Grownup Stuff

I mentioned a few months ago that I was working with Ashley from Saving Money in Your Twenties (which is, sadly, an age group to which I no longer belong but her advice is sound advice no matter your age).

Ashley asked me to be a guinea pig of sorts as she tested out her personal coaching business. It’s no secret that sports information directors (even if they have fancy titles like mine – Director of Athletic Communications) do NOT make a lot of money. Thus, my goals in working with Ashley were to learn where in the heck my money is going each month and what I can do to maximize what I am making while balancing grad school payments.

Oh, and my long-term goal? Own a house so I can have two permanent dogs. 🙂

"What, am I not enough for you??"

“What, am I not enough for you??”

So how did the whole process go? It was really, really helpful. For the first time I feel organized in regards to my money (even what little I have); I know where my money is being spent and with Ashley’s help, I set up monthly categories for all my expenses. The goal is to stay within the max budget we set for each category. If I can do that, I’ll have more “leftover” money at the end of each month than I realized.

The key, though? Actually doing something with that “leftover” money rather than letting it sit in my checking account, destined to be spent at some point. And that’s another big thing I got out of working with Ashley; it prompted me to get cracking on the things I knew needed to be done but had been avoiding – opening up a new savings account, calling Verizon to see if I could get my monthly cell phone bill lowered, etc.

Does it take a little extra work to track and categorize my expenses? Yes. Is it difficult? No! Is it worth it? Yes!! I’m not old by any stretch but I’m not young, either, so this whole process came at a great time. My organization and saving habits remain relevant no matter how much money I go on to make one day (hey, a girl can dream).

An Update of the Very Best Kind

I had a few blog post topics rattling around in my head but at the end of my work day this afternoon, I got the best email I’ve gotten in a very, very long time.

I’m not exaggerating when I say I think about all of our fosters every day. And today, on the one-year anniversary of Cindy’s adoption, I got an email from her mom that brought (good) tears to my eyes.

Sweet Cindy.

Sweet Cindy.

I won’t go into too many details as Cindy (now Nellie) is no longer a part of our family but there aren’t words to describe how perfect her forever home is. She is (so deservedly) spoiled and loved. She has a plethora of soft, fluffy surfaces to sleep on and no shortage of people to pet her.

Her mother sent a recent picture; I didn’t feel right posting it on the blog but just picture a bed, a pile of pillows and Nellie on top of said pillows. Heaven for a dog who deserves nothing but everything her new family is giving her.

Today’s email made my day, my week. Fostering is hard – mostly emotionally difficult – but when fosters find homes like the one Nellie found, it’s worth it 100 times over.

Here is a very small selection of my favorite Nellie photos.

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Cindy's double bed setup.

Cindy’s double bed setup.

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Upside down turtle!

Upside down turtle!

Very Thankful

What a great week of vacation! Marty’s family rented a house in the Poconos and it was the perfect mix of active and relaxing, which is exactly what Marty and I want from any vacation.
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Yes, there were three decks!

Yes, there were three decks!

As always, we are very thankful that Marty’s parents’ invite us every year. Since we live a good 3 1/2 hours from his family in South Jersey, we really only see them 3-4 times a year so being able to spend a full week with them is something we’re really glad we’re able to do.

And the reason we’re able to spend a full week is because of the generosity of my parents. They are willing to watch Lucy for the entire week which is A: heaven for Lucy and B: saves us a ton of money by not having to kennel her.

"Yeah, I think I'll just stay with Grandma and Grandpa, thanks."

“Yeah, I think I’ll just stay with Grandma and Grandpa, thanks.”

In addition, most kennels require a kennel cough vaccine and Lucy does not have that vaccination. The kennel cough vaccine is controversial for short-nosed dogs; there is research that shows it can dangerous for short-nosed doggies like Lucy so I’ve avoided giving it to her since we’ve never run into a time when the kennel has been our only option.

So, while last Friday I had to drive 75 minutes past our vacation home to drop Lucy off and then drive 75 minutes back to the vacation home and then drive a combined 3 1/2 hours one week later to pick her up and head home, it was worth it. Lucy was happy and Marty and I were able to enjoy a full week of vacation.

I really don’t think Lucy wanted to come back home with me, though.

Refusing eye contact for making her leave.

Refusing eye contact for making her leave.

Ever since my mother’s stroke over three years ago, she can’t work, which means she’s home almost all day, i.e. Lucy’s version of heaven. She adores my mother and was spoiled by having someone home to lavish her with attention all day. Oh well, all vacations (for humans and dogs) have to come to an end at some point!

While We’ve Been Gone…

Lucy has been getting reacquainted with her bed while we’ve been on vacation and she’s been staying with my parents.

She doesn’t need to be crated at my parents’ house when it’s just her visiting. She knows the couch is off-limits but I wanted to bring her bed so she had something comfy on which to lay down. Or hump. Whatever.

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Lucy doesn’t have a bed at our apartment because she has free reign of the couch…and she likes to eat any bed we’ve ever gotten her. At my parents’ house, though, she seems to prefer humping it over eating it which is both hilarious and preferable over ingesting it!

Can’t wait to pick my little squish up tomorrow!

Vacation!

Marty likes to shriek “vacation!” at random times in the weeks and days leading up to vacation. And you guessed it – it’s vacation time!

It’s been quite a busy start to vacation. My mom has extended family in the Kutztown (Pa.) area and she and my aunt were having dinner with them on Thursday night in Kutztown. My aunt wondered if I was free to meet them for dinner as a surprise for my mom and I was! It meant a two-hour drive each way but it was worth it to surprise my mom.

I got back to Selinsgrove around 10 p.m. on Thursday night and then after work today (Friday), I packed up the car (and Lucy) to drive 2 1/2 hours to my parents’ house in New Jersey since they’ll be watching Lucy while Marty and I are on vacation with his family.

"Don't forget me!"

“Don’t forget me!”

I’m grabbing dinner at my parents’ to avoid rush hour traffic before hitting the road later tonight to drive BACK into Pennsylvania for vacation. It’s ok, though, because it’s vacation!

Lucy will be vacationing with my parents.

Lucy will be vacationing with my parents.

Lately

To be completely honest, there isn’t much to write about (at least dog-related stuff) lately. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s been a really nice and really relaxing summer so far. Work-wise, it’s actually been less relaxing than normal but outside of work (which is a real 9-5 job during the summer months!), I’ve been doing lots of nothing besides work for class and relaxing.

Later this week, I’ll be starting my “real” vacation with a week in the Poconos with Marty’s family. I wasn’t able to go last year because we still had Cindy and I was juggling two classes. This summer, Buddy is at his forever home and I’m taking just one class so I’m relatively free to take the week off!

Oh, and I've been practicing with my new camera, too!

Oh, and I’ve been practicing with my new camera, too!

The only reason I’m free, though, is because my parents will be (more than generously) watching Lucy while we’re gone. They are SUCH a huge help with Lucy during days/weeks like the upcoming one. Lucy adores my mother, is still scared of my dad (but might actually warm up to him by the time I pick her up at the end of the week) and is, from what I’m told, very well-behaved when she’s there. It’s really nice to not have to worry about paying to board her at the kennel.

Of course, I miss her tons while we’re gone but taking a week to get out of town is totally worth it.

Lucy relaxes by eating sticks.

Lucy relaxes by eating sticks.

After vacation we’ll re-evaluate fostering again. I know I want to foster again and quite frankly life seems boring without a foster but on the flip side, life is also much easier without a foster! I’ll be the first to admit, though, that the start of the academic year at work (which is sadly not that far off!) makes me incredibly anxious and while adding a foster would seem counter-intuitive, fostering makes me happy and forces me to see the bigger picture. Helping a dog in need is an actual valuable use of my time; worrying over a video display on the ginormous videoboard at our football field, for instance, isn’t such a valuable use of my time and thus fostering forces me to put all that in perspective.

We’ll see!