school

Hi

My life has taken a major change and blogging is the last thing on my mind. I don’t foresee many more posts on here, but please keep me in your feeds bc you never know when I’ll feel like writing. =)

I am on a major health journey and have lost 80lbs since February and feel like a whole new person! I have more to lose, but am thoroughly enjoying how I feel these days. A huge plus to losing so much weight is the possibility of getting pregnant without drugs. So we’ll see how that works out. I bought running shoes and an awesome bike and signed up for 2 Disney 10K races in February and April plus some local 5K races. I may have an obsession with virtual races and complete all my miles on the treadmill at the gym.

My handsome nephew is now 7 months old. I don’t get to see him very much, but cherish every moment when I do and love all the photos I get of him. He is such a sweet baby!

We (yes, collectively) have given up on the foster system in Miami. I have zero faith in it and have quit the Board of the association effective September 30th. We aren’t even getting into this anymore. I’m so fed up. Just am thankful for the amazing handful of friends we met along our 3+ year journey with nothing to show for it.

We spent a week in San Diego for Comic Con and it was the single greatest week I’ve had in a long time. Our wedding week in Vegas is the only thing to compete.

I got a new job! And I freakin love it. I still work on Miami Beach, but in a position of considerable power in an organization that will help me with my future political career.

Still in MPA classes – 4th semester. Graduation is next summer. I will then be able to rule the world.

My 40th birthday is on Friday.

Forty and Fabulous 40

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It’s Been A While….

Hey friends!

I am still around. Things are crazy busy between my MPA (I ended my first semester with 2 A’s!!), working 2 jobs, freelancing, volunteering with my board and trying to keep my head above water. Husband graduated with his MBA in December and started his Doctorate this month. Needless to say, we’ve been keeping very busy since we have no children still.

To be fair, we did stop the foster license process back in August when I was beginning my Master’s classes. We do have a contingency plan in the instance of getting the opportunity to parent.

What we’ve been up to since the last post (I know, I always do these..)

  • We celebrated 5 years married on 10-10-10!
  • We found out we are having a NEPHEW(!!) in February from my baby brother and his girlfriend. For our longtime readers, they came to Vegas with us for our wedding.
  • I got a new laptop – only a big deal to my techies, but it’s lighter and smaller which means I can throw it in my bag and carry it with me everywhere to do homework and freelance work.
  • My Foster association created a petition to help foster children and within the 1st day we got over 1,000 signatures! We have surpassed 5,600 to date.
  • I became active in the Miami Geek Girls Brunch chapter and made awesome new geeky friends.
  • Puppykins developed a horrible ulcer in her eye and had to wear a cone for a month. She hated it and slept the best in her life the day we removed the cone.
  • Met. Richelle. Mead. Only one of my all time authors on the planet!
  • Decided to leave Miami. Like for real this time. There may be a slight bump in the plans, but I can’t discuss it at the moment.
  • Met Peter Davidson.
  • Met Jenna Coleman.
  • Met Billie Piper.
  • Meeting Matt Smith tonight!

I feel bad saying I’ll post more and then not. But I will try

 

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Brief Non-Adoption Update

There is literally nothing at all happening at the moment with our adoption. Of all the kids I requested info on, I’ve received 4 case studies and are awaiting about half a dozen others. We’re reviewing them, but it’s difficult since the majority or them are out of Florida. The logistics of traveling several times to meet a potential child of ours is crazy expensive and we don’t have the time off from work and school to even begin to plan said trips.


We both knew foster care adoption wouldn’t be easy. But we’re dealing with a whole new set of issues that neither of us anticipated. It’s giving us time to reflect and evaluate if we want to get our foster care license as well.

But in the meantime, we are keeping busy by house hunting. Yes, something I swore I’d never do – looking to buy in South Florida. Right now it’s just dreaming as we clean up our (my) credit enough to qualify for a lower interest rate. As much as I love and adore the snow, the older I get and the more friends we make, the more I’m realizing that this little piece of hell on earth isn’t so bad.

Also, Husband is in school for his MBA so time is tight.

On the other hand, since he is now on a daylight schedule, we are getting used to each other again. For 4+ years of our life together (nearly half!), we saw each other at most 2 hours a day and partial weekends. He worked the night shift (9p-9a) and while I was at work, he was sleeping. I’d race home to make dinner, spend some time together then he’d go off to work.

The last month or so, it seems like a vacation. I’ve been slacking on the stuff I’d normally do at night after he’s leave for work – dishes, laundry, knitting – since we now spend a lot of time together… watching TV. We just finished Orange is the New Black (OMG!) and just started Weeds. Separately, he is watching House of Cards.

I hope you’re all well! If you missed any posts, just keep scrolling…


Kiwi Crate

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Orientation! #LongestPostEver

Finally! (Geez Becca, why’d you leave us hanging for over a week for this post?!)

We had our Adoption Orientation on Saturday morning, June 30th and it was pretty much awesome. I may have been doing research for months (years) and knew a lot of information going into this, but I still learned more.

One thing I learned was that while we are certainly welcome to adopt from out of Florida, we won’t get the FL benefits if we do so. We will follow those state’s benefits and adoption requirements. Not all state’s offer health care, 4 years of public college/university and a subsidy like Florida does – so that needs to be taken into consideration. We definitely plan on making sure our kids take advantage of the college part!

We also need to decide about the Lola and Phoenix. He is a crochety old cat and doesn’t take BS from anyone. Yes, after 8+ years, he still claws me on occasion. I really need to have the vet do a full eval on him bc while I don’t want to accept it, I don’t think he has much longer with us. He’s got so many health issues and is so overweight even with putting him on a diet. So, there’s that to consider.

But anyhow, what we learned/ had reiterated…

  • Children available for adoption have had their parental rights terminated (TPR). They will never be taken away from us bc some random family member came back. Once there is no possible chance at reunification and rights are terminated, they’re available to be legally our children.
  • Judges in South Florida really don’t like waiting the full 6 months once we have a child in our home and tend to push the adoptions through within 30-60 days. This was a major Holy Moly! moment for us. We could be legally mommy and daddy by the New Year.
  • After we complete our classes, we’re turned over to the adoption specialists. They will then complete our Home Study, run more background checks, and ask many more questions to ensure we get the ideal placement.
  • The PRIDE classes are not “parenting” classes, but rather how we will play a role in the kids lives.
  • Most children end up in Foster Care due to abuse, abandonment and neglect
  • If we want to travel outside of FL before the adoption is finalized, we need a court order. To go to Disney, Gainesville, or anywhere else within FL, we just need to notify the team.
  • They would prefer to have one parent stay home with the kids initially, but I will likely use my vacation time for that to get them settled before sending them off to a (likely) new school.
  • If we adopt younger than 5, we do get a day care subsidy for one year for specific preschools – Gold Seal Approved.

Minimum standards for Foster Homes (which we will follow to ensure approval for adoption):

  • Minimum 40 sq.ft. per child and have adequate storage/ closet space.. In a perfect world, we’d have a 3-bedroom place with a room for each child.
  • Max 5 kids per household including biological. No problem here as Lola and Phoenix don’t count. 🙂
  • Kids of opposite sex over age 3 cannot room together. We’re leaning towards 2 boys at this point, so OK there.
  • Minimum $200 residual income after all bills are paid. We’re getting finances in order so this should be A-OK too.
  • 2 years of employment verification checks will be performed. Yep, no problems there.
  • Health history and physicals need to be performed for mental, emotional, physical and any other treatments. Ehh, we should be OK.. My therapy is pretty minimal and I have no problems with Dr. S. telling them all about my sessions.
  • Pets are also checked as I mentioned above. A-OK as I’ve already told the vet to expect the forms.
  • Many children have no prior religious beliefs and we must respect their beliefs if they do have religious beliefs. We need to decide on a religion as he’s Methodist and I’m Jewish and neither of us are particularly religious.
  • We are responsible for transporting them to every appointment, recital, etc in a safe vehicle complete with car seats, seat belts, valid insurance and driver’s license. No problems whatsoever as we never planned on making anyone else drive our kids around.
  • Foster parents need to complete a basic water safety course. We plan on doing that, being CPR certified, and more.
  • All medications, chemicals, cleaning products, alcohol, guns/ammo, and anything else that can harm a child must be locked away. We’ve already begun planning where the meds and chemicals will be housed. Most likely in the outside laundry room or a lockbox atop the closet.
  • Kids must have access to a vehicle and phone at all times. We never plan on leaving them alone, so OK. When they’re at school, they’ll have the phone there.
  • An evacuation plan must be posted in several places and perform fire drills frequently, working and tested fire extinguisher, 2 ways to escape each bedroom, smoke detectors, working battery flashlights in every room, and a first aid kit in the house. OK except for the evacuation plan and the flashlights, we have everything already.
  • There is a list of forbidden and acceptable discipline methods provided that we must obey. OK, we haven’t established discipline yet so having guidelines is great.
  • Criminal and abuse checks ((FBI, FDLE, local and abuse registry) are to be performed prior to PRIDE classes. Done and approved.

We will be an integral part of the team of nurses, social workers, case workers, and others. Even once the adoption is finalized, we can utilize the team.

We have decided that fostering will be too difficult for us to handle. And came to that conclusion separately prior to discussing it after the Orientation. Having a child or children in our home for days, weeks, months or even years then having them taken away would be too hard for us both to bear.

Our initial background screenings went off without a hitch. We had to be checked in both FL and NC since we haven’t lived here for 5 years. Once we passed these, we will have our initial Home Visit – on Friday! – and classes begin on Tuesday.

They have said this is an extremely intrusive journey and they will find everything out about us. And yet, we are still raring to go to become parents.

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So where have I been? We have so much work to do on our current home to get it ready for our babies. We have been decluttering and cleaning and making our little home kid-friendly. It’s making me realize big time how not kid-friendly it is. We only have 2 bedrooms, a family room, a kitchen and a decent sized back yard. I’d much prefer to have at least a 3-bedroom with a larger family room, updated everything including a dishwasher. But for right now, we shall deal with this little place. *le sigh*

Also, I’ve been off work (though you’d never know it) since Thursday, had an interview for an amazing job, working at my part-time job, and in general trying to get the house ready for le babies.

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/end #LongestPostEver

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Forgiving Student Loans? Sign me up!

So, y’all know I have a crapload of student loan debt, right? Apparently my mother was talking about it at a luncheon she was at yesterday as I received a phone call from her, then she passed the phone over to her cousin, C. C has a graduate degree and probably a fair amount of loan debt. She told me about “some program” where you work for “the government” for about a year or “helping someone run a farm in West Virginia” and they forgive your debt. I was only somewhat intrigued as she wasn’t really clear and, well, I was too busy to Google it at that moment.

But hours later I did and discovered that one of the programs she was talking about was AmeriCorps. They have so many options all across the country of things to do to help people out. The loan forgiveness part is still unclear, but how cool! I figure if I look in area with heavy snowfall, I could find out if I really did want to live in such a climate. Steve is more of a “let’s stay here for another year” then figure things out kinda guy. Maybe it just means traveling to places with snow to satisfy that cold weather itch. I just don’t know.

Yeah, I do realize this blog is all over the place, but thanks for reading!

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30 Days: Day 21 – Your job and/or schooling

…See the whole list here…

I know I know, I’m hopelessly behind! We had friends in town this weekend and I just didn’t feel like spending too much time on the computer typing up posts.

I’m going to do both job and schooling. My current job is as a part time office manager for a guardianship company in South Florida. The part time part is what is currently killing me. But that’s another story!

My dream job… I’m not sure if I truly have one. I know that I want to open my own yarn store. I don’t know where or how we’ll be able to afford the financing or all the pretty yarn, but one day! Right now I want a social media/ networking, administrative, or marketing job. The goal is to have something for us to be able to pay our bills and save up to have kids in the next couple of years.

As far as my schooling goes, I have a Bachelors degree in Business Administration from the [utterly amazing] University of Florida with a minor in Education. According to UF, though, I never applied for the minor officially so it’s not on my diploma. *grumble grumble* As of this past May, I have a Masters degree in Business Administration – yep, an MBA – with a concentration in Management Information Systems from East Carolina University. The Bachelors took me exactly 4 years to complete. I took of one semester, but technically I finished at the end of my 10th semester. The MBA took me 5 very long years. I’ve talked about it several times on this blog. I worked full time the entire time I was in school and took 2 classes per semester. The day I found out I was actually graduating was one of the happiest days of my life. It sure seemed like it would never end at times.

According to loan calculators, I need to be making upwards of $80K a year just to afford my monthly payments. Talk about completely disheartening! Yes, I did get my MBA in the hopes of expanding my job prospects, but after 6 months of searching across the country, I took the part time job in Miami and came back home to be near family.

I’ll just leave it at that. This post shouldn’t be a downer, right?

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30 Days: Day 19 – Something you regret

…See the whole list here…

I could talk about my friends or my family and not being as great a friend as I can be. But, well, I know I’m not. I know that not everyone is perfect.

My regret is spending so much [of the government’s] money on a Master’s degree. A degree that I might not ever use. A degree that will end up costing me far more than it is worth. Oh, I don’t regret the degree or the experience or all the friends I made during the 5 year process. And I certainly don’t regret my move to North Carolina for cheaper tuition during which I made a ton of amazing friends and met Steve. I will never regret those parts.

My regret is how much I owe. Sure, this comes at a time when all I can think about is money and how we’re going to keep afloat once those $600 a month payments start.

Sure, it’s a Master’s degree, but I took a lot of extra money to pay down/ off a lot of my debt and to supplement the peanuts I was making at the jobs I held during that 5 years. And I did. But now I owe all that money back. I absolutely knew I would and I’d rather have the 6-9% interest loans versus the 25-35% credit card interest.

I know, sounds like I knew what I was doing. It was a carefully crafted plan, but the plan also included a very well paying job. Before the job market tanked.

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Lifetime Student.. Or Why I Kinda Want Another Degree.

Hello hello!

Today, of all days, I started to really miss school. Ya see, I graduated in May with my Masters in Business (MBA) and was convinced that I never wanted to return to school. My MBA saw me through 5 years, living in 3 cities, 2 states, countless relationships, 1 fiance, tons of stress, several long nights typing frantically away, new friends, an $85,000 bill*, and a huge sense of accomplishment. Oh yeah, it was 100% online and I never set foot on the campus of East Carolina or even visited Greenville, NC.

Today, I started looking up online degree programs for major Florida universities (hello in-state tuition!) and trying to find something of interest. Ideally I would love to do Human Resources or something technology related. During my last semester at ECU, I discovered an entire degree in Networking and Web Design. Holy hell. Had I known it existed back in 2005, I would have that instead of an MBA. But no, I have my MBA… oh yeah and a concentration in Management Information Systems.

When I first was interested in doing a concentration, there were very few that were taught completely online. MIS was one of them. Human Resources was not. Duh, I obviously picked the one that wouldn’t require a 2+ hour commute to Greenville for classes. No, wait, I was still living in Gainesville, FL at the time, so make that about 9 hours for the commute.

What does this mean? It means that I am seriously contemplating returning to school for a year or 2 (program depending) providing that I can find a Florida school with a degree of interest. And that offers financial aid. No sense in going back to school if it won’t halt my student loan payments, right?

Yes, I do believe that I am certifiable in wanting to do this again. The last 5 years was a very long and very frustrating time in my life. They were also extremely rewarding. Can the good outweigh the hair pulling? Time will tell…

* It looks far worse written as $85,000 than it does as $85K. This includes 3 years of out-of-state and 2 years of in-state tuition, plus extra cash to pay off bills and credit cards which, in turn, bumped up my credit score.

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Not so Quickie Update

In the last few weeks, we’ve had the following wedding progress:

* booked our airfare — yes, this ranks as the absolute highest since it was such a chore! But alas, we have non stop flights to/from Vegas from the 8th to the 13th for $390.99 including the flights, taxes, fees, airline club fees, AND insurance. I may be taking a risk by booking on Spirit Air, but there’s a few reasons why I am OK with it. Namely being in touch with their head of customer service via twitter and email the last few weeks, and also Cat’s sister is working for them. Both make me feel good about the decision. Also you can’t beat that price for 2 people ON a holiday weekend with a stick! Now the problem is finding a hotel room for the 8th since our reservation in the suite is for the 9th-13th. Also, this puts us $200 under our travel budget!

* guest list — I finally typed the names from all the labels and the slips of paper mom gave me into Excel. I was somewhat shocked to find out that it added up to 189 warm bodies including children. The reception will be open to all families, totally casual and just plain fun. Honestly, as much as my head is saying no, I think it’d be completely fun to have a bounce house! The whole shindig is in my parents back yard and guests will have roughly 4-5 acres to roam and play on during the party.

* designed and had printed 2 more stamps for wedding/ post-wedding use — the first is a super fabu address stamp that went through tons of changes before being agreed upon. The other is a stamp for the back of the RSVP envelopes. The envelope stamp says “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Love Robert Frost! These 2 and the original one I had printed were done by the crazy talented BlossomStamps.

* purchased clear labels and downloaded loads of new fonts — yes, I am both lazy and cheap and will be using labels for our invites. The font I finally decided upon is called “MA Sexy” which amuses me, but whatever. It is both easily read and super flourishy. LOVE!

* cupcake tower — during a shopping trip to Home Depot to get the pieces for the tower, dad pointed out that we can do as many projects for the Miami reception, but not Vegas. His idea is to use short pieces of PVC pipe since I was going to wrap whatever I bought with blue painter’s tape anyhow and he has tons of piping. I’m also going to use 2 of the leftover door knobs from our new cabinets since there are a bunch left over.

* cupcake wrappers — I bought 3 shades each of orange and blue 12×12 card stock from Michael’s. After cutting them all out, I’m planning on stamping and embossing the following logo onto each. Steve said he prefers mini cupcakes, so we’ll be getting 4 dozen of those from Retro Bakery. I asked and was told we get 2 flavors per dozen, which is great and all, but their flavors are aMAZing and picking 8 will be torture!

* crinoline — I haven’t ordered one yet as I’m sort of hoping to find one locally. The only problem is I can’t find a store locally that sells square dance outfits. I might just suck it up and order the one from Petticoat Junction. I want a pale blue one, but think getting white and dying it on my own might be a better option than hoping they sell the right color.

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In totally non-wedding related news:
* ECU finally recognized me as a graduate with 2 degrees (the MBA and the MIS certificate)
* I am officially a Florida drivers license holder, now to get Luna transferred as well
* I am the somewhat proud owner of an iPhone. Somewhat because the signal is horrendous, but that may be due to it being an old phone.

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May 4 TMW Post

Disclaimer: For all y’all not following my wedding planning antics over on TweetMyWedding Tuesdays, I’ll try to remember to post them all here.  Unfortunately I’ve been seriously lagging at that and so there’s going to be in flux… apologies!
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Tweet: our wedding photo dump ShutterFly site is all set up. too early to order the cards & invites? i’m totally itching to order my pretties.

Tweet: if i have your email address, chances are you just got the “gimme your mailing address” email. #feelingproductive

This past week has seen a dramatic upswing in actual wedding plans. Sure I play around a lot with DIY projects and dress options, but this week we worked on the reception party guest list. That’s huge for us. Up to this point, it’s been word of mouth for Vegas invitees. I’ve made all the paper products already and just need to hit submit on Overnight Prints. However, it’d totally be my luck that I’ll order 100 of everything only to go over and have no buffer for mess ups. Right now we have about 55 address labels, but are still waiting for a good chunk of addresses.

Currently the items in my shopping cart, including shipping, total $93.60. Not bad for 100 announcements, 100 reception invitations, 100 RSVP cards, and 200 “photo dump” cards. I really want to order them at the same time to avoid duplicate shipping charges.

Tweet: looks like we’re doing soaps as reception favors. yay for trade & crafty friends!

I designed a logo for a friend’s business cards and website recently. In return, she offered to make us homemade soaps in our colors and any scents we choose. I’m picturing Japanese lanterns, twinkle lights, cherry blossoms, orchids and other fun touches on our extremely casual Miami reception party. The soap molds I tentatively picked out are flip-flops, palm trees, and an assortment of flowers. I still need to pick the scents as the colors will obviously be orange and blue!

Tweet: do i buy or wait? don’t want it to increase, but also don’t want to get screwed. 2r/t tickets Ft.Laud-Vegas for $501.80

The airfare really makes me nervous. Our hotel suite is booked already for 4 nights at just shy of $600. Booking another $500 for airfare is just nerve-wracking! I’ve heard booking mid-week is the best time to book flights, price-wise. What do y’all think, is $500 a good price for 2 round trip airline tickets?

Also, not wedding-related but still a huge accomplishment… I am days away from being an MBA graduate from East Carolina University!! It’s been 5 very, very long years in the making. It’s significant as I began the program before I even met my wonderful fiancé.

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Accomplishment

Today I am a graduate of East Carolina University with my Masters degree. I can officially add “MBA” to the end of my name. A name that I will be changing permanently in 5 months and a few days.

I spent the day with my dad. First shopping at Home Depot (wooo!) and later helping him hang the new cabinets in our kitchen. We have lived ere for 3 weeks and finally have half a kitchen… just not the cooking half.  After working in here, I hobbled* to my parents house to make my fabulous fried chicken for our dinner. And after dinner, I was presented with…

*Hobbled as I found the hole on all the 8.5+ acres that I could manage to fall in and sprained my ankle for the 843rd time. Oh yes, it was fun! Good thing I’ve carried my crutches with me state-to-state and apartment-to-apartment.

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Impending Graduation

Cap and gown, etc were ordered on Wednesday… They arrived Thursday! I just had to take a picture in my double-tasseled cap. I decided not to walk in the graduation ceremony after all. With everything happening in the next few months between moving and saving for Vegas, it just didn’t make financial sense. Instead, we’re going to take a little family trip somewhere and take tons of pictures with me in my cap and gown.

Also, I am heavily considering moving this blog to a real website – as in one that I own. From what I understand, Blogger isn’t exactly easy to work with, but have any of you done such a transfer? I’m sure I could move it to WordPress then do the transfer, but I’d like to avoid the middle step. One of these days I’m going to do a major overhaul of our website and pop the blog over there.

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