Thursday, July 1, 2010

New blog:

I've recently started a new blog:

http://weighterhater.blogspot.com

See you there!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My Last Post.

Okay okay okay...

It's been three months, I know. But a whole LOT has been happening in the last three months and writing about it all just seemed completely overwhelming.

Well overwhelming or not, it's time to tell you a story.

As everyone knows, I have been under a massive amount of debt. You wouldn't be reading this blog if you didn't know that. Anyway, with all of this debt (one of my monthly payments was $730 each month) I have been unable to save anything, and unable to take advantage of this buyer's housing market.

Until about a month ago.

Mom calls me, out of the blue, on Tuesday, September 22, while I was driving home. She told me she would like to pay off all of my debts so I can buy a house while the market is so good. Have you ever driven a car, talked on the cell phone, and cried at the same time? Yeah, I was one of THOSE drivers that day.

Apparently Mom called all of my sisters before she contacted me to tell them of her plan and make sure that they were supportive of it, since she wasn't offering it to anyone else. They all supported it 100% and when Mom told me that, I knew my life was about to change.

The money Mom used to pay these debts off (they were still pretty significant - almost $37,000) came from my dear dad's life insurance policy. I feel like Dad has had a hand in this from the beginning and I'm continually choked up realizing the course of events that have happened since he died on July 30. I have no doubt that he's helping us out from the other side.

Speaking of helping me out, I started looking at houses almost immediately. I looked and looked and looked, mostly at homes that were short sales. Saw one that was a foreclosure with my sister Andrea, who afterward said she was so discouraged for me after seeing that most DISGUSTING house and thinking that was all that was out there for me. Thankfully, that wasn't the case. Everyone has told me over and over that when I find "my home" I would know.

I found it.

(Picture of the model home - mine will look very similar)

It's almost perfect. Not completely perfect because it's a little far away, but I'm okay with that. It's located in San Tan Valley, AZ (used to be Queen Creek Pinal county) and it's a new build. It has four bedrooms, two bathrooms, maple cabinets, granite countertops, and they're including all of my kitchen appliances, a washer and dryer, as well as a 42-inch screen TV. AND my closing date is November 18, 2009 (3 weeks from TODAY), which means I get the $8,000 tax credit because I'm a first time home buyer and I'm closing before the November 30, 2009, due date.

Ever hear of a USDA home loan? It's offered if you purchase in a rural area, such as Queen Creek and San Tan Valley. It's 100% financed - all they require is $1,000 earnest money and I get that back at closing. No out of pocket costs at all and no PMI is required. I hear that in and of itself is a big deal.

So cool.

The house is awesome. It's 1,614 square feet with a small front and back yard. The builder will landscape the front yard for me, and the backyard is small enough that I won't have to worry too much about it once I get it landscaped.

(My house at it's beginning stages)

Seriously, it's just about perfect.

And I can't wait.

With all of this said, I will probably be going dark on my blog. There isn't much else to share with you. I don't ever plan on getting into the debt situation again, EVER, and therefore my life has nothing else to report on. I am pretty boring, but am awfully happy and content.

But happy and content don't necessarily make for interesting reading.

So I'm signing off. You can catch me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/tara.larue) and Twitter (twitter.com/TaraLaRue).

Love and a debt-free life to you all.
Tara LaRue

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Passionate About Savings

I LOVED this article, because he was speaking personally to me. Have I done anything about it yet? Nope. But it's food for thought and I need to chew on it and digest it and DO IT. Someday.

Once again, may I present you DAVE RAMSEY and his article titled "The Secret to Saving Money."

I hope it affected you as much as it did me.

PS: Dad died two weeks ago tomorrow. We are all doing okay. Tears come and go rather quickly and rather randomly, but they don't seem to be as constant. My mom is brave and AMAZING and I love her example to us all.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Allan James LaRue

My sweet, darling, funny, kind-hearted dad died today.

He was born on June 18, 1941, and died on July 30, 2009. He was 68 years old.

He and my mom just celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary on July 7.

He looks peaceful, for the first time in months.

I'm sad. But I'm grateful.

I love my dad and will miss him terribly, but am happy to know I'll be with him again someday when it's my time to go.

That's all.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Car, Again.

I have a confession to make.

I have used a credit card and will now be making payments (AGAIN) to pay it off.

My E flat car was too loud for comfort. I decided I needed to get to Utah (which is where I am now) and driving would be cheaper than flying, not to mention I wanted to have my car with me while in Utah since I don't know how long I'm going to be here. To do this, it needed some help.

$773.14 later, the help came, but obviously at a cost.

It needed two tires, brake pads, battery, wheel bearings, lube/oil, and transmission fluids replaced (or transmission flush maybe?). The good news was the labor costs were less than the parts cost by about half. I feel like they were honest and good to me and I'm grateful for Dana Tire for making me feel that way. First time ever that I didn't feel like I got a lousy deal.

But I didn't have a spare $800, so thank goodness for an empty credit card that I could use and hopefully pay off quickly.

My house plan has been postponed for a few months - I was hoping to be able to seriously start looking in January, but with this new credit card bill, with my need to be here in Utah with my parents (for Dad's status, please go HERE - it's my sister's blog that she updated just today), no merit increase this year, etc., those plans have been postponed for a while - probably for another year.

I'm bummed a little, but I'm also okay with it. There are other way more important things for me to be focusing on right now and honestly finding a house is the least of my worries.

Back to my car. It no longer makes an E flat noise. I have found myself speeding way too much because of this. When it went higher than that sound, I knew I was speeding and immediately slowed down. No more sound - no more obvious sign that I need to slow up. Luckily I haven't gotten in trouble yet, but I do need to watch myself. I can't believe how much I came to rely upon that audible reminder...

Anyway, this blog is my confession to you all and I figured I needed to let you know.

As far as my dad is concerned, it is so hard to see him slipping away from us, yet I wouldn't be anywhere else and I don't want to be anywhere else and I'm oh so grateful for an employer who feels the same way and insisted I come here to be with him and my mom. I love having the ability to work from home and work with people who are kind and thoughtful and sincere and are willing to be "me" in the office when the need arises. I am truly, TRULY blessed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

E flat

If any of you have driven in my car lately, you know how LOUD it is.

A few months ago I got two new tires. Because of this, for whatever reason, the two new tires and the two old tires aren't loving each other and the ride in my car is friggin' loud. Seriously - ear splitting. I. Am. Not. Lying.

There is one little perk to this, though. I find that the sound that it makes when I'm going the appropriate speed limit sounds like E flat on the piano. If it goes any higher than E flat, I am speeding. Any lower and I'm going too slow.

I can also harmonize with the sound when I'm driving at a steady pace.

It really is hilarious.

And I really am retarded.

I should get two more new tires but these older ones aren't sufficiently worn down yet. Gotta get the most out of them to get my money's worth.

And no one wants to ride with me anywhere any more, so I don't have to drive anywhere so I save gas money.

See, I did manage to tie this to getting out of debt (smile).

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Dad.

My sister Cassie spent some time with my dad yesterday and updated her blog with his status and some pictures. Please feel free to take a look:

Cassie's Blog

I love this man and wish he felt as good as he looks. Damn Cancer...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

My Mom.

I was talking to my mom last night on the phone. A family friend died earlier this week and we were talking about that, about my dad, about life in general, and mom mentioned that I don't post enough on my blog. She thinks I need to do it more often. She's not the first to tell me this, but she's definitely the most insistent.

I told her there's only so much to say - yes I am still in debt - yes I'm still trying to get it taken care of - yes it's a neverending process, etc. Not a whole lot of new things to report on.

So - since there's nothing new to post, Mom, this blog post is dedicated to you.


SHARON IRENE NELSON LARUE

(Mom and my niece Kalli)

My mom was born October 16, 1941, in Morenci, Arizona (strange town - the hospital where she was born wasn't demolished - it was buried with mining waste - isn't that odd?). She was born to Everett and Laura Nelson. She has two brothers (Norman and Keith) and two sisters (Gayle and Sandy) and was the middle child (just like me). She moved to Mesa, AZ as a baby.

(Mom, Aunt Gayle, Aunt Sandy - Mom's sisters)

Mom grew up in Mesa, Arizona and graduated from the old Mesa High School in 1959. One of the coolest things I got to wear while in high school (Mesa High School class of 1988) was my mom's class ring - it was awesome. (No idea where that ring is today. Cassie, do you have it?) It was cool to have a piece of my mom's history with me every day and I really enjoyed wearing it.

Mom and Dad have been married since July 7, 1962.


(Mom and Dad, Thanksgiving 2008)

Mom was a beauty operator (hairstylist these days) and worked in a salon until she had her first baby. Leslie (my oldest sister) came on May 31, 1963, and Mom has been a full-time hair-styling mother since then. Because she had five daughters, her hair styling talents and abilities were never lost and always, ALWAYS used. I was 20 years old before I had to pay anyone to cut my hair. I was and am so grateful to mom for all the haircuts, henna washes, perms (oh so many perms when you grew up in the 80s), and colors received over the years.

(LaRue sisters with picture-perfect hair: [L-R] Andrea, Stacey, Tara, Cassie, Leslie)

When Andrea and I returned from Maui recently, Mom told me she wishes she could go up and parasail. Isn't that awesome? I would LOVE to see my mom parasail. I would love for my mom to have an opportunity to be able to parasail.

(Tara, Sister and Brother LaRue - Smith Farm, Palmyra, NY)

Mom and Dad served a mission to the Rochester, NY mission from February 2007 to January 2008. I had the honor and privilege of visiting them while they were there. It was a beautiful (COLD) area where they served and they were beloved by everyone there.

(Sister and Brother LaRue, Rochester, NY Mission)

The tenderness I've witnessed lately between my mom and dad is something I will never, ever forget. They love each other so much and thrive around each other. Dad is a much better patient when Mom is near him. When she's not around, he gets a little agitated and doesn't seem to do as well. They are each other's ying to the other's yang (I don't know what that means - I just liked the sound of it).

Mom, I hope this doesn't embarrass you too much, but I just wanted the world to know a little more about you. I love you, I'm grateful for you, and I'm grateful for all you do for me and the rest of our family. I love how you love Dad and am grateful that you're willing to carry the world on your shoulders for him. I hope somehow to find a way to help lighten your burden. In the meantime, I'll just constantly pray for you to have the strength to face each day.

(Mom and Tara, Niagara Falls, Buffalo, NY)

Love you Mom!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Doc, Happy, Bashful, and...

...GRUMPY.

I woke up this morning mad. And cranky. And grumpy.

No one wants to hear a bunch of whining and gritching and groaning, so I probably shouldn't be blogging while so cranky. Instead, I'm going to direct you to my roommate's blog:

http://jabrink.blogspot.com

She's going to Ethiopia next month and is trying to raise money to do a day long EFY (Especially For Youth) conference for around 200 young church members there. This will take some time and effort (both of which Jennifer is excited to donate) and money (she's hoping to raise around $1,500) to make this happen.

If you go to her blog, there is a PayPal button on the right-hand side that will enable you to donate to her cause.

She can take as little or as much as you can donate - nothing is too small or too big.

http://jabrink.blogspot.com

And if you would like to spread the word, that would be simply fantastic.

http://jabrink.blogspot.com


Thanks everyone.

From,
Grumpy Goat Tara

PS: Again, if you missed it, her blog address is http://jabrink.blogspot.com

Friday, May 22, 2009

Maui Update

I have been home all week long with a horrible case of pneumonia. Whine whine whine.

During this time home, I should have been blogging like crazy with all this spare time that I have. Instead I have chosen to play on Facebook, Twitter a bit, watch TV, and sleep. A lot. I can't believe how much sleeping I have been doing.

Anyway, because of all of the online activities I've been doing, I haven't felt like blogging. I heard I'm not the only one who feels this way. Since Twitter and Facebook are the thing to do these days, a lot of people are foregoing their personal blogs because they can do snippets of stuff on FB and Twitter.

My mom doesn't like that and has asked me to keep posting on my blog since she doesn't do, nor understand, Facebook or Twitter. I'm happy to oblige.

My sister Andrea and I went to Maui on Tuesday, May 12, 2009. We were seriously squealing with each other, completely amazed that we were going and were going for free. I was a little bummed 'cause I woke up the morning before with a huge weight on my chest, feeling like I was coming down with a good chest cold. I figured I could cough just as well in Maui as I could in Gilbert. Nothing was going to stop me.

(I apologize for those of you who were on my flight both going and coming back - I kept my coughs to myself, but it wasn't fair to expose you and I should have at least worn a mask. I am truly sorry.)

Our flight left Phoenix at 9:30 a.m. and we arrived in San Francisco for about an hour layover. We left San Fran a little after 1:00 and were on our way to Maui. When we first checked in to our flight, Andi and I weren't sitting together on either flight. We at least wanted to try to sit near each other on the flight to Maui, so I talked to the ticket agent. She was willing to change our seats, but it was a $64 upcharge. I don't need to pay $64 to talk to Andrea when I can do it for free, so I declined and sat down. The ticketing agent came over to me a few moments later and said we could sit on the exit row for no extra cost if we were willing to take on those responsibilities if there were to be a crash (!!!). We took it.

When we were seated, Andi and I couldn't believe our luck at how truly GREAT sitting in an exit row is. Massive leg room to start with (couldn't even touch my purse with my toes it was so far in front of me), roomy seats, and the seats in front of you can lean back and you don't feel those effects at all. These seats also lean back and were just plain comfy. They were the best seats EVER!

We got to Maui around 3:30 or so and were even more giddy if possible. WE WERE IN MAUI.


We spent our time at the Westin and couldn't believe what a gorgeous hotel it was. Below is a picture of the view from our hotel room - seriously BEAUTIFUL.


The first night there, we had a reception with all of the other President's Club winners and their guests. Everyone was feeling the same as Andi and I were. Giddy, happy, amazed at our good fortune, appreciative of Infusionsoft, etc. Just good feelings all around.


On Wednesday, our first full day there, Andi and I decided to hit the beach and stay at the beach. We rented an umbrella and two beach chairs at about 9:30 a.m. that morning, and stayed put until around 3:30 p.m. that afternoon. Below is a picture of my view all day (not a bad one):


Wednesday night we shopped and shopped and shopped. I have always realized I am not a great shopper. I shop well when I have money and a purpose, but to shop just for the sport of it is not my thing. Not so with Andrea. She LOVES the sport of it - loves to look and try on and think about things and move on knowing she can come back if she wants. So not me. When I find something I like, I get. No need to see if something is better out there. We are so different it constantly amazes me that we get along so well.

Anyway, Thursday was much like Wednesday. Laying out on the beach, napping, being lazy, shopping again that night.

On Friday we jumped on the Gemini
ship that took us to Honolua Bay to go snorkling. I was apprehensive to go, mainly because I enjoy the water so much more when I DON'T know what's swimming underneath me. But I also had a curiosity about it all and was convinced to do the snorkling. Andi and I were fortunate enough to share this ride with several other people, including Dave and Karina Lee. I work with Dave at Infusionsoft, so it was fun to get to know him and his wife a bit better. The ride out was AWESOME. There was a pod of dolphins that swam alongside our boat and put on quite a show for us. Amazing.


We got to Honolua Bay, had a quick snorkling lesson, got fitted in our snorkling gear, and got in to the water. It was freaky. I couldn't believe how close some of those fish were to me, as well as the gorgeous coral. Andrea took to it (sorry for the comparison here) like fish to water. She was in Heaven. I, on the other hand, started to hyperventilate. I turned over on my back, took my mask off to beathe a bit better, and give myself a stern talking to, telling myself how ridiculous I was being, etc. I felt like I got control, put my mask back on, turned over, swam a few feet more, marveling at what I was seeing, and then my mind took control and I started wondering what I WASN'T seeing, but what was seeing me. Seriously wigged out and couldn't get back in the boat fast enough. SO. FRIGGIN'. DUMB.

Andrea got to see a lot of stuff, including a sea turtle that swam THISCLOSE to her. She could have touched it if she wanted to risk her fingers. Here's a picture she took of it:


Pretty cool, huh?

Well, we saved the best for last. We were leaving Maui for home on Saturday night. Saturday morning Andi and I wanted to do parasailing, since it was the first day it started. We went to check it out and was told the earliest we could go was 12:30. We had to check out of our hotel room at 12:00 noon so we were in a dilemma. The lady who was telling us about the parasailing said the hotel had a hospitality suite that we could look in to. Anyway, we both ended up booking our parasailing adventure for 12:30. We went back to our room, packed up, took a quick shower (we were to take off and land on the boat so we didn't think we would get too wet), dropped our bags off at the bell desk, and went parasailing.

Here we are taking off. We were both laughing and swinging our legs - it was amazing!


This is when we were higher up - they took us up 600 feet for about 10 minutes. Plenty high enough and plenty long enough. And I'm so grateful Andi and I were able to do it together so we could talk about what we were seeing and doing. It was so GREAT!


And this is when the boat driver decided to "skim" the ocean with us. I had told him I didn't want to touch the water, and apparently Andrea told him she did. She's much cuter than I and must have batted her eyes enough that he was happy to oblige. Like my face?


Luckily we were able to use the hospitality suite and shower up and be clean for the flight home. We left Maui at 9:30 Saturday night, arriving in L.A. at 5:30 a.m. We didn't leave L.A. until almost 9:00 a.m. and got to Phoenix around 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

It was a marvy trip - we stayed at an amazing hotel, got to do some amazing things, had some spending money to be able to play (THANK YOU INFUSIONSOFT) and traveling with Andrea was probably the easiest thing of all. We got along so great and traveled very well together.

I'm grateful for the many, MANY blessings in my life. This Maui trip was just one in a million.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

My President's Club Trip

Back in February, I announced that I was the winner of a spot on our President's Club trip to Puerto Vallarta.

As many of you know (and if you don't know - you must have been hiding under a rock or sumptin'), the swine flu has been a problem, here in the U.S., but especially in Mexico.

The Executive team at my work decided they didn't want to put their employees through a possible risk of infection, so they decided to change the location of the trip.

I AM NOW GOING TO MAUI.

Less than two weeks away was when this decision was made, so they had a fun time trying to find and secure flights to Maui for 60+ people, figure out where all these said people were going to stay, what they were going to do, etc. It took nine months to plan Puerto Vallarta, they had 12 days to plan Maui. And plan it they did!

We are leaving this coming Tuesday, May 12, 2009, on the 9:30 a.m. flight. We will have a layover in San Francisco, then be on our way to Maui, arriving there around 2:30 p.m. Hawaii time (which is three hours earlier than Arizona time).

I am so stinkin' excited I can't see straight (again, if you didn't know how excited I was about this through my Facebook status updates, then SERIOUSLY, how BIG is that rock you've been hiding under anyway?!?). It has been a blast planning this trip with Andrea and figuring out what to wear, swimsuits and flipflops and coverups to get, how many books to bring, what activities we want to do, etc.

She and I have decided all we really want to do is go there and stay on the beach and read and listen to our iPods and have no one call Andrea Mom for four whole days. We'll probably do some other stuff since my company also provided some cash for us to spend while we're there.

They really do treat me well and I can't say enough nice things about the company I work for (Infusionsoft), who I work for, and who I work with. Talk about being truly blessed.

Anyway, I promise to take lots and lots of pictures and write about my trip when I get back (our flight gets in to Phoenix on Sunday May 17, 2009, at 10:30 a.m. - only bad thing about this trip is it's an overnight flight home).

A L O H A ! ! !

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Dad

My little sister does these updates better than anyone, so please take a look at her most latest post: http://kerbyfam.blogspot.com/2009/04/latest.html

Since her post, he had an MRI today. He has a tumor on his brain. It is cancer, but it is very small and in a good spot, if that is possible. They are going to treat it with laser surgery. No going in and opening him up (thank goodness), but shoot several lasers at different angles and kill that lesion. The doctor was positively optimistic that it would get rid of that tumor and will not allow for any more to grow there.

I'm scared to be happy with this news because every time we get an answer about his cancer, two to three more questions get raised and they're always, "Let's see what can stump the doctors today" type of questions. Frustrating puts it mildly, but all we can do is remain optimistic and pray. Pray like we've never prayed before. Which is what we all do. It's what all of you are doing.

Thank you.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Quick Dad Update

So many people have asked me about my dad. Here's the most recent posting (she did this on Thursday, April 9, 2009) that my sister Cassie did (she lives in Utah about a block away from my parents):

Yesterday seemed like it was going to be just a typical day. I left my house at 7:00am to pick up my parents so we could head up to the Huntsman Cancer Facility for my dad's check up. It was actually to visit with the oncologist to figure out when his Chemo would begin again. Since his surgery 2 weeks ago he has been in more and more pain. Everyday it has gotten worse. To see your father's eyes well up with tears every time he has to stand up really gets to you after a while. Any how this was supposed to be a routine check up and I was going to be home at 10:30am. Well his doctor took one look at him and the amount of pain he is in and called in his other doctors and nurses. We had about 4 doctors and 4 nurses in his room. At that moment a decision was made. They needed to admit him ASAP and get him into surgery...Again. We had very little time to prepare. They got him all ready for surgery and informed us that it would begin in 15 minutes. My mom and I were very nervous. My dad really wanted a blessing. I was able to go to the front desk and ask if they could find two priesthood holders to come and administer a blessing for my dad. Sure enough about 10 minutes later two men in scrubs showed up to give my dad a blessing (definitely a bonus to living in UT). So surgery was performed and sure enough my dad's hip had filled back up with infection, the antibiotics apparently are not working. So he is resting up at Huntsman for now. The lab will culture the infection and if it comes back positive than the next step is major. He will have to have surgery next Wednesday to take out his hip and put in an antibiotic spacer and they probably would not put a hip back in. The doctor said that this is the last resort that they like to do but with the infection and pain that my dad is in it looks like it will be his best option. We continue to go day by day with this and again I cannot thank those who have helped me and my family out enough. We really are blessed!

So Dad is going back into surgery this Wednesday (April 15) to get his hip removed. He will probably go the rest of his life without a hip. Apparently this is possible, I just can't wrap my mind around it yet.

Luckily, I'm going to Utah this Friday to play Aunt Mommy to my sister's six kids, so I'll be close to my parents again and hopefully be some kind of help to them while mommy-ing my nieces and nephews.

Thanks for the kind words, notes, prayers, calls, chats, etc. I am surrounded by AMAZING people and feel the love and prayers you all offer on a daily basis. I have no doubt my parents are strengthened by you too.

Love you all.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The LaRue Family


With all the CRAP (sorry) going on with my dad these days, I've gotten a whole new appreciation for my entire family. One of the General Authorities in General Conference a few times back said Cancer is a disease of love. I couldn't understand/comprehend/grasp that phrase until it happened to us and Dad got this dreaded disease.

I have always been a fan of my family. I thank Heavenly Father every single night for sending me to this particular family. I'm even more grateful for them now - for who they are, for how they live their lives, for how we all love each other, for their support and guidance.

I am going to be a little indulgent here and share with you my family and who they are:

Allan LaRue is the patriarch of my family. He's my dad and I've never loved a man more. He has one wife, five daughters (no sons), and two sisters (no brothers) and is therefore surrounded by women who constantly mother him. He has more patience with the women in his life than anyone should have to have, yet it's what he knows and he loves us all. Dad has cancer and is in a lot of pain right now. He hasn't talked much during this time, but you can see the pain/frustration in his eyes and that's hard to see knowing he's hurting. Yet, true to my dad-ness, he says he's grateful this happened to him and not any of his family. He really is quite selfless. I love Love LOVE my dad.

Sharon LaRue is the matriarch of my family, my mom. I went to Utah a couple of weeks ago and spent some really good one-on-one time with my mom while my dad had some more surgery. She and I are a LOT alike in so many ways and it was comforting to share with someone the strange quirks that I have. I love my mom and I love how much she loves us and especially loves my dad. This cancer has put us all through the ringer, but most especially my mom. She sits all day in Dad's hospital room, just needing to be near him and near his doctors. It's inspiring to see the love that is between them.

Leslie LaRue Julian is my oldest sister. She lives in Colorado with her husband Jason Julian, has 3 boys (James, Jake, and Jackson Julian), 1 girl (Jonni Julian), 1 daughter-in-law (Tabitha), and 1 granddaughter (Olivia) (my sister is a grandmaw, can you believe it?!?). I believe she has coined the phrase "Suck it up," or if she didn't come up with it, has used it more than anyone else on this earth. She not only says that phrase, she believes in it wholeheartedly and applies it to her life as she expects others to apply it to theirs. She's one of the hardest workers I know and really loves her family. I think she's happiest when they are all together at a wrestling tournament of some sort. I really love my sister Leslie.

Stacey LaRue Johnson is my 2nd oldest sister. She lives in Utah with her husband Kirk Johnson and her two sons Travis and Dylan Johnson. Stacey has discovered how to paint. And man alive does she do it well. I get so excited to see her new masterpieces - usually one a month or so, and feel privileged that I have one of her originals hanging on my wall. I'm proud to display it in my bedroom right now and can't wait to have a house some day where I can show it off a little more. Stacey is Switzerland in our family. She's always been neutral in arguments, fights, skirmishes, etc. that the LaRue girls seem to occasionally have. I love Stacey and am grateful she's my sister.

Andrea LaRue Derrick is my sister that is just 18 months younger than me. She is married to Ron Derrick and has seven children (6 girls, 1 boy): Bryndee, Porter, Torie, Kymber, Abby, Ellie, and Taralee Derrick. Andrea and her family live about five miles away from me and I get to share in their lives. Their home is my home and I'm so grateful to be a part of their family. Andrea loves to cook and is a part of a line of fabulous cooks: my grandma, my mom, and Andi. All of my sisters are fantastic cooks, but because Andrea lives near me, I get to experience her cooking the most, and she's excellent. She loves recipe books (sits down and reads them like they're novels) and loves to try new things. I love Andrea. She's my best friend and I'm grateful that she's my sister as well as my friend.

Cassie LaRue Kerby is my baby sister. Cassie is married to Chad Kerby and has 3 boys (Tyler, Andrew, and Max Kerby) and 3 girls (Raegan, Kalli, and Sydney Kerby). Cassie is Supermom. This girl can go Go GO better than anyone. She's happiest when she's on the move, whether it's carting her kids around town, helping my mom and dad with their massive amounts of doctor appointments, being a bishop's wife, going on fun excursions (Disneyland, Boston, Guatemala, New York, etc.), and being one of the most embarrassing parents in America (anyone see Rachael Ray?). I love my baby sister and am inspired by all that she does and accomplishes.

I love my family and appreciate you taking a moment to get to know them a bit better. I think they're pretty terrific and am humbled to be able to call them family.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Just be happy.

I found this in the October 2008 Real Simple magazine and I loved it. I'm going to type it up word for word so you can get the full gist of this article. I've been asked by several people lately to update my blog a bit more frequently (though I'm not sure what to say other than, "Yes, I'm still in debt" and "Yes, I'm still working on it"). So I'm going to start posting a bit more on more random things and I hope you forgive me if you're looking for straight up me-getting-out-of-debt info. That's important and I'll update/post whenever something happens on that, but will sprinkle in other things too.

10 WAYS TO BE HAPPIER

How happy are you - really? If there's room for improvement, then Gretchen Rubin has some suggestions. After spending a full year studying the art - and science - of true contentment, she found her bliss and some surprising nuggets of wisdom.

A few years ago, on a morning like any other, I had a sudden realization: I was in danger of wasting my life. As I stared out the rain-spattered window of a New York City bus, I saw that the years were slipping by.

"What do I want from life?" I asked myself. "Well...I want to be happy." I had many reasons to be happy: My husband was the tall, dark, handsome love of my life; we had two delightful girls, ages 1 and 7; I was a writer, living in my favorite city. I had friends; I had my health; I didn't have to color my hair. But too often I sniped at my husband or the drugstore clerk. I felt dejected after even a minor professional setback. I lost my temper easily. Is that how a happy person would act?

I decided on the spot to begin a systematic study of happiness. (A little intense, I know. But that's the kind of thing that appeals to me.) In the end, I spent a year test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and tips from popular culture. If I followed all the advice, I wanted to know, would it work?

Well, the year is over, and I can say: It did. I made myself happier. And along the way I learned a lot about how to be happier. Here are those lessons.

1. Don't start with profundities. When I began my Happiness Project, I realized pretty quickly that, rather than jumping in with lengthy daily meditation or answering deep questions of self-identity, I should start with the basics, like going to sleep at a decent hour and not letting myself get too hungry. Science backs this up; these two factors have a big impact on happiness.

2. Do let the sun go down on anger. I had always scrupulously aired every irritation as soon as possible, to make sure I vented all bad feelings before bedtime. Studies show, however, that the notion of anger catharsis is poppycock. Expressing anger related to minor, fleeting annoyances just amplifies bad feelings, while not expressing anger often allows it to dissipate.

3. Fake it till you feel it. Feelings follow actions. If I'm feeling low, I deliberately act cheery, and I find myself actually feeling happier. If I'm feeling angry at someone, I do something thoughtful for her and my feelings toward her soften. This strategy is uncannily effective.

4. Realize that anything worth doing is worth doing badly. Challenge and novelty are key elements of happiness. The brain is stimulated by surprise, and successfully dealing with an unexpected situation gives a powerful sense of satisfaction. People who do new things - learn a game, travel to unfamiliar places - are happier than people who stick to familiar activities that they already do well. I often remind myself to "Enjoy the fun of failure" and tackle some daunting goal.

5. Don't treat the blues with a "treat." Often the things I choose as "treats" aren't good for me. The pleasure lasts a minute, but then feelings of guilt and loss of control and other negative consequences deepen the lousiness of the day. While it's easy to think, I'll feel good after I have a few glasses of wine...a pint of ice cream...a cigarette...a new pair of jeans, it's worth pausing to ask whether this will truly make things better.

6. Buy some happiness. Our basic psychological needs include feeling loved, secure, and good at what we do and having a sense of control. Money doesn't automatically fill these requirements, but it sure can help. I've learned to look for ways to spend money to stay in closer contact with my family and friends; to promote my health; to work more efficiently; to eliminate sources of irritation and marital conflict; to support important causes; and to have enlarging experiences. For example, when my sister got married, I splurged on a better digital camera. It was expensive, but it gave me a lot of happiness bang for the buck.

7. Don't insist on the best. There are two types of decision makers. Satisficers (yes, satisficers) make a decision once their criteria are met. When they find the hotel or the past sauce that has the qualities they want, they're satisfied. Maximizers want to make the best possible decision. Even if they see a bicycle or a backpack that meets their requirements, they can't make a decision until they've examined every option. Satisficers tend to be happier than maximizers. Maximizers expend more time and energy reaching decisions, and they're often anxious about their choices. Sometimes good enough is good enough.

8. Exercise to boost energy. I knew, intellectually, that this worked, but how often have I told myself, "I'm just too tired to go to the gym?" Exercise is one of the most dependable mood-boosters. Even a 10-minute walk can brighten my outlook.

9. Stop nagging. I knew my nagging wasn't working particularly well, but I figured that if I stopped, my husband would never do a thing around the house. Wrong. If anything, more work got done. Plus, I got a surprisingly big happiness boost from quitting nagging. I hadn't realized how shrewdish and angry I had felt as a result of speaking like that. I replaced nagging with the following persuasive tools: wordless hints (for example, leaving a new lightbulb on the counter); using just one word (saying "Milk!" instead of talking on and on); not insisting that something be done on my schedule; and, most effective of all, doing a task myself. Why did I get to set the assignments?

10. Take action. Some people assume happiness is mostly a matter of inborn temperament: You're born an Eeyore or a Tigger, and that's that. Although it's true that genetics play a big role, about 40 percent of your happiness level is within your control. Taking time to reflect, and conscious steps to make your life happier, really does work. So use these tips to start your own Happiness Project. I promise it won't take you a whole year.

(You can check out Gretchen Rubin's blog at www.happiness-project.com.)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Nicely-Nicely

I wanted to show this video to my family, but didn't have a forum to upload it to except my blog, so those of you who don't know who this kid is, my apologies.

Family/friends, take a look at Porter and his performance as Nicely-Nicely in Guys and Dolls last week (and I do apologize - I don't have the steadiest hand). Absolutely ADORABLE. (Porter - you rock and I couldn't have been more proud. Torie, you were darling in your town girl's outfit and your dance number. I loved seeing both of you up there!)


video

Friday, February 27, 2009

2 Down, 2 More To Go

Guess what?!?

The credit card I opened in order to get my teeth done last spring still had a $1,422.50 balance. My MasterCard that I've been slowly paying off still had a $1,793.73 balance.

I received my AZ state and Federal refund deposit into my bank account this week.

The health credit card now has a big, fat ZERO balance.

The MasterCard now has a big, fat ZERO balance too.

I still have my Bank of America LOC (I know - that surprises you [smile]) (I owe $32,159.95) and my AZFCU car loan (I owe 5,480.68), for a total of $37,640.63.

But I eliminated ALL OF MY CREDIT CARDS. The last time I didn't have any credit card debt was in the summer of 1988, right before I started college at MCC and applied for my first credit card. That was only 21 years ago (zoiks). Crazy huh?

ANYWHO, That is still a lot of money that I owe, but eliminating two more accounts is such a huge deal for my mental health and working on this debt snowball just got a whole lot easier!

Life is seriously good right now.

Monday, February 9, 2009

I'm goin' to Mexico!

My wunnerful employer Infusionsoft has a President's Club that is for all of our sales team. If they exceed their goals and/or quotas for the year, they join the President's Club and get to go on a spectacular trip.

This year the trip is an all expense paid trip for two to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, on May 13-17, 2009.

Each year, the President's Club invites one person from each department to join them for this trip. They announced the winners this past Friday and one of the names they read was Tara LaRue.

How 'bout 'dat?

I've never traveled out of the country and have never done something swanky like this and I simply CAN NOT wait! I've invited my sister Andrea (mother of seven children) to come along as my guest. We're both like little kids in planning for this thing.

Funnily enough, Andi used this as a teaching point for her kids. She and I shared a bedroom our entire lives, since her birth (1972) until she left for college in 1990. We still like each other a whole lot and enjoy being friends as well as sisters. Andi told her children (particularly two of her girls who share a room and don't really enjoy it) that if they would get along, maybe one of their siblings would taken them to Mexico some day. Not sure it stuck.

But it sure cracked me up.

And hey - I'M GOING TO PUERTO VALLARTA!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Wow, I've Got The Blessings!

I woke up this morning feeling incredibly optimistic. This is after spending this week down in the dumps, having no motivation to do anything, having a less than wonderful conversation (AGAIN) with Bank of America, having no desire whatsoever to get up and go to the gym, having no desire to stick to my diet, having no desire to be pleasant to anyone, not having much desire to even get out of bed.

But this morning, when my eyes popped open around 5:30 (and I SO should have gotten up then to run to the gym, but bad habits are horribly hard to break), I laid there thinking about the week, thinking about the future, and realizing I am so lucky and so incredibly blessed and to just get over myself. Yes, I'm in an unbelievable amount of debt, but the problem was recognized, a plan was made, and I have been working on it for well over a year now and now is not the time to just forget about everything I've done.

I have so many people rooting for me, praying for me, loving me through this and it has made it bearable. I have a fantastic job at a fantastic company that supports me and pays me well and helps me pay my bills every month. I love going to work every morning and how many people can actually say that?

My family are my favorite people. I have lots of sisters, lots of brothers-in-law, two fantastic parents and lots of nieces and nephews who are just plain cool and funny and talented and pretty dang awesome. People I am thrilled to be related to. My best friend is my sister. How many people can say that?

I live with a roommate who is pretty terrific. She's such a good friend and confidant and she doesn't charge me an arm and a leg to live under her roof, making it possible for me to really work on this debt problem. She's incredibly supportive of this adventure for me, and has total empathy for me as I'm going through this.

My friends are phenomenal. I don't know how many of you are Facebook users, but I can't believe the amount of friends, old friends that I've known for most of my life, that I have found or who have found me on Facebook and how wonderful it has been in reconnecting with them. It's incredible! Thank you friends (past, present, and future) for enriching and blessing and touching my life. I am grateful for you.

This is fairly random after what I wrote above, but I need to mention that Dave Ramsay's latest post is awesome: Thoughts on Obama's plan - a great read for a great day.

Lastly, I'm grateful I got to wear my cute shoes I bought in Chinatown in San Francisco last summer:

How fun are they?

(Smile) I had to end on a fun note, but seriously, THANK YOU to everyone for being my blessings and being my support and strength through this frustrating and obnoxiously difficult time. I couldn't do it without you! I wouldn't want to do it without you.

For those of you that I don't know that blog stalk me, thank you too. It's fun to think that perfect strangers can related to what I'm going through. That in and of itself is also a strength to me.

Love to you all!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

STILL

I am still alive.

I am still in debt.

I am still trying desperately to get out of debt.

I still despise Bank of America more today than ever.

I still fight discouragement every single day.

I still believe I will conquer this!