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Saturday, January 29, 2011


Kalaloch, WA
My whole life, I have always had the distinct feeling that the grass would be greener on the other side.  I always felt like there was somewhere else I should be; somewhere bigger and better.  I was a big traveler, heading out to big cities and exotic places.  Every time I went somewhere new, I started daydreaming of living there.  Then, I moved here and it all changed.  I feel like from the moment I arrived in Washington, I knew I had finally found a place to settle down.  As it turns out, the grass really is greener here.  So are the trees.  It must be all of the rain.

For the first time in my life, there is no where I'd rather be.  My wanderlust has finally been satisfied.  Sure, I get homesick-quite frequently as a matter of fact, but I have no desire to leave here now, or any time soon.

Ironically, for the first time in my life, the decision is not entirely in my hands.  I've mentioned before the struggles we've faced since moving here.  It's been a hard  (almost) three years here, and we're reaching the end of a very long journey that has left us achy and tired, and ready for a nice big meal.  In other words, Willie is almost done with school, and the job searching has begun.

While he's searching, the reality is hitting the two of us like a ton of bricks.  This is it. It's basically our last chance.  He's gone back to school. We've made the required sacrifices. We've (well, he's) worked the odd jobs and gone without insurance, all to make this happen.  This is the end of the road.  We've already decided that if-after all of this-he is still unable to find the appropriate work for someone with his education and experience here, we'll have to expand the job search as far as it will reach.

The idea saddens me.  I can't imagine leaving here.  By the time all of this works out, we will have been here for three years.  That's the longest I've lived anywhere other than the place I grew up, and even then I left as soon as I had graduated!

Seattle skyline at twilight, seen from West Seattle
Of course, this is the worst-case scenario. We've still got our hopes high that the area will prove as fruitful as we'd imagined when we first set our sights on the northwest.  Still, it never hurts to be prepared for all the possibilities.  In that mindset, I've been slowly coming to grips with the fact that I may have to say good-bye soon to a place that has finally felt like home.  It's left me a bit withdrawn and cranky. 

This is not like me, though.  I don't really know how to react to the idea of leaving a place before I'm ready.  Last week, for example, we had to come up with a list of the top ten places we would be willing to transfer for a job.  Yes, top ten places we would transfer.  It's a pretty impressive job, too, so of course we came up with a list of places we would like to see.  After all, this was our agreement when we decided to move here.  We had to allow it to be a temporary home if necessary.  We have no true roots holding us here, so we must be willing to go where we can find a decent income.  The only problem is, neither of us expected to become this attached to a place where we knew no one two and a half years ago.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bachelors Degree in Thriftiness

Like everyone else, my family has been hit pretty hard with the economy the last few years.  Regardless, we made it work.  We scrimped and saved and we've gone with only one car for the last three years now. 

See, the economy took a dive right before Willie got out of the air force and we moved across country. Despite our high hopes, Willie was unable to get a job in even a similar field of work since we've moved here.  I won't give you the exact figures, of course, but let's just say we've grown used to living on about a third of what we should be, with an extra mouth to feed even!

It's been hard, to say the least.  It's been a lot of sacrifices and prioritizing. I mentioned the other day that it's almost my turn to go back to school.  I don't know why, since I've certainly had the longest course ever in living a thrifty life.  I should be getting my bachelors degree in thriftiness any day now.

Our biggest problem area, like most families, is groceries. I've had to learn to stick to a list.  I mean, wow! I never realized how many pointless things we bought before, but even now if I don't make a list, I watch our total quickly exceed what it should.  My trick is to plan 8-9 dinners for 2 weeks.  I know that sounds wrong, but when you shop using whole ingredients rather than boxes, it lasts so much longer! For example, if I want to make chicken and broccoli Alfredo, I would buy frozen chicken breasts (or a whole chicken), a couple of heads of broccoli, a box of pasta, Parmesan cheese, butter, and heavy cream.  I'm certainly not going to use a whole chicken or an entire package of butter. I most likely won't use all of the Parmesan or pasta either since my family eats maybe half a box of pasta.  See? Now I have all of these extra ingredients for another meal!

As of this week, I've even begun using coupons.  In fact, Saturday I sent Willie out on our very first coupon run.  I need to re-install the printer program on my computer since I had to wipe it clean recently, but I found cellfire.com thanks to a friend.  This site lets you register your store rewards cards for the grocery stores you frequent, and you load coupons right onto your rewards card.  It's awesome! You just let them scan your card during check out like always and the coupons are automatically deducted from your total. Isn't that amazing?! I never thought I would be the type to use coupons, but after talking to so many people that get things practically for free, I decided I must try it! This week's grocery shopping trip will most definitely include as many coupons as I can get my hands on.  It's time for me to take that step and save even more money.

Anyway, hopefully by including coupons into my weekly shopping, I can save even more money, therefore putting more money in our pockets. In a way, it's almost like getting a pay raise! Until there is an actual pay raise in our future, we'll just have to stick with our thriftiness.  Maybe this is supposed to be a life lesson.  It's better that I learn this now, when we don't have money so that I can continue to use it one day when we are  both working and bringing in a good paycheck, right?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

When I Grow Up

Do you remember when you were a child, and grown-ups would always ask what you wanted to be when you grew up? Do you remember any of your answers?

I'm reading a book for Addie called Taming the Spirited Child (more on that another time), and the author talks about helping spirited children find their passion in order to meet their full potential.  In this chapter, the author mentions asking children what they want to be when they grow up, and expanding on that to support their interests. It's supposed to make them more focused and give them direction later in life, even if it is a different direction.

This chapter got me thinking about what I always wanted to be.  I came up with nothing. Not a single inkling as to what my childhood aspirations were.  Did I want to be a doctor? A lawyer? A princess? I have no idea!

An interesting fact about this is that I also feel I've never had any direction.  The road that travels through my teen and young adult years is long and winding, often going in complete circles just to bring me somewhere I've already been.  It's no wonder I have no career or goals.  I've never been able to settle on anything for longer than a minute.

I do realize that most people don't even end up doing what they said they would as a child.  As you grow up, the curtain lifts and you see the not-so-glamorous side of those dreams.  Maybe you chose another dream, and another, until you finally found one and stuck with it.  Maybe your childhood dreams had absolutely nothing to do with your career now. Money and power can be great motivators.

I feel like I must have been asked this question a million times as a child. It's almost time for me to go back to school, and while I'm still looking at my options, I feel as though my hand has already been dealt.  I waited too long to go back to school. I feel like now it's just time to find a degree that will land me a title rather than a dream job. So now I have to figure out, what do I want to be when I grow up?