Historically Significant Weekend


Most people I know talk about this weekend because it’s a three day weekend.  I work as a teacher and my fellow teachers see this as one of the last school holidays we have before the dreaded month of February, feared the world over because of its lack of school holidays.  In reality, this weekend is huge for two reasons.  The most obvious reason is because of MLK Day.  It is also the weekend where we remember the 40th anniversary of the famous Supreme Court Ruling of Roe vs. Wade.  These two landmark dates as well as President Obama’s inauguration gave me time to pause and reflect on the weight of these events, so I thought I’d reflect on them.

MLK Day – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a huge figure in the world of a social studies teacher.  Not only was he well spoken, but he was also putting into action the beliefs he held so dear.  He was willing to put his life on the line for what he believed in and it’s a shame he was plucked from this earth in such a tragic way.  My pastor at church talked a bit about the civil rights movement and he talked about how his grandparents were terribly insensitive to social justice when Dr. King was alive.  He went on to wonder if people in that situation ever looked back on the outcome of everything and wish that they’d changed sides.  I wonder if there’s an issue in modern day that I could be on the right side or the wrong side of.  I’m sure there’s something revolutionary going on right now that I can’t see, but I wonder if I’m on the right side.  My prayer this weekend is that I’m following God’s will and trusting that he will use me to aid in this change, whatever it may be.

Roe vs. Wade – The bottom line for this is that this landmark Supreme Court decision paved the way for legalized abortion in the United States.  It’s hard for me to understand this decision for a number of reasons, but as I reflect on the topic, I’m wondering if this could be the pivotal issue of my generation.  I’m wondering how this issue will effect people’s lives from here on and I wonder how opinions of what is right or wrong have changed since 1973 when the decision was made.  My church spent the weekend talking about abortion and used both the Bible as well as statistics to outline it’s stance.  It was for sure an uncomfortable sermon, but one that caused me to think long and hard about my beliefs on such a hard topic.

Obama’s 2nd Inauguration – I’ve grown up in a time where politicians have been fairly moderate.  My recollection of both Bush’s presidencies as well as the Clinton administration is that they were fairly moderate in general.  Their oppositions would rather have had their constituency in the presidency, but there was not outright hatred.  I feel like with President Obama there is such polar opposites in opinions of him.  You either love him or you hate him.  I’m not used to this, so I’m still internalizing how I feel about it.  I will say that I kept changing news channels today while watching the coverage of the inauguration and both sides seemed to be courteous toward the event, which I guess is all you can ask for.


The Price of a Family


Ever since I was a young boy, I have dreamed of the day that I start a family.  In my head, this was the day that I got married followed quickly by the day that mysteriously a baby showed up on the scene.  As you can see, I hadn’t really planned out the timeline of how these things happen or what other things get affected by the appearance of another Horner living in my house.  With our first child on the way in April, I’m beginning to understand not only the cost of having a child, but also why I’m more than willing to pay it.

Hospitals are of the devil.  Sorry to anyone if you work in a hospital or really enjoy visiting the hospital, but that’s where I’m at with my limited experience in one.  Haley had some unexpected health issues early on in her pregnancy and we’re just now paying off the absurd amount of money that one trip to the emergency room costs.  With that in mind, I think we’re prepared for the actual monetary price of having a child (at least mentally).  We know basically what our insurance will cover in terms of expenses and what an average birth will cost us.  We have bulked up our savings to make sure we can handle the little things that you can’t forecast when having a child and we have planned to reduce our savings in general knowing that our expenses will go up in the near future.  We have scouted out pediatricians in the area and will begin to narrow them down to the a couple lucky candidates for our future business.  In terms of the money side of the equation, we feel like we are in a decent enough place and we’re as prepared as we can possibly be.

Unfortunately, having a baby is not just a dollars and cents type of affair.  We attach emotion to everything in this world and we are no different.  Our desire is for Haley to stay home with our children until they head off for school…public school if you’re interested.  Financially, this makes our future a little less stable although only a little bit more.  The cost of child care has gotten so high that if she did go back to working full time a considerable bit of the income benefit would head off to pay for someone to watch our child.  On the other hand, if all she did was watch our children we would be headed into the negative every month which is never a good fiscal decision.  We are going to use our first year of raising a child to better inform us of how we should handle being a family financially.  By bulking up our savings and Haley working a part-time job, we should be able to weather the storm for a year and be able to reassess how we are after a year.

This is a terrifying prospect for someone like me who likes for the risk to be negligible.  There is risk in doing things this way and there is at least a chance it could end poorly.  The cost of my wife staying home may prove to be too high, but we would like to see if it’s possible.  I’m sure I’ll be writing about this more as this year marches on, so stay tuned.

The DIY Bug


I’m wouldn’t consider myself a “handyman” by any stretch of the imagination.  That being said, I know my way around basic tools and their uses in my house and I love to try new things.  My wife and some friends went out of town last week and I took the opportunity (after talking it through with her) to upgrade some basic things in our house that we’d talked about, but hadn’t actually done.

The first thing that had to happen was I needed to clear out the room that we will be turning into a nursery very soon.  No tools involved really, just a lot of picking up and moving.  The room was my “office” which could also be called the room with the computer and everything else that doesn’t have a place in our house.  Needless to say, the room was a wreck and full of all kinds of things.  I cleared out all the trash and things that needed to get thrown away and began taking everything else to a holding area on the second floor of the house.  Estimated time: About 2 hours.  Estimated savings: I didn’t check how much movers cost for that short of a time.

The second thing that I chose to do was to install vented gas logs in our fireplace.  We have a wood burning fireplace in our house, but we never use it because it never really gets that cold in Texas and we don’t really want to store wood in our backyard.  I had made some returns to Lowe’s and had some gift cards to spend and I bought a set of vented gas logs, which essentially are fake logs that look like they are burning because of natural gas.  Essentially the process is remove gas log lighter, put together log’s gas line, stack logs on top, and enjoy…but it didn’t go like that.  I had the most trouble getting the original log lighter and once I got that done I didn’t have everything I needed included in the box.  Needless to say, there were approximately 2 too many trips to Lowe’s to make this one happen even though it wasn’t that difficult. Estimated time: About 2 hours of actual work.  Estimated savings: Conservatively, about $200 based on word of mouth.

Once the aesthetically pleasing project was done, I turned my attention to the nuts and bolts of all this, getting the nursery prepared.  I then went about moving and putting together a twin bed in the nursery and a queen bed in one of our guest rooms.  We want there to be a twin bed in the nursery for the first few months our baby is with us so my wife doesn’t necessarily have to hike back and forth so much for all the feedings.  It’s my wife’s bed from college and it is a mess to put together, but eventually I did.  Earlier this year, we upgraded to a king bed and it’s revolutionized the way we sleep (especially once my wife opted for a huge body pillow) and our old queen bed went into the guest room.  This bed was exceptionally easy to put together.  Estimated time: About and hour and a half.  Estimated savings: This is why I pay movers.

My final project over my Christmas break was to install ceiling fans in all the guest rooms and nursery.  Texas summers are typically pretty brutal.  We had always talked about having ceiling fans put in, but never really needed them.  This all changed when we babysat for some friends and noticed how warm it was in the room that became the nursery (although this had more to do with our A/C unit going out).  So I went out and bought four identical ceiling fans and started installing them.  The guy at Lowe’s said “the first one will be the hardest, but it gets easier” and boy was he right.  The first one took twice as much time as any other and I had to install it three separate times before it worked correctly, but the rest were much easier.  Took me bits of four days to finish. Estimated time: Between 5-6 hours total.  Estimated savings: Around $350.

I think I ended up saving more than the estimated $550, but more than that I feel good about being able to install and fix things.  I enjoy working on things and I love the satisfaction of knowing I accomplished something.  The hardest part for me was convincing myself that the power was actually out and I wasn’t going to shock the mess out of myself when I touched the fan wires together.  Next up is to prepare the nursery for a new coat of paint which includes fixing some wall cracks and filling in holes in the walls from pictures.