Wednesday, February 6, 2013

true love

Ok. It's 3am here in Connecticut. I'm awake. Wide awake. Lot's on my mind with saying goodbye to three children I love, a move back to Salt Lake this weekend,  looking for a job, and my dad in the hospital.

It's February, soon to be Valentines. I've never really had a "romantic" Valentines Day to be honest, (aside from a couple long distance gifts/flowers sent in the mail). What I remember most about previous celebrations to this day of love is the covering of shoe box's with paper hearts, eating cinnamon lips, road trips to Vegas or dinners out with single girl friends or coming home to dinners made by mom with a special Valentine by our plates. Speaking of Mom, I want to tell you a story. This is really what my post is about.

I've taken several classes on child development/attachment in my university studies. Almost every piece of evidence I have gathered over the years suggest we learn how to love from our caregivers/parents. I suppose I have had some other experiences that have taught me about love, my work with children has impacted me greatly on this subject, but tonight, or this morning if you will, as I explore this topic, I am touched by my own parents story.

My parents didn't start off being madly in love. In fact, in their early courtship, my father was "exploring his options", and was actually dating my mom and another girl at the time. We still tease him about this. How my mother endured those months with patience, I still wonder, but she's offered me a lot of strength as men I date sometimes want to explore as well. Finally, my father came to his senses and gave up the other girl and brought daisies to my mom. He proposed shortly after. A wise friend once told me, "If two people are to be married, you can't mess it up". I believed my parents were destined to be together and it is only more evident as they age.

My parents are a wonderful example of two people struggling together and pulling through circumstances. I am sure in my early childhood my parents went through difficult times, but I honestly and truthfully can say I have never seen them fight. My father also defended my mother when we would get cross with her. I have grown to adore him for that. He put her first.

Over forty years of marriage has grown into something exquisite. My father's health has declined tremendously since he had a stroke 14 years ago, and even more so the past few months. When my father first came out of the stroke and we found out he was paralyzed from the waste down it was heartbreaking. I have wept myself, several times over this. Seeing him struggle to balance and walk and not to the things he used to is excruciating. But my mother, has been his angel. She has been our family's angel. She has never left his side and now as I see her take care of him it warms my heart. They've laughed and cried together, played countless games of "Ticket to Ride", and have really enjoyed each others company the past few years. My parents are a true example of commitment. I couldn't ask for a greater gift in my lifetime than this example. I only hope that this loyalty and depth develops in my own marriage (if/when that time comes for me). Right now I am just grateful for the fascinating love story.

Thank You Mom and Dad for your gift and example. I love you.

Friday, January 18, 2013

financial freedom

Let's get serious for a minute. The economy is lame and it's time to take matters into our own hands. I've decided to make 2013 the year of gaining financial freedom, and rightfully so since I am kicking the year off with a job change and a move. (eek, breath and out).

I was given a book for Christmas from a dear friend called, "The 5 Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me", by Richard Paul Evans. Since the friend insisted we read it together, I am committed to finishing this one, and applying it's principals rather than just let it sit on the shelf.

Needless to say, it's been good. No, it's been fantastic actually.

The five principals of book are:
1. Decide to be wealthy
2. Take responsibility for your money
3. Keep a portion of everything you earn
4. Win in the margins
5. Give back

To validate my cause I felt that I should be looking at financial freedom as a spiritual blessing, as much as a temporal principal. There are loads of helpful talks that address this topic. One I liked in particular was Elder Wirthlin's, "Earthly Debts, Heavenly Debts". Read this. It's so clear as to which path we are supposed to follow when it comes to our finances. In this talk, he also lays out five guidelines to follow to keep our Earthly and Heavenly Debts in check.

They are as follows:
1. Pay your tithing.
2. Spend less than you earn.
3. Learn to save.
4. Honor your financial obligations.
5. Teach your children to follow in your example through hard work, frugality, and saving.

As you can see, both the book and the talk are very much in line with each other. I am still reading and researching, but there are a few financial goals that I have accomplished in this month in which I am proud to share.

  • Cancelled Massachusetts auto insurance and signed up for Utah plan (with a discount for being a non-drinker...bonus!) Savings: $80/month=$960/year
  • Cancelled Hulu account. I loved it, but I don't "need" it. Savings: $8/month=$96/year
  • Changed phone plan from unlimited minutes to monitored minutes. Savings: $20/month=$160/year
  • Stopped drinking soda of any kind. Savings: $25/month=$300/year..this blew my mind.
  • Put 1/4 of paychecks into savings account. Estimated $500/month=$6000 per year.
  • Went through closets, decided that I have enough clothes for the year and will not be purchasing any for 2013...even if I wear them out. Estimated $100/month=$1200 per year.
Total Savings for January:  $733                            
Total Savings for 2013:  $8716

So there you have it. I will be nearly $9000 more frugal in 2013 and nearly $9000 richer. How can I not be motivated by this?

And let me just put in a little plug for Best. Site. Ever. This is an all inclusive financial tracker and it's amazing. I have the mobile app as well, which allows me to enter in purchases as I go. It's totally free and anyone can do it. This site links to all of my bank accounts, student loan, car loan, insurance, and phone bill so I can see exactly where I am at financially all on one site. It's beautiful. There are pie charts trending where I spend my money (so I can see if I have gone overboard on entertainment, etc.), and calendars telling me when my next bills are due. I don't know how to begin to tell you how much this site has changed my life, but I love it. I will always use it.

As you can see, these teeny, weeny little changes (which by the way have been fairly simple to make), along with paying my tithes and fast offerings have blessed me with the confidence that maybe I can get really good at this money thing. Perhaps I can live on a lot less than what I thought I had to and give more to those who don't.

This is only the beginning, still finding ways to save money and I will keep you updated as I do. Please comment if you are financially savvy or have something to share. I'd love to hear from ya!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

blogging sabatical has come to an end...

I know, I's been like six bloomin' month's since I've blogged and I too, nearly thought my blogging had come to an end...but...the truth is...I've kind of missed writing. Even if nobody reads it, somehow the blogging world helps me collect my thoughts and unleash a little bit of creativity. It also earns me a couple of points with my mother, bless her heart...who is constantly asking for pictures and updates from afar. it is....let's recap 2012 and move on to 2013, since we are already half way through January (thank goodness for that). Does anyone in the Northern Hemisphere actually enjoy January? Didn't think so.

Jan/Feb 2012. We might as well just move on. Not my favorite months and I rather put attention onto the rest of the year. About all that happened in these months is that I decided the high school I was working at was not the best fit for me, and then by some miracle they were getting rid of the FACS program entirely so I didn't really even have to quit, and I got a great letter of reference from the Principal. I've never been so happy about not renewing a contract. Win-Win.

March: Went to Utah for General Conference and got to enjoy the Sunday Morning sesh 12 rows from the pulpit. It was pretty awesome. Adore Conference.

April: My job search began. I applied to schools all over the country and ended up getting a couple of offers in North Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. Ultimately, I took a Personal Chef job in Connecticut for a family I had worked for in previous years. We'll talk more about that later. I also re-fell in love with Boston for about the sixteenth time. I will always have a crush on Boston. Always. My mom came out for a visit and helped me with my Fashion class and I got to show her why I loved New England. We went to Newport, RI and I took her sailing. So. Much. Fun.

May: Went by in a Flash. I started teaching sewing in my Fashion class (terrifying really, but turned out ok in the end), and worked with my students to finish up end of year projects and prepared them for finals. There was a light at the end of the tunnel. This is the best time of year for teachers.

June: School ended (Gracias Heavenly Father for helping me through it!). I moved from teaching in Boston to Being the Chef at my beloved Camp Rising Sun. It was a fun and crazy way to spend the summer indeed.

July: My friend Aaron came out to visit me in New York. We had a great time taking in all the tourist attractions, attending the Palmyra Pageant, cooking a Scandinavian meal for the campers and living it up at Six Flags in New Jersey. I turned the amazing age of...well...never mind. I still feel 22 at heart so that's all that matters. The campers made me a cake and made me "skip around the room".

August: Camp Ended. Traveled to Salt Lake City to visit family and friends. Enjoyed spending time with the cutest nieces and nephews in the world.

September: Moved Back out to Connecticut and started my job as a personal chef. You can find recipes here.  I discovered Franklin Street in New York, and my life is forever changed by this delightful Italian section of this city that excites me every time I go.


October: Spent General Conference with the Richard's family in Pennsylvania, and picked out pumpkins with the kiddos. What darling's they are. Can't get enough of them. Connecticut and New York, and New Jersey were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy which left us without power for several days and waiting on gas lines. This was a moving experience for me and left me so grateful for my church and it's emphasis on preparedness. I was able to help the family I work for to be prepared for this storm in every way I knew possible. This storm really brought people of this area together and there are some places that will never be the same. On another note, Dad suffered a heart attack the day of the Hurricane and it has really weakened Him. I was nervous that something really tragic would happen and I wouldn't be able to fly home because of the "Storm of the Century".  Heavenly Father answers prayers and thankfully my dad came home from the hospital a few days later and is doing ok. Not great, but ok. My newest nephew Benjamin aslo decided to join our crazy family and we're so glad he did. Cutest newest nephew ever!

November: Elections happened. Obama was reelected. Thanksgiving was spent in The Bahamas with the family I work for. Kids ended up sick so my feast consisted of six chicken frozen chicken nuggets and some leftovers. I missed my family terribly, but least I was in the Bahamas.

December: Celebrated Hanukkah with my employers, and traveled Home for the Holidays. Being home was wonderful. I crossed going to The Viking Yurt in Park City off my Bucket List. It was amazing heading up a ski lift on a sled and enjoying a six course Norwegian dinner on the top of a mountain in a warm hut. If you are ever in Salt Lake City, I highly recommend this event. Highly (pun intended). I also got to meet Benjamin and I could put him in a hoagie bun and eat him up he's so cute! I love being an aunt!

And now, here we are back to January 2013. The New Year has brought yet another change/move. Seeing my dad and assessing his health along with missing my family and friends desperately, along with (that's a lot of "along withs" I know) feeling like I need to be back in the classroom has led me to a decision to move back to Salt Lake. I'll be making the move in March. I am very grateful that my employers were understanding and hopeful that I will get a great job in Utah where I can continue my passion for teaching.

And! I intend to do a lot better with the blogging this year. If you actually read this whole thing, thank you. If you didn't, I don't blame ya a bit!