Category: family

I Belong With You, You Belong With Me, You’re My Sweetheart

These are the two men who stole my heart.
They are both so incredible and I love them more every day.
My sweet husband loves me like Jesus, giving me grace when I don’t deserve it and truly being my partner in this life.  Our little boy brings so much joy with his big smile and happy giggles.  When he grabs my face for a big kiss or runs up to mama and daddy for a family hug, my heart melts all over again.  I am so thankful for the love of my two men today and every day.  I can’t wait to bring our daughter into the family this spring.
We are blessed beyond all reason and my cup overflows.
Happy Valentine’s Day from the Eby family
and Bare Feet on the Dashboard!

Family Travel: Hiking the Continental Divide at Cottonwood Pass

I am in love with Colorado in the summer.

Hiking is one of my favorite things in life.  Walking around in beautiful places makes my heart so happy.

We were so blessed to travel for 2 months this past year and experience so much beauty.  While we were staying and working at Trail West in Buena Vista, Colorado, we hiked Cottonwood Pass three times with our whole camp group.  It is a super easy hike for families.

We hiked with babies and kids of all ages as well as adults with all kinds of health problems and an 84 year old grandmother.  She loved it.

The hike doesn’t take long but you get a fantastic payout at the top.  There is a 360 degree view of the Collegiate Peaks and Taylor Reservoir.  The pass is open in the summer, and you can find more about closings and see tons of pictures and videos here.  The trailhead is about 19 miles west of Buena Vista and the pass is used as a route from BV to Crested Butte.  The pass was used in the USA Procycling Challenge, so Jed felt like Andy Schleck when he rode his bike down the mountain.

   For kids under 3 I would highly recommend hiking with an Ergobaby carrier or some other type of backpack type carrier.  Bear was obviously too little to do it on his own, and we saw many a preschool get a bit tired and whiny on the way up.  It’s just how they roll.  The hike is quick and easy, but you do climb to 12,600 feet so you will feel it.

No matter how warm it is at the bottom of the mountain, bring lots of layers for yourself and your kiddos.  We learned that lesson the hard way on another hike with the Bear.  I did not win Mom of the Year in 2012, and I blame that hike among many, many other things.  You can read more about our adventures hiking with a toddler here.

Have you taken your whole family hiking?  Share any tips or what holds you back in the comments section below.
Follow Becca’s board Family Travel on Pinterest.

Frugal Christmas: Five Easy Ways to Save Money Next Year

This year marked our fourth Christmas being debt free with no credit cards!  I cannot believe it has been that long.  The sense of freedom when debts are gone doesn’t go away or lessen over time.  When we started following the teachings of Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and Financial Peace University in 2009 we had NO idea how much our lives would change for the better.  You can read more about our financial story here if you’re interested.  This past year we transitioned to one income.  Funny story: I actually called in to Dave Ramsey’s radio show to ask if we were okay financially to quit my job and become a stay at home mom in a few months and he told me to do it that day.  I waited six more months, but it was so great having the advice our one of our financial heroes.  Christmas is a tricky time for money and frugality.  We all want to make it special for ourselves, our kids, our friends, our loved ones, and even our pets.  It is totally possible to be frugal and still have a fabulous gift giving, charity helping, generous, festive Christmas.  I promise.  We’ve done it for the last four years and we get better at it every year.  
To start you off I’ll share five easy ways you can start NOW to have a frugal Christmas next year.  
1)  BUDGET!!!  Yes, I mean it.  Plan now for how much you want to spend on everything from decorations to Santa gifts to cookies for your child’s classroom.  Christmas will be here on December 25, 2013, just like always and as Dave says, it is not an emergency.  If you set your budget and start putting a little bit aside in your gift or Christmas fund in January, you won’t be strapped for funds and it will make it easier to save on other things.  Don’t know where to start? Write down how much you spent this year on everything.  If you will be paying it off for months you know you will have to reduce.  I’ll share our Christmas budget as an example.
Cards: $20 
Stamps: $25 
Gifts to each other: $200 ($100 each) 
Gifts for Bear: $50  
Gifts for Family: $160  (We draw names but still buy a little something for our parents and nieces/nephews.)
Decorations: $20
Total: $475
That total may seem super low to some of you and super high to others.  Jed polled his 9th grade students and they guessed overall that we would budget to spend $500 each on each other and about the same on Bear.  Let’s just say they are a little bit confused about how much their teachers get paid.  Our budget will go up next year with our new addition, so we will probably budget $50 per month over the year.  If you like to do holiday specific charitable giving, plan for that as well.  We give monthly to our churches and causes, so we don’t do a big year end gift.  Most folks do get a lot of charity asks in December though, so it might be wise to set aside a bit to cover the unexpected.
2) BUY ON SALE AND HIDE  I start looking for Christmas stuff at after Thanksgiving sales, the year before.  Then I strategically hide everything.  All of the Bear’s presents were purchased at consignment sales, thrift stores, garage sales, discount stores like Ross and Marshall’s, or were at least 50% off at retail stores.  They all looked new and he loved them.  The wooden activity block came from a Rhea Lana consignment sale and cost $12.  They retail from $75 to $150.  I bought it in October of 2011 and saved it for this year.  Your toddler will never know that you got that doll off Ebay, I promise.  We have all fallen prey to the “my baby deserves the best” ploy so many times.  Your baby deserves a stable home with no money problems.  This premise applies to other categories as well.  Decorations are on clearance everywhere right now.  Buy Forever stamps for next year and set them aside.  They will only go up in price.   
3) LOOK FOR DEALS AND THINK AHEAD  If you like to send out photo cards, take a cute family picture in  August and have it ready.  Sign up for emails from printing sites like Shutterfly, Tiny Prints, Minted, and Snapfish.  Companies start sending out emails offering 10 free cards in September this year.  I sent out about 50 cards and paid around $12 total using deal emails like those.  I ordered from several different sites and only paid shipping.  On other things always shop around.  Always, always, always check Amazon.  Download the app and do it in the store.  Target now price matches year round, which rocks.  
4) USE CASH MONEY, HONEY  Studies show that your brain actually reacts differently when you use cash as opposed to cards.  You feel it more and it triggers pain receptors.  This is a GOOD thing.  Remember that money you budgeted each month in #1?  Take it out of the bank and put it in an envelope marked “gifts” and use that to make your purchases.  If you find a deal online, write that amount on the envelope and put amount of cash back in the bank.  Using cash is hard, but it is worth it.  By the end of the holidays next year you will know exactly how much you spent and will have paid $0 in interest on your cards.  Winning.  You can read more about how we use a cash system year round here.  
5)  MAKE MEMORIES, NOT MONEY MISTAKES  If you think back on all your holiday gifts and experiences, you will probably be hard pressed to remember more than a few gifts.  What I remember most are the experiences: cooking together, driving around to see lights, decorating the tree, caroling (or kazooing – I had a really fun youth pastor),  volunteering, Christmas Eve services, etc.  Think about what makes your holiday special to you.  Ask your spouse or siblings what matters to them.  Most people probably won’t say the gifts.  Draw names and set a price limit with your adult siblings, their spouses, and parents to take down the stress level for everyone.  We do a $50 limit with my family.  Buying one thoughtful gift for a family member is sooo much nicer and less stressful than buying 18 crap gifts for the whole bunch.  Give priceless but cost free gifts to friends and family like a night of free babysitting or offer to take their family photo.  Use your natural talents to make special presents for your loved ones.   Our consumer culture has turned Christmas into a competition, instead of celebration of God’s love for us and our love for each other.  Let’s take it back. 
How do you save money during the holidays?
Do you plan ahead?  
Send me your favorite frugal holiday tips by email or blog post comment and I’ll link to you in an upcoming post.  

Summer Flashback: On the Road from Buena Vista to Vail

As a hazy shade of winter makes me sleepy and cold temperatures keep us indoors, I think wistfully back to our summer adventure. Here are a few instagram pics from one leg of the trip.

As
Sweet sleeping baby
A bike race through the pass
Not the Tour de France, but fun to watch all the same.
Downtown Leadville, Colorado
A lovely alpine lake

Our next adventure will be adding a new member to the family.
What is your next adventure?

Daddy and the Four Wheeler

 Jed was so excited to take the Bear on his first four wheeler ride when we visited the ranch over Thanksgiving.  Don’t worry, he was just planning on circling the driveway.  The Bear was not equally excited, and you can see below how things played out.  He started out a little nervous.

 Then he progressed to uncomfortable and tried to escape.  Then the whole situation escalated into a full scale meltdown.  Needless to say, the Bear’s first four wheeler ride will come sometime in the future.

Toddlers and Tractors

 The Bear’s obsession of the moment is all things farm.  When we were invited to the Goertz’s ranch for Thanksgiving, he was in heaven.  Not only were there big tractors, cows, horses, and 4-wheelers, there was also a pint sized tractor perfect for him.  He spent hours on this thing.

He also loved watching his big cousins, Preston, Parker, and Noah, do fun big kid stuff.  You know, like drive full sized gators around.  

Look at the pure concentration on Preston’s face.  This kid is going to be an awesome driver by the time he turns 16.  

Now I just need to find one of these mini tractors for our backyard.  Craigslist is calling…

Cute Cousins

 My siblings and I are all spread out all over the country, so when we get together we have to get a picture of the kids all together.  As you might imagine, getting 3 kids age 3 and under to sit still and pose is nearly impossible.  Sweet Luke hadn’t quite mastered the whole sitting up thing, which made it even trickier.  There was a small scuffle over the little blue fish in the middle, but we persevered.  Two more cute cousins will be added to this side of the family in April and June.

How do you get kids to sit still for a photo?

We’re Having A…

Will Mini Bear be a brother or sister for our little Bear?
Will it be a bow or tie in our Christmas box?
Can you guess?
 Mini Bear’s tiny little foot

Still don’t know?
I’ll let Bear show you…

He approaches the box…
opens it up..
 and we see a hint of pink…

We’re having a precious little girl, and we couldn’t be more excited.  She should arrive near the end of April.  As you can see, I’ve already started her accessory collection.  The majority of y’all guessed correctly, so congrats on your good instincts.  You should probably go buy a powerball ticket.  🙂  Now we just have to figure out a name…

A Big Brother T-Shirt to Announce Our Pregnancy

When we found out we were expecting our 2nd wee one, I tried to come up with a sweet way of announcing the pregnancy to our friends here in Dallas, our family far away, and my bloggy folks.  I decided to hand embroider the announcement on to a t-shirt for The Bear to wear.  My hand embroidery skills are… not strong.  But hey, what’s life without a little imperfection?  

 I shot a few pics of The Bear in his t-shirt after I finished it, and sent them out to friends and family that live far away, with the caption, “The Bear has an announcement.”

 It took some of our friends and family a bit to figure out they had to read the shirt to get the announcement.

 Later we put the shirt back on The Bear to go see some of our friends at our regular Taco Thursday dinner. Such great reactions.

 The Bear also wore his shirt to my Young Life “retirement” party to share the good news with all our YL friends.

 Finally, I used the the pics to announce the pregnancy here on the blog.

 To make the shirt, I used a plain navy blue shirt that was already a part of The Bear’s wardrobe.  I have a collection of vintage felt and embroidery floss from and estate sale purchase years ago.  I used orange felt and navy blue floss and an embroidery needle that was waaaaay too big to stitch the design.  I fastened the felt into an embroidery hoop and stitched away after drawing the words with an disappearing ink pen.  I used the hoop as a guide to cut out the circle, and then stitched the circle onto the shirt.  Done.

How did you announce your pregnancy? 

I’m sharing this design over at Prudent Baby’s Embroidery Contest and at some other fun craft parties.

The Bear has BIG News…

He’s going to be a …
BIG BROTHER!!!
We are so excited.  Baby #2, who we are calling Mini Bear, is due at the end of April.  I’m about 9 weeks pregnant with tons of morning sickness to show for it.  I’ll post lots more fun details and the sonogram picture later, so stay tuned.