Monday, December 31, 2012

Today will be tough

St Patricks Day 2012
"We’ll be friends whether we’re near or far apart, because God holds your hand and He holds mine and keeps us close at heart”

Tomorrow morning my best friend is moving to Chile. Shannon and I have been friends since we were 7 years old, we met at a roller skating rink...yes, that's right we both used to take private roller skating lessons....we were even in a competition once together. We've worked together, celebrated holidays vacationed together....and smoked a lot of cigarettes together.

We worked at Big Boy together when we were 15.

New Years Eve...I think we were about 13 years old.

My graduation from high school party.

 Unfortunately we too went through a recent period of unrest where we didn't talk for 4 years ( we were 23-27 years old). You must think I'm really hard to get along with! Let's just say I've learned a lot, in fact I think I'm writing a whole post about it! In this case it was a mutual hurt. During the time we weren't speaking (again I thought we'd never speak again, and I was ok with that). I did miss her at times but NOW I LONG to have that time back, and it took a long time for me to fully get back into the friendship....I wish it hadn't. I have a lot of regrets. Since we've been speaking again over the last 2 years I've realized how much she adds to my life. I think Shannon is the ONLY person who FULLY gets me. We can joke about anything, we always make each other laugh, I find her to be one of the most interesting people I know, and I think we can disagree on things in a way that all people, not 6 years ago. She was the bigger person, after our 4 years of unrest- Shannon was the one to call me. If she hadn't we probably wouldn't be speaking still. I am so sad that I missed out on all that time with her. 

Drinking and smoking at the bar....we were 17 years old.

This was one of my senior pictures....I'm actually not joking.

Another New Years Eve...I think we were 15.
There are millions of things I'm going to miss about my dear friend but I am so hopeful that we will continue our late night banter on facebook so it won't really seem like she's gone. Thank God for technology, we plan to skype weekly too. I couldn't be more excited for her. The only thing I love more than accomplishing my dreams is watching others achieve theirs. I am excited to learn about a culture I know nothing about, I am interested to hear about the people she will meet and I am thrilled to watch her life changing journey. Although...I am heartbroken. Will I ever see my dearest friend again? Incidentally, she is moving to a country of which I no interest to ever visit...I think that maybe Chile has some similar qualities to DELAWARE! But who knows, we've always talked about going to Maccu Piccu together so maybe we'll meet up there one day! Today will be tough, I'm already fighting back the tears and I haven't even said my goodbye yet.


She went with me when I went skydiving...and by that I mean THAT SHE RODE IN THE CAR WITH ME ON THE WAY UP TO THE JUMP SITE.

My wedding, April 2005

Easter 2012

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Another life changing event in 2012?

"Forgiveness exists because without it families would crumble.”

My Mom with all 4 of her kids.
I thought my adventures, events, and life changing moments for the year had come to an end! I have 

mentioned that I've had some family issues of them being that I have not talked to my oldest brother in 3 years. He used to be my best friend. There are MANY reasons for our three year hiatus. There were many times...well, practically every moment for the past 3 years that I thought the next time I'd probably see him would be at someone's funeral. He lives in Louisiana so that makes the between us distance even greater. He was in Michigan 2 years ago...needless to say I didn't even see him then. A few months ago I heard he was coming on December 27th...I have been stressed to the max about this. I didn't know whether or not I would see him and his family but ultimately I decided that I would do it for my mom and my dad. I know they would be overjoyed to have all their kids and grand kids in the same room.

I insisted that this visit would be cut very short and would probably only last about 30 minutes. I KNEW we would have yet another falling out if it lasted any longer. On the day of I had so much anxiety that I actually felt sick to my stomach and thought about cancelling.

I have never been so happy to be wrong. I saw him the day he arrived at our dad's house and we visited for over 2 hours. His wife gave birth to a little girl three months before I had mine so this was the first time we were meeting our nieces and the first time they met each other. Since my house is baby proofed to the max, and loaded with appropriate toys for a 2 year old girl I invited them over the next day. We then had a second very positive and nice visit. Later that evening we all went over to my moms house so she could have everyone together...we stayed over three hours. Three great visits in two days. There was not one fiber of my being that thought I would be saying those words. I think my ENTIRE family feels overjoyed that this reconciliation had taken place and I know that I now feel so at peace.

In the past year I have mended more relationships (of my own) than I'd like to know that 'snowball effect''s real. And speaking to my brother (and his wife) again were the final pieces of the puzzle. I don't think we'll dive back into the way things used to be but I do think we will text, email and send pictures which is an incredible start. I think I'll even send some birthday cards this year, and they might be back in Michigan this summer....and I will honestly say that I am looking forward to that visit.

It's so amazing...this time last year-my entire life was flipped upside down and so many of my relationships were destroyed....I cannot believe that I will be starting 2013 so differently. There has been an ENORMOUS amount of stress on me and my family this whole year and it took A LOT of work and humility....and tongue biting to get everyone back together again. This time last year I was totally devastated, for months and months I cried every day-so much of my spirit turned into a pile of dust swept under the rug.....then everyone jumped on it a bunch of times. 2012 punched me in the face over and over again, it also left me with my first grey hairs- AND I EARNED THEM!

Today, I am so happy, so at peace and  I believe more than ever that any relationship can be mended. I saw my brother for my parents but it ended up restoring my soul. I welcome 2013 with a hug but I'm also entering this year with a smile on my face.

The 4 of us. The last time we were all in a photo together was in 2005.

Saturday, December 29, 2012


"How full of trifles everything is! It is only one thoughts that fill a room with something more than furniture.”


When: June 16th, 2012

Where: Pier 1

Cost: $480- I paid $400 with a coupon.

Why this is on my list: I saw this last September (2011) in the fall Pier 1 catalog, I ripped it out and put it on my fridge. There it rested for 10 months. I wanted this single seated armchair so badly that I decided it had to go on my list.  I am incredibly particular, I don't spend money on things that are 'ok' or 'good enough'. I spend money on things that I'm infatuated with and will keep forever. I have a similar theory relating to the people that I spend my time with.

Something I would recommend? I think it's nice to have a 'few' really nice things. Whether it's clothes or furniture or even going out to a nice restaurant. I wholeheartedly appreciate the nicer things I own, I take excellent care of them and it makes me feel good. Not only to have satisfied a desire, but I reached a goal by saving and paying cash.

What would I do differently? I saved for MONTHS for this chair (as we only pay cash for everything we buy, we were in the middle of buying a house so to spend $400 on a chair was extravagant for us. Typically I look at $400 and think - that's $100 more than you need to book a trip with a travel agent! Ironically 2 weeks after we bought the chair we got a new kitten. I knew a kitty would have a ball scratching my new leather chair so I decided to save myself the stress and I put the chair in our spare room....and there it sat for next 6 months! We finally have it out in the living room and are able to enjoy it!

Was it life changing? Well, it felt so rewarding to save, pay cash and finally buy it after having it posted on my fridge for so long, so I think that's a new policy I'm going to adopt.

S, what do you this NOT the greatest chair ever created?! Do you have a fabulous piece of furniture you just had to have?

Sesame Street Themed Party

There was no doubt we would be having a Sesame Street themed party for my daughters second birthday after our THREE visits to Sesame Place in Pennsylvania this summer. I LOVE throwing a party....I guess mostly I like decorating for parties. I like to include my holidays and birthdays since it's all part of my attempt  to live my life to the fullest. I'm going to include some info about each decoration in case anyone needs some ideas!

My awesomely talented sister made this Zoe as a gift to Z.

I got this truck for $1 at a garage sale and thought the tiny bananas would look cute and be a great snack for little kids.

This was just the gift bag we had her gifts in and popped a $2 mum inside it.

Again, my sister made this Oscar the Grouch which was a great gift and a unique decoration.

I painted frames and chairs I got at garage sales bright colors and she received some of these characters as gifts and some I bought her at Sesame Place.

I got Z this Elmo photo album from Sesame Place.

And filled it with pics we took of Z with the Sesame characters at Sesame Place.

Her annual white pumpkin that I will paint her age on until she's old and grey. 

Photos make some of the best decorations.

These magnets were a gift from my Aunt and her Daddy bought her the lunch box from Old Navy.
We did all splurge on Sesame shirts for the party....she always wants me to wear it now and when I put it on she says "cool Elmo shirt Mommy." 

The Cookie Monster rug and soap dispenser just happened to be on sale at Target. The Bert balloon I actually saved from our September trip to Sesame Place.

I wanted colorful foods and incorporated some of my daughters toys contain the treats.

I LOVE that my Mom wore an Elmo shirt and my sister color blocked....I like people to 'match' for pictures...they know me well.
She was so darn cute standing in front of this scene setter I got off Amazon for $12....she posed in front of each character

All from Party City....except the garbage can I HAD to get from Target... also on sale!
I bought my little darling this Elmo frame from Sesame Place knowing I would be using it for her party and this TOTALLY ADORABLE CAKE was from my favorite bakery!

I used everything we had that was bright colored and added balloons from Party City.

These cupcakes were AWESOME! I almost didn't go with this woman (different bakery than the cake) because she rubbed me the wrong way but I'm glad I changed my mind-they were a HUGE hit!

I hope I've helped with ideas for your next kids party and if that doesn't apply I hoped you just enjoyed looking at the pictures!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Kona, Koni, Kones

“A catless writer is almost inconceivable. It’s a perverse taste, really, since it would be easier to write with a herd of buffalo in the room than even one cat; they make nests in the notes and bite the end of the pen and walk on the typewriter keys.”

An officer's dream....doesn't even attempt to leave the scene of the crime, literally pointing to the evidence.
   As I write this my cat is obnoxiously lying half on my laptop and the other half on my arms. She is purring so loud it's making my headache throb. As much as she drives me crazy I am really happy we got her on July 4th this year. I will like her even better after I pick her up from the vet on Thursday as she will be fixed and declawed. How a person could ever own a cat with claws I could never understand. My beautiful daughters face is always cover with scratches. 

Koni induced scratches.
 I like having a cat because it doesn't let my mind wander every time I hear a weird noise, she is a companion to my 2 year old and I feel like we don't have to worry about mice...or any other intruders since she's so mean and has drawn blood on every visitor we've had. She does sweeten up every night at ten o'clock so it's hard to stay mad at her for too long. It's as if she thinks it's her job to be on the attack from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and then she clocks out, curls up into a ball on my lap and purrs away.

I love waking up to this first thing in the morning.
It's funny to watch Z and Koni interact. The first thing every morning after she wakes me up she wants Koni in her room....and she wants Koni to read. My daughter picks up Koni, hauls her onto her bed in front of a Cat in the Hat book and says "Koni read books." What I appreciate is her will to push Koni to be a better, smarter cat.

Before my daughter was born we had 2 cats that I loved dearly. I thought I would have these cats until the day they died. Once while I was pregnant my husband asked me what we would do if the baby was allergic. Without hesitation, I said "we'll get the baby shots". Now, I cannot believe I ever had that mentality. OF COURSE I would NEVER do that to my child just to keep a pet around. But soon after she was born, it was not going well, which made me realize that pets and babies do not mix. I didn't want to get rid of them forever, just for a few months until our baby was a little bigger and not so precisely delicate. Unfortunately we could not find anyone who would temporarily house them. We LUCKILY found them a home together with a nice young couple who happened to be looking for 2 adult cats. Bear and Diesel, my little babies-and my did they have personalities!! As sad as it was hard to see them go but it also was a massive relief. I won't bore you with the issues but it was to the point where it was too dangerous to have them around our infant and they were not getting the attention they were used fact they were getting none, which wasn't fair to them. For years they were my babies then along came my baby and their little lives were flipped upside down.

My Bear and Diesel, I miss you.
I really enjoyed the first two pet free years and thought I would never have another animal. They are a total pain in the butt, and expense, a constant mess and extra work. However, when we moved to our new house, the house just seemed too big. I needed something more to fill it and bring it to life. I also wanted something to blame all my new 'house sounds' on. On top of that we had mice in the house and I wanted an insurance policy.

On the the third day of July I broached my husband with my simple request. He was not interested to say the least in having another cat, but I assured him this would not be something that would be happening in the very near future, in fact I said to him "it's not like we're getting one this afternoon, we'll just keep an eye out and if we happen to see a free box of kitties then we can think about it." He said fine, but IF we get one I want a female. ( This was because our last kitty Bear was a male was sure that he and I were married, so Joel thought by getting a female it would become more attached to him). That night I prayed for a kitty. First thing in the morning the very next day we walked to our main street to see our towns annual fourth of July parade...the second we reached the large group of people I see Joel in front of me point to the left....a box of free kittens, 5 boys and 1 girl. We named her Kona after Kona Hawaii but Z quickly changed that to Koni which has stuck and suits her quite nicely.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

LIFE LIST: $35,000 Advice

I have a confession...I'm sure you've already guessed what it know...from the title. Seven years ago I filed bankruptcy. I am telling you this because it is one of my LIFE LIST goals to have a perfect credit score one day. My bankruptcy finally reaching the end of its sentence served is a major step towards improving my credit score. Since this is such a depressing, Debbie Downer post I will try to fill it with light hearted quotes and pictures of overweight cats, because obese cats seem to make things seem less serious.  Filing bankruptcy happened a few short months after I got married, I filed single, it had nothing to with my husband and it was all my own personal debt. The amount taken to court was over $30,000. I was so ashamed. I wish I could say that I regret it but at that time I had no other option. I don't  really have the luxury to regret it.

"Bankruptcy stared me in the face, but one thought kept me calm;
 soon I’d be too poor to need an anti-theft alarm"

 I did have a lot of credit card debt...maybe $10,000 but it was not a problem. I made my payments every month, I used my cards a lot but I would make giant payments- regularly sending $1,000 payments to my Citicard. All my payments were always on time. Then I was fired from my job 3 weeks before my wedding. Every penny was going towards the wedding, I already had made commitments and I had to pay these businesses for their services- it was too late to cancel anything. From there it spun out of control and within just a few months my debt rose from around $12,000 to $35,000 due to fees and interest. This was before the U.S. economy really took a nose dive and the creditors were NOT willing to work with me in any way. They wouldn't lower my payments or interest. Now I think credit card companies are willing to be flexible with people and will do what it takes to help them, even if it is purely driven by greed.

I tried to work with debt consolidation companies- BIG MISTAKE, this made things much worse and ended up costing me a TON of money. Filing bankruptcy was not something I wanted to do at 22 years old but I simply had no other options. I was working at two very low paying jobs and was unable to find anything else at that time. The moment I stopped making my regular payments with my attempt to use a 'consolidation' company my credit card balances spiraled out of control. Two thirds of my debt filed in bankruptcy accumulated in less than six months. How is this possible? Well, a 29% interest rate on a $10,000 balance and outrageous fees. Any time I made a payment it literally just went towards a new added fee. It's changed now, I believe the law is that an assessed late fee can be no more than $28 but back then it was triple that - maybe even more.

I knew my credit was going to struggle during the 7 year period until the chapter 11 was lifted from my credit report, BUT 7 years ago I really was so uneducated about my credit score and how SIGNIFICANTLY it effects your life. If you have a crap credit score- you are screwed! This has been a battle for me, it is like trying to walk up an ascending escalator -it is a massive struggle to get to the top. When you have a bad credit score, you obviously cannot expect to get much but also when you have a bad credit score you are charged the absolute highest fees and interest imaginable. Things you could never even imagine....the past 7 years were filled with challenges, obstacles, and stressful moments. Life revolves your credit score-if you don't believe me then you've never had problems with your credit.

"Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit."

I knew it would be a LONG time before my credit score would start climbing back up to a respectable range and I have been waiting, waiting, waiting for August 2012. Then one day in October this year it dawned on me- Oh my gosh- IT'S OVER- IT WAS OVER 2 MONTHS AGO AND I DIDN'T EVEN REALIZE IT! What a relief, what a weight off my shoulders, it's done, it's over with, I don't have to think about it anymore or deal with it any longer. To say that I am overjoyed is an understatement, I feel like I have served my prison sentence, learned a lot of lessons and now can start moving UP!

"I made my money the old fashioned way. I was very nice to a wealthy relative right before he died"- Malcolm Forbes

I want to be clear in case this is something you are considering-this is not the easy way out. No I did not have to pay that money back but this caused an avalanche in other financial hardships which NO DOUBT has accumulated at least what I had owed, if not more. If this is something you are thinking about I would strongly urge you to call debtors and beg them ask if there's even a temporary payment program you can get involved in first, and them that you are considering bankruptcy. If they hear that then they'll start coming up with ways to help you. But if you're like me and didn't have a choice due to lack of financial income then just know it's not the worst thing in the world, life goes on, and some times you just have to do what you have to do.

In my opinion the crux of the problem is that people don't talk about money. I am so disgusted by my former ignorance about credit/credit scores/credit reports/savings, but I just didn't know, I didn't even know enough to learn about these things. I wish someone would have talked to me about me about money, I think schools MUST add a realistic credit class to their curriculum. So whenever I think about things I 'wish' I would have known I'm going to pass it along. I hate watching people make similar mistakes with their mo.ney that I made but you'll lose friends real quick the moment you start judging their monetary lifestyle. So there you go, my $35,000 dollars worth of gift to you for free.

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