Sunday, December 1, 2013

Li'l Bit of Paint

Want to see something awesome? I love paint.
It begins:
 Final product!
Actually, we only painted the front and touched up the windows. The rest of the house is still black/brown.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Landscape Dreamery.

We're moving.




I seriously cannot wait for the next chapter. What's completely awesome is that J's parents have a home they've been trying to get ready to sell for a few years but haven't been able to devote the time and energy that they wanted to. Since they are graciously and EXTREMELY generously allowing us to stay there for a while, we offered to help get it ready. Basically, we'll try and  help them get a better price and we'll get to try out being home owners before taking the leap. I'm so excited!

Idea for having a dog area that doesn't take up an entire yard but also doesn't look totally depressing.  Plus those little guys are so cute!

I've been told there's a chain link fence that is non-negotiable, so I want to come up with some ideas to make it a little more cozy.

Or we could just paint it green! (Or black...)





I would also really love a pergola...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Funny little guy.

 Since J and I will be moving very soon (eee!) I decided to hit up my trusty account and see if there was a family in need for the last few weeks of my MA tenure.

I have used this website before and it never fails which kind of surprises me. I guess I shouldn't be surprised anymore since youcan find anything on the internet, but I'm always a little shocked that people leave their kids with me after finding me online. Regardless, 3 out of 3 experiences have been lovely.

This time I get to hang out with two funny little guys, 7 and 8, who enjoy fishing, crafting, reading, and Minecraft. Their family is moving around the same time J and I will be heading out and they're just looking for a little extra help during the moving process.

Basically, they're hilarious and we get along brilliantly. We go on adventures every day and I am so glad I did this because it feels like what summer is supposed to be about.

For example, this is G catching a large-mouth bass. I had to figure out how to handle that fish to get the hook out (which totally creeps me out, but I would never let him see that!) Normally we just reel in sunfish and I look totally capable, but not with a bass. After making an attempt the fish got loose, slimed down my front and landed at my feet. I started screaming, then laughing, the fish flopped against my ankles on its way to the water,  G started laughing, and the whole thing was just ridiculous. We also went canoeing and decided it would be hilarious to try and return to the dock backwards. He was laughing so hard he couldn't even breathe. Ah, so fun. He told me I'm the "kookiest lady" he's ever met. :)

Monday, July 22, 2013

It's adventurin' time!


I am SO excited! This whole blog has been dedicated to my misery for the past year and that's about to change.

We are leaving MA in the next couple weeks and heading out to Arkansas.

To some (aka everyone in my family), this appears to be a hairbrained scheme designed for failure and ultimate unhappiness. Many believe that Massachusetts is as perfect a place you could ever find, with good schools, better-than-average salaries, and communities that actively seek cohesive perfection.

Some of that is true; drive through most towns around here and you will see beautiful, perfectly manicured lawns with stone fences and red geraniums or rhododendrons planted out front. Salaries are a bit higher depending on your field. Education is extremely important in the state and that means for more invested parents and towns.

I like Massachusetts, I do. Maybe we'll come back here someday, but for now my reasons to move far outweigh my reasons to stay.

Job Myth: Because education is so valued here, it would be a step up to work in MA.

Situation: I did not like my job here. I do not enjoy working with students who feel entitled or act like punks. Many students in MA told me that they would have no problem getting certain teachers fired. And they did it. It's an ugly, unappreciated position to be a teacher in that kind of setting. I also struggled to find work, even though I'm highly qualified and experienced. I knew an administrator who taught college classes, and you know what he tells students in the first class? "You want to be a teacher? Move." That's how tough and competitive it is here. I have more opportunities to teach, teach what I like, and move up into administration or the college level in AR. In fact, I'm going from teaching English at a middle school with a tough population and pre-determined lessons to teaching Pre-AP and AP English in AR with more freedom. Yes!

Winner: AR

Money Myth:  I earn more, and thus will have more money, in MA as opposed to Arkansas.

Situation: Yes, my salary is $12,000 more here than it will be in AR. HOWEVER, more money does not equal more happiness. It just means more paper. What actually matters is what you can get for that dollar; in other words, spending power is more important. Last year I made a decent salary. We covered bills and additional costs. Because the job market is so competitive, we each commuted about an hour each day, which took roughly $150 of our cash per week in gas alone. On top of that, food is more expensive, entertainment is more expensive. Massachusetts is called Taxachusetts for a reason, and that certainly makes a dent. We couldn't afford to live on our own here (the cheapest apartment I could find was $940 per month before utilities.) Looking down the line, yes, the money increases each year for a teacher but I have limited opportunities to move up. On top of that, because Massachusetts is so uppity they will not accept my M. Ed. from an Oklahoma university as sufficient and I would need to invest another $40k or so for a teacher prep program in order to keep my license. We would have to do that within the next 5 years or I would lose my livelihood.


Housing Myth:  Just like my cousins and others before me, it is typical to live with my parents, then move into an apartment, and then I'll be able to move into a house in my 30's in order to settle down and start making a family.

Situation:  I have a lot of loans, and because the housing market is ridiculous in MA, this is not a viable option for us. In fact, ever since the housing bubble burst, this has not been a successful strategy for a lot of people our age. A lot of us live at home. In fact, my parents are housing not only my husband and me but also my two younger brothers who are financially unable to step out on their own either.

U.S. Census Stats:

MA: Median value of homes: $343, 500
MA: Median household income: $65, 981

A house costs 5x the amount of money earned by the average couple.

AR: Median value of homes: $105, 100
AR: Median household income: $40, 149

A house costs 2.5x the amount of money earned by the average couple.


Quality of Life Myth:  People in Massachusetts take better care of what they own, are meticulous about their community planning, and have enough discretionary income to enjoy themselves. It's a better life.

Situation: I have to strongly disagree with this one. People from MA are descendants of Puritan ancestors and it certainly shows. Puritans believed in hard work but did not think highly of wealth. That translates now into people working extremely hard, constantly running, running, running, and not feeling free to really enjoy their incomes without guilt, even if they have the ability to do so. Conservative choices are always praised and respected. Colors here are muted; dark navy, red, black, grey, hunter green are popular colors. You are more likely to see a woman without makeup and in sweatpants than you are to see a woman who took time to put herself together well. You are ostracized for being feminine or trying to draw positive attention to yourself in a lot of ways. On the weekends, people here go to their second or third jobs (in my brother's case, his fourth) or work on the yard / house. In AR, we will be able to do what we want without so much judgement, and that will include a lot of canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, grilling, and visiting with friends / family.


PLUS, IT'S TIME TO ADVENTURE! I can feel it in my bones.

Monday, July 8, 2013


J and I have been living in the downstairs apartment of my parents' home for officially over one year now. Here is what I have learned:

1. I am much happier (and I think she is too) when my mother and I do not speak to one another.

2. My mother hates my husband, or is cold and rude to him often enough so that he thinks she hates him, which just amounts to the same thing.

3. I hate the dark and the cold. My friend N came to visit over the weekend and slept on our couch. When she first arrived and brought in her things she noticed how dark it was, even on a bright, hot, sunny day in New England. She actually asked, "Do you think you're likely to get seasonal depression down here?" Additionally, we all woke up around 10-11am the next morning because it is impossible to tell the time down here.

4. I am the worst version of myself here.

5. I have really conflicted feelings about Massachusetts. On the one hand, it's where I grew up. I know how the culture works and how people think, so even if I'm not always happy I'm at least comfortable. On the other hand, I'm a really miserable version of myself. I know that if I move I'm closing the door on Massachusetts and that's what freaks me out I think. Not only would it be hard to come back to this area to teach but my family does not take kindly to members leaving. There is no joyful homecoming; there's perceptible bitter judgement, resentment, and an overall "Fuck-you-you-think-you're-too-good?" or a belief that the person is an idiot and doesn't realize that it doesn't get any better than this. According to my father, "Every state wants to be like Massachusetts, I hate to tell ya."

N also noted to me that during her only interaction with my mother (after my brother checked to make sure it would be ok for N to come in to say hi to her without my mother turning into a total bitch) that she felt like we were freshmen in college again because of the condescending, nasty way my mother spoke to me. (Those were not exactly her words because she's too nice a person to talk about someone's mother like that.) Imagine that every time you make a move, any move, you get screamed at. For example, there is a complex parking situation here with so many cars. While we had people visiting, our normal routine went out the window for the weekend. Late last night, J got up and moved my car back into its normal spot because he knew we would get yelled at. Today, my mother and father both told me that I needed to park closer to the shrubbery or they were going to hit my car. Not like a hey, I don't want to hit your car....but like a hey, move it or I will purposefully hit your car. I ignored them while they turned their attention to my brother to complain about his parking, which had him yelling back in their faces because they pull this shit no matter how anyone parks.

On top of that, I decided to make some pancakes. I had extra batter and was putting it in a container when my mother yelled at me to just throw it out while at the same time my father asked why I didn't just make one last pancake and give it to the dogs. I decided to make the pancake, but my mother then yelled to just throw it out, she doesn't want her dogs to have any of it, and yelled at my father about getting involved. Normally, I would just put the batter down the sink drain but she usually yells about anyone putting anything down the drain so I turned to put it in the trash. She screamed, "Are you fucking STUPID?!?" At that point, I threw the entire bowl in the sink, grabbed my stuff to go downstairs, all while she was yelling that I needed to come back and clean everything instead of "having a tantrum".

This is what I mean. I don't know how to explain it to people; J always thought I was being dramatic or exaggerating when I talked about my relationship with my mother. Now he sees it. N seemed to think I was exaggerating about how difficult it can be to feel like a functional adult when living with her. Now that she's been made to feel like absolutely shit all within the 10 seconds she tried to say hello, I think she gets it. If I had the money/opportunities, I would move the fuck out, believe me. I fantasize about moving out without even telling them and never giving my address. I would rarely call and, if it wasn't for my father, I would most likely never visit.

It's toxic. If this was a relationship, every friend I ever had would tell me to get the fuck out and get a restraining order.

Friday, June 28, 2013

June Debt Check-in

I'm cheating this month.

$5,300.00 (C Car Loan)

$5,834.18 (J Car Loan)
$2,168.66 (J Gov't Loan)

TOTAL$13,845.72 $8,002.84
Result: Decreased debt by $5,842.88 in the past month. This is the cheat. I've traded in my car for a lease, but since I feel like I'm just on a 3-year rental plan, I've stripped the total debt out of the equation here. I still have the monthly payment in my budget but I've decided it doesn't count as debt. 

It makes me feel better.

student loan debt:


$93,001.10 $92,891.37
Decreased $109.73. Meh.

TOTAL= $100,894.21

Thursday, June 13, 2013

National Average

I've hit a new milestone. I went from one to the next in less than a year.