31 May 2010

Money as L1s

Is it okay to talk about money? I recently read an article that said that people are willing to reveal too much personal information via Facebook and Twitter status updates and blog posts. From what I know of my readership, about half are family and friends from Michigan, and about half are either going to law school/medical school or married with the hubby in law school/medical school, but none of whom are related to Ave Maria School of Law. When I started, I envisioned my target audience being wives who were looking to be L1s in the near future, but as far as I know, that is not the case.

When I was such a person, I was obsessed with trying to figure out how our finances would work. I asked at school visit days, I researched online, I read books, but I never found a satisfactory answer. So I think I will dedicate the next few days to discussing how we handle the burden of law school.

Let me preface this by saying that everyone's situations are unique and that we have a had some huge blessings that enabled us to be where we are.

30 May 2010

Revising Old Fears

Back before we even moved down to Florida, I posted about what I thought I knew and my fears with regard to law school. I thought it would be fun to visit that post and update my thoughts.

What I “know” law school will be like
My husband will spend more time at the library than he will with me - actually, he prefers to study at home.

My husband will change as a person - he really hasn't yet. He thinks differently, but he hasn't changed. One of the law schools we visited said this would happen. Not for us!

He will feel overwhelmed, swamped, like he is drowning, and there will be nothing I can do to help except listen and My husband will get angry and depressed as a result of these feelings - so true

Not only will school demand his time, but also dinners, events, boards, and panels and I will not be able to go with him to all of those - not true yet, but probably due to Ave Maria's extremely family-friendly nature.
 
We will have no money, no time, and no one else in our family will understand what we are going through - exceptionally true. We have no extra money, no time, and no one except those who have done the law school thing get it. It would be super frustrating when we go home, but we expect it. Most people think law school is like undergrad. I laughed when one of our MI friends recently asked us what we do for fun. Uh, does eating dinner together count?

I will feel very alone - yup. But this has made me realize how strong I am. I always thought I was rather wimpy, but I have impressed myself with my ability to grow.

We will feel very discouraged and doubt our ability to survive all three years - Matt more so than me. I am pleasantly surprised at how my stubbornness is helping me to get through this hot, hellish state.

My biggest fears
My husband will meet some intelligent, sexy female law student and like her more than me - still a fear, although it hasn't happened yet. All of his closer friends are male.

I am too selfish and will demand too much of his time; he will fail school as a result - I am learning to be less demanding. The first few days during a break are awkward because I haven't realized that I can talk to Matt again and I am still very quite, silently cooking dinner or something. I have really learned to control my tongue instead of saying things to him as they pop in my head.

I won’t get a job and we’ll have no money - I got a job, but we still have no money. This is a really big fear of mine. I create lots of spreadsheets and run the numbers in about a million different ways in order to calm the fear.

Being a bit of a academe myself, I will be too jealous of all the graduate-level students around me - Um yes,  I still struggle with this quite a bit.

Our #1 Goal
My husband is in the top 10 of his class (note, not top 10%, but actual top 10) - still the plan! I think we've slightly lowered our goal to just the top 10% though.

29 May 2010

Things I like about Florida/Naples

The beaches, the dolphins, the geckos, the sunsets, visiting various docks, touring the houses in Port Royal (the fancy side of town), seeing Ashton Martins and Bentleys on a daily basis.

The capstone:
I'm a really big fan of life stories. The best life stories come as a result of two things: adventure and suffering. I can tell you a really good story about the day I got hit by a car. It certainly wasn't fun getting hit, trust me, it hurt a lot. But that is one heck of a good intro at a party. So I'm adventuring it up down here, suffering sometimes, learning most times. I've had a slow start, but I'm only 23; I have plenty of time to make it up.

Why I hate Florida

Although I do understand what people like about it.

First, remember that I am a cold-weather girl. I love long-sleeves, well-worn jeans, cute sneakers, fun scarves, hot chocolate, and cozy blankets. I love Autumn the best, but I do love winter. I love bundling up with a hat and scarf and mittens, wearing cute boots with fur around the edges, traipsing around in the cold, crisp air until my legs and nose are freezing. I love coming back inside and curling up with a blanket drinking something hot. That is the life of a northerner.

But a southerner, especially one on the coast, lives a much different life. People down here show off long legs with short shorts, they wear flow-y tank tops or light-weight sundresses, they have a multitude of colorful flip flops and fun bikinis. They laze around outside, soothed by the hot air with a warm, salty breeze. The heat fills one with a slow delicious languidness that gives one a desire to lay unmoving on the beach or dock drinking tall, icy beverages. Such is the life of a (coastal) southerner.

Both lifestyles are wonderfully nice: fiery red maple trees and tall, swaying palm trees. But I am more comfortable with the pitfalls of the cold climate. In the north, sometimes it gets so cold that just when breathing, one's nostrils will stick together. Also, ice forms on the roadways and the heat bill in the winter is outrageous. Even petty things, like, the dry air gives my hair static electricity is preferable for me. I can handle all that. Down here, it gets so hot that I don't even want to walk to the mail box. Makeup is pretty useless, you can only wear clothing one time before washing it, and you need the a/c on almost nine months of the year. I hate all that. It is so humid down here that my hair frizzes-up to no end. (Although I am finally learning ways to deal with that mess). I can handle the snowy roads, what I can't handle are the giant bugs. (I have found that the warmer the climate, the smaller the mammals and the larger the bugs).

I will wrap up with a story that I think perfectly captures this post. It all happened while I was at a photoshoot for one of our new listings (I work in marketing for a Realtor). The photographer, whom I'll call "AF" is a native Floridian. The home we were at had a fireplace, which we wanted to light as it would be prettier in the pictures. It was glassed off, but AF peaked in, "it's already lit!" she exclaimed. "It's probably just a pilot light; it's probably a gas fireplace," I responded. She fiddled with the remote, "I'm always scared these things are going to like, blow up," she giggled. She then hit the right button, and the fireplace roared on with that classic noise that any northern with a non-wood fireplace knows. AF jumped about a mile high.

Toward the end of the night, we left one of the french doors leading out onto the pool deck open so that we could lug in equipment. I noticed a big nasty shiny beetle had scurried in and was sitting on the floor. The property was not being lived in, so I left it there and decided to figure out what I wanted to do with it later. A few minutes before we left, AF noticed it sitting on the floor. She leaned over, picked it up with her bare hands, said, "what are you doing here?" to it and took it outside. I just stared at her. "You touched it?" I asked disbelievingly. "You can't grow up in Florida and be scared of bugs," she concluded.

Well, Florida, I am.

28 May 2010

No-see-ums

I have counted a few of the no-see-um bites on my body and extrapolated to determine an estimation of my current bug-bite situation. I estimate that I have 120 bug bites, 5 of which are mosquito bites. No-see-um bites itch significantly worse that mosquito bites, last days longer, and hydrocortisone does nothing for them. The more you itch them, the worse they become.

You know that happy day when mosquito bites get that glossy bubble on them? You can itch that head right off, the liquid spills out, and there is no more itch? Well, Friday morning, a few of my no-see-um bites glossed over, so I eagerly scratched their heads off, but the liquid caused my skin to itch more intensely than it did when the bite was fresh. I didn't even know it was possible to itch more.

I look and feel like I have the chicken pox, except my bites are more pink than red and they don't really form a bump. I hate no-see-ums worse than I hate cockroaches. Although, I have yet to encounter a hissing, flying cockroach, so maybe I'm not qualified yet.

Mid-Vacation Update

I was re-reading those last few posts and found about a million typos in there! Sorry about that, I will make a point to proof my work before I post it!

On Wednesday, we went out to the candy shop (we got a lot for only spending $4) and saw the movie Robin Hood in theaters. We don't go to the movie theater often, so it was a particular treat, even without over-priced popcorn.

On Thursday we did nothing. That's right, nothing. Normally, nothing is fun on a vacation, but since we're at home for all of our "in-between activities time", I really wanted to go out and do stuff in the morning before it got hot and save the lazy vacation activities for the evening. On Thursday we slept in, then lounged around reading the newspaper and surfing the Internet. By the time we realized what slobs we were, it had already gotten too hot to do much outside (by noon it's pretty nasty. But it's still spring. By summer, I will be sweating in the time it takes to walk from the front door to the car). I caught up on a few things, did some gaming (namely, Settlers), cleaned the kitchen, and did some reading. Matt spent almost the entire time working on his application. I have no idea what he would have done if we hadn't come home early. (He was suppose to finish it the week between finals ending and our vacation, but distraction and lack of focus threw that plan off-course). I was so bored.

Today we took a lunch cruise on the Naples Princess. It is a tour boat that runs down Port Royal (the most expensive part of town), out through Gordon Pass and into the Gulf of Mexico. It's a little pricey ($40/ticket inc fees and taxes), but still within our budget. It was a lot of fun, we saw some stunning houses, dolphins playing and splashing alongside the boat, Matt saw a sting-ray jump out of the water (I missed that one), and I saw several of the properties that we have listed for sale from the water. Matt and I have been thinking a lot about buying kayaks lately and this cruise is really making us think more about how much fun it would be. I already did some research to find that my little car (a Contour) can tote them, although I would need to buy the necessary equipment. I still have yet to measure the lanai to see if it is big enough to store a kayak. The fun thing is that the method used to store the kayaks wouldn't interfer with our bike rack, meaning that if we ever ventured outside to camp again, we could take them both with us.

Anyway, we have a Netflix, Valkyrie, so maybe that will be our big, exciting evening. The memo is due tomorrow and there are still 3 (and a half, counting today) days left of vacation, so I'm not writing this week off yet!

On a side note, there is a small ledge around our lanai that is located outside of the screened area (we are on the second story), and we get a lot of little geckos and lizards that run around that ledge. My white cat, Emma, loves to run around the perimeter and track them. She is so cute when she does it. Especially because she is completely deaf and normally doesn't notice/hear birds chirping or flying by. But she always notices geckos and bugs. Kinda funny.

27 May 2010

Retreat! Part III

We docked back on Pine Island, where we left the car, unloaded our gear, piled it up in the car, and headed home. On the way, we swung by Target and picked up a $5 game (the card version of Monopoly), made hot dogs, gathered up what junk food remained and sat around playing games and eating junk food. I am covered in itchy red bites (I'm pretty sure one crawled up my shorts and bit my butt) and my shoulder is still sunburnt, but I had more fun last night that I did on the entire trip!

By canceling the trip, we are actually saving a fair bit of money. Even after the cancellation fee for our camp site, we did get a refund back. We never used the kayaking money since we didn't kayak on the island, and we did spend nearly as much on firewood or ice as predicted. They refused to refund us our parking charges (we had to pre-pay at $10/day). We had initially drawn out a set amount of cash to cover the entire trip, so we came back with a portion of that money left.

We have made a list of things we want to do around Naples to make up the rest of our vacation. I took this week off work, I do not have to work this weekend, and we get Memorial Day off (which is odd since we don't get anything off). Anyway, this afternoon/evening we are taking $5 to a candy store (I know, living large) located in a Naples tourist-trap (we like the stores eccentricities and it sells old-fashioned candy that our parents had as kids) and stocking up to see Robin Hood, which is out in theaters now. Matt is working on his memo this am.

We are also going to bike around a particular community that I know from work and has great views. It has lots of preserve, a few bay, and Gulf views. It ends at a particular beach that we go to often and really love. (Naples beaches kick the pants off of Cayo Costa beaches). This will be total free.

I am going to see if I can get us free kayak rental. There's a marina right by where I work and I pulled some strings before and got us a free rental. I don't think he'd ever charge me full price, but I don't expect rentals to be free forever.

We can hike a nearby state park. We did it once before and it was a lot of fun. We'd just pay a state entrance fee.

We can also go to the zoo. We have yearly passes which makes that a popular destination.

Lastly, there is a boat called the Naples Princess that tours Naples. I've seen them boating around for the sunset cruise when I have to do photoshoots at work. It looks like a lot of fun at they have some cheaper lunch cruises.

We could afford a modest charge for the kayaks, but if he's willing to give them to us for free, then we'll have a little money left over. We could catch another movie, go out to lunch or a cheap dinner, or buy ourselves a few books at Borders. The big secret to stretching the money is not eating out. Buy bringing our own lunches and planning our schedule to ensure we'll be home for dinner, we can use money that would otherwise go to a restaurant seeing more sights.

It is amazing how a strictly cash diet will keep a person in check.

The whole point of this vacation is to not only take a break from work/school, but also spend some time together before Matt heads to Arizona for a few weeks for part 1 of his internship.

All three parts of Reatreat! were written Wednesday morning, but I am posting them at different times so as not to overwhelm the reader.

26 May 2010

Retreat! Part II

After dinner we had a brief discussion about leaving early. We discussed the heat, the poor biking trails, the humidity. Even though I applied sunscreen ever few hours, I had missed a random spot on my neck and shoulder and had a weird-shaped burn. We decided to see how the morning went before making any decisions. Even though it was only 9:00pm, we were exhausted. We had been up since 5am, had baked in the heat for hours, and had expelled plenty of energy lugging bags and setting up camp. We were so exhausted. So, ready for bed, we stuffed empty pillow cases with clothing to use as pillows and settled down. The white sand/shell mix turned out to been incredibly hard, the pillows lumpy, and the night air hot and humid. Matt fell asleep quickly but awoke often. It took me about three hours to fall asleep. It was eerily quiet outside. There was hardly anyone else at the campground and by night fall there were no boaters. At first it was pleasant, listing to the silence, but then we quickly discovered that we were in some sort of trajectory for the International Airport in Fort Myers, a nearby city, and every few minutes a large plane would fly overhead. A nearby storm added to the confusion as we sometimes heard planes and sometimes heard thunder. The palm tree overhead rustled in the wind, sounding identical to rain, making it nearly impossible to tell when it was raining and when it was just windy.

With so much wind, one would think that it would be nice and comfortable in our tent, but it wasn't even close. It was so incredibly hot and humid in that canvas. It was similar to being in a closed car in the sun in the summer. Sometime around midnight I finally fell into a shallow sleep.

Tuesday 25 May 2010

My sleep was abruptly awaken less than an hour later to scratching on the tent. "HEY!" I shouted instinctively, used to waking up in the middle of the night to loud cats. "Knock it off!" The noise stopped for a second, then came right back. "What the heck?" I wondered. I threw on my glasses, grabbed my flashlight, and peaked out the screened part of a tent. When my light hit the grubby little claws, a masked face looked up at me and back up quickly. A raccoon. A raccoon was scratching the tent where we'd stashed the food. I moved the food away from the wall and laid back down and listened for the brat. I heard him walking around outside, but he didn't return to the tent. After a few more hours of tossing and turning, I finally feel asleep again.

Less than an hour passed before the raccoon was back, scratching. I shouted at him, startling Matt awake, and watched through the tent window as he bumbled away, significantly skinnier than that fat ones who lived in suburbs that I'd seen up in Michigan. Annoyed and worried that he'd put holes in the tent, I grabbed my flashlight to check out that corner. An orderly trail of ants lead from our package of cookies, across the bread, and across the cooler. One particular corner of out tent, the corner I had decided to put our food in, had a small zipper, maybe four inches long, with no screen. It is essentially a zipper slit, the point of which is to allow us to drain the tent should water or something infiltrate. Well, it was unzipped by about an 1/8th of an inch, just enough to allow a parade of ants through. We zipped it up and Matt fell back into a shallow sleep. I laid there, waiting for the raccoon to reappear and wondering how many ants were in our tent.

Now it was so hot and so humid that I wasn't using the sheet we'd brought. I'd long since lost my shirt and was laying on my back, arms spread, legs spread, in a pair of short sleeping shorts. Our tent had no holes, so I wasn't worried about mosquitoes. In Michigan, we'd get some small green gnat-like bugs if we left a light on, but we were in bed before it got dark, so I wasn't concerned. Every few minutes, I'd brush off what felt like a small itch. I figured it was just sweat drops or some kind of heat, but it wasn't until it felt something catch in my finger nail that I realized what they were: no see-ums. Yes, that's literally what they call them down here. If you type "no see-um" into Wikipedia, it will redirect you to the technical name of this bug. It is essentially like a mini-mosquito, but they love beaches. They bite, suck blood, and leave itchy red dots. They're called no see-ums because they are very small. Small enough, it turns out, to fit through the screen of our tent. Yes, that's right, I'd been laying all spread out, nearly naked, not using the sheet, for most of the night. I yanked the sheet up, covering myself from the neck down. By morning, I had sweated so much that the clothing inside my pillow case was soaked.

The rest of the night proceeded very slowly. The raccoon returned a few more times, put a few holes in the tent, the ants streamed in with force, I had a break down, we decided that this was certainly not shaping up to be a relaxing vacation, and we decided that we would catch the 3pm ferry off the next day. I think the longest I slept was between 3am and 6:30am (when we woke up), during which I'm pretty sure I only got up 3 or 4 times to adjust my pillow, secure the sheet, and roll over.

The morning brought more stifling sun. We counted seven small holes in the tent. The package of cookies was toast, but that was the only thing the ants ruined. The heat did the rest. The bread was so warm it felt like we had just pulled it out of the oven, the marshmallows melted together in their package, the ice in the cooler melted super-fast, then the cold water permeated our Ziplock bags, water-logging the hot dogs, turkey lunch meat, cheese, and even the factory-wrapped s'more making chocolate. Most of it was still edible, even though it didn't look appetizing. That morning we decided to leave, so we called around and changed our ferry reservation. We biked up to the ranger station to let them know about our plans. Since the ferry wasn't leaving until 3pm, we decided to go for a morning bike ride. The trails were lame and short. We saw a few more racoons, a black racer snake, and countless geckos and lizards. At 10am, we headed back to camp and packed up. Matt sunscreened up then left to buy some ice. I rinsed off and used up the last of the sunscreen, which meant that Matt could shower because he had nothing to reapply. I felt like a jerk.

We sat around, I read, Matt worked on his memo and we waited. I crushed up some gold fish crackers and fed them to a dove who was watching us. A lizard jumped on the picnic table and drank the melted ice water from our leftover ice. Trams run every hour, so we had to catch the 2:00 tram to make the ferry that left at 3:00pm. We headed over to the pavillion where people wait at 1:30pm, in case the tram was early. Through conversation, we discovered that some people who came over on the ferry with us (we called them "neighbors") had quite the adventure as well. It was her first time camping and although they didn't mind the heat, they did mind the racoons. He'd tied their food up outside and two raccoons spent the night fighting over it. Also, a few days prior to their arrival, someone had discovered a giant alligator in the camp site. Although they had planned to stay for six days, they were taken the same ferry as we were back. Meeting someone else who hated the island as much as we did made me feel better.

A few hours later, we were on the ferry headed back to our car.

Retreat! Part I

Monday 24 May 2010

We woke up bright and early at 5:00 in the morning. After trudging around, him barely awake, me excited, we showered, ate, finished packing, loaded up the car, and hit the road at 6:45. It took us 1.5 hours to get there, first driving straight up the coast then cutting westward across islands. Once we reached the furthest most island one could reach by car, Pine Island, we loaded our gear onto a ferry, which departed at 9:30, and continued westward. We were told to be 1 hour early for the ferry, so we stood around on the dock in awe of all the surrounding islands. A few cottages stood on some, a few mansions on others, and a few were deserted. Pelicans perched on every dock post in site. Large, gracefully brown pelicans who didn't look up even when a boat scooted past. We were so excited to camp on an island that we could hardly wait. We reached Cayo Costa State Park around 10:30 and piled our gear onto the tram which took us an additional mile westward to the tent campsites which are located on the Gulf side of the island. We unloaded our stuff and lugged it to post #7, which was a long driveway leading back to a firepit. We excited followed the driveway back to our camps site. There was ample space with plenty of shade along one side, a picnic table, and lots of sand for the tent.

According to the little diagram on the website on which we made our reservations, tent site #007 was supposed to be closer to the Gulf than any other tent site. Well, the FL rangers were in the process of re-growing the beach dunes, which kept us a few hundred feet back from the water and it was only possible to see it when standing. This was pretty disappointing as we were counting on Gulf breezes to help keep us cool. We recognized that the sun would move to the west, thus changing the shadows, so we popped the tent up on the west side of the campsite, directly underneath a sabel palm. At the time it was located in the sun, but the picnic table was in the shade on the east, so we plopped our gear down atop it and began setting up camp. Our tent was very easy to set up and within 30 minutes, camp was set. We had one sleeping bag unzipped and laid out across the tent, as a "mattress". We had an old white sheet laid out on top of the sleeping bag. I lined the food up alongside the inside of the tent on one side with our plates, bowls, and silverware. On the other side, we stacked our clothing and backpacks. The pots and pans and bike helmets stayed on the picnic table. The bikes found shade under some trees, and we chained them up.

Now after unloading and setting up in the sun in 90* temps, I was pretty hot. By the time I had finished setting up inside the tent, I was so drenched in sweat that I felt like I had just left the shower. We took the tram back to the ranger station and bought a bag of ice, a bag of firewood (no using wood found on the island), and two .25 ice pops. We got back to the camp site and filed our 10 qt cooler as full as we could. We emptied our 27oz Klean Kanteens of hot water from the morning and filed them full of ice. The rest of the 8lb ice bag we emptied into one of our camping pots to melt.

The island did not have much shade as palm trees don't provide much themselves, and these particular ones were short. There were plenty of rather open meadows with short, dry grass and scrubby palm bushes. Everything on the island was made up of white sand and crushed sea shells. It was exceptionally bright. Shortly after docking, Matt's sunglasses fell off the top of his head and broke. He had just a baseball hat left. Other island accommodations included a short (3 minute?) walk to the bathrooms, which included two bathroom stalls per gender, no soap, and no towels with which to dry hands. They also had two open outdoor showers, which require users to retain their swimsuits while showering. While we were checking out the showers, we saw what a sign we'd previously read identified as a coachwhip snake and a few marsh rabbits.

After returning from the ranger station, we decided to take a swim in the Gulf. Used to white sandy beaches in Naples, we were disappointed to find the less-manicured ones at Cayo Costa. Broken shells littered the intensely hot sand. Combined with the spiky, thorny salt-water plants of the dunes, barefeet was impossible. We waded out into the dirty, murky waters of the Gulf, nothing like the beaches we were used to. Something started stinging Matt's leg and the seaweed started following us around. Although the heat felt significantly less intense when covered in water, we decided to vacate the beach in favor of the showers. Matt and I swapped stories about books and movies we'd read and seen about how people in deserts keep cool. In true desert fashion, I soaked one of my t-shirts in water and wrapped it around my neck. It did wonders to keep me cool. After a quick rinse, we headed back to the camp site. I took a nap in the stifling hot, although at least shaded, tent while Matt worked on a memo he has due at school at the picnic table. Finals may be over, but he is working on a paper for his Law Review application.

I woke up around 4pm, at which time, the picnic table was no longer shaded. We moved over to a nearby camp site (which no one was using), and sat at their picnic table while I read and Matt worked. Even sitting in the shade, it was intensely hot. The only relief came from the warm, salty breeze, which provided a few seconds of reprieve. After a few hours, we decided to take a quick bike ride then cook dinner. We biked out the way we had seen some fisherman going. We passed a lagoon (not a true lagoon) where all the fishermen had cast lines. A big sign boldly warned that the lagoon contained alligators and that no swimming was permitted. The trail winded back to the Gulf, where it instantly turned to sand. Countless beautiful shells, in mint conditional and rather large in size. We also ran across several herds of sand crabs. They were very small, maybe 2 inches long, and ran sideways in stereotypical crab fashion. The sand forced us to quick biking and we walked for a ways before deciding that our hunger out-weighed the heat and lack of shade.

we lit up a fire and cooked dinner. Matt got the fire going pretty quickly (and pretty perfectly considering that it was his first fire setting alone!), I made some hot dogs and beans. After dinner we washed dishes, then made some s'mores. At this point, the heat was dying down and we were actually enjoying ourselves. We cleaned up the camp site, showered, and headed back to our tent just a few minutes after sunset. I've seen enough Florida night bugs at our apartment to know that I didn't want to see them in a wild forest.

23 May 2010

Charity

Last year my sister started doing a bike ride-athon for the Make A Wish Foundation. She is doing some fund-raising in preparation for this year's ride and found that Hotelscombined.com is willing to donate $20 for every blog post that displays the following banner. That's actually quite a lot, if you notice how little other organizations are willing to donate for causes. Anyway, I've never used the service before, so I can't vouch for its legitimacy, but they have a clean, well-designed website, of which I am a big fan. Anyway, below is the little banner.

If you want to help raise money, this is a super easy way to do it. Just go to this website, copy the code and paste it into your blog post. If you do so, please comment on my blog. My sister has to prove to HotelsCombined that their banner was displayed, so she'll need your url.


I recommend HotelsCombined.com and sent $20 to World Vision!

You can shout and help too.

Vacation Tomorrow

We finally chose a destination: Cayo Costa State Park. It is a barrier island in the Sanibel and Captiva islands, for those of you who know the area. The road runs across several islands, than from we'll take a ferry to the island on which we'll camp. It'll take about an 75 minutes to get to the marina and the ferry leaves at 9:30am tomorrow morning.

It is difficult to pack as we'll have to carry everything from the ferry to our tent site when we arrive. I know this is short, but I have to get back to packing and cleaning. I have to work today (checking messages), but I have all next week off, that weekend, and I think Memorial Day. I'll be sure to post when we get back.

I'm so excited!

16 May 2010

VayCay

Okay, so I have planned and re-planned our vacation. I don't even want to think about it anymore! So I can take off May 24-28 if I want. Plus, I don't have to work that weekend and I get Monday off for Memorial Day (which is hilarious, because we had to beg to get Christmas Eve off. My coworker had to work on New Years Day. Real Estate doesn't recognize holidays).

Plan A: Go hiking at a state forest 4 hours north (mid-Florida). On the advice of a friend, it is going to be hot and nasty. On the advice of a random campground review site, there will be lots of black spiders.

Plan B: Go to Dry Tortugas. The cost to get to this island 70 miles off shore? $180/camper.

Plan C: Go to the Florida Keys (4.5 hours to Key West). The cost? $50/day to reserve a space for a tent on one few islands with overnight camping in the chain.

Plan D: Getting desperate here, a last-minute 4 day cruise that leaves from Miami (about 2 hrs away): $750 (total cost).

Plan E: Right now we are talking about just going to a campground about 2 hours north that is right on the cost in hopes that the breeze off the water will cool us down. I have to find out if the campground requires reservations. If it doesn't, we can always cut it short if it's too nasty.

Maybe we'll just stay home and make day trips? Miami, the keys, the Everglades. Oh gosh, who knows.

It's been in the upper 80s. There was lots and lots of humidity, but the last two days it hasn't been that bad.

I want a vacation so badly I can't even explain it! But I have no idea what to do! Oi!

14 May 2010

Updates

Boy do I ever own this blog a post!

Matt is done with finals. He took his last one this morning. We went out to the cheesecake factory (with our coupon, of course) to celebrate. He thinks he did okay, in the A- to B+ range. We'll see where things shake out in a few weeks I guess. He didn't get as stressed as he did at midterms, which was nice. No snappy grouchiness. He even helped out with some chores yesterday!

Now that I have my husband back, I am just imaging all the fun things we are going to do. We are going to start with a bike ride around the ritzy part of town Sunday.

I have been alone at work the last two days. There were four of us full time and one part time. One full time found a new job and the part time quit/was fired. Three remained, but two already had overlapping vacation time scheduled. Everyone left and it was just me and my boss (who isn't much good at day-today stuff). I can't believe I survived, but I did. I kept things the way I liked them: low temperatures, no lights (lots of natural lighting from the windows), country music playing softly in the background, and a big bag of minty chocolate for when things got rough. I managed to survive and even got a fair bit done.

I have to work tomorrow also. Some showings in the morning (which I HATE!) and some work on a contract (for which I haven't been fully trained). Oi, I can't wait till the other girls get back.

Matt and I made summer goal lists. Things we want to accomplish between Monday and when classes start back up. We included things related to our personal lives, our careers, our relationships (both as a couple and with friends), and spiritual. I put on my goal list that a goal is to complete my goal list.

04 May 2010

OCD

As I briefly mentioned in my last post, I am falling behind in the chores at home (finances, cleaning the bathroom, grocery shopping, laundry, etc). I am also falling behind in the magazine I volunteered on which to work. I am also falling behind at work, what with the extra load from the recent quit and taking Friday off for the wedding. All of this stress is kicking my OCD up into high gear (it acts up whenever I feel an excess of emotion). I have an intense urge to reorganize my entire apartment. I want to do a full spring cleaning that includes empty cupboards, scrubbing down refrigerators and reorganizing closets (and the silly thing is that I just reorganized a few closets a few weekends ago). I can't stop thinking about all the stuff I have and don't use. I desperately want to sell it. I would LOVE to make a couple extra hundred dollars. We could totally use it to go on our vacation in late May. But how to have a garage sale in an apartment? I've been researching some ideas. I was thinking maybe I could do the organizing in June when Matt is in Arizona for his internship. I don't think I can wait that long.

Now that I've started thinking about it, I can't get it out of my head. Even though I got caught up on a lot of chores tonight, I got caught up at work today, and I have all evening tomorrow (no risk of working overtime) to play some more at-home catch-up, I still can't get the cleaning thoughts out of my head. Every day the thoughts will get worse and worse until I can't resist them any longer. I'll feel dirtier and dirtier each day, I'll feel more and more suffocated, I'll lose my patience quicker. Before you know it, I won't even be able to think anymore. I'll be sitting down, trying to read a book, but I won't be able to take my mind off of how messy the cupboard is. Even if I open it up to find neatly stacked dishes, I won't be able to relax until I pull them all out and neatly put them back. (I don't normally get the idea to scrub the walls, but we can thank the Florida bugs for bringing that one on). Anyway, I've been down this road enough times before to know that there is no getting away from the thoughts.

Ugh, I feel like doing it all right this second. It's 11:13pm on a "work night."

April Showers

The last few weeks have been rather hectic.

One of the girl's at work found a new job, and I was given half of her work in addition to my own. I am super swamped at work now. Just when Season was winding down. I have to say though, I feel pretty needed.

On April 24th, I met up with a friend and spent the day biking. I got a nice sunburn as a result. It was nice to get out and do something, as that is not something that Matt and I often do. I am also thankful to be reaching out and building friendships so that I am not alone.

April 25th was our 2 year anniversary. We celebrated by going kayaking for the first time (I know a guy and so was able to get the kayak rental for free). We then picnic-ed on the beach, napped in the sun on the white sandy beach, bought something cotton (yay traditional anniversary gifts). We have some satin sheets that are very slippery and our pillows constantly slide off the bed, so we never used the sheets. We bought some $40 pillow cases on sale with a coupon for a whopping $9.95 after tax. The new 100% cotton pillow cases do not slide off. Thus, we also gained some "new" bed sheets. Then I made some lasagna and did the dishes while Matt did homework. We finished the evening playing some board games, watching a movie, and doing other fun adult things.

The weekend after that found us in Michigan for a friend's wedding. Out Friday and back Sunday, but it was the first time that I've ever been in a wedding (other than my own, of course), which was a lot of fun. I also got to see nearly all of my Michigan friends and Matt's family at the wedding. We saw my family, including some extended family the morning of departure for breakfast.

I was greeted at work with a 13 hour shift with 1.5 hours off in the middle for dinner and travel time. I spent today trying to catch up on things I have been too busy to do since Wednesday.