Friday, May 30, 2008

Poor Dad?

I read this blog from Sue Stock and thought, I hope my family isn't planning to spend $100 on my father's day gift. Last year my wife got me a wonderful card and some prints for my first father's day and this year I asked for a book about Daddys to read to my girls. Heather and I are pummeled with gift giving events by June with most of our immediate family's birthdays being in the first half of the year, valentines, mothers day, and our anniversary. In the end, I find myself saying my wish for father's day is not to spend anymore money!

Now, I am one of those guys who can always think of something cool to get. I love gadgets and electronic toys. For example, for my birthday this year my dad got me this cool 5 day wireless weather forecaster that takes radio signals from Accuweather and displays the current weather as well as the forecast for today and the next 4 days. It now proudly sits on my refrigerator and I look at it every day before I get my shower and dress for the day.

Although I love the toys, I feel more and like I would rather have my family pocket the money instead of spend it on non-necessities. How can I convince others to do that? I have been slowly trying, stopping or slowing Christmas presents to close friends and family so that we can both keep our money. For example, my close friend John and I used to consistently exchange the same amount in gift cards from Best Buy every Christmas. What's the point? We put a stop to that.

So, the question is how do you get your family to hold back on gifts and let you hold back to? Especially with all the weddings, baby showers, birthdays, kid's birthdays, etc that are going on in our lives? Heather has a group of like 10 friends who meet for a playgroup all of which have 2nd birthdays between now and October. If we just buy a $25 gift for each of them, thats $250! How can we politely say, I won't spend it if you won't? Especially since a lot of these same friends just bought us baby shower gifts.

To take it back to the first mentioned blog...I don't want to be "Poor Dad." I would rather slow gift giving and be rich dad! How do we stop this consumerism and save more money without insulting people?

Blog analysis

I ran some blog analysis tool and found out that this blog is written at a high school reading level which means it will take Anna thirteen years to understand what I have written about her :-)


blog readability test

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Toll roads and ideas


Every day on my way to work I pass a sign that simply says, "No Tolls on 540" and has the website of the No Tolls on 540 organization. As a person who doesn't travel on the areas they are suggesting making a toll road with any frequency, I don't feel it necessary to choose a side immediately. However, as I consider "what if they make my section of 540 a toll road" and it changes my opinion. Overall, I am a fan of use taxes in that individuals can decide not to use the item if they do not want to pay the taxes instead of every penny coming out of taxpayers pockets. However, when the roads were built through my tax dollars I am a bit split. I understand the maintenance and creation of more roads costs more money and don't want that to also come out of my wallet and agree its reasonable to expect those who drive on that road consistently to be the ones to fork out the money for it. However, I don't want to simultaneously be paying taxes for someone else to be driving toll free from a different direction. I think my primary problem becomes how do you select where to start and how is this fair?

In general, I have only one problem with toll roads. Having grown up frequently using one of the oldest toll roads, the Pennsylvania Turnpike, I guess I was always alright with paying tolls. My single problem with them are that they don't follow logical supply and demand constructs. The toll roads should adjust their prices accordingly for how busy the roads are. Of course, doing this dynamically all the time would be difficult so its best to do statically such as have a weekday 6 AM-8 PM toll of $1.00, federal holiday toll of $0.50, and weekend/off-hour rates of $.0.25. Why shouldn't I be able to use the toll road for cheaper when there is no traffic on it? That would work best for my situation now too. Its easier to say okay to a toll that I use to go to and from work as its a necessary expense but it is more difficult to accept that same toll over nights and weekends when there is no traffic on the roads.

If I must pay tolls locally, I want this sort of adjustable rate that has me paying more for normal work trips and less for nights/weekend trips which are generally more for social reasons. Are there any toll roads like that?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"One size fits all when its the truth"

Listening to a recent Dave Ramsey podcast, he said "One size fits all when its the truth." I think that is a great statement. As I stated in a recent blog post, I believe that a lot of Dave Ramsey's advice is general. Make no mistake what I mean about this is that a couple of the things he teaches are his opinions and some are based on truth. For example, the truth is borrower is slave to the lender and debt is bad. Therefore, he urges people to get out of debt, avoid debt no matter whether its considered "secured" or not. Ask anyone who has a lot of debt and most of the time they will be frustrated that they so much of their hard work goes to paying debt. If your mortgage is 25% of your income, do you like that every day 25% of your time working is to pay someone else? Probably not. "But I get property out of that." If you have a 30 year mortgage, you haven't even paid off half of the mortgage until 20 years into paying that debt!

When its the truth, like North is North, the temperature, or how much money you have in your bank account...the truth is not relative. However, some of Dave's advice is opinion and not truth. "You must put 15% of your gross in retirement savings." I am not sure what truth that is based on. You must save for retirement, no doubt. If you don't know what you will need, 15% will be a great start. But, I am not sure the 15% should be taken as truth. I will tell you one thing though, if you are just out of college and do 15%, you will live a great life in retirement and thats the truth...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Memorial Day Cookout

Last night we had a memorial day cookout with some of our close friends.  There were about 25 people including 6 kids ages 4 and under and we had a blast.  I grilled burgers and hot dogs and everyone brought a side.  Then we finished it up by having banana splits in celebration of my 29th birthday.  Last night reminded me that I am an extravert and I prefer lots of people around me for celebrations such as that.  We are blessed with many friends and even on Memorial Day, all but one person we invited made it.


Heather hunted down banana boats for the banana splits.  We bought a large tub of Breyers Neapolitan ice cream and, in case you are wondering, it took more than that 5.5 quarts tub to feed that many people banana splits.  It took about 7 full quarts overall.  People brought an awesome array of sides; potato salad, cole slaw, pasta salads, fresh strawberries and watermelon, chips, salad, veggie tray, and baked beans.  All said and done 21 hamburgers and 13 hot dogs were eaten with Cassie getting one hamburger that was left over.

At one point after grilling, I sat back in amazement as our friends Suzanne and Kristen took care of Madelyn and Anna and everyone was spread out across our living room, dining room, family room, deck, and Anna's playplace.  Our house seemed large as no where was very crowded...although the family room got close because all of the toys were pulled out on the floor.  Really, I think the only time it seemed crowded is when we brought out the ice cream for banana splits!

One of the best things we did with all of these people was take orders for burgers and hot dogs.  Since I have a relatively small grill, I can't really cook more than 10 burgers at a time.  So, we had each family write down how many cheeseburgers, hamburgers, and hot dogs they want and I made them in waves. 

Ok, enough of that chit-chat...here is a picture of Anna in her outfit before the cookout:


Anna on Memorial Day
And here she is with her sissy in matching outfits:
Anna and Madelyn in matching outfits

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Birthday days off

I normally always take my birthday as a vacation day.  This year, with having taken vacation in March to go to London and Ponte Vedra as well as just having had 2 weeks off for paternity leave, I felt it better to work.  Its sort of depressing, but I am leaving early to go to see Indiana Jones at 4 PM...so that is exciting!  However, since I started at 7:15 this morning its still a pretty full day.


Incidentally, I have always said that if I have my own business each employee will get their birthday off or the Friday before their birthday automatically.

Am I a grown-up?

Yesterday night while talking about my 29th birthday, the comment was made that "30 is, like, a grown-up." Well, gee, I never thought about what a grown-up really is. I spent all morning (I wake up at 5:15) thinking about what a grown-up is. I decided there were some common characteristics that defined a grown-up that I would have named 15 years ago:



  • Married (Check!)
  • House (Check!)
  • Stable job with responsibility (Check!)
  • Life is more planned instead of spontaneous (Check!)
  • Graying or Balding hair (Check! See for yourself --> )
  • Body no longer recovers from years of physical abuse (Check!)
  • Savings weighted towards future rather than fun (Check!)
  • Children! (Check!)
  • Driving slower (Check!)
  • Wakes up early (Check!)
  • Can't pull late nights (Check!)
  • Beyond 20-something...

I am not sure about the last one there. I may have never put it on a list myself, but at least by someone's measure I can still call myself not a grown-up...for another year.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Credit Cards Cost

Here is an article from Michelle Singletary who is a syndicated columnist whose columns are in the N&O frequently. Here is an interesting quote from it:

Peter Tufano, a professor of financial management at Harvard Business School, has found in his research that transaction credit card users -- those who pay their bills off every month and who are not overly indebted -- are more financially literate.

"Their credit card purchases are under control," Tufano said. "But that is not to say that they are spending less."

Greg Davies at Britain's Warwick University found in one study aimed at marketers that customers using credit cards spend more than those paying with cash or checks in purchasing situations that are otherwise identical in every other respect.

In the end, I understand this is generally true. But, if we would use the credit card for just something like gas and no other purchases, is that still true? I still can't buy it being true in that limited use scenario.

Crazy Bird


Have you ever noticed how in the middle of huge thunderstorms, birds always seem to be at the bird feeder? Yesterday, we had hail coming down and I saw a bird at the feeder..amazing...I tried to take a picture but this is the best I could come up with...it was after all pouring down rain and hail...and I wasn't about to step foot outside.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The advice is general, not specific

I Googled recently for Dave Ramsey's credit card study information and found lots of blogs spreading anti-Dave Ramseyisms and I realized that people just don't get it. Dave Ramsey provides general advice which can be applied to everyone. That doesn't mean every piece of advice is the best for everyone, but its good for everyone. For example, someone called in to his show a couple month's ago and asked about 529s. He admitted on the show that not all 529s are bad, but some of them are so its easy to just say avoid them all. Looking into it, I found that some states limit investment choices and charge high fees for their 529s. If you are in a state where you can invest in a mutual fund with a long track record (10-15 years) that has low fees and get a tax deduction for doing so, I believe he would say that is a good choice. But, since not all states and 529 plans are like that, its easier to suggest other investment methods when they exist and also are tax advantaged.

Other areas where I think he gives general advice are the amount to save on retirement and never to use credit cards. The amount to save for retirement he suggests is 15% (once consumer debt is paid off) of your gross income. Advice can't possibly be global like that and perfect for everyone no matter their age, salary, and family situation. So, he gives the best rule of thumb, 15%. You can calculate how much you will need for your particular lifestyle, salary, and age and probably come up with a better figure for yourself. But, if you can't figure it out, 15% of gross will probably work.

Another example is credit cards. Dave says the following:

You’re also paying more. A study by Dunn and Bradstreet showed that the credit card user spends 12 to 18% more when using credit instead of cash. After McDonald’s began taking credit cards, they found that people spent $5 to $7 more per sale.

If someone was disciplined and got a credit card purely for gas purchases making 5% cash back (instead of rewards they will never use)...I doubt they would buy 12-18% more gas just because they are using the credit card or they will buy gas from places with 12-18% higher prices than they would have with using cash or a debit card. The fact is most Americans are not this disciplined. So, a better general rule is to avoid the credit card altogether.

Would Dave agree with that? Not sure, but I believe it :-)

My favorite becomes one of her favorites

My favorite book growing up was Richard Scarry's Cars Truck and Things that Go. My mom saved my copy of the book, printed in 1983 and complete with a nametag on the front from show and tell when I was a kid. The thing I loved about the book was searching for Gold Bug, a Where's Waldo like search before Waldo became there. The book is about 70 pages, so memorizing every goldbug appearance was tough. The other things, the story and the cars were interesting later, but finding Gold Bug was always the big deal. Now the book is one of Anna's favorites and she even says Gold Bug...although it comes out more like "Ba Bug!". Below is a picture. If you look close enough, you can see a sticker on the upper right hand corner of the cover with my mom's handwriting and my name on it :-)

Gold Bug

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Strawberry Picking

Aunt Suzanne and Uncle Aaron took Anna and the rest of the family with them strawberry picking this week. The farmers told them last week that this week and last week would be the best two strawberry picking weeks. For those who have never been, you essentially go to a farm and grab a bucket, fill the bucket with hand picked strawberries, then go back and pay per pound of strawberries you picked. We split a bucket full with Suzanne and Aaron, which is more than enough for some to go bad! Anna couldn't yank the strawberries off the vine herself, but she liked to help put them in the bucket. As all first time things with a little one, we got some great pictures...

Anna and Uncle Aaron:
Picking strawberries

Anna and Aunt Suzanne (who incidentally found out she was having a girl!)
Picking strawberries

Anna alone
Picking strawberries

We also saw our friends Julie and Dan on the way out. Their son Ethan is getting so big...check out this picture of him who is 9 months old. Anna is one of the tallest in her group of friends her age, all girls. This makes Ethan a tall little boy at 9 months!
Picking strawberries




Sounds great, right? Looking for a place to go yourself? Check out this list from the N&O for where you can pick your own strawberries. We went to Pope's Strawberries, which is on the list and near Suzanne and Aaron's house in Knightdale.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Chicco vs Peg Perego redux

Yes, we have both car seats but no we didn't spend much more than had we bought two Gracos. Why? See my post here about buying last year's baby products at a significant discount. In fact, the Peg Perego after taxes, shipping, everything cost less than the Graco SafeSeat and only $5 more than the Graco Snugride at Babies R Us. But why two?

We bought the Chicco Keyfit system late in the summer of 2006 before our daughter was born in October. At the time, I didn't know about the discounted other products and liked the Chicco size, weight, and features on comparison. Fast forward to baby number two born last week and we needed an additional car seat for our BOB Revolution Duallie Jogging Stroller which only accepts car seats from Graco, Peg Perego, or Britax. There was no way to get the Chicco to fit, and walking daily is an important part of my wife's social life and exercise...worth the money for an extra car seat. We also thought we would use the car seat in our second car which gets over 10 miles per gallon better than our other car.

As I said in my last blog post, the Peg Perego doesn't look like it fits our little girl as well. How little? She was 7 lbs 12 oz on Monday, these pictures are taken Thursday. Her head at birth a week ago was 34 cm. So, not too little. Here are pictures of her in the Peg Perego, in the Chicco, then back in the Peg Perego with a Kiddopotamus Snuzzler attached.

Madelyn in Car seats

Madelyn in Car seats

Madelyn in Car seats

Madelyn in Car seats

In the end, the Chicco definitely fits her head best for now. The head support from the Chicco is removable, so it removes as they grow. The Peg Perego head support does not seem removable and its part of their side impact protection. As you can see, there is a gap between her head and one side. Adding the Kiddopotamus Snuzzler, no matter how much I try, doesn't seem safe at all. As you can see, it seems to push her head forward an unsafe amount. Plus, since the Peg Perego puts the child more vertical than the Chicco, it doesn't need to further have her push forward.

In the end, the Chicco seems to provide the best head support now...but the looks of the Peg Perego head support with Side Impact protection looks impressive for the future when the children have some more muscles to hold up their head.

Aftermarket additions to infant car seats

We recently purchased a second infant car seat for two purposes. Primarily, this infant car seat was for use with the jogging stroller so my wife could get out and get exercise. Secondarily, we thought we could use this car seat in our Toyota Matrix which gets considerably better gas mileage than our Honda Pilot. After our first trip walk in the car seat yesterday, we noticed the that our little girl was very vertical and sleeping with her head slouched forward. So, thats no good. I decided to research the safety issues around after market additions...

The Kiddopotamus Snuzzler is the model we own and have already used in thr strollers. It claims the following:

Crash Tested for Safety
If you’ve done your parenting homework, you know that adding fluffy, squishy things to your baby’s car seat can compromise her safety, as the harness straps may not fit as snugly as necessary with all the cushioning around baby. Have no fear, Kiddopotamus knows all about baby safety. Snuzzler has no padding behind baby for the safest harness fit. It has undergone rigorous crash tests by accredited United States agencies to ensure that it conforms to federal standards.

While that might be so, the local experts at the hospital and fire stations still say not to use them. Not able to find any US government information about these aftermarket additions for head and body support, I found a Canadian website which talks about these very issues. The Snuzzler provides head and body support. So, I looked at those sections and saw the following:
Head Support Cushions: If the manufacturer incorporates a head support cushion with the restraint system, then the manufacturer has tested it for that model and make of restraint. Should a head support cushion that is purchased separately be used, then it is possible that the slots in the head support cushion may not line up with the slots in the restraint for the harness system. By re-routing the harness system to accommodate the aftermarket head support cushion, slack may be induced into the harness system, which may increase the likelihood of ejection from the car seat in the event of a crash.

Additional Padding Behind the Child: Any additional padding behind the child can induce both slack in the harness and additional compressibility. The Standard, which regulates children’s restraint systems, only allows for a certain amount of compressibility in the foam and material used. By increasing this amount, during a collision the additional foam/material can compress to the point that the harness system becomes very loose and therefore no longer is capable of restraining the child.

The Snuzzler does not have slots for harness in the head support and does not have additional padding behind the child. So, based on this Canadian website it seems that they are correct in their statement that the known problems are handled by the Snuzzler.

But, you can still find all sorts of statements like this:

An aftermarket product is anything that is not sold with your car seat. Shoulder belt positioning devices, seat belt tightening devices, head cushions and car seat covers are considered unsafe aftermarket products. It is never recommended that you use anything extra with your car seat without the express consent of the car seat manufacturer.


So, at this point we are not sure what to do. We will probably try the car seat again and make sure that our daughter is tight in her straps. Also, we may try to check out how she is in the car seat base rather than the stroller which seems to tilt her even more vertical than the seat already is.

Here are some pictures comparing our new car seat, a 2007 Peg Perego Viaggo SIP with our old car seat, a 2006 Chicco Keyfit which I think shows first that the head support for the Peg Perego is much higher and that the Chicco tilts back further. Both are at the lowest settings available.




Maybe this is a reason the Chicco did better on consumer reports? The only category the Chicco scored higher on was "ease of use." Not sure if this is ease of use or not.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Slightly new focus for our church

Our church, Crossroads Fellowship, sent out an email with a slightly new short term focus which mirrors many of my thoughts and how God is leading me. That is, to help people identify the problems they have with managing their finances and put together a plan to get out of debt and on to a journey of complete financial freedom. Here is what the church sent out today:

If you were unable to worship with us this past Sunday, you can read about our journey with God and how He's leading us in 2008 at www.crossroads.org/pdf/Imagine_Journey_2008.pdf. You can follow along as I walk you through this vision document at www.crossroads.org/audio/Chuck_Imagine_2008.wmv.

If you need help getting out of debt and managing your debt flow our Financial Freedom Ministry provides classes, workshops, resources and budget coaching to help people realize financial freedom. You can discover ways to get out of debt, establish a budget and learn about God's view of money. Take the Crossroads Financial Freedom Personal Assessment at www.crossroads.org/pdf/FF_Personal_Assessment.pdf.

On Saturday, May 17, we are offering a special workshop from 8:30 am - 3:00 pm to help you gain insights that will put you on the path towards financial freedom. Topics include Super Savings, Relating with Money, Dumping Debt and Cash Flow. There will be times when you can meet privately with a budget coach as well as prepare your own action plan for getting out of debt and handling finances God's way. Register online. Cost is $25 per couple and lunch and child care will be provided.

Here are some amazing facts from the charts:
• 70% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.
• 95% of married couples fight over money and it is the leading cause of divorce.
• Americans spent $1.22 for every $1 they earned in 2007.
• 1 in 6 families may have their homes foreclosed on in 2008.
• 62% of Americans will retire with less than $10,000 income per year.
• Average 28 year old has $66,000 in consumer debt (cars, credit cards and student loans).
• 1 in 7 families is dealing with a debt collector.
• Children today are just as likely to see their parent’s file for bankruptcy as they are for divorce.
• The average household has at LEAST $9,000 in credit card debt.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

As requested, Anna throwing a toy down her slide

We have been using the camcorder a bit more now. I was trying to get Anna standing on her head, but as soon as the video camera came out, she stopped of course. But she did go and throw a ball down the slide and then follow it...which was her alternative use for her slide (as a ramp for toys). Although the ball is not as much fun as the phone, this still shows her using it as the ramp. video

Blessed with nearby friends and family

I blogged earlier about the grandparent factor and its importance when having more than one kid...well I thought I would follow up with how blessed we have been with nearby friends and family. Last Tuesday afternoon, Heather started having contractions around 2:45pm. At about 3:45 we called Suzanne, Heather's life-long friend, who came by and took Anna. We also called John, my good friend and roommate throughout college who took Cassie for the next 24 hours. Suzanne's husband Aaron came and helped Suzanne that night so that when Madelyn was born less than 4 hours later, Suzanne was able to come visit Madelyn while Aaron took care of Anna. That night, I came home with my mother in law and we stayed the night at home, leaving Heather alone in the hospital with Madelyn.
Suzanne and Madelyn on the day she was bornAaron and Madelyn

The next day, Suzanne took the morning off and Aaron the afternoon off. That was great. Suzanne brought Anna to the hospital to meet her sister. Anna thought she was funny and special from the beginning. Anna went home and took a nap with Aaron taking care of her in the afternoon and getting his first diaper changing experiences. Suzanne is pregnant, so he needs the practice anyway :-) That evening my good friend Derick brought me dinner while in the hospital and I went home that evening to be with Anna and Cassie.
Derick and Madelyn

On Thursday, when Heather was coming home, Heather's sister-in-law Stephanie came from Greensboro (~90 min drive) for the day and spent time with Anna while I went and got Heather home. They had a blast, and we were home for lunch. Stephanie left early in the evening and we were on our own.
Aunt Stephanie and Madelyn

Beyond that, we had other great help yesterday when one of our neighborhood friends, Ann, watched Anna while both Heather and I went to Madelyn's doctor appointment.

We also have been blessed with 3 meals a week all of May. Our friend Meg arranged it and a variety of people will be bringing them.

I don't feel at a loss right now from not having grandparents because of how surrounded we have been by friends. I am so thankful for our friends and how helpful they have been. I still wish we had grandparents more accessible, but I don't think that is holding us back!

Monday, May 05, 2008

On Paternity Leave

I am off work right now on paternity leave, which is a huge blessing to our family. IBM allows for up to 2 weeks paternity leave at the birth of a child or new adoption all based on manager's discretion. My manager gave me the full two weeks, which was more needed with the newborn and 18 month old. It has been wonderful because someone is here to play with Anna and take care of Madelyn so that Anna can slowly adjust to Madelyn being around. As Heather said in her blog today, Anna has been a great big sister, loves Madelyn, and is always trying to help. Today though, for the first time, Anna seemed real needy of some Mommy time and I got some great Madelyn cuddle time. Hopefully I will get some more of this in the next 6 days I have off :-)

Daddy and Madelyn

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Anna visting Madelyn and calling her Sissy

Anna has learned to call her little sister Madelyn "sissy" and loves to visit her. It was tough to catch on video, but its here...

video

Opt out of pre-approved credit cards

One of the other things NoScamNC.gov suggests is to opt out of pre-approved credit cards. To do that, you can go to OptOutPrescreen.com. This means that no one will be able to pre-approve you for a card by looking at your credit report before you ask them to, known as prescreening. It won't stop the offers, just stop the pre-approved ones. They give you two options, first to opt out electronically for only 5 years or to mail in a signed piece of paper for permanent opting out. Obviously, they want you to not stay opted out which is why they require the paper to be mailed. But, fill out the permanent one and it will give you the 5 year electronic one while you file the permanent paper one.

Freeze! Or should we?

One of the looming questions regarding finances I have is whether to not to freeze our credit reports. We don't get new loans or credit cards ever really, so that wouldn't be a problem at all. So, a credit security freeze may help prevent identity theft since if someone stole our identity, they wouldn't be able to go to a company who pulls our credit report to give us a card or a loan. There are a couple outstanding issues:

1) How often will we have to unfreeze our credit report for non-debt items?
2) How much theft does this prevent? I understand there are some credit companies that don't look at credit reports.
3) Is it overall worth the $30/person to freeze the reports when we will have to also pay $10 for each temporary unfreeze.

Some of these issues are covered in this USA today article. There, Sandra says:

Many consumers are unaware of how often their credit histories are reviewed. Even if you don't plan to borrow money, you might need to suspend a credit freeze to get an insurance policy, utility service, an apartment, or even a job. If you lose your cellphone, your provider probably won't give you a new one until it verifies your credit.


I recently saw this when calling my company's HR solution to add our new baby girl. To verify my identity because I typed in my pass code incorrectly, they asked me for some information to confirm my identity which they only could have pulled from my credit report like a previous address from years ago. What would they do if my credit report was frozen? Would they deny my request to change my health care coverage?

Even when planning ahead, do you remove the freeze on all 3 reporting agencies or try to figure out which agency the company you are working with uses?

The state of North Carolina also has some good information here at their site NoScamNC.gov. They do suggest freezing your credit to protect yourself. They also have some other suggests which I thought were good recommendations.

Of the major credit reporting agencies, only one allows you to initiate a freeze online. That one provider is Experian whereas others like TransUnion and Equifax require mailed in letters. Equifax seems to be pushing you to use their monthly credit security services instead with a minimum monthly payment of $9/person.

The good news is that they all take credit cards :-)

Thursday, May 01, 2008

My girls

Once Anna woke up from her nap today, we had Madelyn and Mommy home. I took Anna into my lap and my sister-in-law Stephanie handed me Madelyn. I had my two little girls at that point, it was a great feeling. Anna likes Madelyn, she likes to point to her, laugh when she cries, and touch her hand quickly...we are using the word gentle a lot...luckily Cassie had helped us work a lot on that word before. When we lay Madelyn down, Anna wants to be able to see her. Its sweet.

Anna and Madelyn in Daddy's lap:
Daddy, Madelyn, and Anna

Anna touching Madelyn's hand:
Anna touching Madelyn while Aunt Stephanie holds her

Madelyn picture

Yea, this is just to put up another big close up of Madelyn from yesterday...everyone is still well and now at home...we'll talk more about that experience later I am sure.

Madelyn asleep at 1 day old