Simple City Life

Monday, January 26, 2015

Our New Years Forecast for 2015


Health and New Year's go together like peas and carrots. It's the month where you analyze your life, the year ahead, and start making changes. I prefer to stay away from big New Years resolutions, but I will admit that I take a deep look at the past year. I like to make a mental pro/con list. What worked well and what didn't. What area in my life did I tend to well and what did I neglect. As I move in 2015, I have a few areas that I would like to improve on. Follow along as I share my ideals for a healthy new year.

Educate. 
I want to be a better educator to my family on why we eat the way we do. I don't just want to deny their little pleads for candy, I want them to understand where their food comes from and what foods can do to our bodies. Teaching my family to make educated decisions as they grow up is very important to me. I am not always going to be around to give the the green or red light on what they put in their mouths. They need to learn to read labels, understand fair trade and sustainability. I don't plan on giving them a sermon before each meal, but gosh dan it kids are smart and have the right to know!
photo credit: Royston Rascals via photopin cc

Get moving. 
As a family. We try to do one long weekend walk/hike with the kids. We do really great spring-fall, however once the winter arrives we really become shut ins. I want to keep the energy going all year round. We are looking forward to creating a workout space in the new house and I would love to see family workouts happen in there at least once a week.

Try Something New. 
Explore new foods. My kids are as picky as they get some days. I am looking forward to testing out something new on a weekly basis. Letting the kids pick out new fruits and vegetables regularly.

Family Cooking. 
I am looking forward to having a new kitchen and am really looking forward to having the kids become more involved in the cooking process. They love helping out and I need to let my OCD go a little and let them join in the fun. I want them to be confident in the kitchen and excited to cook new recipes and master old ones.


Healthier Breakfast. 
I hate breakfast! Kinda ironic since I won a huge breakfast giveaway last year at Shift Con! I not only hate eating breakfast, I loathe cooking breakfast. I am challenging myself to get busier in the kitchen first thing in the morning. It doesn't have to be difficult, just something to get away from the typical cereal every single morning. My kids inhale quiche, so I really don't have a excuse as it is the easiest breakfast meal. Abbie shared a great quiche last month. She was able to pack it full of healthy foods and even gave it a Greek yogurt boost with Stonyfield.

What are you looking to change or improve on to make 2015 a healthy new year?

~Courtney

This post was written in partnership with Stonyfield as a member of their ambassador program.  All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. 




Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A journey to being debt free, part 1.

2015 is turning out to be a pretty fine year. Things are looking brighter than ever for the Fisk family. Towards the end of 2014, we started talking about moving to a bigger place, needless to say with the cost of rent, neither of us were willing to pay so much more for a rental. We started brainstorming and before we knew it, we started to plan to purchase a house. Neither of us have had a big desire to become homeowners. We want to be safe and smart with our life decisions, especially our finances. After completing Dave Ramsey's financial peace class last year, together we have worked our tails off to remove all debt and become financially stable. The thought of going into a mortgage is scary, exciting yet scary.

As we enter into this new year I want to share our financial journey with others as a way to encourage and support each other. I have found some ways that have helped us stay on top of bills, tools for budgeting, and ways to save with our the exhaustion of clipping coupons. More than ever this year I need to stay on track and be accountable for our choices.  With a impending mortgage and the expenses of becoming a homeowner, I will be continuing on this path of financial freedom. I am in no way, shape, or form a financial guru, just a stay at home mom who has taught myself some things to help manage the family budget.
                                               photo credit: frankieleon via photopin cc

Before I hand out any advise, I want to share our back story. It's messy and kind of embarrassing, but it is part of our journey and if it can help anyone else I am happy to share.

Let me introduce you to free as a bird Courtney and Scott. Both single, both earning money, both spending money. I can only truly speak for myself, but I never worried about money as a embarked off on my own. I would spend, spend, spend. I would pay my bills, but never cared about savings and had no clue how to budget anything. I would say that I was very uneducated in the area of finances. As long as my account balance as positive I spent money. I never took medical bill seriously, I figures insurance would eventually pay it all and I would be ok. This is where I ended up getting myself into the deepest trouble. I was also a horrible bookkeeper too. Notices were thrown and I was terrified to talk with anyone in billing. If I had been a completely healthy person this wouldn't have been a issue, but I wasn't. My late teens and early twenties I was very sick. In and out of the ER and Dr. visits. When I was 22, I was finally diagnosed and had surgery to remedy the situation. After a month of missed work and stacking medical bills, I fell into a huge depression. I ignored my bills and tried to move on. I was now in debt $23,000- all medical.

Within a short time after my surgery, I met Scott. We quickly fell in love and were married. I brought my medical debt into our marriage and brought his credit card debt. We quickly realized that we were in way over our heads and our incomes, and we were expecting a baby...more medical bills to add. The stress took a toll on our relationship. After much research, relocating back to the Midwest to a more affordable area, we eventually filed bankruptcy. We were horrified and scared. It was to us the ultimate fail. Although, this action did erase our debt, we were still clueless on balancing our money. I started listening to Dave Ramsey, moved us to a cash system and slowly started to learn how to manage our money. And when I say slowly, I mean slowly...almost 10 years have passed and I finally feel like I have a grasp!

I know our story isn't unheard of. If you listen to Dave Ramsey, I assure you, you will start to feel better about your situation. As stupid as we were, there is always some who ranks higher on the meter. Every situation is unique and all of our steps may not be the exact steps that you take, but I want to share our journey and encourage anyone else who is looking for ways to get out of debt, save money and reduce stress.

I will continue more next week, since if you have made it this far your truly deserve a reward!

Cheers!
Courtney


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Celebrating a First Birthday with Sky Zone Milwaukee #Review




I cannot believe January is almost over! Seriously the last two months have been so full and crazy with the holidays, my mom being here for six weeks, having the flu and surviving our first cold snap of the year. I am just now starting to feel back to normal. As I look back to the last couple of months, I think my highlight was getting to celebrate Alamea's first birthday! It was so special having my mom and sister here to be part of celebrating her first year. I wasn't sure how we would celebrate, but when I was given the opportunity to review Sky Zone Trampoline Park here in Milwaukee I knew it would be perfect for our teeny tiny walker.  We invited our family and rallied a few of our friends thanks to the easy online invitations provided from Sky Zone and we all jumped the night away with lots of laughs, red faces and plenty of food.


I wasn't quite sure what to expect at Sky Zone and since our age range of kids went from 1 to 12 years old. I was nervous the little tots would be a bit left out. Let me first say how much fun the toddlers had! They did not feel left out at all. And since we went on a Thursday night it was pretty quiet and since we had a private court all to ourselves, the wobbly toddlers were able to jump and not be overwhelmed with tons of people and the bigger kids and adults enjoyed the basketball hoops and the foam pits as well as the regular trampolines. The only difficult part was keeping the little guys on their own individual trampoline without mom or dad since the rule is one person per jump space.

  Alamea was so happy the whole night as she jumped and ran around her own trampoline and laughed and laughed until her face turned red. All of us adults had such a great time as well and I don't think I have not laughed so hard either in a long time. After an hour of jumping and play we all headed to the private party room and had pizza and soda waiting for us. I brought in cupcakes, gluten-free cookies and  a veggie tray for my guests and  since Coutney's middle boy needs gluten-free options, we called Sky Zone a few days before we showed up and asked if we could bring in his own frozen pizza to cook there. They of course said yes and the employees were incredibly helpful in getting it ready and had everything laid out and ready for us. Speaking of helpful, we were assigned two party attendants in the private room and they were awesome. They poured drinks, served pizza and cleaned up after our tribe. Seriously I was so impressed with how helpful they were.

That being said I have to be honest and say I was a little nervous in the first 20 minutes of our arrival to Sky Zone, since we were given no direction after we checked in and had a few minutes of waiting  until our reserved jump time. The young employees seemed really inattentive to us being there. Eventually an older employer, who I am assuming was a manager, came over, said hello, gave us all the rules and released us all to start jumping. After the orientation everything went really smooth. I guess my expectations are pretty high if you are reserving a private party and are spending $450 dollars for a Supreme Air Party Package. To me that's a big chunk of change for a birthday party and I would want to make sure I know exactly what is going on at all times and that the customer service will be top notch.



So what does the Supreme Air Party include?
 - Maximum 25 jumpers 
- 1 hour private court jump time
 - Main court access can replace a private court if preferred 
- Additional jumpers can rotate to Foam Zone & Sky Slam
 - 5 XL 1 topping pizzas, 5 soda pitchers

All in all every single one of us had such a fantastic night celebrating Alamea and getting our jump on! Sky Zone offers lots of activities you can join throughout the week including dodge ball and even group exercise classes. It's a wonderful indoor activity to do with the family during the crazy cold of winter when your kids are going stir crazy or would be a fun date night with the hubby.  My husband Kevin and step-daughter have already decided they were going to go back for a daddy/daughter date night.  

Happy Jumping!
Abbie