Thursday, March 17, 2011

Am I Naive?

I've been reading what I can about the horrible crisis in Japan.  I say "what I can" because I am an extremely emotional person.  I see others' heartache, pain, devastation and I take it as my own (the same with positive things, it's just that the sad is overwhelming in this story), meaning I put myself in their place and feel as if it had happened to me.  This has resulted in my distancing myself from most heart and soul cannot take it.  I become depressed, devastated and it results in worrying on my part.  Jake has stopped telling me about sad stories about children, because he knows I just cannot handle it.

So in part, I know I create my own naivete.  I don't keep up on current events as much as I "should" because the human stories behind the news break my heart.  I have to do it for my own well-being.  That being said, I'm shocked by what I've been reading lately.

APPARENTLY, there is a large underlying issue in the United States: racism and hatred towards the Japanese.  There are men and women who hate the Japanese and can never forgive them for what happened at Pearl Harbor and WWII in general.  Now, I understand that this was a devastating time for our nation and that it greatly influenced my grandparents' generation.  That it was a scary time and that for many of these people their lives were never the same because of it.  I also know, that it has been close to 70 years since the horrible event and that those involved and responsible for those events left our world long ago.  I also KNOW, that NO MATTER what you feel about a group of people, to say that they "deserved" or "had it coming" in regards to this horrendous disaster is heartless and my eyes defines you as a person.  And in my eyes, that's not a very good person.

I'm extremely angry about this.  I don't care who you are, people do NOT deserve to have their lives swept away from them, to live through this devastation, to have their entire world fall apart.  Yes, it happens.  This is the world we live in....bad things happen.  But no one, NO ONE, deserves it.  No one can earn to have their country in crisis like this.

So apparently I was pretty naive about the amount of racism towards the Japanese in our country.  And now I'm all fired up and ticked off about it.  Too bad that when I get fired up and ticked off I have a horrible time articulating my thoughts.

Ok...vent over.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Financial Peace University in the Early household....we're dealing with a bit of a pride issue.  Jake and I are extremely PROUD of ourselves right now.  I'm glowing and hyper.  Jake sends me happy little emails about our finances. read that right, HAPPY little emails about our FINANCES.

You see....we're feeling a bit like rock stars right now.  At the end of last year my parents attended Financial Peace University (FPU) through their church.  They kept telling us all these great things about it and all the things you can accomplish with it.  After our second or third conversation with them about it I asked Jake what he thought about us taking it.  We both thought it was a great idea and I started to look up places we could take it.  With my schedule for school and having 3 kids, we had one option that worked.  SO starting on Super Bowl Sunday (yes, Jake voluntarily missed watching the Super Bowl) we started our classes.

We just had our 5th week of class on Sunday.  The class is getting to the point where we're starting to share our successes, the steps we've taken, the things we've done and the changes we've made in our lives to reach financial peace.  It ROCKS!  Seriously, it is not only empowering to yourself and your family to see the changes happening, but when you hear about the steps others are taking and the positive changes in their lives, it motivates you even more.

The change in our life, in our relationship, in our moods and in our finances is awesome.  Dave talks about making your "money work for you" and being in "control of your money" rather then your money controlling you.  For us the changes we have made so far and the things we have learned have resulted in exactly this.  We're in control.  We're planning.  Those "unexpected" expenses are now planned for and the amount of stress that is gone because of that is amazing.  I'm even looking into another part-time job to help pay for expenses that we see coming up in 6 months and want to have them more then saved up for.

We would highly recommend this class to anyone at any phase of your life and in any financial situation, it can help you no matter what.  Jake and I have talked about being coordinators or leaders of the class sometime in the future (probably after I'm done with school).  The amount of peace and control it has brought into our lives has been great for us and we want to help others get there too.

So anyway, that's my happy ramble about FPU.  You'll probably be reading more of them as time passes.  We just made a couple of major steps in our process and whenever that happens I'll get excited and want to share that excitement with all of you!

For those wondering, here are Dave's Baby Steps towards Financial Peace.    You do them in the following order:

Baby Step 1 - Establish an Emergency Fund (Get $1000.00 in savings)
Baby Step 2 - Debt Snowball (Pay off your debt starting with smallest debt first, once paid off roll your payment over to the next smallest debt.  Continue until all debt is paid off.)
Baby Step 3 - 3 to 6 months of expenses in savings  (This is your new Emergency Fund.  You do not touch it.  This is in case there is an unexpected emergency,  i.e. loss of job, severe medical issue)
Baby Step 4 - Save for Retirement (Put 15% of your income into pretax retirement funds)
Baby Step 5 - Save for college for your children
Baby Step 6 - Pay off your house early
Baby Step 7 - Build wealth and give

(P.S.  If you have questions, leave a comment and I can email you privately if you'd prefer.  I'm not an expert, but I can give you the general idea behind the class and what Dave recommends.)

Friday, March 04, 2011


*This is a warning.  This could very well be a rambling, emotional post.  Be warned that it may be full of random thoughts and tears on my keyboard.*

Eight and a half years ago, right after we got married, Jake and I went to the Last Hope Adoption Day at our local PetCo.  Sitting there looking for a home was a 6 month old yellow lab.  He was super sweet and later that day he came home with us. He very quickly became "my"dog and an important member of the family. That 6 month old yellow lab turned into my sweet, gigantic (95 pound) lap dog.

Today we said good-bye to Jesse.  Last Friday he started acting lethargic and was starting to limp around.  We thought his arthritis was acting up, so gave him something for the pain. He continued to act that way and by Tuesday Jake had to carry him to his vet appointment.  It was then that we discovered the horrible truth: Jesse had severe internal bleeding, most likely from a tumor in his spleen.  There is very little that can be done for it, and research is currently being done to hopefully find a genetic cause, because then they can breed it out of the dogs.  Sadly, it was already too late for Jesse.

We had 3 days to come to terms with it, question ourselves and spoil him rotten.  This evening, just before 5p, Jesse went to God while I scratched his ears and the vet rubbed his neck.  All 3 of us who were in the room cried and with each memory came fresh tears.

Memories, like how he would snuggle with me every chance he got.  I would often fall asleep with my face buried in his fur and wake up the same way, because he would lay in Jake's spot when he wasn't in bed.

Memories like when we would go to our friends Allison and Monty's cabin, Jesse would head down to the lake and just swim in circles, because he loved the water so much.

Memories like constantly being crushed under my gigantic lap dog.  According to Jake I train those around me to want to snuggle or sit on my lap and I started with the dogs. 

Memories like how he was so good with kids, especially our kids, and how he put up with their crazy behavior.

Memories like the ones that had me thinking "a boy and his dog."  Jesse would sleep on the bed with Peder, follow him around and they would give each other random affection.

Memories like his adorable smile and perked up ears. How being around us could always get that smile and happy ears.  It makes me remember when he could hear (his hearing was pretty much gone because of ear infections that became immune to anitbiotics) and every time he heard a dog bark on TV he would stand in front of it and cock his head back and forth.

Memories like his deep affection for Jake and how sometimes that deep affection would result in him constantly pestering Jake....nudging him, rubbing against him, leaning on him, anything to be next to him.

 Memories of "my dog."  My snuggler.  My best fur buddy.  My sweet, loving, gentle giant.  Jesse, I love you, and you will be missed.