, we found it just didn’t work when I had total control of the budget (You spent HOW MUCH on golf shirts?) nor did it work when he had total control of the budget (with a control freak looking over his shoulder).  About a year ago, we settled on a compromise that I LOVE and will share with you now.

1. Haus controls the big picture budget stuff (Season 6 of The Office, he’s Michael Scott)- Haus manages a spreadsheet that tracks the income minus our expenses, he allocates money for our cash budget, pays all of the bills online.

2. I control the day to day budget stuff (that’s right, I’m co-manager Jim Halpert, peeps)- I have tabs on our cash budget, file all of the bill statements that Haus pays, plan 0ur cash budget around long term goals.  Haus is paid every two weeks so I take-out the cash on his pay day.

I like several things about this set-up.  With Haus taking the overall, I don’t have that pressure anymore and, believe me, budget pressure can weigh you down.  I still file the bill statements to make sure we aren’t being overcharged on anything, however I no longer make online payments.  Haus hated splitting up the cash so he’s happy with me keeping control of it and doesn’t mind me dishing out our allowance.  Every six months or so we reevaluate how much I need it cash as it does change with our goals (or how much more the boys are eating!).

CONTROL FREAK ALERT!  Please note that this set-up only works if the control freak doesn’t snoop around into big picture guy’s set-up.  I will admit in the beginning it was hard for me not to check our online stuff, and we did have a late payment once or twice (which I casually mentioned later without making him feel super bad). I don’t think Haus would have really taken charge of part of the budget if he thought I was going to swoop in and control his stuff.

I keep our cash budget in a coupon holder I found for $3 at Target.

I keep track of the funds with index cards like this:

In the beginning, I used the Dave Ramsey style cash envelopes but wore them out too fast and found it a pain to open and close envelopes at the cash register while wrangling toddlers.  I tried a small binder with plastic ziploc sections for the cash but that was too bulky.  Still trying to find a good way to hold change in the coupon book but overall I really like it.

Each pocket of the coupon book holds one or two categories.  Some of the categories I only pull cash out once a month so I’ve split them up accordingly to pull out the same amount of cash every two weeks.  Here are the categories that are in the coupon book:

Dining Out/Entertainment
Dry Cleaning
Groceries (which includes toiletries)
Pet (Chocolate Lab to be exact)
Blow Fund (A Dave Ramsey thing, our just-in-case fund)

I also have categories for my allowance and Haus’ allowance, however I don’t keep those in the coupon book. We don’t pull out cash for gas for the vehicles and we’re debating on keeping a haircut fund as this is only something we do every couple of months.  I do some online shopping for better deals, but complete purchases the day I’m pulling out cash and minus off the online expenditures.

And that, my friends, is how the Aarhaus fam shares the budget duties.  I know this doesn’t really tell you how to start a budget, but I really feel like you need to go to the Financial Peace course to figure that out, preferably with your spouse as you need to be on the same page.

Do you have a cool way to keep a budget?  I’d love to hear your suggestions and questions if you’ve got them!





Just a guy in a veteran hat

By , April 4, 2011 3:27 pm

I don’t know what it is about Costco and meaningful lunches, but, man, do I have them there.  Decided today I can’t walk into the place without waterproof mascara.

It started out just a regular post-shopping Costco snack with Haus and the boys.  I saw an older gentlemen a couple tables over eating lunch with his wife and noticed the almost brand-new “Vietnam Veteran” hat he was wearing.  Hmmm, I thought, as Haus savored a Costco polish sausage and the boys and I shared ice cream.  Halfway through our meal, the veteran used the trash can right next to us to throw away his lunch waste.  Without even really thinking about it, I turned to talk to him.

“Thank you so much for your service, Sir,” I said smiling.  Haus looked up and piped in, “Hey boys, do you see that man?  He’s a hero.”  Bubba glanced up from his ice cream and I repeated, “Yep bud, that man fought in a war for us in Vietnam and he is a hero.”  I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the veteran hadn’t moved since I thanked him.  Looking back at him with Bubba, I saw tears in his eyes.

“It took me forty years to buy this hat,” he said as his eyes glistened behind thick glasses.  “I’ve never really been thanked before.  Thank you for that today.”  Just as I thought I was going to start bawling his wife came up behind us catching the last of the conversation.

“He served two years over there,” she said, “and I took our two little ones to Honolulu so he could see us on midtour.”  She gazed at our boys and continued, “I was in the library in Honlulu when someone asked me why I was there and I told them we were waiting for Daddy to come back from the war.  They responded, what war, and I tried to explain that he’d been fighting in Vietnam.  They told me that that wasn’t a real war and said, right in front of my boys, that if my husband was dumb enough to fight over in Vietnam than he deserved to die there.”  The humble Vietnam vet looked down and said, “Oh, you don’t have to tell that story, hon.”

I’d been trying to keep it together until that moment.  Right in the middle of those silly white and red plastic Costco tables, I cried for them.  Haus put an arm around me as they teared up too and I told them that we were so appreciative for their sacrifice.  We made small talk about their two boys, now in their thirties, and as the conversation wrapped up waved as they headed out to the parking lot.  I pulled myself together, turned to Haus, and said I couldn’t imagine if while I was deployed someone had told him that I deserved to die while serving our country.

It really was my first time thanking someone wearing one of those Vietnam Veteran caps, you know, the big black ones with gold writing.  I don’t know why it’s taken me so long, but I tell you what, I’ll NEVER let the opportunity pass again.  Thank God for their sacrifice and blessings to all the families that sacrificed for us during the Vietnam war.  Do me a favor, and, if you see one, thank them too.  Oh, don’t forget to have a kleenex handy!


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