The Evans Four

blogging about our life as a family

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! December 31, 2011

Filed under: babies,celebration,family,friends,fun,holidays,pictures,plans,pregnancy,work — aarontori @ 12:53 PM

Hello friends and family! We hope the year’s end finds you well! It has been a year full of changes and growth for us, and we’d like to share with you how our lives have changed.

We’ve moved away from Happy Hill Farm Academy, where we were resident parents for the girls’ elementary house. We enjoyed our time there, and we’ll miss the friends we made, but we’ve moved on to some exciting prospects.

Elizabeth has grown so much this year, and is now running and talking about everything she sees. Her vocabulary is getting larger by the hour (just this hour she learned “Earth” “Asia” and “Ocean” while we were on a walk looking at a sculpture of the earth, and correctly pointed out “berries” on a nearby bush).  While sometimes unsteady on her feet, she is always going full speed ahead. She has bruised knees and forehead, but rarely cries; she is quick to get up and try again. She can even read a few of her books to you if you ask. She has a way to go on learning not to scream inside or throw food when she is finished, but she has mastered saying “Thank you” and is doing well on learning “Please” and “You’re welcome”. Her most recent adventure is apparently potty training. She has been showing some interest in the potty as of late, and so we went ahead and purchased a potty chair with some Christmas money. Last night she sat on it twice and peed both times! Hard to believe, but this girl is just way ahead of the curve when it comes to just about everything.

Tori is now 26 weeks along into pregnancy number 2. Mom and baby are both very healthy and growing bigger by the moment. Elizabeth absolutely adores the baby (for now) and since she won’t really be able to remember life without a sibling we’re hoping it stays that way come April. We still don’t know if we’re having a boy or girl, but will likely have an ultrasound in January. We’ll keep you posted.

Tori began working at Autism Concepts Inc. as an ABA therapist in October. She is loving being back doing what she trained to do in college and while she is tired at the end of the day, she is excited about the work she did and how the children she is working with are progressing.

Aaron is staying at home with Elizabeth, and loving the opportunity to work on learning words, sounds, numbers, and all sorts of things with her. They go on walks and enjoy looking at (and touching) the sculptures around TCU and listening to people playing in the music school.

Currently we are living just down the street from TCU, and the walk to church is less than 30 seconds. It’s much nicer than the hour long drive we used to have to make! We’re waiting on word from Apartment Life, where we will be moving in to an apartment complex within 10 miles from where we are now, helping them with resident retention, and ministering to the staff and residents.

We are doing well and hope you all are too. Tori finally got around to uploading all of our pictures through Christmas, so enjoy!

May 2011

June 2011- We were terrible and have no pictures from the month of June…oops

July 2011

August 2011

September 2011

Elizabeth’s First Birthday!

October 2011

November 2011

December 2011

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Chipping Away March 3, 2011

Filed under: celebration,money,plans — aarontori @ 1:04 AM

This year we are so very blessed to be working in a position that actually pays and provides housing. Not that it pays a whole lot, but it sure is nice. Last year we received a small stipend each month through AmeriCorps and then after our year of service we received an education award which we used to pay off one student loan each.

Now that we have Elizabeth we actually got a decent sized refund after doing our taxes. We have had it for a couple of weeks and have been debating about what we should do with it. Last night we sat down, crunched some numbers, did some dreaming and scheming, and decided to go ahead and pay off our car. I’ve been trying to take Dave Ramsey’s approach to our finances and according to the way he advises, we should have paid off our smallest debt first and then roll those payments into making larger payments on the next larger debt  and so on (the debt snowball). We decided that not having a car payment anymore would feel really good and would allow us $200 more each month that we could use to pay down the smaller debts even faster. So today I tried to pay off the car through the online payment feature, but because it was more than $2,000 the system couldn’t process it. I instead had to call and they told me that we had to pay by check/money order or western union. I got out my checkbook and wrote a check for just under $3,700 and put it in the mail. Man, did it feel good.

Our list of debts we’re working on:

Car Loan

3 credit cards

Medical bills from Elizabeth’s birth

-we’ll be using the rest of our refund to pay half of the remaining balance

Student Loans

-the top priority is my private loan since it’s got the highest interest rate

-I consolidated my federal loans at the lowest interest rate and with income based repayment (which is

much easier to handle each month)

-Aaron has one remaining loan, but he paid most of it off with the AmeriCorps award so his next payment due date

is in 2013, so while it’s on our list to make payments, it’s the lowest priority

It feels SO good to be on track again financially. Right before we graduated from college we were doing so well, but then life happened and Aaron found out that he needed an additional course to graduate and it took all of our savings (which we were going to use to get us through our year of volunteer service), plus some. Then of course we decided to have a baby, which slowed down our financial progress again. I really hope that we’ll be able to get the credit cards, medical bills, and private loan paid off by the end of the year.

Next I’ll post some pictures of Elizabeth, because that’s probably the real reason why you’re here 🙂

-Tori

 

Monumental Update…coming soon :) July 27, 2009

We are currently back in Fort Worth, TX for one week. We have been to Lawton, Denver, Lincoln (Nebraska), back to Lawton, and then here. We still have two more stops to make on our trip.

Something to look forward to: pictures! LOTS of pictures from our travels so far and also…video clips (at least one from each time we crossed a state line).
This week will provide us with absolutely no have to’s as well as an awesome internet connection so I will most definitely be updating this baby.
hint: look at the labels for this post and you will get a small idea of what we’ve seen/done so far
okay, so it wouldn’t let me post all of them but here they are (babies, denver, family, food, friends, fun, plans, tejas, travels, vacation, wildlife, okies, corn, badminton, competitive sports, injuries, sleep, driving, night life, cooking, dessert)

 

-insert celebratory dance here- May 12, 2009

Filed under: celebration,family,food,fun,holidays,illness,plans,school,travels,vacation — aarontori @ 1:39 PM

I did it, I am officially finished with my undergraduate degree. I’m seriously excited!

I just got out of my last final exam (which I totally rocked).

Aaron’s graduation ceremony was this past Saturday and mine is this coming Saturday.

Lots to report here, but I’m going to go sell back my books and head home (maybe…depending on what I hear back from my boss about work tonight).

This post is to be continued…..

 

I’m a Bad Blogger April 15, 2009

Sorry for not posting anything new in about….3 weeks. It’s been crazy around here. I will eventually finish posting about our vacation I swear.

I really want to update everyone (or the 5 people that read this regularly) on how we’re doing.

School:

We had a slight scare that Aaron wasn’t going to be able to walk at his graduation. He found out about 4 weeks into the semester that he is missing a Psychology credit he needs for his degree. To make a VERY long story short: he took the CLEP exam, missed it by one point (according to TCU’s standards, he was well above the college board standards), made an appeal, it was denied, he is now enrolled for a may-mester (3 week mini semester in May) course in general psych. He was told he could not walk at graduation, but appealed and is walking on May 10th with everyone else (if we can pay the summer tuition by the 1st of May).

Other than that school is going well for Aaron. He is very much enjoying his time as a crisis counselor at the high school and is by all accounts doing great there. He finished his honors project for the honors program and presented it on Monday and will present his departmental honors project today/thursday at their research symposium. He just needs to tweak his final paper and submit it by May 5th.

As for me, things are going well. I and a friend were selected by our department as Outstanding Undergraduate Students of the Year, which is pretty cool. We were presented with a certificate and what looks like two ashtrays (but is actually a trinket box/candy dish) at the UNT honors convocation. As a result of my award, I have decided to go ahead and walk at the UNT graduation on May 16th. I’ve got two big projects to finish before the end of the semester (one is due the 30th and the other during finals week). I feel good about them both and am so looking forward to graduation day(s).

Summer:

After graduation, it’s going to be pretty hectic while we pack up/sell our things in preparation to move out of our apartment. We’re going to move our stuff to Aaron’s grandmother’s house. She agreed to let us store our stuff if we clean out the garage and make room (such an awesome deal!). We also need to go to the doctor and dentist to get checkups and have them fill out medical/dental histories for us to present to Camphill so we can get on their insurance. For the month of June we will be working and house sitting in the Fort Worth area.

We’re going to a family reunion on July 4th and then on the 6th we’re headed to Colorado to visit some friends we haven’t seen in a of couple years. After that we’ll visit my mom in Oklahoma, a short stop back in Fort Worth, Del Rio to see my dad and Phyllis, Houston to see Aaron’s parents, then a stop back in Louisiana for our one year anniversary (we’re staying at the Oak Alley Plantation B&B), then Alabama to visit my sisters and their families. After that a very long drive up to SW New York to visit my grandmother, then finally to Pennsylvania where we’ll stay with Aaron’s best friend’s family for a couple of days before starting at Camphill Soltane.

It’s going to be a very busy and wonderful summer, I can tell. Lots of time with family and friends. I’m very excited to see my grandmother. I haven’t seen her since I graduated from high school and this will be the first time she and Aaron will meet. I’m also excited to visit Salamanca again (where I lived from age 3-13); from what I saw on google maps street view it hasn’t changed much.

We’ve got a lot going on right now, but I’ll do my best to keep this thing up to date. I’ll get to the vacation stuff eventually (hopefully before I forget what all we did) 🙂

 

The Scoop on Camphill…Finale March 7, 2009

Filed under: camphill soltane,family,holidays,plans,school,travels,work — aarontori @ 2:30 AM

It’s been a while since the last post. Sorry, but we’ve been pretty busy around here. We just got back from Spring Break (post on that to come later) and before that we had midterms.

Here it is, the third and final installment of our blogs on Camphill

I’ll just go ahead and do the last one because Aaron has been a bit busy/stressed out lately (more on that later t00).

So, onto the final few questions:

“What about grad school?!”
Well, we’re obviously not going right now. I hope to eventually get my Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology. I will have to take a few prerequisite undergraduate courses (4 or 5) prior to enrolling in a graduate program so it might take a little while. As for Aaron, he hasn’t really decided what he’s going to do next. He has really enjoyed working at the high school so far this semester and maybe will someday work as a crisis counselor. That’s completely up to him. Our plans for the near future (other than Camphill) are a little bit up in the air at the moment. We’ve decided to keep our stay at Camphill open-ended. If we love it and they love us, we might stay for a second year (you can qualify for the Americorps grant twice so if we do decide to stay a second year we’ll get the same grant again).

“Why aren’t you getting a ‘real job’?”
Prior to getting married I decided that I wanted to give back in some way. I applied for and was accepted to go on a summer-long mission trip to India last summer. However, I ended up staying due to my financial situation. I had a really nice-paying job that was helping me to also pay for school, and they definitely wouldn’t hold my position for me over the summer. So I stayed and we moved the wedding up. We had discussed it and Aaron also wanted to serve others in some capacity, although he definitely had a desire to serve more locally. He’s the home-body type and holds to the idea that we should serve here in our own country.

So when we weren’t really sure what we were going to do after graduation and felt sick at the idea of starting more school up right away, we began searching for service opportunities. We found Americorps, but didn’t see anything in their listings that caught our eye. Then I found www.idealist.org which is basically an awesome search engine for service opportunities and news. We found the Camphill Soltane listing and it sounded perfect for us. We immediately loved the philosophy they have and decided to apply. It may not pay like a “real job” but it most definitely will be an amazing experience that cannot be duplicated in any other sort of setting. It’s a way for us to serve others and grow (and it doesn’t look bad on a resume by any means). There’s plenty of time for “real” jobs in the future anyway.


“Will you be able to come back for _______?”
Honestly, unless it will somehow miraculously take place in Pennsylvania or during one of our holiday breaks, probably not. It’s not that we don’t care or that we want to miss out on things like graduations, weddings, birthdays, holidays, etc but we have made a committment to work 6 days a week, every week. We do recieve time off for holidays but even then it’s not cheap to travel from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma and Texas. We’ll definitely do what we can to visit, but it will most likely be on a long break and only a short visit with each part of the family. You’re more than welcome to come visit us though! According to what I’ve read Camphill loves visitors, but be warned: if you plan on staying more than a day or two they’ll put you to work 🙂

“What are you going to do after Camphill?”
Good question! That means we’re not really sure yet. We’re going to use our time at Camphill to figure that out for ourselves. Don’t worry though, we’ll let you know once we know.

I hope that this has answered most if not all of your questions. If you have any others or just want to know more about it, give us a call or shoot us an email.

 

The Scoop on Camphill…Part Two February 27, 2009

Filed under: camphill soltane,plans,school,travels — aarontori @ 2:53 PM

Onto part two of our series on questions we receive about Camphill

“That’s awfully far away, are you sure you want to go?”

In short, yes. We understand that it is in Pennsylvania and that yes, Pennsylvania is rather far away from Texas/Oklahoma. However, we wanted to get away from this area for a while. We’re not saying it to be mean. We’re not going away from anyONE, just craving a change of scenery. We actually decided that Camphill Soltane sounded amazing and wonderful and we wanted more information about it even before we knew that it was in Pennsylvania.

“Won’t you be cold?”

Well, probably. Especially in the winter. However, I do have some experience with the winter up there (I lived pretty close to the Penn border in New York from ages 3 to 13). We’ll have good warm winter coats, boots, gloves, earmuffs/hats, and scarves. It’s all about layers. Promise we’ll use our brains on this one 😉

“Are you crazy?”

I believe that this question was less a question about the sanity of our decision and more about the idea of willingly going to a climate that has snow. The answer, by the way, is no.

“How much does it pay?”

This is a VERY popular question from family. We aren’t doing this for the money. With that said, we won’t be left penniless afterward either. We have free housing and food the entire time we’re there, plus after 3 months we’ll have fully paid-for health insurance. We get a monthly stipend of $170 each. We won’t have any bills to pay so we can save pretty much all of that each month.

We are actually going to be enrolled at Camphill as Americorps workers (Americorps is the same concept as Peacecorps, only you stay and work in the U.S. instead of going to another country). At the end of our time at Camphill we will have qualified for a full Americorps grant of $4,725.00 each for our year of full-time service. That grant can be used either to pay off student loans or toward tuition at an approved institution (there are lots of colleges and universities that accept Americorps grants). We have 7 years from the end of our service to use those funds.

Aaron doesn’t have much in the way of federal student loans, but he can pay off what he does have and then use the rest toward his master’s degree if he wants. I on the other hand have almost all federal student loans so I’ll use mine toward those. Also, since we will be working in an Americorps program, our student loans will go into deferment just as if we were still in school which means we won’t have to make payments on them and any time left in our grace period will still be there when we finish at Camphill. Most loans have a 6 month grace period after graduation and so since we’re starting at the end of August we’ll still have 3 months left once we leave Camphill before we’ll need to make any payments.

I am very meticulous about money (I actually keep a hand-written ledger and budget). I’m also a good bargain hunter (not to brag or anything), and Aaron is a tightwad. Between the two of us we’ll have plenty of money saved up before we ever leave for Pennsylvania.

We’re so very excited about Camphill. We received our paperwork in the mail last week and I filled mine out the next day, but Aaron has been seriously swamped with school and work stuff, but already has a reminder set on his phone to fill his out on Sunday so we can mail them on Monday.

The next set of questions that I (or maybe Aaron) will answer are: “What about grad school?!”, “Why aren’t you getting a ‘real job’?”, “Will you be able to come back for _______?”, and finally “What are you going to do after Camphill?”

 

 
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