Retirement

Hope you enjoy a guest post today from none other than my better half, Girl Ninja. 

As of June 13th, 2014, I am officially retired…and it feels so good.  I spent all nine months of my pregnancy looking forward to the days I get to spend at home holding my baby.  I know challenges are definitely coming my way, but along with that I am excited to help take care of a household, without feeling worn down from working all day long.

As Ninja and I transition from a DINK family, to a single income household, I am surprised by the challenge.  It isn’t a tighter budget, more mindful spending or being bored and stir-crazy at home.  It isn’t the guilty feeling of spending money that I am not bringing in.  Instead, it is the surprising feeling that I miss kindergarten.

I love teaching kindergarten.  I’m not sure I really knew how much I loved it, until I left it.  In the frenzy of kindergarten graduation, packing a classroom, and a rapidly approaching due date to meet my little one, I was busy checking off to-do lists.  As I was literally walking out the back door of my classroom, I turned back one last time…cue cheesy slow motion scene with sappy music in the background.  Then the tears came.  I cried my whole drive home.  I cried as I thought back over the lessons I had taught, and the lessons my 5 year olds had taught me.  Inside those four walls, there was safety to try, to fail, to achieve, to be challenged for both my students and myself.  Names and faces poured through my mind, and I was overcome with thankfulness, joy, and sadness to be ending this chapter of life and moving on to something new.

Walking by the “Back to School” sale at Target last week, I had to stop myself from browsing the sales and stocking up for the next year. Rather than spending my days teaching, loving on, and learning with 22 five-year olds from 8:30-3:30 each day, I will be spending my day (and currently my nights) teaching, loving, and learning with Baby Ninja.  Some daily challenges will be similar, some will be different.  I won’t have those 15 minute recess breaks, 30 minute lunch breaks, or that 3:30 end time for each day. September will be hard, as I know my friends and coworkers will be gearing up to set up their classrooms and prepare for a new group of students.

Will giving this part of my life up be worth it?

Yes, I know it definitely will.  I know these are years and days with Baby Ninja I won’t get back, and I can’t wait for each of them.

So, what’s my plan? Am I just going to go through my day-to-day with this back and forth mindset of missing my teacher days, while learning to love being a stay at home mom?

Well, we have a plan.  I am excited to have the opportunity to substitute (saying yes or no to work based on what works for me? Yes please!), and I also hope to begin tutoring a few students next year.  Ninja’s schedule will allow us to make this work without having to pay for childcare for Baby Ninja.

I’m so thankful that my love for being home with my baby boy, and my love for teaching don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  I am thankful for the ways that my career have prepared me, and given me at least a glimpse of what motherhood holds. I am thankful for a husband that works hard to make it possible for me to be home with Baby Ninja during these little years.

We hope you’ll stick around to see how it goes! 

 

 

Christmas in a BIG family

Get excited for a post from GIRL NINJA!!!!!!….

santa christmas

It’s the most, wonderful time, of the year (except for the summertime).  I LOVE Christmas.   The smells, the music, the decorations, the lights, the joy, the greatest gift of all time…I just love it all.  I get it from my mom.  She is obsessed- I’m not kidding.  Our whole house was transformed top to bottom with everything Christmas during the month of December when I was growing up.  Along with that, we have traditions upon traditions that are celebrated.  One of them….spoiler alert…is that we would open gifts on Christmas Eve.

Almost all of them.

This really gets to Ninja.  He doesn’t get it, doesn’t understand it, and doesn’t care for it. But, he loves me, and he follows our tradition for the sake of tradition.

Now that we’re all grown up, things have started to change.  Within the last 3 years, 3 out of the 4 of us girls (yes, I grew up with 3 sisters, no brothers) have gotten married, and my oldest sister recently had a baby.

The more the merrier, right?

WELL…that is until we make our Christmas shopping list. Now before some of you commenters get all Scrugey on me, we love to give gifts in our family, especially these types of giftsThere is more joy in the giving, than in the receiving for our family. This is especially true now that we are all older, and a little less selfish.

That said, a big family, a big GROWING family, means a big BIG GROWING list of gifts to purchase each year.  It can become quite overwhelming.  All in all, there are 10 people in my immediate family.  Then, we have Ninja’s side of the family (another four),  close friends, and volunteer gifts for those that work in my classroom.

I WANT TO GIVE EVERYONE GIFTS!!!!

Unfortunately, that’s not really practical. I’ve talked with my sisters and instead of getting each of them gifts this year, we are drawing names and will only be assigned one person.  It’s new, it’s different, it’s not tradition…but if it goes well enough, it might be!

Instead of buying 10 gifts, I’ll buy one gift, and Ninja will buy one gift. We have a larger budget for our gift recipient, which will really broaden my gift giving horizons. So fun!  Not to mention, I think Ninja will be happier as this new plan saves everyone money and there is no more insane hunt for that perfect gift for each of our family members.

How do you (would you) handle Christmas in a big family?  Are we the only family that still gives gifts pretty religiously?How do you tame your Xmas budget?

What. Did. We. Just. Do? A post by Girl Ninja

Sit back and enjoy the ride. I’ve twisted Girl Ninja’s arm enough to get her to write a blog post for y’all today. Hope you enjoy 😉

When our realtor called to tell us they accepted our offer, I felt a little bit like Lindsey Lohan in the movie Freaky Friday; when she woke up and looked in the mirror to realize she was in her mother’s body.  WHAT DO WE DO NOW?!

Throughout my life, people repeatedly remind me, “When you know, you will know”.  They said it when I looking at colleges, they said it when I was trying to figure out if I wanted to marry Ninja, and they said it as we were searching for a house.  When I know, I will know.

Well….I didn’t.

College and marriage both ended up AMAZING.  And deep in my heart, I know that buying this house will as well.  But, one thing I have learned after 26 years of life, is that I Won’t know when I will know.

Financial security feels great.  Working hard, saving hard, and seeing those numbers grow provides a sense of security.  It has allowed us to live comfortably, and do things we are passionate about (give, share, travel, shop the Nordstrom sales…).  Buying a house though? I didn’t realize how UNPASSIONATE (is that a word? … if not it should be) about that idea I was until we got that phone call 24 hours after stepping foot in the house.  Now, I’m not playing the drama card when I say unpassionate– I thought that I was supposed to be ear-to-ear smiles and unable to contain my joy and excitement.  Instead, every single hesitation, doubt and concern I had, grew to the size of Mt. Everest.

It felt like everything was changing. 

I would be driving a different route to and from school (making my 10 minute commute, now 25), going to different shopping centers/grocery stores, and I’m now twice as far away from my High School Young Life girls.   I don’t know the neighbors.  Having our offer accepted made me feel like I just ruined my life.

Then, Ninja reminded me how moving into our current place, I wasn’t all that excited either. I didn’t like how far away it felt from the city, and although our cabinets and counters were new, they weren’t styled to my taste. However, I have learned to love SO much about our rental.  I love walking to the water one mile away, I love living across the street from one of my Young Life girls, I love walking to the middle school track to workout.   I’ve realized that I am a slow mover to fall in love with something– and when I do — I will only leave kicking and screaming.

What I have learned, is that THIS IS NOT THE END.  This might be the house we see ourselves in for now, but reality is we are in our twenties.  I don’t NEED to know what type of house will be best for us when we have kids.  Does it really matter that much if ONE ROOM in the house is a little dark?  Am I really expecting perfection?  It was time to give myself (correction: it was time for my mom, husband, and friends to give me) a reality check.

What I DO know, is that THIS IS THE BEGINNING.  Together, I get to learn with Ninja how to manage home ownership.  We get to make transformations, realize things we would have done or should have done differently, enjoy the great things, and learn along the way. My fear is turning to excitement 🙂

Ninja’s Comments: Leave her lots of love below so we can get her to write more often this summer!!!!

I’m buying.

I dated Girl Ninja for 3.5 years before I popped the question. During those 3.5 years we went out to dinner at least once (usually twice) a week. Since we didn’t live together, and we were both relatively busy, dinner together was the easiest way to guarantee some quality time. I’m just ball parking, but I’d guess we ate out about 300ish times together during our dating years. Some meals were cheap (Rubios) and others weren’t ($190 valentines dinner). Wanna know how much all those meals cost Girl Ninja? Probably about $100.

And thus brings today’s topic: Who should pay for dinner when on a date?

Personally I’m a big fan of chivalry, and part of that (to me) means picking up the tab…every single time. Can it be expensive? Sure. Is it a great way to show your significant other you like to provide for them? Abso-freakin-lutely. I could afford to pick up the bill, so I did. Not because Girl Ninja expected me to. Not because I felt like I had to, but because I wanted to. Nothing more, nothing less.

That said, I know that not everyone shares a similar belief. The other day I had a lady friend tell me that her boyfriend rarely offers to pay the whole bill. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for her to pick up the tab instead. She was wondering if that was a bad sign.

Do I think it is weird for her to want to be provided for? Heck no. But I also don’t think that it’s fair to expect him to pay the bill. Would Girl Ninja like it if I opened the car door for her every time we drove somewhere? Probably, but I wasn’t raised in the south and often forget that opening the door for a woman is a sign of respect and love.

I don’t open doors and my friends boyfriend doesn’t pick up the whole dinner tab. Neither of us are horrible people, but we both have some work to do to become the husbands/boyfriends these women deserve. It’s a continual learning process!

Now that I’ve had my few moments to preach, I’m curious to hear your thoughts…

Men: Do you pay the whole bill when you go on a date? Once you get in a serious relationship do you continue paying the bill every time? Do you think women should pay their share? What does chivalry mean to you?

Women: Do you expect to get a free meal on a first date? Would it bother you if your boyfriend asked to split the bill every time you went out (let’s assume said boyfriend is financially stable and able to afford it)? What does chivalry mean to you?

It’s what you’ve all been waiting for: A post from Girl Ninja!

Ninja loves to shop.

If you have to read the above sentence one more time, I understand.  Let me explain….

Yesterday, something very unusual happened in the our household.  Ninja spent money on himself – a lot of money on himself.  Unplanned.  No budget saved up, no pre-meditated spending limit.  And guess what? I LOVED it (and I think he did too).

It all started with a trip to Costco to stock up on some birthday, BBQ, and camping supplies for the near future.  Ninja’s transformation began when I picked up one dress shirt that caught his interest, priced at an affordable $19.87 (Costco always has weird prices at the end…why is that?).  The stack of dress shirts brought us next to the table of khaki dress pants. Knowing Ninja’s normal shopping attention span is about 2.8 seconds, I immediately began digging for his sizes before he mentally checked out and gave up.

Before I knew it, I looked up to find that he had wandered over to the next table – and then the next – and then the next.  He was quickly committing to purchase after purchase, filling our cart with clothes. I didn’t push, bribe, or persuade in ANY way,  pinky promise.  By the time we were ready to move onto our actual Costco shopping list, Ninja had impulsively picked out a dress shirt, dress pants, casual shorts, and board shorts.

From previous posts, you might know that I have a monthly budgeted spending allotment, Ninja does not.  We also have very different spending habits.  Ninja shops semiannually;  Once in the summer, and once in the winter.  Over the course of a year, I probably spend more than him in total (don’t tell him I admitted that).  My purchases are more frequent, but typically not as much as Ninja spent yesterday (with the exception of the Nordstrom Sale….I have my presale appointment tomorrow!!!!).  However, when he does take these unexpected shopping sprees, I LOVE it because I hope it reminds him of  few things about spending:

  1. Sometimes you don’t know what you need until you see it
  2. You can’t always plan on when you are going to find a good deal….so you can’t pass it up!
  3. Lighten up about spending money.  We save, share, and invest….and its’ not ridiculous to spend money too.  You don’t always have to say no, just because you weren’t dreaming about it for months and months, and didn’t research all possible options.

We have been married for 2 years, and we still have our spending habit differences…  BUT, we are definitely learning from each other, and figuring things out.  I’m thankful for what he teaches me, and I hope that he has learned a little from me as well (today’s shopping spree sure seemed like he did 😉 )

Do you shop more like Ninja (a few big sprees each year) or like myself (picking up things as you need them)? Anyone else excited for the upcoming Nordstrom sale?! Do any couples actually have the SAME spending habits as their partners?

 

 

A trip a year keeps the babies not near.

So when Girl Ninja and I went through pre-marital counseling – which I would highly recommend to any engaged couple – we obviously spent time discussing when we’d like to have kids as how many we want. Girl Ninja wants four. She is one of four. Her mom is one of four. So to her, it’s only fitting that we have four kids. I, however, am not so jazzed on four kids at this point. Every time we talk about kids I always say the same thing “You can’t ask me to have four kids, before I’ve even had my first.”

Babies are seriously foreign objects to me. I know nothing about them. They make me super nervous when they can’t even keep their head up (nervous they are going to suffocate on the ground, a blanket, my shoulder, etc). I’ve never changed a diaper in my life. I have no concept of how much a kid eats. Nor do I understand exactly how much work caring for a kid can be.

Before we married, I made a rule that we shouldn’t even consider having children until after our first anniversary and ideally we’d wait two years before we started talking about it. Next month concludes that two-year mark. So is it time to get pregnant?

HECK NO! Well, I guess theoretically we could get pregnant since abstinence is the only sure-fire way to prevent it, but you get what I mean.

In fact, I’ve wised up and learned that since GN’s baby-urge could come at any moment, it’s in my best interest to start bribing her to hold off. That’s why I’ve made the promise that for every year we DON’T have children we can go on a bigger vacation.

Since she is a teacher, the best time for us to travel is in the summer (Thanksgiving, Xmas, and Spring Break are freakin’ expensive times to sightsee). I asked GN where summer 2013 should take us and right now Costa Rica is at the top of her list.

Seeing that I know absolutely nothing about Costa Rica, and that I don’t think I want kids in the next 12 months, I need any of you that are familiar with the country to throw out some recommendations on places to stay, things to do, and pros/cons of Costa Rica in the summer.

All I know is flights will cost about $600-$800 a pop, and that’s it. I don’t even know what cities are the most popular tourist destinations, which hotels/hostels are nice, nor do I quite understand what one does on vacation in Costa Rica. If you’ve been before give me the downlow. Or if you know of another vacation destination that would be under $4,000 hook a Ninja up and let me know. I gots to keep this baby situation under control 🙂

I got bumped

So I was in San Diego this weekend for Girl Ninja’s little sister’s college graduation ceremony. Yesterday, on our flight back to Seattle, the Alaska Airlines representative mentioned during check-in they oversold our flight by one seat. I LOVE OVERSOLD FLIGHTS! Without hesitation, I asked if I could be put on the “bump” list in case everyone checks in and they need someone to give up their seat.

Sure enough, everyone that bought a ticket showed up and I got the bump I so desperately wanted. I gave up my seat in exchange for a $300 voucher and was rebooked on the next flight out (which was two hours later). It’s too bad they didn’t have two bumps available otherwise Girl Ninja would have given up her seat too. And before you think I just put her on a plane to fend for herself, she was on the same flight as her parents so she just went home with them.

So I got home two hours later than originally planned, but came out $300 ahead. Not a bad deal for a relatively minor inconvenience. Being bumped is seriously one of my favorite things about traveling and I volunteer myself to do it every time they ask. In fact, one Christmas, I bumped myself three times in a row (they kept rebooking me on to oversold flights) and walked away with around $1,200 in airfare for a twelve-hour total delay.

I’m always surprised that more people aren’t willing to give up their seat in exchange for some free tickets. Unless someone is dying, being born, or getting married, you better believe I will be racing to the counter to give my seat up first.

You ever been bumped?