Thursday, June 17, 2010

So, here's the thing.

I have this other blog I started a couple years ago - mostly as a creative outlet but also as a place to share what I was thinking about whatever. It was often neglected as I felt crazy busy with our four kids and rarely had time to go to the bathroom, let alone sit down and write an entire blog post.

At the end of October last year when Ofc. Brenton was killed, and then when the four Lakewood officers were gunned down I felt that the police wife part of me needed a place to go and write about what was going on in my head and in my heart. I had a few things I've posted that I feel have been relevant to living with a police officer, but the majority of what I write is about what I know the most about ...

Being a wife. Being a mom. Being a Christian.

And that's it.

I've realized, while reading other police wife blogs, that Officer Hottie has worked exceptionally hard, and done exceedingly well, at protecting me and our children from what living with a police officer could be like. Some of the credit can be given to the department he works for and the people he works with. His department encourages family and because they are a small department don't often encounter the big politics that disrupt other departments. His coworkers, as much as they get along, go home to their families after every shift. There is no "fraternity" or "blue wall" and I know I speak for many spouses at the department when I say that being police officers is what their spouses do - but it does not define who they are.

Most of the credit, however, I give to my husband. Even during our most trying times in law enforcement he has remained open, honest and kind. During academy when he was gone and stressed, he came home, rolled around with the boys and helped me with the dinner dishes. When his friend was killed on duty, he clung to me and our family, talking with his dad and our pastor to find comfort. When his schedule changed every month and he worked the most bizarre hours I'd ever heard of, he went without sleep so his children would know his face and his wife could have his support. When he left his first department and the treatment he received was less than fair, he never complained; he simply carried on with dignity, refusing to stoop to such a low level. He has, by all accounts, done everything within his power to maintain his integrity as a husband, father and Christian. I am proud that my husband prioritizes his family. I am thankful that I don't totally understand what other police wives seem to go through.

With that being said, I have decided that the place I know and fit in best is my old blog. I hope you will come by and visit the old/new blog - maybe even become a follower - but I honestly feel that it's misleading to have a blog titled "Confessions of  Police Officer's Wife" when the reality is only 1 in 10 posts actually have anything to do with being married to a police officer. After all, Officer Hottie has always been a hero to me; the badge just made him a hero to everyone else.

I will blog here every once in awhile; when, on those rare occasions, I actually have something to say as a police wife. And I plan on continuing to read your blogs because they are something I truly enjoy reading. For the most part, however, I plan on being over at  Being Gently Led. I hope you'll stop by for a visit sometime.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Before ... and ... After!

My apologies to anyone reading this who doesn't know me and has never been to my house. Since you never knew/saw the "Before" you probably won't care much about the "After". I, however, am over the moon excited about the "After" and so ... I share.

Say, does this butt make me look fat?
(*Side note...this was taken at my surprise 30th birthday party...hence the pink wings. Although I would love to wear pink wings from the Dollar Tree every day of my life. Not.)

To all my friends and family who said I looked just fine - liars - thank you for being nice to me and sparing my feelings. Don't ever, never let me get that fat again.

I honestly don't feel like sharing an "after" picture of my butt. I will say that those jeans I'm wearing in the above picture, I gave to my friend who just had a baby. Either I was really fat or my friend is losing her baby weight at an incredible rate. Perhaps both? Regardless, 23 pounds later, two pants sizes smaller, and I'm feeling much healthier and less ... plumpish. Thank you Jillian Michaels and My Fitness Pal. You saved me from a lifetime of pictures that I am embarrassed to be a part of.

Now onto the really truly very exciting Before and After's. The kitchen!! Although we aren't quite finished, it's basically done. All that is left is some finish work (trim, cabinet knobs, etc.) and I am thrilled to have construction finally coming to a halt.
Again, more apologies as I over-share our journey.

S and B, helping Dad clean out the shed to make room for all our other, treasures.

The "Before" in the hallway.

The "Before" for the play room.

"Before" the demo, but "After" we cleaned up a bit!

My laundry room "Before". In the kitchen. And overcrowded. I am organizationally challenged.

This is my dear sweet Father in Law. I love this picture because it captures completely the confusion he and Officer Hottie felt every time they opened a wall. I believe a good caption would be ... "Wha....???"

Sadly, this is my refridgerator "Before". Ugh. Double ugg. UGG!

The wall. "Before" Have I mentioned that I am organizationally challenged?

With a little bit of help...

My hallway now looks like this.

Still a messy fridge but at least it's out of the way and I now have a pantry right next to it! (Sorry for the lighting issues...I was too excited to post these to take the time to edit.)

The view from the dining room.

The view from the hallway.

The view from the sink. Haha! My poor kids can't get away with anything now! I can see it ALL!! Mua-haha!

Some of my new favorite features are...

This prep table that OH put together for me. I love that handy man of mine.

This little spice rack. There are a few "S" hooks that we have and I am hanging my measuring cups and spoons from them. How handy!

Under cabinet lighting. Right above the prep table. LOVE IT.

So, that's it. My "Before" and "After" post. If you are still reading you should eat a bowl of ice cream. You've earned it.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Remember When Wednesdays : Or ... not.

I wanted to sit down and write an entire post about the next chapter in our getting out of debt saga ... because I'm sure you've been waiting on pins and needles. Right? Right? Hello?

However ...

We are in the middle of a kitchen remodel. I am so proud of the work Officer Hottie is doing - he has made me a new laundry room (er...closet), a pantry, installed new countertops and removed a wall to name a few things. In six weeks. He's amazing. And completely stressed. 

Considering his truck literally caught on fire when he left work on Sunday ...
"Honey, I'm stopping by Lowe's on my way home to pick up the rest of the stuff we need!"
(Five minutes later)
"Honey, I need you to come pick me up because my truck is on fire. The FD is putting it out right now."
... I'm cutting him some slack. The man is allowed to be stressed.

In my attempt to help with his stress level I told him I would paint the ceilings (which still have the paint splotches from when I painted the living room walls last year ) and finish the tile backsplash. I know as much about this kind of work as...well, most women, I guess. I am having fun though and it feels good to actually help my husband with a project instead of folding laundry and offering him another cookie every three minutes.

So, between the car and the kitchen I haven't found time to sit down and write about our debt story. But I will. Because even if no one reads it, it is good for me to remember where we've come from, especially now that we are back down to one car and the prospect of spending another summer without a way to get the kids to the park and play dates is a little discouraging. It's time to buck up and practice what we save save!!

For those of you wanting to "see what happens next" I promise to get it out there soon. As soon as the ceilings are painted, the backsplash is tiled, the counter tops are sealed, the cabinets are painted and the last load of laundry has been folded and put away. Or something like that.

See how stressed these poor children are? See?
Seriously though, thank God for carboard boxes. Can I get an amen?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tidbits from a Day in the Life in the Hottie Household

Because I canceled my Facebook and blogging is my last public outlet ...

1. B: I'm not a tattle tale. I don't even have a tail.
    Me: Being a tattle tale means telling stories, or tales, about people. Yes, you are a tattle tale.
    B: But I don't have a tail.

2. J: I just farted two times. (pauses) I mean three.
    Me: (Febreeze)

3. Me to S: Do you want to go potty in the toilet?
    S: No.
    Me: You don't want to be a big boy?
    S: No.
    Me: So, all those underwear I just bought? Nothing?
    S: (farts. poops in pants.)

4. Officer Hottie: I still can't believe my truck caught on fire.
    Me: (nervous laughter) (crying)

5. L: Mom, I know a way you and Dad can never pay for a baby sitter again.
    Me: Really? How?
    L: You. You and Dad. (runs away, proud of himself.)

6: Me: (glass of wine)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Remember When Wednesdays: The Debt Story Pt 2

(To read Part One of the Debt Story go HERE.)

"I don't get it!" I exclaimed with frustration.
"What's wrong?" Officer Hottie asked as he sat down next to me on the bed.
"I can't seem to get this budget form to work for us. When I fill in all the blanks we come up short. Really short. It's just that we can't be that far off - there has to be something wrong with my math. There is just no way that we are coming up so negative every month."
"You're probably just missing something."
I sighed. "I don't think so. After our mortgage, car payment, credit card payment, car insurance, phone bill and utilities we hardly have anything left for groceries or gas, let alone tithing, gifts, oil changes or anything else."
"Don't worry so much," he tried to reassure me. "I'm sure Dawn will have some insight."
I sincerely hoped he was right. We were almost at the 30 day mark, and Dawn, the financial class instructor, had promised if we kept track of our expenses for 30 days she would sit down with us and come up with a working spending plan. The class had been good for me, although most of the information I already knew, I'd just never put it into practice.
Dawn had said to get $1000 put into an emergency savings account. I wondered where we'd come up with $1000 when we could barely come up with the $245 to make our credit card payment. She said never refinance your mortgage and tie up your credit cards and car payments into the mortgage payment; that within one year the credit card bill would be back up to where it had been. I wondered if she'd looked at our last refi. We'd rolled a $15,000 car loan and an $11,000 credit card into our mortgage...and 10 months later we had a new car with a new payment and our credit card balance was at the $11,000 mark again.  Yikes. She said to pay cash for everything. I wondered how in the world it was possible. Never use a credit card?

The next week Officer Hottie and I headed over to our church to meet with Dawn. We were excited to finally get a plan for our money. I was hopeful that she would be able to find a way for us to not only make our payments, but maybe even have a little extra.
I handed over all our bills, our list of expenses we'd kept track of and our pile of one-time expenses (like our dentist bill we hadn't paid yet), smiled and asked her to work her magic. Dawn was so gracious; I'd liked her the minute I met her. She had worked her way out of a mountain of debt so I felt comfortable letting her look at our situation. She seemed to have it all together and I admired that about her. Her husband had been injured and unable to work so she bore the burden of getting the debt worked out on her own. She had inspired and encouraged me and I felt that having her on our side was going to be a huge help.
Quietly Dawn looked over our transactions. She paused when she got to the last one, a charge to the credit card at Claim Jumper the night before. She looked up at us. "This," she said, circling the charge with her finger, "can't happen anymore. You guys are in no position to be going out for dinner right now. You have a very tough road ahead of you."
There it was, plain as day. We were in trouble and she had called us out on it.
I laughed nervously as she looked back at our paperwork and began making columns. At the top of each column she had OH's take home pay. Underneath she began making lists; mortgage payment, food, auto, insurance, etc. She used a pencil and would write numbers under each column, often erasing and rearranging. She paused every so often to ask us questions: "Is this a recurring bill or a one time bill?" "Is it possible to spend less money on gasoline?" "Have you ever considered clipping coupons?" "Is this cable AND internet?" Each question, each erase, left me more and more worried. I wondered if I had been right, if we really were that far behind every month.
Finally, after lots of math, Dawn looked up at us.
"I think this budget can work. But it'll be tough and you have to be committed. You can do it though." She handed us the paper she had put together. Officer Hottie and I leaned in to read it.
The first thing that stuck out to me was tithing. She had left it blank.
"Wait, what about tithing?" I asked. "Where's the money for tithing?"
Dawn looked at me kindly, but somewhat sadly. "If you tithe, which you can do, you won't have money to pay your mortgage, or make your car payment, or feed your children. It's up to you, because you have to follow your convictions, but I'm telling you, if you tithe, you will not be able to make it."
"Can't the money come from anywhere else?" Officer Hottie asked. "I mean, I'm sure we can cut money somewhere."
Line by line Dawn showed us what we were up against.
A mortgage payment that was 51% of OH's take home pay. A car payment. A credit card payment that was almost as much as the car payment. Utilities. $321 a month to spend on groceries, diapers, toilet paper and shampoo. For our family of five. I kept trying to smile but reality was quickly sinking in. We had spent so long over-spending and it had finally caught up and over taken us. When everything was said and done, simply to pay our bills OH was going to have to work a minimum of one hour of overtime every pay period.
"Ok. Ok. Ok." I think I felt that if I kept saying 'ok' than everything really would be ok.
"You have to cancel your gym membership, reduce your cell phone plan, cancel cable, not drive around so much and get that overtime if you guys want to stay afloat. If you want to keep your home and your car," Dawn said matter-of-factly.
She sighed. "Here's what I want  you to do. If OH gets more than one hour of overtime, you need to think of something you want to do with that money. What do you guys like to do?"
"Eat," we said at the same time.
She laughed. "Ok. So, if you get more than one hour of OT, you get to go out to dinner. Then anything extra you put towards your savings until you get $1000."
"What about Christmas?" I asked, fearful of the answer.
Before she could respond Officer Hottie spoke. "I work Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving," he reminded me. "We'll use that money for Christmas." I was relieved. I really didn't want our children to pay for our mistakes. "Plus," he added, "I get a CPI raise the first of the year, and my step raise soon after that."
"Excellent!" Dawn replied. "Use your tax refund to finish putting the $1000 you need in savings, put about $500 aside for clothes, because your kids will need new clothing, and then put the rest toward your debt. It will only be tough for a short time."
I felt slightly better, but it was only October and we wouldn't be seeing any raises for three months. On top of that, overtime was never guaranteed.
We packed up our things, left the church and got into our car. The car I had been so proud of, so excited to start driving. I now looked at it as a weight that was sinking our family. I plopped into the passenger seat and began crying. Sobbing. How did we let this happen?
Before we left the church's parking lot, Officer Hottie was on the phone. He canceled our cable, took text messaging, internet and the extra minutes off our phone plan. He canceled the gym membership.
"We can't do this," I said.
Officer Hottie grabbed my hand and gave it a firm squeeze.
"We can do this," he stated. "We can and we will."
"We can and we will," I repeated.
I was so thankful one of us had confidence and I tried to remember that three months really isn't a very long time.

To be continued...

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


I have had an epiphany. Actually, I had this particular epiphany awhile ago, but recently it has taken more of a front seat in my life.

I love baking. Love.

My recent baking obsession began during our trip to the Great Wolf Lodge in April. J asked if we would buy him a giant pretzel. I saw the $4 price tag and promptly stated that I could make better ones at home and he'd have to wait. He whined and begged and pleaded but I was not persuaded and when we arrived home I began my quest for making the perfect giant soft pretzel. I tried two recipes that came up lacking. The kids didn't complain, in fact, they really enjoyed them, but I knew deep in my heart of hearts, there had to be something better.

Then Melissa told me about these. And I was done. I have used every excuse to make them.

"Oh, you're pregnant! You probably want a pretzel."

"Oh, you're nursing? You probably need a pretzel."

"Oh, you're on a diet? You should try a pretzel."

"Oh my gosh! You blinked. Here's a pretzel."

Yes, it really is that bad. I tell myself they are healthy, you know, because I use a few cups of whole wheat. It's basically a health food. Basically.

My husband has only aided in my obession by turning these fabulously disgusting counter tops ...

Into these most gorgeous, flat, perfectly perfect counter tops.  

Oh things I will use you to bake for me!! And my children. And husband. Of course.

Come to think of it, Officer Hottie hasn't done much complaining about my baking. It is possible that he is using the perfect counter tops to manipulate me into making more baked good.


Since I like to share you can find the most fabulous recipe for the perfect pretzel HERE. The Pioneer Woman. Of course. And I realize this post should be on my very neglected food blog. Pshhh. Poor neglected food blog.