Scarlett Sofia is One-derful
My one desire is that when you grow up and read this letter, your Daddy and I will have raised you well. We are forever grateful to God for allowing us to raise you, for allowing us to enjoy you for this past year, and for forming your beautiful soul. You made us a family of four 🙂 A year has passed and I’m still as in awe of you as the day you took your first breath. You are bold, bright, fearless, sassy, sweet, shy, and stunning. You’ve wooed us all, even big sis. Your Daddy and I call you “stink pot”. I swore I would never tell you that, but I just did 🙂
Today on your first birthday you are walking, sometimes running when you get excited, and eating with those 6 little teeth. You learned to push doors and open drawers, and I learned that nothing could ever get in your way. You’re surely on a mission. You eat everything in the house right now, and smack the table when you want more. Your laugh is contagious and you’re truly a beautiful soul. There is so much about you that is already so unique and special.
You amaze me at each and every turn, and the bond between you and your big sister is something I never could have imagined and it takes my breath away. Daisy continues to be your favorite person – the one you look for when you first wake up, the one who makes you laugh the most. It is my greatest hope that this bond will last a lifetime, through difficult years, possible distance, careers, marriage and children – whatever life throws your way as you grow up, may you never grow apart.
On the occasion of your first birthday, I would like to impart to you some advice that you won’t understand for quite some time.
Always put God first. Before any man, before mommy, or daddy, or anyone. HE comes first. I pray that you will always draw close to Him – the same way that you draw close to mommy and daddy whenever you are tired or sick. God will give you rest, He will protect you and most importantly – He will always love you. He is the only One who could possibly love you more than I do, and that’s a big love.
Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you. Begin to walk in His Spirit daily and your beautiful story will begin to be written.
This is a big one so pay attention… I want you to keep searching until you find the man who loves you like your daddy loves me. Observe the way your Daddy takes care of me, talks to me and brightens my day.
Don’t get caught up in other people’s lives’ and in judgment and gossip. Always be ready and eager to help and encourage. Enjoy and live your life to the fullest and use those incredible gifts you have been given!
Understand the value of contentment and use it the rest of your life. Without contentment and gratitude, life will always leave you empty and broken. Always see the blessing and the lesson in things. Be grateful every day of your life. Have gratitude when things go your way, and even when they don’t. There is an opportunity to grow and learn from everything that is in your path. If you can go through life with gratitude, humility and positivity, you will see miracles every day.
I look forward to watching you grow this next year – seeing more and more of your personality emerge, watching the bond between you and your sister grow and discovering your talents, abilities and likes. You are an absolute treasure and complete our little family. I cannot imagine life without you and am blessed to have such a wonderful life with you! I hope you always know just how much you are loved, and we are all proud of you. I love you so much that I get emotional even thinking about it! Thank you for making us the happiest Mama and Dada in the world.
Happy 1st Birthday Scarlett Girl!
Our dear friend Jess has taken both my girls’ pictures since birth and they are the most special memories that I will hang onto forever. She’s an incredible wedding photographer, so if you’re getting married be sure to check her out (jessmaslyn.com)
On May 19th, 2016 we were on the Dave Ramsey Show to do our Debt Free Scream live from Nashville!!! If you know us well, you know this is a huge moment for us! Thanks for all your kind words, love, and support on this journey.
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WE PAID OFF OUR HOUSE!
WE’RE DEBT FREE!!! We paid off our house completely, meaning we will no longer have any debt forever. And I mean FOREVER!
Gosh, where do I begin? I debated to even share this post. I believe it’s important and I hope to encourage you.
First off, I am screaming for joy on the inside and I’m also screaming for you to understand my heart while you are reading this post. I know times are tight right now for a lot of people, and it would hurt my heart if you think I am boasting. We want to share our story with you to try to enlighten how anyone can achieve this. The purpose of this post is NOT to be haughty or boastful, and if you assume that, then you must not know Drew or I personally. Hear me as you read – we are so thankful and God has blessed us. We have spent years sacrificing to reach this goal, and I know you can do it too! It’s hard and a lot of sacrifice but if you take small steps you can do it too! (Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps)
Our goal was to pay off all debt, including the house, by the time we were age 30! “Debt Free and Thir-tee” was our goal! (Drew loves to rhyme) We beat that by 2 years! (Drew is 28 right now).
TOTAL DEBT PAID OFF – $200,000
- Kia Soul $17,000
- Kia Spectra $4,500
- Student Loans $37,000
- Mortgage $133,500
- Small credit cards and interest on the above debts $8,000
December 2010 to 23 April 2016
We started this journey in December 2010 with Baby Step 1. On April 23, 2016 we find ourselves here at the bank paying off our very last payment on the mortgage. We looked at each other with tears in our eyes and said, “We did it!”
HOW WE DID IT
So how did we get completely debt free in 5 years, before we even turned 30? No, we don’t make six figure salaries. No, we didn’t receive a big gift from somebody. A few key things to answer how we did it…
We found jobs and interests we love and learned how to make money on it. While God blessed us with 8-to-5 jobs for the Department of Defense that was the biggest staple, we had some other doors that God opened up for us… Drew ran a website company and worked live event productions on the side. These were not just any “side jobs”, it’s fun and working with people that he has grown to love. More about that later… We also started a toddler t-shirt company. When our littles went to bed, we made t-shirts! When we sold the first shirt online we cried like a baby, and now 1 year later it’s boomed and a fun hobby has turned into a successful side income.
We made a budget and stuck to it! My husband is an excel freak.
We bought well below our means – When we got approved for our home the bank said Drew qualified for $500k. I don’t know what banks are thinking, approving people for things that stretch them to their max. If you haven’t bought a house yet – then DO NOT get excited if the bank gives you permission to spend a ton of money. No big fancy house it worth stressing over.
We had shared goals. We always knew when we got married that we wanted kids. We also knew we wanted to fully be in their lives and stay home with them part time. We knew we had to pay off our house to do this. See those little girlies – those were our tiny motivators!
We lived on one income. While both of us worked full-time, we built a zero-based-budget that would ensure we paid our expenses with one income, and the other income went fully towards the debt snowball (Baby Step 2) and then later on the mortgage (Baby Step 6).
We sold everything! If we weren’t using it, it’s going on Craigs List or the sell groups on Facebook. (random memory – Drew found a bicycle in the trash and sold it on Craigslist for $15)
We shared meals. We didn’t eat out unless we had a BOGO. We ate leftovers all the time. And dinner (specifically spaghetti) always tastes better the next day anyways.
We packed lunches. We learned how to eat semi-healthy and cheap. We went out to lunch about once a week.
We paid cash for everything. Everything extra that we could scrounge up went to the debt snowball or the mortgage. $50 bucks here, $25 there really adds up!
We cut cable, got cheaper cell phone plans and internet packages, and whatever else that could save us $5 a month. We also never signed up for new things, memberships, etc that would increase the monthly expenses on our budget sheet. Because the core of Ramsey is a zero-based-budget, if either one of us was going to sign up to something monthly (like Netflix), we would have to add it to the budget sheet and that would require us to decide if X was really worth the additional expenses every month.
We shopped second hand. Most of our clothes are from second hand stores and Gabriel Brothers – which is our favorite store. When our girls arrived, we bought all their clothes from second hand stores. You can always find the most unique clothes, and mix and match outfits. I always say, put a fun accessory with the same outfit you have had for years and it’s a brand new outfit.
We rarely bought things for our home. We moved furniture around a lot! Every time we did that, we felt like we were living in a fresh new home! When we did projects on our home, we cash flowed them and always paid cash. If we didn’t have the money, the project would wait. Patience was key. The biggest improvement to our home was new carpet (right before Daisy was born). We saved for 5 months to have enough cash. When it was finished, it was like walking on heaven. You love it even more when you pay with cash and have some patience built in.
We had fun! Every time we paid off another debt or 10K on our house – we celebrated with a big dinner or sometimes a mini vaca. Every time we would celebrate or do a vacation (or a 3 week trip to Europe) we saved and cash-flowed the entire purchase (which makes it all the more rewarding). Towards the end of the mortgage – we would get so giddy and say we’re in the 80’s, 70’s. 60’s, 40’s, 20’s…. and then one day we fainted and said “we’re in the TEENS!”
JOY & PEACE
The peace of playing blocks and babies with our littles in their cozy little teepee, the joy of giving small amounts and large amounts of cash to the single mom in need, the joy of staying home part-time with my girls, not missing every adventure, the peace of knowing that you can do anything you want for the rest of your life… That is what has made these sacrifices entirely worth it.
The word “contentment” means the world to us. Everything we’ve done is important, but contentment is the most important – it’s a matter of the heart. We have learned to be content in all we have and it has forever changed our world. Now that we’re debt free, nothing much will change in our lifestyle. I’m still just as happy eating peanut butter sandwiches, clipping BOGO coupons, and watching my toddler twirl around in her second hand Princess dress. Being content is not about how much you have. You may be thinking that you will be content once you have a newer car or a bigger house or whatever it is you think you need (or even being debt free). Those things would be nice, but being content isn’t circumstantial – if you can’t be content with a little, then you will never be content with a lot.
We definitely had a few struggles along this journey. We were gazelle intense in a lot of areas and getting out of debt is AMAZING and it matters, but we had to keep a constant check on WHY we are doing this and make sure our hearts were in the right place at all times. The best thing we found to do through this entire journey was to continue to GIVE in the process. Even if it didn’t make sense, we still gave. We gave financially through tithing to our church, and to missions work, and local orgs we believe in. We also gave much of our time volunteering for faith-based causes. Giving was the best prescription from becoming someone consumed with greed and anti-debt hatred with their fists locked tight on money and losing focus of what’s really important… God called us to love HIM and to love his people so giving was a constant reminder of WHY we’re on this journey.
THE ULTIMATE GOAL
Our main goal is to manage Gods Blessings, God way for Gods Glory. (quote Chris Brown) Having long-term freedom and do what God wants us to do without being tied down by a mortgage and debt, to make choices. Giving freely without being constrained by constant bills. The Giving has and will continue to be a huge part of our entire life. Drew and I have already made our next-month budget that will increase our giving to foreign missions work. We believe being able to give more freely since we have paid off our mortgage will be one of the most amazing blessings of our entire life.
Our debt-free decision has changed our life in a lot of unexpected ways. It’s paid dividends in our marriage and throughout our friends and family. We love who God has molded us into throughout this journey.
We’re going on the radio! After 5 years… we’re finally Debt Free and we’re going to celebrate! Dave Ramsey has a radio show where you can go to his studio and scream “WE’RE DEBT FREEEEE!” so we’re going to Nashville on May 19, 2016. Look for us!
More to come on this adventure because it is just beginning as we create a legacy for our girls and future generations.
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Scarlett Sofia Turns 6 Months
This time last year we were announcing that we were expecting a New Little Miss. Our Daisy was 6 months old and another lil’ babe was forming. This February, that lil babe, our Scarlett Sofia, turns 6 months old. She has been the best little joy and was the perfect missing piece to our world. But seriously though – she is the best baby…. we say every day, “God had mercy on us with 2 babies only a year apart!”
Her smile lights up the room, and her giggles will make you melt. She’s rolling over and observing every little thing her big sis does. Every day she gets sweeter. A lot of days I can’t wait until she wakes up from her nap so I can cuddle her. I always wanted a cuddly baby… and I got that with this one. She has been 6 months of heaven and we love her to pieces.
I am head over heels in love with these photos! This set could not have been more perfect for our princess! Big Sis and Mama stepped in for a few too 🙂 Tutu’s, pearls and our sparkling girl! Our dear friend Jess has taken both my girls’ pictures since birth and they are the most special memories that I will hang onto forever. She’s an incredible wedding photographer, so if you’re getting married be sure to check her out (jessmaslyn.com)
Introducing Our Little Princess – Scarlett Sofia Keller
Our second sweet girl is here and she fits so perfect! She came into this world August 22, 2015 at 12:05pm, weighing 7lbs 5oz., and measuring 20 inches. From conception to birth, human life is truly a miracle, and we are reminded of this every time we look at her sweet face and full head of hair (which we were totally shocked about by the way). We think she’s going to look like her Daddy.
My early birthday present came on August 22nd (a day before my birthday) and I’ll cherish this day forever and ever. What a blessing to be the Mama of Scarlett Sofia. Both Drew and I started tearing up as we were going through these photos! God has abundantly blessed us with another healthy beautiful baby girl!
We’re 3 weeks into Scarlett’s life and I look at both of the girls and think about how they are truly little miracles. I am so thankful for our little blessings and can’t wait to see these two sisters grow up together.
Daisy is adjusting well to being a big sister. She’s very interested in Scarlett, but I know her little brain is trying to wrap itself around this big life change.
To Scarlett Sofia – we love you more than anything in this world!
This weekend was a Big ONE for our Daisy and so much fun for us. We celebrated Daisy’s 1st Birthday in Tribal POW WOW style and Daisy was the Indian Birthday Princess. We went to town with our Pow Wow theme and I think it turned out perfect! The whole day was kind of surreal, and I still can’t believe our baby is a year old. I wanted to make this a special birthday for her (even if she won’t remember it) and I’m so happy with how everything turned out.
The setting was at my in-laws beautiful home and it couldn’t have fit the occasion more perfectly. I can’t really thank them enough for allowing us to have it there and helping us celebrate this special day for Daisy. It was a beautiful day in our lil town and our birthday girl stole the show with her sweetness. She was so much fun and knew the day was all about her. I started planning for Daisy’s 1st a few months ago because I knew it may be hard as Scarlett’s arrival comes closer. I went a lil nuts on some of the décor. I gathered bits and pieces as I saw them from local stores, borrowed some things from friends and DIYing a lot. Fresh daises from my in-laws garden displayed on the tables, tribal flags rustled through the air, and an old high chair set the mood for her first tasting of cake.
Daisy’s outfit was my one of my favorite parts of the whole day! I worked with an Insta shop and found her whimsical romper and it made my entire vision come to life. She wore a Feather headdress that was handmade by her Daddy and made the final touch to her special outfit. The feast included: Crunchy Spuds, Cherokee Garden Veggies, Bear Weanies, Pow Wow subs, Lemon Fire Water and Tom Tom cupcakes. The cupcakes were made by my dear friend Meagan Wonderly and they were heavenly to say the least.
When it came time for Daisy to taste her first cake, she was a little startled from all the excitement. She took a while to dig into it, but finally started eating the cake in her own dainty way – one little piece at a time. I died and went to heaven over Daisy’s smash cake made by my sweet friend Tiffany at Garden of Eaton Treats. Maybe Daisy had a hard time eating it because it was too pretty 🙂
Every Pow Wow has to have a teepee and Daisy had her very own for all her little friends to play in 🙂 We used the teepee in a family session for Daisy’s birthday and it made a reappearance at her party. I foresee this being a major hiding place for both of my girls in the future. Daisy was perfectly happy sitting with Daddy and I opening all her gifts. She got so excited about all the baby dolls each package had to offer.
I suggested all the kiddos at the party bottle up together in a picture next to Daisy’s teepee. My husband chuckled and said, “Good Luck!” There were 15 babies and kiddos ranging in age from 9 months to 9 years old. It was kind of a given that it would be chaotic, but this is the kind of photo that will be so fun to look back at in a few years. It is these kids and their parents (and of course our other friends and family) who made Daisy’s first birthday party so very special. I am forever thankful to have them all piled in together in a photo like this.
The day was filled with lots of love from family and friends. It meant so much to have all of them with us to celebrate. Seeing the people that have supported us through this first year and who have loved Daisy all together in one place is pretty special. Enjoy some pics of the tiny details from Daisy’s First Pow Wow!
P.S. Everyone that knows Daisy’s Daddy knows there will probably be a video coming too 🙂 Stay Tuned!
Happy 1st Birthday Daisy Girl!
A year has flown by, and you are already doing and learning so much. I wanted to write you a letter, because there are some things I want you to know today on your first birthday, and never forget. I hope that later on in life, whether you are 14 or 48 or even 88, you can read this letter and feel my heart. I first want you to know that you are LOVED of immense value and worth.
A year ago at 6:37pm on this very day, you came into our lives and brought us happiness, joy and so much love. You are such a happy girl and have a smile that lights up the room. You’re an easy go lucky baby, but at the same time you know exactly what you want. One of the best things about you is the love you give. When you’re really showing extreme love you tap our shoulders and let us know how happy you are. This feeling is indescribable. You now give kisses and you love doing it! (even though you do it open-mouth) I can’t get enough of you. You, my girl are so FUNNY and very aware of this! You are your Daddy all over in this area! You make silly gestures and noises and when we laugh, you keep doing them. You love attention and once you have it, you know how to keep it. I love your cuddles, I love your giggles. I love your laid-back approach to life. I love the way you lift up your hands when you’re happy, and also when you say, “Mama” in the most pitiful cry when you’re upset. I love how you’re always so excited to see Daddy and I. I love the way you watch my every move and the way you imitate those around you.
Always know that you are loved by so many. Your grandparents look on at you in awe. They hold you in their arms, beaming with love as you light up the room. Your aunties and uncles and cousins love you, dearly. Your baby sister, Scarlett will adore you, and you don’t know yet but she will be your best friend for life! Your Daddy loves you immensely and wants to protect you. He loves you more than words can express.
I know that you are an extraordinaire and will receive a lot of criticism because I know you will do great things! But my girl, don’t be afraid, because we are here for such a time as this. I pray that you will always draw close to God–the same way that you draw close to me now whenever you are tired or sick or needing some extra love. God will give you rest, He will protect you, and–most importantly–He will always love you. He is the only One who could ever possibly love you more than I do–and that’s a big love! Never allow anything to distract you from where God has set you to go and stay strong.
Don’t get caught up in other people’s lives’ and in judgment and gossip. Always be ready and eager to help and encourage. Enjoy and live your life to the fullest and use those incredible gifts you have been given!
Understand the value of contentment and use it the rest of your life. Without contentment and gratitude, life will always leave you empty and broken. Always see the blessing and the lesson in things. Be grateful every day of your life. Have gratitude when things go your way and even when they don’t. There is an opportunity to grow and learn from everything that is in your path. If you can go through life with gratitude, humility and positivity, you will see miracles every day.
Happy 1st birthday, our little Daisy!
Mama & Dada
My sweet Daisy, you are 9 months! How does this happen?! I blink and you are a month older.
Seeing you change and transform into a smart, silly, bright little baby is the best reward each day. Our life is always so crazy and you go with the flow on every adventure our lil fam is doing.
Your smile kills me when you spot me from across the room. Daddy & I play tug-o-war with each other over who gets to go swoop you up out of your crib after a nap. We take turns holding you when we go on family outings. We each want to be the one who makes you smile and laugh. You are the best part of us.
You are mobile in every sense of the word! You can sit yourself up, you army crawl all day long quicker than mama can chase you, you are so curious and into everything, you wave your lil hand, and want to make sure everyone sees what you’re doing.
You eat about anything we give you and just now started eating table foods. You have learned so much lately! I feel as though I’m hanging out with a little lady all day and not just a baby. You’re a whole new level of fun!
You say Dada now and love to repeat it. Your Dada was happy that was your first word!
You are the most special tiny human & life is so beautiful with you in it.
Our Easter Weekend was a special one, because it was Daisy’s first! We reflected on our Savior and the ultimate sacrifice He gave for us on that hill. His love and grace overwhelms us daily and I couldn’t be more grateful to worship Him!
The day was full of worship, family, food, and eggs! Daisy smiled every minute of the beautiful weather outside. Some day, we will get to share with her the story of The Cross and the only Person who loves her more than her parents.
See the smiles on Daisy’s face this Resurrection Day!
Baby #2 on the way!
In the midst of our little world of careers, kingdom work, dating each other, launching a new side business and playing with Daisy….. God blessed us with another bundle of joy!
We could not be more excited! Yes, having a 1 year old and a newborn will be a challenge, but we love how close they will be and so thankful God chose us to be a Mommy and Daddy to another little person. I’m due on August 25th and our sweet Daisy was born on August 6th. Our babes will be exactly 1 year apart. Two August babies! Daisy doesn’t know what’s all happening yet but I know she will be the best big sister!