Friday, January 27, 2012

Calling All Bloggers - A Little Help PLEASE!

It's been a while since I've written about it - but just in case you didn't know - I am a proud sister of a Navy sailor.

My lil brother (not so little anymore - he's 23!) is currently stationed in San Diego and will soon be underway on his first deployment. Le sigh - they grow up so fast. It feels like just yesterday I was all teary-eyed watching him graduate from bootcamp.......

Which leads me to the point of this post - I need a tinsy favor.

Paxston has been entered in a Facebook photo contest for his ship. Basically, the picture that gets the most "Likes" wins. So I'm asking pleading begging you click on this link & "Like" the picture. He's a pretty handsome kid and the picture is actually pretty cool.


Let's not talk about the fact that my baby bro plays with things that blow up and guns for his job...

He's currently is 2nd place by on 4 votes. The contest goes through January 31st - so please just take a quick second, follow the link & vote!

If you won't do it for me - do it for your country!

Ok - so maybe I'm being a little dramatic - but you get it. It would mean so much to my mom and his girlfriend if he won this contest - okay and maybe his big sister too. :)

Happy Friday! Cheers to the weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

When Good Dogs Go Bad

As I said before, this past weekend was spent primarily in bed trying to recover from sickness. (I'm still sick BTW - can I girl get a break?!)


Sunday evening, I fed the dogs and threw them outside for some evening exercise. While they were outside playing, I hoped in a warm bath hoping to sooth my aches & pains.

I got out the tub, put on my robe and went to the kitchen to make warm tea when Steven asked, "Where are they dogs?" My blissful, lavender filled bubble bath caused me to completely forget about the pups outside. I opened the back door, called their names and nothing happened.

This is highly unusual around our house. Dixie is usually beating down the back door insisting that she be let back into the house after about 3 minutes outside.

So I called their names again....Nothing.....

Slight panic began to creep into my mind.

I stepped out onto the back patio to find the back gate *wide* open. At which point full on panic ensued. People practically fly down the road in front of our home and I was terrified to think what might have happened.....

I screamed to Steven that the back gate was open & the dogs were gone. He bolted out the door without a single word.

I ran frantically to bedroom in search of clothes. Remember....I was sick....like fever sick. Sopping wet from my recent bath - and completely naked. Getting myself dressed & out the door turned out to be a very difficult process.

I couldn't find a single pair of sweatpants or yoga pants. Only shorts. I couldn't find a bra (I swear Dixie hides them from me) So I opted for an over sized sweatshirt and hoped it wouldn't be too obvious. I caught a quick glimpse of myself in the mirror confirmed that I was wearing bright teal shorts, brown Ugg boots, a ratty red sweatshirt with wild wet hair and zero makeup.

I said a silent prayer that I wouldn't encounter any neighbors and ran out the front door screaming for Dixie & Bauer.  As I was running out the door a list of thoughts passed through my mind: How exactly does one issue an "Amber Alert" for missing dogs?  What's the number to the National Guard because somebody needs to get over here ASAP?  If firefighters rescue stranded kittens - who the heck is supposed to find my precious pups?!?!

When I reached the front yard, Steven's truck was gone so I knew he was riding around the neighborhood looking for them.

I turned the corner of our lot and there was Bauer prancing up and down in circles - obviously thrilled to be out of the back yard. Dixie was already in the back yard and sitting quietly on the back deck as if she had never left. It took a few minutes, but I was finally able to coral Bauer back into fence and lock the back gate again.

I waited for Steven to drive by the house and he was relieved to learn they had come home on their own.

Until we got into the house that is.

You see, our lot backs up to a wooded area. We love it because it provides a great deal of privacy. One tiny problem - on the other side of the wooded area is a pasture - full of cows. For the past three years, those cows have tortured my dogs. Every now and then the cows will start moo'ing like crazy and Dixie & Bauer growl & whine while patrolling the back yard begging to be let into the pasture.

So I guess when Dixie & Bauer gained their freedom from fence, they decided it was time to finally pay those cows a visit.

And when they came through the back door, they had the evidence to prove it.

Dixie was covered in cow poop. I mean completely covered. Her nose, paw, chest & legs. Poop everywhere. Bauer had a little on his paws and legs - but it looked like Dixie has found a huge patty and just rolled around in it. Make.Me.Gag.

Because of my sickness, I hadn't been able to smell anything for three days, but I could very clearly smell the stench coming off that dog. So I can only imagine how bad it really was for Steven. I tried to wipe Dixie down as best I could - but the all the commotion left me very light headed and exhausted. Steven finally had to just give Dixie a bath.

I'm so happy they came home on their own - at least I know that they will come back if they get out again. But you just never know what could happen. Of course I had to give Dixie & Bauer a little talking to. Warn them not to go visit those cows anymore. Tell them how much mommy loves them and how sad she would be if anything happened to them.

Having a little chat with the "bad" dogs.  Dixie seems to understand that she's in trouble.  Bauer is probably thinking that he really wants to visit those cows again.  :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pray For Kaitlyn's Korner

I think we all realize that the blogging community can be a very uplifting and encouraging community (despite those one-off instances I went off about yesterday!)

So today I'm asking you to show kindness and compassion and to pray for a special family over at Kaitlyn's Korner.

Chip, Kaitlyn's father, is a fraternity brother of my husband.  I cannot imagine the heartache and genuine pain this family must be feeling every second of each day.  Chip's love for his daughter is apparent in his writing and his anguish over her disease and pending passing is palpable. I cannot read this blog without being moved to tears.
So please keep them in your thoughts and prayers today.  Feel free to leave words of encouragement for the family.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

On My Soap Box

Caveat: If you are easily offended or don't enjoy reading another person's rants - you might want to skip this post. Consider yourself warned. I acknowledge that I fully expect to see the number of people following my blog decrease today.....


Not quite sure where to start this post - so I'm just going to jump right into it.

I have noticed quite a few controversial comments from bloggers over the past few weeks. Not only on my own blog, but on the blogs of those who I follow. So I did a little digging. I blog stalked, if you will. I followed a trail of comments left by one blogger and noticed that not only did she leave judgmental comments on my blog, but also on that of others. Which got me to thinking - are some women just out to prove that every other woman in the world is wrong?

Which leads me to my point. If you don't like what you're reading - feel free to stop reading.

Blogging is a matter of personal expression. It's a forum where people express their opinions. Some comical - some serious - some aggressive - some emotional - but all content of a person's blog is either a retelling of their story or a matter of opinion. So if you don't agree with a person's opinion and you are highly offended by it, exercise your right to stop listening to them.

I will be the first to admit that I have read a blog post that flat out infuriated me. You know what I did? I stopped following that blogger. I didn't leave a comment chastizing the author and setting her straight. I didn't feel the need to roll off a list of reasons why she was politically incorrect or try to convince her to change her mind. I simply stopped reading what she had to say.

I understand that my blog is not for everyone. I understand that my sarcastic humor can easily be misinterpreted. I understand that I may keep things a little too real at times. But - that's me. You will always know where you stand with me - good or bad.

So if something that I say offends you, I completely understand if you decide never to return to my blog. That is your right and I would *never* want to force my opinions onto someone and cause them discomfort or frustration.

But please, don't feel the need to leave me (or any other blogger for that matter) a comment insinuating that I am inconsiderate, politically incorrect, or disrespectful to the greater population. I am well aware of what it means to be misjudged or misunderstood. I am a blonde haired, blue-eyed Southern Baptist pastor's daughter/sorority girl/Southerner. I am well aware of what it means to be misjudged or misunderstood.

Sometimes it just amazes me how some women can be very childish and bully-like in the social media ring. If you don't have to guts to say something to someone's actual face - then don't hide behind a computer screen and blast it on the internet.

Okay - I'm off my soap box. But seriously - spread a little love people - or at least keep your mouth shut if you can't. Please & Thanks!

Monday, January 23, 2012

When You're Sick & Bored.....

I've been sick with a head cold/congestion since last Thursday. Which means I spent most of my weekend in bed trying to rest. But one can only sleep so many hours during the day. After catching up on my girlie shows on the DVR, I found myself at a loss for bedridden entertainment.


That's when I realized that Time Warner Cable offers a service called "Entertainment On Demand" - which basically has all the reality TV shows from Oxygen, VH1, WE & Bravo on demand. As in - you can watch an entire season if you'd like.

So my entire day yesterday was wasted spent enthralled in two new shows: Mob Wives & Toddlers & Tiaras.

Umm......

I'm literally at a loss for words on both accounts.

On Mob Wives: You must understand - I'm from the South. Women are bred to be proper, polite & well spoken. We are taught to be caddy in passive-aggressive manner. We are taught to tan so that it looks natural. I'm not saying we don't have our fair share of fake women around here - but we do our best not make to it so *obvious*. So who are these women with horrendous fake tans, fake boobs & filthy mouths? Where are they from exactly? Do they really exist, or is the drama & make-up all for the cameras? And how do they have so much money? Are their husbands really in jail? I'm utterly perplexed by this lifestyle. And I'm not gonna lie - a tiny piece of me thinks I may have missed my calling somewhere. Just once I would love to get into a fight in the club and pull a hair piece out of some chicks head. Baller......

On Toddlers & Tiaras: This is a culture I can relate to. Umm yes, I was in pageants. Don't believe me? Here's the proof....


I went to charm school. I learned to stand and turn in a complete circle without every lifting my feet from the floor. I had a lady named Mrs. Sylvia who "jacked my hair to Jesus", as they put it. I will say - my mother was never like the women on this show. I enjoyed pageants. And we didn't spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on routines, outfits & travel. It was more like a rite of passage that all little girls from Alabama partook in during their elementary school years. I was amazed at the extremes these mothers will go to for their daughters to win. And some of the girls are such brats. I burst into hysteria when a 3 year-old said, "I'm a beauty queen!" then immediately picked her nose. Now that's good TV.

I'm still feeling like poo this morning - but at least I'm well rested and was thoroughly entertained yesterday. Sometimes watching crazy shows like that makes me feel a little better about my incredibly "normal" life. It may be a bit stressful or boring at times - but at least my husband's not in jail and at least I don't have a 4-year-old telling me to shut-up because I'm ugly!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Thank God It's Friday

Thank God It's Friday because it's almost the freakin' weekend baby!


Thank God It's Friday because I'm not feeling so well (took a sick day yesterday, actually) and I think some additional R&R this weekend may help me kick this crud that's lingering in my system.

Thank God It's Friday because one of my best gal pals is having a baby shower this Saturday. I'm so exciting to watch her open presents for Baby Boy and to see some friends that I haven't seen in a while. It's always so much fun to celebrate your friends and the big milestones in their lives.

Thank God It's Friday because hubby and I have lots of good TV on the DVR and I'm looking forward to curling up on the couch and being lazy with him this weekend.

Thank God It's Friday because today marks the official end of the 2011 year end audit at my office. I know I'm speaking accounting lingo here and that makes me a dork. But this is a big deal - my work life may return to normal very soon. Can I get an AMEN!?!

Hope you all have a lovely Friday! :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Morning Inspiration

As I have shared here on the blog, I've been going through some difficult struggles over the past two years. Thankfully, God has placed women in my life who I can speak honestly with about these struggles. I received this text message this morning out of the blue - and it reminds me of how abundantly blessed I am.


"You were in my big prayer this morning.... I pray that you're praying big and believing big. Don't cease. You're a strong woman of God and His promises will be kept.... I want you to try something when you get home. Literally strand on your front porch and look into your home. Look at who God's given you to love: Steven and two beautiful, happy boxers. You have a fulfilling life. Look at the shelter he's provided for you every day and night. Feel the love and peace it brings to look at these things, person & pets. Soak it in and breathe thanksgiving. Your blessings bring me happiness too. You are loved and you are blessed..... God bless you today and I hope you'll feel good all day and smile a lot. I love you!"

These words brought tears to my eyes. I know this dear friend meant every word of her prayer. That she loves me, prays for me and has BIG faith that I will be blessed. But most importantly - she reminded me of my current blessings. Of all the reasons I have to be grateful today - no matter what may happen in the future.

Have you ever thought about the power your friends have in your life? Power for good or for evil? Have you ever thought about the importance of surrounding yourself with friends and family who encourage and support you - who actively breathe words of inspiration and strength into your life?

Or more importantly - have you thought about the influence you have in the life of others? What words of encouragement and inspiration do you offer to those you love the most?

This morning I'm so grateful for my friends. For the women who lift me up even when I don't ask for it. For the women who challenge me to become a better woman. For the women who set an example of peace, respect & faith in my life.

Thank-you Lord for strong, faithful women! It's my prayer that I am one of those women to others....

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Joint Account Chaos

With the new year in full force, it seems as if many people are focused on their finances and financial goals for 2012. I would be lying if I didn't say that Steven and I have goals of our own. Through emails and private conversations with many blog readers, I have noticed that many couples may struggle with managing a joint account together.


I thought I would share a financial tool that has saved Steven and I a great deal of heartache over the past few years.

In preparation for our marriage, Steven and I opened a joint account and began depositing all income into that account. We established a budget and intended to have only one checking account that all bills and personal spending would flow through.

After about two months, it became very clear that method was not going to work. You see, I'm an accountant. I like to know where every single penny goes. I check my bank balance every morning and I know exactly how much should be there. So if Steven stopped at the gas station on the way home and spent $5 from the joint account, I became annoyed. If that happened numerous times over the course of the month, I became a little more than irritated. It was too easy to overspend on eating out and entertainment because we didn't have a clear way to track our spending.

It felt like joint account chaos.

In my opinion, it's very hard to create and stick to a budget when both people have full access of the joint account and have the ability to overspend without consequence.

So we discussed our options.

I wasn't comfortable with each person having their own checking account and us "splitting" the bills. To me, that felt more like roommates than partners.

I suggested we each get a weekly cash allowance for personal shopping. I could hand Steven cash and if he wanted to grab something from the gas station or lunch with a buddy, he could use his allowance. That would make budgeting for entertainment and personal spending much easier because I knew that each Monday a certain amount would be withdrawn from the account.

Steven was weary of receiving cash because it's too easy to spend. I also realized that this "cash method" would require me to go the bank once a week to withdraw funds. So we quickly decided against it.

Thankfully, we came up with a solution that works perfectly for us.

We maintain our joint account to which all earnings are deposited and from which all bills/living expenses are paid. But we each have an individual account that is tied to the joint account. At the beginning of each week I transfer our weekly allowance into our personal accounts and we are free to spend that money as we please. If we don't spend all of our weekly allowance one week, it stays in our personal accounts as extra to be used later.

I truly believe this has saved numerous arguments over finances. If one of us needs a little extra cash for whatever reason, we just discuss it. Or if we mutually decide to spend additional funds from the joint account for something that we both want or for something for our home, we discuss it.

This method has not only saved my sanity, but more importantly has allowed us to stick to our budget by forcing us to keep our personal spending within the amount we have agreed upon. It holds us both accountable to treat funds in the joint account as "family" money that we cannot just spend without discussing it with the other person.

I would highly suggest this method for any couple who struggles with overspending or tracking your expenses when both spouses have access to the joint account and spend at will.

What about you - any budgeting or money managing tips that have proven to be very successful for you over the years?

Monday, January 16, 2012

WAIT

I've already explained that I refuse to make New Year's resolutions this year. And I'm whole heartedly sticking to that claim.

But this past week, I listened to the sermon from New Year's Day on Vimeo since I was unable to attend service. Pastor Greg suggested the idea of choosing one word to focus on throughout the year. The idea is to think about the type of person you want to be at the end of 2012 and ask the Lord to place a word on your heart that will encourage you to live your life in a way that will make becoming that person a reality.

While listening to the sermon, my word became abundantly clear, WAIT.

You see, if I'm being perfectly honest, the past 18-24 months have not gone exactly how I would have wanted. My 27th birthday is quickly approaching and I feel like I'm kind of behind on Amber's Life To-Do List.

And for the past 18-24 months I have been fighting with the Lord at every turn. Instead of meeting obstacles with grace and faith, I pitch a fit and become angry with the Lord for handing me a challenge that I feel is unfair. Instead of trusting that God will work "all things for good", I have convinced myself that my plan is the right plan and God just needs to get with the program. And I'm realizing - that mentality is very dangerous.

I believe that I have many virtues - but patience, faith, & trust are NOT in my basket. Pretty sure the Lord brushed right past me when he was handing those out.

So I'm looking to December 2012. There are many things that I would like accomplish this year spiritually, financially & with my family. And yes, I will continue to pray that the Lord will give me the desires of my heart and truly work these trials for my benefit.

But my desire to be a woman of complete faith is slowly becoming greater than my desire to become a woman who gets everything she wants out of life. And when I say slowly, I mean slowly. But I'm getting there.

So this year, my spiritual mantra is WAIT. I'm not exactly sure what the next 12 months will bring for Steven and I. But I know, that if yield to Christ's will in my life and earnestly seek His direction, I will be much better off than I could every be by following Amber's Life To-Do List.

Do any of you have a spiritual mantra or life verse? Something to keep you focused in difficult times? I'd love to hear about them!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Thank God It's Friday

Thank God It's Friday because I've put in another 60 hour work week and I'm spent. Seriously. Mentally, physically, emotionally - I'm done. I may have had a tiny *meltdown* last night to prove it. Something about not having enough hours in the day, not wanting to cook dinner, not going to gym in over two weeks, not feeling like myself. Ya know - poor me stuff. Let's just say The Year of Amber wasn't exactly in full force last night.


Thank God It's Friday because it's a casual jeans day at the office. And I may be taking slight advantage of it by wearing jeans, tennis shoes and a bright pink Minnie Mouse sweatshirt. Don't judge me - because my husband already has.

Thank God It's Friday because hubby has plans all night which means I have the house to myself! I plan to relax and renew with a bubble bath, good book and bottle of red. I may even treat myself to an at home mani/pedi if the urge hits me. Even catch up on some of my favorite shows. All I know is I have a date with myself and the possibilities are endless.

Thank God It's Friday because we are OUT of groceries. Cupboards are practically bare. Obviously I haven't had time for grocery shopping the past two weeks - so Saturday morning will be spent stocking the shelves with healthy, Zone friendly choices.

Thank God It's Friday because that means tomorrow is date night with hubs. It feels like it's been forever since we've spent quality time together. For the past two weeks I have crawled home and practically crawled in the bed each night. I'm looking forward to dinner and a movie with the Mr.

Why are you happy it's Friday??

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Shopping Auto Insurance - Frustrating or Fabulous?

For those of you who may not know, I'm an accountant. Not only that, I'm an accountant who *loves* to save money.

I have read multiple books by Suze Orman and Dave Ramsey regarding managing your finances, and I have learned quite a few helpful tools over the years.

I figure it's time to share the wealth. So from time to time you may see a budget-friendly PSA on the blog. I mean, who couldn't use more money in their wallets and a little financial freedom?

About six months ago I took a hard look at our finances and monthly budget. I felt like Steven and I brought home decent salaries - but couldn't understand why we didn't have more left over each month.

I decided it was time to trim the financial fat. But I wasn't sure where to start. So many of our bills were set in stone: mortgage payment, car payments, student loans. Not much "wiggle room" there.

So I started with our auto insurance policy.

I think there is a stigma associated with shopping your insurance policy: time consuming, frustrating, pointless. To say I was hesitant to start the task would be an understatement.

But I did - and I was shocked to learn that we could keep our exact same coverages and pay $45 less a month. That's a savings of $540 a year! I'd say that's time well spent. Fabulous even!

If you haven't shopped your insurance policies in a while - I suggest you give it a try. You might be shocked to see how much you have been overpaying.

A few helpful pointers:
- Get a copy of your current policy with deductibles & coverages. Be sure to request the exact same deductible & coverage to be sure that you are saving money by switching to a new carrier.
- Bundle all insurances policies with the same carrier. Most insurance companies offer you discounts for having multiple policies - so if you are a home owner or have a boat, be sure to bundle those policies with your auto insurance.
- Review your coverages with an agent. There is a chance that you may have more coverage than you need (this is common with home owner's policies). If so, you may be paying more than necessary.

Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email if you have any questions!

Happy Savings Blogger Friends! :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

ROLL TIDE ROLL

I fully acknowledge that this post is a day late. But little 'ole me is still in full blown year-end close at the office - just indulge me and pretend like this is new news....


THE CRIMSON TIDE IS THE 2012 BCS NATIONAL CHAMPION!!!

To all those haters who said we didn't deserve to play in the championship game, I say, GOOD DAY!

I think the utter mauling, as Brent Musburger put it, more than proves that Alabama deserved a shot at the title. And they took it: 21-0!

So the fans around my house are pretty pleased. :)

I apologize to any of you who follow me on Twitter or Facebook. I realize that my tweets and status updates were *beyond* obnoxious. But I just couldn't help myself.

Can't wait till next season to see what Saban & The Tide have up their sleeves!

And for those of you who have requested a picture of my new hair do - here you go.  Not the best picture - but you get the point.  ROLL TIDE!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Thank God It's Friday

Thank God It's Friday because I need a break from work like whoa. And I mean like whoa. When I left the office at 6pm yesterday, I had already put in over 50 hours. That's right - 50 hours in 4 days. I still have a full 9-10 hours of work on the agenda today as well - but at least I get a break this weekend. Gotta love the life an accountant at year-end.


Thank God It's Friday because my house is a hot mess and needs a thorough cleaning. This 60+ hour work week has left little room for clearning/cooking. Not to mention, all my Christmas d├ęcor is still up. Not off to the best start on the domestic front for 2012, am I? Like I said...Year of Amber means it's ok if my house is a disaster during close at the office. But I'm looking forward to getting this mess cleaned up! Anyone want to volunteer their domestic services at my place this weekend? I've got a good bottle of wine I'm willing to share!

Thank God It's Friday because my in-laws are coming for a visit Friday. That's right - I'm actually excited about a visit from the in-laws. I puffy heart super adore my MIL. We weren't able to see them at Christmas because we traveled to MS to be with the hub's extended family - so this weekend will serve as our post holiday get together. *I'm pumped*

Thank God It's Friday because I will actually get to get a few workouts in this weekend. Umm...it's been a full 6 days since I've even thought about the gym. Again with The Year of Amber and grace during difficult times - but honestly, this booty needs to do a little sweating. If only I could get my knee to stop hurting I might actually get back into Crossfit full force. But at this point I will take what I can get.

Thank God It's Friday because Steven and I will finally be at church on Sunday! Holiday travels have kept us from FiveStones the past three Sundays. I'm deeply missing the time of worship and challenging messages from our pastor. Looking forward to some Jesus this weekend! And for my more conservative readers, I am not being sacrilegious. Jesus is my friend - I need some time with him just like I do my husband or one of my girlfriends. He really is my homeboy.

So happy Friday ya'll! Is anyone else as happy as I am that it's almost the weekend!?!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Here's To The Year Of Amber

Happy New Year! Only 5 days late right? Oh and since I completely missed the holidays around the Blog World - Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Hanukkah & Merry Christmas ya'll!

I'm not doing New Year's Resolutions this year. Too much pressure. After looking back on 2011, I see a recurring theme. Stress. Stress. Stress. And you know what's the cause of that stress?

ME!

I put too much pressure on myself to be the perfect wife, perfect accountant, perfect Christian, perfect person.

I set WAY too many goals and I am super upset when I don't accomplish them.

Don't get me wrong. I think it is admirable to strive for self improvement. It is honorable to want to be a loving spouse, valuable employee & quality world citizen. However, I tend to set significantly higher expectations for myself than I ever do for anyone else.

So this year is The Year Of Amber. (Yes, I'm stealing this from Happy Endings - but it seemed appropriate.)

The year of giving myself a little grace. The year of developing hobbies that I enjoy. The year of traveling to visit friends. The year of being grateful in all things and trusting the Lord to handle those circumstances that are out of my control.

I did something kind of drastic in honor of The Year of Amber. I chopped 6 inches off my hair. I think my hair is becoming an expression of what I feel emotionally. Last winter I died it dark brown. This year I chopped 6 inches off. My hair dresser asked if I was sure I wanted to cut that much off. I responded, "Umm....2011 has pretty much been a horrible year for me. I'm convinced the bad mojo is stuck in my hair. So get rid of that crap please!" :)

With that being said, I plan to come back to blogging again. She's my long lost friend. My escape. My happy place. We've had an on again, off again relationship for quite some time now. And I'm actually committed to making this thing last.

Hope your 2012 is off to a fabulous start!


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