General consensus is that 2016 was a pretty crap-tastic year. I’m not so sure, there were some really rotten things that went down (like the whole election thing), but we got Ben out of it so we were distracted.
Now that it’s New Year’s Eve, its time to reflect back on our year and set new goals for 2017.
Let’s see what we’ve accomplished:
The minute we bought the house we knew we were going to have to redo the kitchen. Everything worked and it was totally functioning and everything, but it was just so ugly. Especially the floor. We lived with it for 3 1/2 years.
Since Jeff knew he was going to have a ton of time off when I was out on maternity leave after Ben was born (thanks to a diligent man that never takes a sick day), we decided to do it then. People said we were crazy, taking on a big project like this with a brand new baby and two small children, but this was our one window of opportunity to do it and I’m so glad we did! Look how it turned out!
We spent $2,000 we had saved in cash and Jeff did everything himself. He cut painted and refaced the cabinets, repainted the walls, laid a new vinyl floor over the old subfloor (which was in really good condition surprisingly). The new countertop is actually dyed concrete that I love, and my favorite feature is the new pass through! Now I can see the kids playing in the living room while I’m cleaning up in the kitchen or making dinner.
We had this huge, HUGE, hundreds of years old pine in our front yard. It was so wide we couldn’t reach our arms around it when we all held hands, and it have obviously been carelessly cut back from the power lines over years and years, because it looked like a 60 foot bonsai tree. Jeff said we would have to cut it one day before it fell on the house, but I felt sentimental about having something so old in our yard.
Well that was before the day we brought Ben home from the hospital in the middle of an ice storm and it had dropped half of its huge ancient branches onto our front lawn, five minutes after my mom’s boyfriend came in from shoveling the walk way.
I wanted it gone that day. All I could think was how if I was home, and the kids wanted to go play in the snow, I would have let them. Would I have thought to look and see if the branches were over burdened with snow and ice and about to fall? They could have been killed. Two other children in Massachusetts died in that same storm from branches falling them.
Talk about mom guilt.
So we got a tree company out to give us a quote, saved up the $3,000 they said it would take to cut it down and haul it away (along with another pine off to the side of the house that was leaning over the kid’s bedrooms) and in September when had everything saved up (7 months later) we called them back and the crew came.
That was really something to watch. There were five guys, a crane, all kinds of saws and grinding things, the whole neighborhood came out to watch. They even worked all through the afternoon when it started to rain. We were so grateful we left out a big tub of gatorades and protein bars and thanked them 1000 times.
Now I can rest easier at night, knowing its not up there swaying in every breeze, ready to fall on our house or our neighbors’.
AND that we did it with cash and aren’t paying it off for the next 5 years!
Van Mommin’ It
The very first thing we did in January this year (since Ben was coming a month later and three car seaters wouldn’t fit in the compact sedan I’d been driving since college) was buy a mini van. I had $2,000 from the year before in an account I had been contributing to monthly for this very purpose and we traded in Jeff’s car that was new and more valuable than my old one. We ended up still needing a loan, but it turned out to be a little bit less than the one we already had on Jeffs car. So still debt, but slightly less than we already had for a very necessary thing.
By now we SHOULD have a new boiler installed. However, I didn’t think to consider that winter is the busiest time for heat men in the northeast lol. We finally made contact with someone that is coming out after the first of the year and we have all the money saved up to replace it. He’ll be adding a hot water heater and replacing the boiler, including moving it to the side of the basement so that we can vent it out the side of the house and demolish the old brick chimney going up through the middle of the kitchen and bathroom, giving us more room upstairs whenever we get to the bathroom. He said this is what he has in his own house and it’ll save us in oil.
Plussss Jeffs grandparents recently bought a new pellet stove and are giving us their old one! For free!! This will heat up the basement and since the house isn’t yet insulated, the heat from that will warm up the floors in the kitchen and bathroom downstairs. Not to mention Jeff won’t freeze his fingers off working downstairs in his shop area.
I have to say, all of the other stuff we did financially was great, but my favorite thing is that I get to stay home with the kids now (mostly). This is what we’ve been working towards with all of this financial stuff. Jeff got a new job that was a steep pay increase over his last one that he was at for over 8 years. I still do go to work on a per diem basis about 4 days per month.
Now we can feel more relaxed about expanding our family; we both want a big busy family. I used to spend so much time worrying about coordinating my schedule to babysitters, the money we spent on daycare, who was going to do the doctors appointments, the preschool drop off and be there for the bus, who was going to be there when they got sick. Now I’m so happy to know that I’m here to do it all and be their mom.