2015 Highlights

Thursday, December 31, 2015

For some reason when I quickly think about 2015 it doesn't seem like an especially exciting year, but as I look back through some of my older posts, I realize it was actually probably one of the best years I've had in a long time.

Obviously the number one highlight of the year was Josh returning home from his deployment.  This was something that neither of had ever experienced and our relationship was so new that when he left that we weren't really sure how it would go.  It now seems like a lifetime ago, but I'm happy to say we made through and are stronger together than ever.

The next best part of 2015 would be our trip through England, Scotland, and Ireland.  I still think nostalgically about that trip at least several times a week.

Bringing little puppy Otto into our lives was also a wonderful decision.

I had a great weekend trip with the girls and another long weekend with the group.

Two engagements for some of my closest friends!

I took some risks with my job but they paid off and I have found myself now doing work that I actually enjoy and that is keeping me busy.

I got back into sewing and felt so accomplished when I completed my Cersei Lannister costume.  I've done a few other projects since then, but those will be saved for the new year.

In 2015 alone I managed to decrease my debt by $13,600!

I decluttered my life in a lot of ways.  It doesn't seem like anything big, but it has done wonders for my stress levels.

The Patriots won the Superbowl!

I also managed to finish a script that has been 10 years in the making.  New Year's Resolutions- better 10 years late than never!

I'm surprised with how much I actually did in this past year and I'm excited for all of the things I plan to do in 2016!

It Is Done.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

(give or take one million rounds of editing)

$60,000 in Debt: Month 19

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I took it easy this month considering I made a huge payment in October and I knew Christmas was right around the corner.  My house fund is still growing nicely but we keep bouncing back and forth between committing to buying and renting for a year.  Renting will be difficult with the dogs, but with Josh basically starting in an entirely new field of work, I think we'll most likely want to give it some time before we decide to settle in one spot.  I hate the idea of "wasting" money on renting, but I'd rather do that than buy and limit ourselves if we need a change in the next year.


Monday, December 14, 2015

I've been finding myself more stressed out and overwhelmed on a regular basis these days.  I'm sure there are a lot of factors at play, but most of them can't easily be changed so instead I decided to do a purge of a few smaller things that I know certainly don't help my stress.

One was pretty easy.  I completely cleared off and simplified my desk.  I usually keep a clean desk, but I've had a lot of things on it that I just don't need.  Things like scissors, tape, a pen holder with a dozen pens, highlighters, sharpies... I use these maybe twice a month.  There is no need for them to be on my desk and in my face.  I also have a file rack on my desk with folders of papers that I haven't looked at since I started working with my company.  Anything that could be thrown out was, and everything else was placed in my drawer.

It sounds silly, but simplifying my desk has been a huge help in reducing my underlying stress.  I sit there for 8 hours a day so I guess it makes sense, but it's so easy to just let clutter build up and not even realize the stress is building up as well.

Since that felt so good, I then took a look at my social media accounts.  Facebook used to just be a place where you could see what shenanigans your friends got into over the weekend, but it has become one giant stressor for me.  From ignorant political rants to the annoying intentionally cryptic cry for attention posts.  I find myself more and more just getting pissed off every time I log in.

I deleted quite a few friends (mainly old college people that I haven't talked to since freshman year) and unfollowed even more (friends or family members who I just can't listen to anymore).  I contemplated just deleting Facebook all together, but I'm worried I may miss out on adorable animal pictures. So, for the time being, I'll just see how my freshly cleaned news feed is.

I did a deep clean of Twitter as well.  That wasn't filled with so much rage inducing idiocy, but I found myself struggling to keep up with my feed throughout the course of the day and then being worried that I was missing something.  I've always prided myself on staying up today with current events and what is going on the world, but I find that these days trying to keep up with everything is too overwhelming. I don't need to follow 12 different news stations.  At the end of the day I'll have a good idea of what is going on one way or another.

It may just be confirmation bias, but in her session at the MA Conference for Women last week Dr. Julie Holland talked about the stress we put ourselves through every day that our bodies were not necessarily designed to handle.  The earliest humans may have dealt with an earthquake or a severe storm a couple of times in their lives, but today we're faced with a constant inundation of all the terrible things happening around the world. We may not feel the exact pain of someone who's child has just drown, or be able to truly understand what it feels like to have our home destroyed by a bomb, but our minds still feel some of that the stress reaction.  That just really hit home because I know it has been affecting me lately.

Perhaps it's just because I'm getting old, but I just don't think I can stay as immersed as I once was in everything that is going on the world.  There are many important subjects that I will continue to follow, but for my own mental well being I think I need to limit my exposure.

Hopefully by trimming and simplifying everything I'll find myself getting less frustrated and stressed over things I can't control and getting a better handle on those things I can.

The Massachusetts Conference for Women

Friday, December 11, 2015

Myself and a few coworkers attended the Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston this week. I didn't know much about it before getting tickets, but our company was paying so I wasn't going to say no.  It ended up being a very interesting day and (as cheesy as it sounds) it was pretty empowering.

Despite there being 10,000 attendees, the whole day ran very smoothly.  We started with a few opening keynote speakers.  The most recognizable was Tim Gunn, but my favorite speaker was Adam Grant.  The part that really stuck with me was when he was comparing the different types of people in the workplace- the givers, the takers, and the matchers.  It's very clear who is each role in any office.  I know I'm a giver.  He made a great suggestion about setting aside a specific amount of "giving" time. We all have our own work to get done and as much as we like helping others, we can't let it affect the rest of our work.  It may not have any immediate effects in my current role, but it has given me a lot to think about for the future.
After the opening speakers we broke out for the morning sessions.  My coworkers and I chose to sit in on Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, The Sleep You’re Missing, The Sex You’re Not Having, and What’s Really Making You Feel Crazy by Dr. Julie Holland.  I loved this one.  It was pretty much about how women are too often trying to "control" their emotions (specifically in the workplace) by medicating themselves.  While women definitely go through waves of emotions, they aren't something that should be repressed.  It's usually through these emotions that we know when situations are not right or they are what gives us the drive to push ourselves for more.  The idea of just always feeling content with life sounds really nice, but if that came at the expense of motivating myself to do better, I don't think it would be worth it.  Luckily I feel like I'm on a pretty good track and Dr. Holland would approve of my choices, but it's good to get a little warning of what could happen if you forget to check in with yourself every once in a while.
After that we went to our second session: Tips on How to Become Your Own #Girlboss with Sopia Amoruso.  Unfortunately the setup of the room wasn't great so we couldn't hear or see most of what was going on.  We stayed for probably the first half of the session and then decided to head down to the vendor booths.  We really just wanted to visit a friend (and former co-worker) who was running a Chloe & Isabelle stand.  It had been a while since we last saw her so it was great to catch up even if we could only steal her for a few minutes.

After that we headed back into the main hall for lunch.  It's hard to imagine preparing lunch for 10,000 people but they somehow managed to pull it off.  There were several speakers during our lunch but the two highlights for me were Ellen Pao, who has very publicly fought against sexism in the tech world, and Shonda Rhimes, the television powerhouse. They spoke very candidly about their experiences and the struggles they had to overcome.
Overall, it was really a great time.  It gave me a lot to think about- what I need, what I want, and how I need to go about getting those things.  


Friday, December 4, 2015

I'm pretty much fascinated by anything supernatural or mystical, however I always find myself far too cynical to ever believe most of the stories I hear.  My experience today probably won't change that, but it was too strange to not share.

Josh had an interview a couple towns away from where I work.  He also had to head down to the cape for his drill weekend.  He was going to pick up lunch for us after his interview and join me at my office to eat.

He texted me to say he was leaving the interview and heading to Panera.  A little bit later I got this sudden wave of anxiety and an image of him getting into an accident on his way to see me.  I'll occasionally get anxious or stressed about imaginary situations and I can get carried away.  I quickly said to myself "stop it, you're getting worked up over nothing." That tends to be the easiest way to just stop my imagination.

About three minutes later I got a text from Josh... he had just gotten into a fender bender.

Thankfully he is fine.  Other than a dented bumper and some frustration there was no real damage.

When he finally made it to my office and I talked to him he said that after the accident happened he got out of the car and exchanged information with the guy, then got back in his car and texted me. Which means the accident happened just three or four minutes before I got his text.

I know this is just a weird coincidence.  But, wow.

Hurling At Fenway

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Last week Josh and I had tickets to see a hurling match at Fenway Park.  We headed into Boston and met up at The Baseball Tavern with someone he deployed with and her husband.  I met a lot of the people he deployed with before he left, but I haven't seen any of them since he spent close to a year living with them.  It was great to hear some of the stories they shared.  Especially since he talked about these people on a regular basis and I felt like I knew them already.

The forecast called for a small chance of rain that day, which naturally meant it rained ALL day for us. Fortunately it was really just a constant drizzle and, for mid-November, it actually wasn't too cold.  

We got to sit in seats that we'd never be able to afford if we were there for a Red Sox game, so that alone was awesome. 

I will admit that I never really watched hurling while I was living in Dublin, but since it was Dublin vs. Galway (and Josh had lived in Galway), I felt it was only natural that I rooted for Dublin.  I really didn't know much about the sport, but it was definitely fun to watch.  Of course Dublin led the first three quarters and then lost the game in just the last few minutes.

The Dropkick Murphys were performing after the match but by this point we had all been out in the rain for a several hours so we decided to head to O'Leary's in Brookline.  There's nothing quite like a warm cozy pub after a long day in the chilly rain.  

I'm hoping that they bring hurling back to Boston next year... and in the meantime I'm actually going to make an effort to watch some matches so I have a clue of what is going on when we go back!

A Surprise Proposal!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

This post is a couple weeks over due, but it was a fun event so I'd like to make sure I document it.

One of my best friend's boyfriend reached out to us saying that he wanted to propose to our her and that he wanted us to be there after he did it.

The plan was that they would leave the house around 7 to go get dinner down the street, we'd all sneak into their apartment after they left, and then he would text us when they were leaving the restaurant so we could shut off lights, etc. and be ready to jump out and surprise her.

The "surprise" crew.
Our plan was going smoothly until we were waiting for the "On our way" text.  We had been getting updates from him all night, but for some reason when he sent that text to the group chat, two out of the three people didn't receive it.  The third person didn't see it right away.  Every light in the house was on and we had music playing in the kitchen.  He looked down at his phone and said "On our way!" and we all got excited.  Then he realized it had been sent five minutes prior.  The restaurant was about a 6 minute walk away from their house.  We had about 30 seconds to hit all of the lights, shut off the music, and find places to hide.
We really went all out with our decorations.

About 10 seconds after we got the last light off, the front porch sensor light kicked on.  I was shaking... partially from excitement, partially from the stress of nearly destroying this wonderfully planned proposal.

Then an alarm on my cell phone went off.  I guess it was a plus and a minus that it was all the way in the kitchen.  A plus because they couldn't hear it outside on the porch, but a minus because I was not in the kitchen and had to run through a dark strange house trying to get to it.

I managed to shut my phone up and got back into place just in time to hear it all happen.  It was adorable and ended up with my friend laughing, crying, and loudly announcing that she had snot all over her hand... so probably about how most proposals go.

After that, his plan was to open the door, hit the lights, and yell "She said yes!" and we'd all jump out to surprise her.  He forgot to hit the lights though.  So instead he walked in and yelled, she thought he was just being a dork yelling to an empty house, and then she was almost scared half to death as a dozen screams and flashes of lights came at her from all angles.
At least he's trying to protect her...
Luckily we got the lights on quickly and she didn't hate us for terrifying her.  We had lots of food and drinks and relived the moment several dozen times.  Overall a really fun night for all those involved.  Yay Lynsey and Drew!

Half Way There

Sunday, November 15, 2015

It's the 15th which means we're half way through November and half way through National Novel Writing Month.  I do feel like I'm cheating since I'm not writing a novel, but I've never written as consistently as I have these past 15 days.  I've only missed one day of writing and I made sure to make up for it the next day.

My script was about two-thirds done before I started this last push, but I am now only 3 pages away from my goal.  I think I'll continue with my at-least-one-page-a-day plan until the end of the month though.  I know I'll cut a lot of the stuff I've written recently so I'd rather bulk it up a little more to make the editing a little less painful.

Now that the end is so clearly in sight I'm getting really excited about the editing phase.  I've been working on this story for so many years that I never really thought I'd get to the editing phase.  I still don't have many expectations for it, but getting it to the point where I feel it is done will be almost unbelievable.

This project has also motivated me to start my next one.  This will require a lot more work and research but I can't wait to get started on that one.

$60,000 in Debt: Month 18

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Another loan bites the dust!

I paid of my next oldest student loan.  This one was from my Sophomore year of college.  This brought me down to only two more undergrad loans and, though it's kind of hard to see here, my interest accruing loans are now under $30k.  That doesn't mean much but I do love those little milestones.

This month I decided to break down my interest accruing loans.  I mainly did this so I could do some math easier but I thought it looked nice all broken down like this.  Doing it this way let me better see what I WOULD have been paying if I weren't trying extra hard to get rid of these loans.

The two that I've already paid off don't look like much.  But, if I had let these two small loans live out their full lives, I would have paid around $2500 in interest.  That's $2500 on top of what I was already working to pay off.  Because I paid one off in 2014 and one off this year, I paid just around $1000 in interest.  It still is annoying that I've paid even that much, but this still a savings of around $1500. And that is just on those two loans.  The others haven't been paid off yet, but they will all be paid off well before the expected end date.  If I didn't do that, I could expect to add another $16,000 to my total in interest.

Because of paying off these two loans, I've also brought my monthly payments down from $597 to $515.  That's $82 a month I can put towards something else (though it is most likely just going towards a different loan now!)

In other news, the house fund is going to be my focus again for the next couple of months (we may be leaning back towards buying versus renting).

Lastly, I said last month that I upped my 401k to 8%.  Well, I got a little bit more of a pay raise with this new position than I was expecting so I just bit the bullet and bumped it up to 10%.  I'm hoping since it will coincided with a loan being paid off I won't notice too much of a difference. I've been doing more reading about early retirement and even though I'm only 28 I already feel like that would be the greatest thing ever!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I'm finally participating in NaNoWriMo this month!  I think about it every year but never fully commit and then before I know it the month is over.  The goal of NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month) is to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. 

I guess I'm not really participating, because I am not writing a novel.  But I am going to take advantage of the excitement and motivation of this month to FINALLY finish my script.  I have been working on this script for probably close to 8 years now and the only thing stopping me from finishing is my own laziness. 

A full length children's movie script is generally about 90 pages and prior to this month I was at about 50.  If I just sat down and wrote 1-2 page a day I would be done by the end of November.

It's only been 4 days, but I stuck to my goal and I've actually gone a little beyond.  I've managed 8 pages of new writing since November 1st.

Even better?  I've played with the formatting of the script (there are lots of tabbing and indentation rules in script writing that I was not following) and my script went from 54 pages to 70.  I'm even closer to my goal than I realized!

The best part of this month is that its just about throwing words down on paper.  I'm not worried about editing or flow or anything else that I'll have to take care of later.  For now its just imagining scenes and getting them down on paper.

I wouldn't even care if not a single soul ever read this script.  The satisfaction of just having it completed would be amazing.

Halloween Costume Making

Monday, November 2, 2015

For the first time in about four years I actually had a Halloween party to attend this year.  It was also my first time doing Halloween as part of a couple, so I wanted to make sure I did it right.

We decided to go as Jaime and Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones. Yes, it's sick (for anyone who doesn't watch the show let's just say that they are brother and sister... but also more than that), but it was funny for us since we've been told we look like siblings on multiple occasions.  It also gave me a great opportunity to make our costumes from scratch.

Growing up my mother always hand made my costumes.  They almost always came out great, though I vividly remember being about 4 years old and getting upset because the butterfly fell of the tail of my Bambi costume and everyone thought I was a chipmunk.

I started sewing lessons in 4th grade and made a few of my own costumes in high school, but it's been about 15 years since I really took my sewing machine out and made anything.   

I started with McCall's M6940 pattern.  I was going back and forth between a couple, but this one seemed the easiest considering how long I've been out of the sewing game.
It was kind of like relearning a foreign language that you once knew pretty well, but were never fluent in. All of the numbers and sizes and fabrics were pretty daunting at times, but I'm a huge dork and find numbers and word problems fun.
I chose a burgundy and shimmery gold color for my dress.  It was only after cutting everything and starting to sew things together that I realized I was pretty much making and Ironman dress.
There were some growing pains in the beginning but I was shocked at how quickly things came back to me.  When I had decided to start the project my mom looked at me a little dubiously.  We both had memories of me in high school ready to rip my hair out in frustration at my sewing.  It took me a while to realize why it felt so different this time around but there were two huge things working in my favor.

1. I was no longer in high school (no more school all day, sports all afternoon, homework all night and THEN trying to squeeze in time on a project).


2. The internet! YouTube was a lifesaver.  I'm glad I lived in a time before instant access to the internet because it really makes me appreciate it today.

My dress came together surprisingly easy.  I did spend many hours on it but it was so rewarding that the time I spent didn't feel like a waste.

Josh's costume was almost entirely from the Salvation Army.

I got an extra large women's leather jacket for $13, Brown pants for $3, and belt for $1.

 I cut all of the buttons off the jacket, cut off the lapels, and sewed on some buckles.

For a tunic I took one of his old Army shirts that my dog chewed a hole through almost two years ago and cut the collar off and ripped the seams out of the sleeves and bottom hem. I then cut a v-neck, added some eyelets, and then tied it up with some cord.

The final (and possibly most iconic) part of Josh's costume was his hand.  For anyone who doesn't watch the show, his hand is cut off at one point and he gets a gold prosthetic.   I saved this for last because I really had no clue how I should do it.

I ended up papier-mâché-ing a winter glove.  While it didn't come out perfect, I was pretty surprised with how well it worked.  I then coated it all with gold acrylic paint. 

My sister's girlfriend is a hair dresser and just so happened to have the day off of work on Friday so she was able to my hair Cersei style.
Here's what we were going for versus the final product.
 Source1 Source2

The costumes were a hit, but more importantly they reminded me how much I love to make things. Now that I've got a sewing station set up in my room I'm very motivated to keep this going.  I'm just working on what I want to make next, but I've already got several ideas lined up.

Things I Learned About Gardening: Part Two

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

About two years ago I got the great idea of starting a garden.  That ended pretty poorly, but I learned a great lesson from it.

Lesson 1:  If you want to grow a garden, you can't abandon it after planting seeds.

Who would have thought?

Anyway, now that I'm back at my parents house again (wooo 28 and living in the parent's basement!) I decided to give it another go.  And this time I wasn't going to move away days after starting my garden.

So how did it go this time?

Very, very, slightly, maybe, marginally better.

I was definitely more diligent this time around. I (almost always) regularly watered my plants. I started them indoors to start the seedlings.  I even built a cool little garden bed out of a old wooden pallet (how Pinterest-y of me!).  I planted several different types of veggies.  I figured veggies would be better than flowers this time around since I would actually get food at the end of the whole thing and thought that might motivate me more.

I had planted tomatoes, peppers, carrots, lettuce, spinach, and squash, but despite my huge increase in dedication this time around, I manage to come out with only a handful of very late season tomatoes. 

So although I only came out of this with a few tomatoes, I did also come out with another important lesson:

Lesson 2: The soil/fertilizer is CRUCIAL.

See, when my tomato plants were growing they were a little too close to each other so I had to pull out the weakest looking ones to give the healthier ones more room to grow.  I basically had a pile of tomato plant rejects that I was just going to toss.

My mom took them instead and put them in her own planters and used a special soil mix.  I swear within a day those little loser plants were triple the size of my prized picks.

I spent the rest of the summer watching her plants explode to life while mine kinda sorta sprouted a couple of flowers.

In the end I think we got 2 or 3 of the smallest tomatoes from my plant, while all of the others came from my moms.

Nothing else of mine grew at all.

And despite taking lots of pictures of the whole process I somehow deleted everything but this one tomato picture off my phone.  Not that there was much to show.  That's just being a bad blogger though, not a bad gardener.

So for next year I'll be sure to use good soil and not abandon my plants.  I'll be living off the land in no time.

$60,000 in Debt: Month 17

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Another month down.  We're still not entirely sure of what we're going to be doing for living arrangements in the upcoming months, but I figured I should still throw as much money at the "house fund" while I can.  I can always put less into it later, but for now I'm trying to beef that account up.

I also upped my 401k contribution.  It'll coincide with cost of living increases at work so I probably won't even noticed the difference now, but hopefully I will in 40 years!

Other than that, nothing too exciting in the money department.  I've starting reading a few finance blogs which haven't necessarily affected what I'm doing with my money, but they are making me feel like I'm on the right track.  My favorite one is Budgets Are Sexy.  Check it out if you're looking for some entertaining money advice.

I'm determined to pay off my smallest loan next month (or realistically in a few day when my next check comes in since this post is much later than usual!)  That will have my freshman and sophomore year of college completely paid off AND should get the loans I'm paying interest on under $30k. 

New Work

Monday, October 26, 2015

October 1st started a new fiscal year for us in the office and with that I started a (kind of) new role.  I'm still doing most of what I was doing last year, but with a few added responsibilities (and hopefully a new title as well).  

Along with pretty much everyone in the office rearranging roles, we also launched a new website which created a sudden flood of inbound request.  This is, of course, great since they are mostly sales inquiries, however I am the one who has to filter through all of these and send them off in the right direction.

On top of that we've hired two new people so we're all spending time training them and getting them up to to speed.

Needless to say it's been pretty hectic.

Fortunately, I enjoy the craziness... unfortunately, it seriously messes with my blogging time!

Things seem to be settling down a bit and now that I'm more comfortable with my new responsibilities I'll hopefully get a little more time to write again.

Totally unrelated, but I just finished reading 11/22/63.  Obviously it is still fresh in my mind since I completed it about 10 minutes ago, but I have a feeling that's going to be one of the ones that stick around in my mind for a long time.

Story Of My Life

Saturday, October 3, 2015

I'd add some of my own feelings about this, but there isn't anything I can say that isn't already said by her here.

Little Changes

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sometime I feel like little changes can have a huge impact.  Maybe it's just because I'm a huge dork, but when I make small changes to better myself I get really excited.  Sometimes it just something that I've put off for a long time but when I finally just make the change it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders, no matter how small the change was.

I try to do just one small change a week.  None make a huge impact, but they always seem to build up to something bigger. 

One example is finally getting a sensor replaced in my car that was giving me error messages every time it started. The part was a few dollars but I had put it off for the three years I had the car.  It doesn't change the way my car runs, but being able to check that item off my mental list of "things you should do" felt great.

Rearranging my furniture in my basement so it was more open for the dogs to play was another one.  I can't say the room is feng shui'd at all, but having that big open space just feels so much better.

Finally booking an eye doctors appointment (eight years late!) will be another (when I actually do it).

My big (little) change this week was getting a new mouse.  I've been using an Apple Magic Mouse since I started here.  We use Macs but we run Windows on them so while the mouse probably works great on the Mac side, it's pretty terrible on the PC side.  It's too sensitive and erratic but, considering myself technologically savvy, I refused to accept the fact that the mouse and I just didn't work well together.

That was until last week when my wrist started to cramp up.  A few projects I've been working on lately involve a lot of clicking and moving my mouse around and I think my wrist is just not happy.  So I finally bit the bullet and asked for a new mouse.  While it definitely works better than my Magic Mouse, my wrist still isn't happy.

So, while I thought my (big) little change was just going to be getting a new mouse, I've actually deicded to be true to myself and commit to being a full time lefty!  Ok, typing that makes me feel even more lame.
I am a lefty but (as any lefty would know) mice were, for a long time, right handed only.  Eventually you were able to switch them, but by then I had been using my right hand my entire life and it worked fine.

With this wrist pain though I just can't keep using my right hand.  I feel like I'm learning how to walk again or something.  I think I'll get used to it quickly, but this must be how it feels when you ask a righty to do anything with their left hand.

The worst part of all of this?  The little cursor you are so used to seeing does not make sense when you're using a lefty mouse.  And there are no lefty cursors saved on my PC! I had to go download some to get it working correctly.

I'm still not 100% sure about going full lefty, but at least my wrist has gotten a break for the day. 

Happy New Year!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

...well, not really.  But happy company new year!  Our fiscal year runs October 1- September 30 so today we start a new year.  We managed to hit all of our numbers for the last year which is a great thing.  I went from a company that was pretty much imploding due to poor management, to a company that was tanking (and eventually bought out) due to several factors, to a company that is not only doing well, but exceeding expectations.

Our head office over in Ireland celebrated with champagne in the office, but our president here decided we'd all prefer a half day off next Friday.  I won't argue with that!

With the new year comes some new job changes.  We've done some restructuring and my position (for the third time since I start here less than two year ago) will be changing again.  I'll not longer be coordinating conferences and I'll be getting two of my own territories to support.  Prior to this I was general support for all territories (which I'll still be doing), but I'll be support two of the territories more heavily.

Back when I was leaving my old company and got two job offers in the same day I was really torn about which job to take.   They were different in almost every way. A massive company versus a tiny one.  A very clearly defined position and advancement schedule versus a job that changes almost on a monthly basis.  I took a risk and I'm so happy I did.  Sure, things can get chaotic and stressful from time to time, but the number of different roles I've been able to play here has allowed me to find so many things I enjoy that I would have never tried at another company. 

So as of today I start with my new role and I hope that I am continuously able to learn new things and grow even more than I have so far.

We've come off a great year and hopefully have another great year ahead of us.

End of Summer

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I feel like all of my posts from the last few months have really just been weekend recaps.  But let's face it, I do nothing outside of work during the week so there really isn't much to talk about other than what I do on the weekends.

Saturday Josh and I headed into Boston for my birthday present.  He bought The Book of Mormon tickets for us. Even better, he bought tickets for a 2pm show.  His reasoning "I know you don't really like staying up late, so I thought the early show would be better."  He knows me so well!
We got into the city in record time and I was pretty hungry so we grabbed food at Boloco and sat outside people watching while we ate.  Despite it being mid-September it still felt like summer. (I'm glad I spent that time soaking it up because it definitely does NOT feel like summer anymore).

I had heard The Book of Mormon was great, but I didn't know much about it prior to going in.

I loved it.

I realized about 10 minutes into the show that I hadn't stopped smiling since the opening number.  My face actually hurt by the end from laughing.  I've seen a lot of classic/more traditional Broadway plays, but I am going to make a point of going to more satirical and fun plays in the future. 


Sunday we woke up early to drive down to Carver for King Richard's Faire.  We picked up a couple of Josh's friends along the way and met two more when we got there.  We entered through the gates and were in a wooded fair grounds recreated to look like a medieval village.  There were tons of little shops and shows and so many people in costume.  We spent the day wandering around (and of course made sure to check out the baby tigers!).  We ate, drank, and snacked.  I was exhausted by 3pm.  I went once when I was a kid and remembered loving it.  It was still a lot of fun, however considering I spent about 5 hours in the car that day and spent over $50 I might have to skip every other year of the fair. 

Keeping My Word

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I said last week that I really wanted to make the effort to get out for a hike again before fall hit, and since Friday was my birthday, I decided that would be my birthday present to myself.

I had dinner with my family and then went out with friends for drinks Friday night, but Josh and I were up early on Saturday to get out into the woods.  I had wanted to do something with a little bit more of a climb, but this was going to be Otto's first hike so I figured we'd keep it easy.

I live about 5 minute away from a State forest that, until about a year ago, I thought was a tiny patch of woods that wasn't worth entering.  I was very wrong and I'm sad I spent so many years ignoring this place.
We walked on one trail for about 45 minutes until we hit a paved road, but I know that there are miles of other trails out there that we didn't touch.  It was early enough that we only encountered other people a couple of times.  It was so nice being out there with my boys.  Both Mac and Otto seemed to love the mini-hike so I'm hoping we can start taking them out for a few bigger ones soon.
The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing and watching football.   Overall, a very low key birthday, but that pretty much exactly how I would have wanted it to go.

$60,000 in Debt: Month 16

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Another month down.  Nothing exciting to note here.  My sophomore year of college is $1499 away from being paid off (freshman year is already gone!) so that is exciting.  It's really hard to continue drastically cutting my student loans when I now have something so big to save for, but it's getting there, slowly but surely.

I think I'm going to start trying to track little ways in which I save money each month.  They sometime seem insignificant to the point of not mentioning, but in reality all of the little things do add up.

How I saved money this month:

I switched to Gieco.  I know, I know. I sound like a commercial.  I have had car insurance through MetLife since I was at my last company.  There was a group discount and the payment was automatically withdrawn from my paycheck each week.  Even after I left my job the price didn't jump too much so I didn't question it.  I decided to just see what else was out there, and I was shocked to see many other companies were offering the same coverage for a lot less. 

I don't remember what the deal was exactly, but it was only recently that the bigger companies like Geico were allowed in Massachusetts.  They were just never an option in the past so when I first started driving I just did whatever my parents did and it seemed to work fine.

Now that there is a lot more competition it seems like prices are much more affordable.  I went from paying $107 a month to $55 a month for the exact same coverage.

I guess it differs from person to person, but if you've been with the same company for a long time, I would absolutely recommend shopping around.  I just saved myself $624 this year alone. 

Labor Day Weekend

Friday, September 11, 2015

I know this post is a little late considering Labor Day weekend was almost a week ago, but I wanted to preserve some pictures here anyway.

I got out of work early on Friday and flew home to get the pups.  Otto was going home to Josh and Mac was heading up to Freedom, NH with me for camping.  It has been a couple years since he has gone camping, but I'm happy to say he was a champ.  He really just seems in his element in the woods.  He's afraid of everything under the sun but had no problem wandering around in the dark and just sprawling out under the trees.  He probably would have spent the night outside if I didn't make him come in.
My main reason for want to go camping was so I could get at least one hike in.  I've been so busy every weekend of the summer that I just haven't had a chance, but I made sure it was happening this weekend.  We ended up sticking with a smaller mountain just outside of the campground.  I had wanted to do something bigger, but one of my sisters had spent the morning in the hospital due to flinging a bottle cap into her own eye the night before.  We weren't even able to hit the trail until after 2pm so we had to keep it small.
There is something so wonderful about hiking.  I don't know what it is exactly, but it just makes me feel like someone hit a reset button on my energy and happiness levels.
We decided to take a different trail down, but it didn't take us at all where we thought it would.  Thank god for just barely having cell service so we were able to get an estimate of where we were on a map.  It really makes you realize how easily people can fall into bad situations when they aren't prepared.  At the same time it makes me want to do a bigger, more involved hike, even more!
We eventually found our way back to the campground and spent the rest of the day just eating and relaxing around the campfire.

I could only stay until Sunday morning, but even just a few days outside was wonderful to have.  I know fall is quickly approaching but I'm really going to try to get out there at least a few more times before the end of the season.