Monday, October 24, 2016

Impromptu Pizza Party & Halloween Plans

Last week just flew by!

This past Saturday marked the beginning of my 15th week in pregnancy. I cannot believe how fast it's going by...

Last Friday I ordered Dominos for a surprise pizza party lunch. I wanted to give the kids a special treat to celebrate the simple fact that it's Friday. I love seeing my kids be happy for simple things and is something I really work hard at emphasizing.

I ordered enough pizza for 2 days' worth of lunches

The big kids have been trying to avoid their school work over the last few weeks and I have to end up reminding them...sometimes not so nicely...that they need to get a move on and open their books. I think they are just excited that the extreme heat of summer is over and they are finally able to play outside without melting. I'm toying with the idea of switching up the school year and having them "do" school throughout the summer and have the fall off instead.

Doesn't that sound nice? Since we have the pool, they'd be able to take swim breaks (recess and gym class, anyone? haha) throughout the day but when they get too hot, we can go inside and work on our schoolwork. Another option that is quite popular amongst homeschoolers is to have the kids do school  work all year long but with shorter days. That may also be a better fit for us. But with the new baby being born in April (God willing), I have a feeling that a summer break will be much appreciated by all of us! I guess we'll see as time goes on....

The clothesline that I rigged up last week is proving to be a life saver. No more digging around, trying to find clean clothes for everyone to wear. Antonio gave up on clean socks long ago and just bought a huge pack of new ones. haha

I had been forgetting to take my prenatal vitamins over the last couple of weeks and have really been feeling drained and lethargic. I started taking them again last week and have felt a definite rise in my energy level!

On Thursday after I swept all of the floors (we have hard floors throughout our house, either hardwood or vinyl, depending on the room), I went through and mopped all but one room. I haven't had the energy to do that (mop) in weeks! And boy did they need it!

Antonio has been super busy at work and isn't coming home until after dark. The kids and I try to wait until he gets home to eat dinner.

Some of our dinners last week were:

A hodge-podge soup with beans, corn, onion, green pepper, potatoes, green beans and noodles served with a cornbread that Mahri baked.

Italian chicken (marinated overnight) with french fries

Penne alfredo that was supposed to be served with broccoli but Antonio surprised us with authentic tacos and sopes from a local Mexican taqueria, so we just ate those with the pasta. He also brought home treats from a local panderia (hispanic bakery) for after dinner.

Sloppy Joes with green beans

I'm starting to have a bit more of an appetite which may or may not be a good thing.

Christian has rekindled his love for Legos after taking a break for a couple of months. Look at what he built! He is trying to build an actual clock and is experimenting with different sized gears.

We're hoping to take the kids to Boo At The Zoo this weekend (I'm actually writing this on Friday...which is last Friday to the time this is posted, we may have already went to Boo At the Zoo) so that Aussie and Levi can go trick-or-treating. Mahri is planning on TOTing with them on Halloween night but Christian feels that he is too old to get candy but wants to walk around in costume nonetheless.

Austin is being a strong man.

Levi will be a lizard.

Mahri is going to be something akin to a (modest) showgirl with a peacock-feathered mask and head piece.

And Christian is going to be an escaped prisoner that wields a bloody axe and wears a mask.

I'll post pictures of them in costume after Halloween!

I asked the kids how they would like to have a hot dog roast on or around Halloween (possibly this coming weekend) and invite the neighbor kids over for it. I have dubbed the occasion our first annual Halloweenie Roast! haha! We'll finally be able to put the fire pit in our back yard to good use!

Does your family have any fun Halloween traditions?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Getting Creative with Laundry

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen my recent post of how I have been without a clothes dryer for the past 4 months.

It's not that I don't own one...I do. I have a beautiful high capacity one sitting up in my storage barn at the back of my property. It was put there when we moved with the intention that it would be brought down to the house once we were all moved in and settled.

I'm still waiting for it 4 months later.

In the meantime, I bought one of those little wooden drying racks...the kind with the little dowels on it that holds maybe half of a small load of laundry?

But considering that I am doing laundry for 6 (soon to be 7!), it just wasn't working for us very well. It also has the tendency to blow over easily with the slightest breeze.

As laundry piled up, I began to get frustrated.

I told my husband that I wanted to put up a clothesline to use until he brought down my dryer.

Side note: my husband and I own our own swimming pool company. We are in the middle of our second year and business has just about quadrupled! Praise God!! However, that doesn't leave him with much time for doing things around the house. Like bringing down my dryer.

So the other day I bought myself 100 feet of braided clothesline.

My husband, Antonio, came home from work and smiled when he saw what I was holding.

"Where are you going to put that? We don't have any poles in the ground to hook it to."

Oh, ye of little faith!!

Never doubt a determined woman!

Or a mother whose children are in desperate need of clean underpants!!


I stretched and tied the clothesline around 3 sides of my carport
I think I have gotten more laundry done in the past 3 days with this cheap skein of clothesline than I did with 4 months of that darned wooden drying rack!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Home Birth? | Baby #5


You read it right.

Home birth.

As in...having this precious baby in the comfort of our own home.

It is something that I have been talking about wanting to do since before I even got pregnant with this little chick.

But once I got pregnant..well, fear began to creep in. I mean...this is America. Going to the hospital is what you do when you're in labor, right? (at least that's what's been ingrained in us over the last several decades...thankfully, we have options)

But the more that I am learning how difficult my local hospitals are going to make it for me to go natural (no pain relief), I realize that home birth is what I am heavily leaning towards.

See, my local hospitals require an IV to be inserted immediately upon being admitted.

And constant fetal monitoring.

Both of which I am not wanting....mainly because both inhibit, if not prohibit, movement during labor. Frequent and full movement is necessary for a birthing mama, to help her find relief from the pain and intense contractions.

Photo courtesy of Agroterra Photography
Plus, I have requested "No Epidurals" at the beginning of each of my labors. But they try and pressure me into getting one. "At least let us put it in now...we won't hook it to any medication..but at least it will be in for later if you change your mind. If you change your mind later, it might be too hard to get it in when you're in more pain."

I always gave in. I mean, heck, if you're getting it put in why not have the meds, too?

(I was also induced with each of my previous labors...I have heard from friends that induced contractions hurt MUCH MUCH more than natural contractions)

I also want to be able to eat and drink during labor.

I remember how incredibly thirsty I got during all of my other labors...only to be spoon fed tiny ice chips.

WHAT?!, thank you.

I'd like a real drink, if you don't mind.

Photo courtesy of Birth Without Fear Blog
All of my children will be able to be near me, even if they aren't watching or participating in the event. They are at least nearby. No sending them to a sitter or worrying about them while I'm strapped to a hospital bed. I won't even have to find someone to watch my pets!

Even a midwife-operated freestanding birth center presents its own set of difficulties, namely, I would have to leave my other kids at home or take them with me. No one (out of my kids) who thinks that they want to be there for the birth can change their mind once things get intense; they'll be stuck there for the long haul.

At home, my kids can be in the other end of the house, watching tv or even playing outside. They can come in and visit with me whenever they want, pending my mood and pain level, of course.

This photo (courtesy of brought tears to my eyes. How precious is that?!
I will be able to rest and recover in my own bed, with my own bedding and use my own bathroom.

I am currently in the process of looking for a CNM (certifed nurse midwife) who attends home births. One that I feel like I connect with and feel comfortable with. One who has many years of experience in both home birth AND in a clinical setting.

I think I found my gal...but still want to think on it and pray about it. Then I will meet with her.

I'm also looking for a doula to help and comfort me throughout the labor.

I know that many people get freaked out when they think about a woman choosing to birth her baby at home. But this is something that I am comfortable with and not very scared of. I mean, sure, other people throwing scare tactics at me can rattle me....but all-in-all, home birth is a very strong possibility for this little one and me!

Do you have a wonderful and inspiring home birth story? Please share it in the comments below or on my FB page!


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Pregnant with #5! Weeks 10-13 Update!

Well, as I told you all on Facebook, I was going to take a break from posting updates every week because...well, not much seemed to be happening! haha

Week 11 Bump Selfie

Week 12
A candid peek at my 13-week belly

Even this update is going to be pretty boring because there's still not too much going on...

Except...oh, nothing big except....



It started at maybe 10 weeks, which I know is early, but since this is my 6th pregnancy, things seem to be noticed much sooner.

Like my big butt. haha

But, seriously, though! At first it only happened maybe once a week. It was a pop like a kernel of popcorn exploding. Right in the spot where the baby is.

Then, every so often, I started feeling a little fluttering feeling.

Now (I'm currently in week 14), I feel the pop and/or flutter usually about once a day. Sometimes more. Sometimes it's only every couple of days.

It really is an amazing feeling.

Baby seems to respond when another person lays their hand on my belly over top of Baby. Like he (or she...but I say "he" out of last 3 littles have been boys)..anyway, it's like he knows that someone new is saying hello.

Pregnancy websites say that Baby is beginning to suckle in the womb, even trying to suckle on your finger if you press it onto your stomach! How sweet is that?!

By the end of Week 13, Baby is about 3 inches long...the size of a pea pod!

Side note: if it's a girl, she already has more than 2 million eggs in her ovaries! Woah!

BUUUT we have decided to wait to find out what our little peanut is until they make their grand entrance into this world!!

Exciting, right?!

This morning, during a phone conversation with my mom, she asked me if I could at least tell her the names we have chosen. I told her "Nope! You'll find out that, too, when the baby gets here." She declared how unfair that was, since I had done the same thing (not telling the name) for the last 2 babies, too. hahaha!

Food Cravings & Aversions??

Nothing really tastes great. I fill up really quickly when I eat. After a few bites, I'm pretty much done. Which makes it kind of frustrating when we go out on Date Night (we try to do Date Night once a week). I mean, with all of my other pregnancies, I was a glutton and inhaled everything and everything was DEEELICIOUS!

Not this time. Everything tastes...meh.

Except fresh fruit. Fruit tastes pretty good!

My morning sickness has pretty much disappeared. Yay!!

If I eat too much food at dinner...or just for unknown random reasons...I get heartburn, usually at bedtime.

My IBS has been acting up lately. I think it's stress induced. The pain with it is horrendous. I think the lady at Party City thought I was in labor...I was in so much pain (waiting for Antonio to check out and pay), I was pacing back and forth, sweating and ghost white (according to Mahri), holding my stomach. It usually flares up pretty bad when I'm pregnant. So I'm going to work on getting that under control.

Hmm...anything else going on??

I think that about sums it up....

Hopefully I'll have some more great news with my next update!!

Psst...I'm in my 2nd trimester now!!! Eeeee!! Time is flying!!

If you are pregnant, what's going on in your pregnancy?! How far along are you?? Tell me in the comments below or on Facebook!! Let's share notes!! haha

Monday, October 17, 2016

Raise Your Credit Score FAST | Part 2

Did you read Part 1 of this series? How we went about rebuilding our credit?
(Click HERE if you missed it!)

Well, we decided to tackle the whole kit and caboodle at once:

We also made the conscious decision to pay off every single delinquent account on his credit report.

It only came to a couple of thousand dollars of old debt (several years old), which was still a lot to us, but it needed to be done. I hear that Dave Ramsey actually has a lot of really great advice on how to do this if you feel like your total debt is way too high to even attempt to pay off. He breaks it down into easy-to-follow baby steps.

The collection agency contact information is located on your credit report.

A few months ago (before we moved), we called all of our creditors in one morning.

Before we even admitted we owed the money or offered to make a payment we asked each agency if they would delete our delinquent account from our credit report if we paid.

We pretty much got a "we can't promise you anything" from each collection agent.

Antonio and I looked at each other over the kitchen table and sighed. So many of the credit repair websites I had read said that this wouldn't be an issue and that the agency's would be so excited and happy to remove it from our report.

Hmmm...this wasn't working like we thought.

But we knew that we owed it.
(if something on your credit report is wrong and you don't actually owe the amount they are saying that you do, you can dispute it!! Definitely check out that option if you find an indiscrepency on your report!! You should see either a link or other contact information of how to dispute an item with the credit agency on your credit report itself)

We knew that it had to paid, regardless of whether or not it would be removed. Most of them wouldn't be automatically deleted from his report for several more years (there is a statute of limitations on how long an unpaid bill can sit on your credit report. Usually around 7 years. Then it gets automatically deleted. However, if you contact them or make even one payment within that time starts the whole 7 years over again. I've also heard that if they sell your account to another collection agency, it also restarts the 7 years, so be wary), which we couldn't afford to wait for if we were hoping to get a house any time in the next few years.

So we paid them even though the best response we got was "we might look into requesting that the credit reporting agencies remove it from your report in a few months". What did we have to lose?

So we paid them and waited.

And then we got this house on a 2-yr lease, which turns out to be a great thing because it's cheaper than our trailer's rent, and we're able to work on our credit over the next 2 years, so that we'll be able to buy our forever home when our lease is over!

Great plan, right? did it really turn out?

Did doing any of this actually help our credit?

Or did it just make a bigger mess of things?

Find out the results in Part 3 of this series!!

Coming soon!!

Have you ever hired a company to repair your credit?? Was it worth it in your opinion or would you go about doing it yourself if you could redo the experience? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time....xoxo

Friday, October 14, 2016

Raise Your Credit Score FAST | Pt 1

IMPORTANT NOTE: Let me preface this series by explaining that when I say you can raise your credit score "FAST", I don't mean impossibly and illegally fast. Not like those handwritten signs on th side of the road promise to do if you'll just call them. ::sigh:: I mean, seriously? These signs are all over the place down here in Atlanta and I just shake my head and want to call them just to say "Man, if you can't afford to professionally print your signs, what makes you think I'm going to trust you with MY finances?" But I digress!! When I say "FAST" I mean a reasonable kind of fast. The kind of results I have personally seen in less than 6 months. It didn't take you 3 days to completely demolish your credit and get into debt, did it? No. So it's going to take a little bit to fix it. You ready? Here we go!

If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you may remember how I did a short series (very short...hahaha) series on trying to buy a house with bad credit, including a prior foreclosure.

As you know, we found a house we absolutely loved and were looking into buying (Read about that HERE). Only to be told that we had several strikes against us:

1.) My husband's credit score was extremely low (I have nonexistent credit, believe it or not. The bank actually did a triple take when they looked at my file...there is none. That's right. Livin' off the grid, in a manner of speaking. hahaha)

2.) We are self-employed and at the time we had only been officially in business for a little over a year. The lenders that we inquired all told us that it was a big risk factor and that they required our having been in business for at least 2 years

So...basically...NO WAY, JOSE...Try again another time!!

Well, most of you know that we ended up getting a phone call out-of-the-blue from one of our clients (who has also become a friend) and he told us about this house he had just bought and would we like to rent it? (read about that HERE if you missed that amazing story)

And that pretty much brings us up-to-date on that front.

We're here in this house. Unfortunately, the landlord is wanting to ask an astronomical sum of gold for this house (ahem...over twice what he paid for it). Even if we could get approved for it, I don't want to get ourselves that deeply in debt.

However, we signed a 2 year lease and have that time to clean up our credit.

And we have been working on repairing it and building it up.

More on that in a second...

By the way, our business is going super-strong. I'd guesstimate that we've quadrupled in size since Year 1 (we are currently in the middle of Year 2)...and we barely advertised this year! Word of mouth is really blessing our family business! So that takes care of the lenders' fear of our company not surving more than a couple of the years.

Now onto what we're doing to repair and build our credit:

(and by "our credit" I mean my husband's credit...his is what they are looking at for loan approval...I'll take care of mine later)

We signed up for a free Credit Karma account to monitor our credit scores.

His score was bad.

Like, in low-mid 500s bad.

Okay. ::deep breath:: It's going to be okay. Let's just take this one step at a time....

We decided to begin tackling our debt (which was actually quite small...I think our biggest issue was that we had a few open delinquent accounts and no credit cards).

Antonio went to the bank for a sit-down with the mortgage lender. After all, who best to get advice on what needed to be done in order for them to approve us, right?

We thought that maybe just paying off our delinquent accounts would be enough. However, the mortgage lender said that it wouldn't be enough. We would also need to get a secured credit card through the bank. Do NOT just get any prepaid credit card! In order to build credit, you need one that regularly reports to the major credit reporting agencies. The agencies that determine your credit scores.

So we applied for the card, put down the required $300 "deposit" and asked for instructions on how to use it properly to build credit.

They said that under NO circumstance should we go on a shopping spree of any kind.

They said to put no more than $60 per month on our card. That is just 20% of our credit limit.

We are to pay that off by the due date each month.

They promised that, if we follow these instructions faithfully, we would see a rise in our credit scores within a few months.

All righty then.

I'll admit it: I didn't believe a word of it. No way could something that simple have an effect on something as major as our credit scores.

But I decided to give it a try...even if it was just to tell my husband "I told you so."

(Spoiler alert: I was the one who was wrong!)

We began using our credit card in June 2016.

Their instructions were clear and we've been following them pretty religiously ever since. Or so I thought. I just found out today that Antonio is actually going way over the recommended 20% but is still paying in full...I need to talk with him about the ramifications of that tonight. It's all in black and white over on Credit Karma's site with their Credit Adjuster tool. It shows how his credit would be if he was following their instructions exactly. Hint: it'd be much better than it is now.

Well, that's the end of Part 1 of this series, how we're rebuilding our credit. Be sure to follow my blog (or hey, come "like" me over on Facebook!!

You can follow my blog or find me at for the next part of my series: How To Fix Past Credit Mistakes/Clean Up Bad Credit! (including some tips on what to do if something is wrong on your report and how to negotiate with collection agents)

Until next time! xoxo