Our 2-year plan

I mentioned a little bit ago that we’re working on a 2-year plan to move to the Smoky Mountains. Two years is a bit general at this point because of all the work that needs to go into this endeavor, but it’s a nice rough time-frame that we’re working with. We’ve been working on figuring out what all would need to go into this plan in order to be successful and this is what we’ve been able to figure out so far.

We’re working on a 4-fold path:

  1. How are we going to afford it?
  2. Where do we want to live?
  3. What do we want to do as a career?
  4. How physically fit can we get before then?

Each of these points has multiple sub-points and we’re working on several of them concurrently. We haven’t been able to estimate yet how long it’s actually going to take to get through all of them, but I think that will become more clear the further we get into this.

Currently, this is where we’re at:

  1. How are we going to afford it? First, by paying off our credit card debt. This involves being much more conscious about how we’re spending our money, so we’re setting up budgets and sticking with them. We’re also working to find ways to spend less (like taking Justin’s not-often-used cell phone off our account to reduce that bill significantly) and trying to bring in more income (like trying to get a client to actually get a check to us).
  2.  Where do we want to live? In the Smoky Mountains, in a location that gives us enough space for goats, ducks, and gardening. We haven’t completely decided where we’re going yet, but we’re hoping to go up to visit Chattanooga in the next 6 months to see if it’s as lovely as it sounds. In the spring, I’m going to explore gardening in pots around our house.
  3. What do we went to do as a career? This is a point where I’m not doing much progress so far, mostly because I’m so frustrated about work that I don’t want to think about it in my free time. But I will need to figure this one out soon so I can start making progress.
  4. How physically fit can we get before then? We’ve been going for walks almost daily for the last couple weeks. It’s been a challenge mostly because I’ve been experiencing significant pain through my calves and shins that makes walking torturous. In the last several days, I’ve put some research into the problem and figured out that I supinate my feet — meaning I tread mostly on the outside edge of my feet, toward the pinky toes. This puts a lot of strain through my calves. The last two days walking, I’ve concentrated very hard on making sure that I adjust my stride to step through the center of my feet instead of the outside edge. Doing so has significantly reduced my calf and shin pain, as well as my hip pain, and allowed me to walk much faster. I’m also seeing a massage therapist at the recommendation of my chiropractor to help my low-back pain and my un-even hips. She’s given me several stretches for different muscles groups that I believe will also help with increasing my mobility.

I’ve also got an app on my phone (Noom) to help with my eating habits, as well as a pedometer, and an app to remind me to drink more water. There’s a fitness challenge starting today at work and I’m on a team with a few of my coworkers and we’re going to try to be more active and lose some weight together. Justin also downloaded Noom to his (service-less) phone and, while I’m not sure if he’s tracking food, he’s already seeing changes in his weight and his ability to run longer distances at a faster pace. And while it didn’t exactly fit with our saving-money goals, we both are getting new shoes to help with our fitness goals.

So that’s where things are at so far. We still have a lot of work to do, obviously, but we are started. I’m going to try to remember to give an update on this every month or so. If you have recommendations for us, I’d love to hear them!

Massive weekend recap!

Because it was awesome!  And I wanted to write about it.

Friday, I worked in the morning, but when I got home, we got a lot accomplished.  We cleared everything away from the side of the house so the guy coming to pressure wash would have space.  Justin mowed the lawn, and we started cleaning up the house for guests arriving later in the day.

We ran into town for our chiropractor appointment, and, as we were leaving there, I called Dad and talked about how he wants me to handle the rent checks for the property in Toccoa.

We grabbed a quick bite at Chic-fil-a and then we went to Lowe’s to price out folding doors (the dehumidifier committed suicide), get a new welcome mat for the front of the house, and look at paving stones for putting under the fire pit, since it’s killing all the grass there.  We didn’t buy anything other than a new mat, since my car won’t fit a new door and we couldn’t decide what we actually wanted with the firepit, but now we have an idea how much it’ll all cost.

After that, we went to Best Buy to drop off a couple old printers, a dead monitor, and the broken dehumidifier for recycling.  And then past Publix (our grocery store) to get everything we’d need for dinner and a birthday cake for Jessi, since her friend completely flaked on getting her a cake for her birthday on the 10th.  We had hoped to do a homemade cake, but we didn’t have time. 

Jessi was at the house when we got back from our errands, so we lit candles, sang to her, and then sat around eating cake and chatting until we realized that it was 6 pm and we had guests arriving at any moment.  So we all ran around putting the house in order – I vacuumed the floors and got the house looking presentable inside; Justin and Jessi got everything put back up against the wonderfully clean and no longer green sides of the house outside.  (Seriously, the pressure washing did wonders to the siding on the back of the house!)

Guests started to arrive not long after that and we had a delightful evening sitting around and chatting, eating pasta for dinner, and playing a game called “Werewolf” around the fire outside, a game where everyone pretends that they’re villagers and have to determine who the werewolves are and kill them before they kill everyone else.  It’s tricky!

Saturday I slept in; Justin got up to play Mass Effect 3 a little bit.  Then we ran down to Savannah to get Justin’s haircut – we wanted him to look less shaggy for the wedding coming up.  We went back home and I worked on getting the kitchen cleaned and he worked on putting together character sheets for a D&D game that we’re joining. 

Mario is moving away and between him and another guy leaving, it made space in a game that Brenda is running, so she asked Justin and me specifically if we’d be interested in joining.  It’s 4th Ed., which is the version I know best, and the characters are 12th level, which is higher than I’ve ever played.  Plus, it’s in person, actually on a table top, instead of online, which is also something new for me.  I’ve only ever played online.

It was a lot of fun!  The characters Justin and I are playing are ones we used at another game – I’m playing a gnome rogue with double cross-bows.  (Tiny, but fierce!)  They got petrified somehow and the adventurers in this game got us un-stoney and then we followed them until we found this nasty gateway to another dimension-thing.  Mario’s character heroically sacrificed himself to close the gate (it’s his last game, so he had to go out with a bang – literally, it turns out) and now we have a picture of the Big Bad and have to figure out how to, you know, keep an army from breaking through into this dimension and subjugating all of Eberron.  Awesome!  The game lasted about 6 hours, Brenda made dinner, and I really have no basic math skills, especially late at night.  Seriously, adding at 11 pm is HARD.  Time to play more Brain Age and work on my math again!

So we got home late and crashed into bed.  Justin had to get up early to help with the Presentation Team at church, running the computer from the back.  I was naughty and stayed home from church because I knew that the worship pastor is out of town and the guy leading the singing was a guy that really bothers me and I would have been distracted the whole time.  And apparently, it didn’t go very well at all – he didn’t do the right words, his lack of rhythm continued and completely frustrated the drummer, and he started giving his own sermon in the middle of the songs that the lead pastor had to interrupt.  Plus, there were kids in the service because we meet at the high school and the kids usually go to the cafeteria, but they had Prom on Saturday and the cafeteria was still all decorated from that.  So there were kids in the back shouting into a decibel-meter and I would have had no patience for that.  At all.  But since their dad was running the sound board, I wouldn’t have been comfortable telling them to shut up, so it would have been really, really annoying.

So I stayed home and was glad that I did.  Instead, I got up and cleaned the house because I hadn’t had time to do that after Friday night and other than the dishes in the dishwasher and drying on the counter, the house was still a wreck.  There were chips crumbled on the floor of the dining room and clothes piled up on the floor of the bedroom and the whole place needed work.  So I took care of all that while Justin was away. 

When he got home, we climbed up into the attic and worked on organizing that.  We pulled down all the bedding and towels so we could sort that out.  We moved things that we don’t need for a while (old plates and yearbooks and light fixtures) toward the back and things that we do need (his mom’s box of stuff) toward the front where it’s easier to access.   We hung the backpacks from the rafters to clear up limited floor space.  We threw away a ton of boxes that aren’t good for packing and were just taking up space.  We found yet another printer to recycle.    We ended up with a box of extra towels for when guests come and two boxes under the bed with nearly-complete sets of extra bedding.  We’re going to garage sale the six other sets of sheets that we found up there, plus a handful of other things.  We have a whole box of hand towels that we’re going to sort through next time we do laundry, which might be today, and figure out which ones we want to keep, since we have about twice as many as will actually fit in the drawer.

By the time we wrapped up, around 6pm, the attic was much, MUCH more organized.  You can get up there and have somewhere firm to set your feet.  The suitcases are easy to get to.  The seasonal decorations are super easy to get to.  And all the random stuff that Jessi’s left behind is all in one place so we can grab it next time she’s here and throw it all into her car – or drive it up to her storage unit and drop it off there.  Whichever works.  As long as it’s out of the attic.

But it’s great!  We know where things are now and we’re getting rid of things we don’t need.  We cleared a bunch of space in my office because it was stuff waiting to go up into the attic once we had space for it (MIL’s boxes of bedding, dog stuff, etc., and the winter bedding that needed to get boxed up for summer), but it didn’t fill up the attic because we cleared out so much space first.  We actually know where to look for bedding if we have more than one person sleeping over in the house.  It’s such a relief to have it organized!  We still have some things to take care of — the box of hand towels and all the clothes I have stored in the suitcases — but we’ve made incredible progress and it feels WONDERFUL!

Friends, thunderstorms, and food

I’m writing this on my lunch break, trying to recapture the glow that I had over the weekend. I had an amazing three days, and in only the span of a morning, I’ve already fallen from the great heights of relaxation I had achieved down to this grumbling, mumbling, irritated stoop.

I didn’t work any overtime last week.  In fact, on both Tuesday and Thursday, I left at 3:30, taking vacation hours to fill in that lost time instead of working those hours to fill them in.  When I left on Thursday, I left for the weekend.  I left for a doctor appointment where she told me that my blood sugar, triglycerides, and good/bad cholesterol levels are all only points away from being perfectly healthy.  So apart from being about 100 pounds overweight, I’m the pinacle of health!

Friday, we had plans with a friend to come over for dinner, but she rescheduled to Saturday, so instead we went out to see a movie with a couple other friends.  The movie was awful, but the company was enjoyable.  We went to Outback afterward and sat around until they closed and kicked us out.

Saturday, after sleeping in for the second day in a row, we did yardwork and got the house tidied for company.  And then we grilled corn and hamburgers on the grill.  The food was delicious and the conversation was delightful and we all stayed up much later than we should have on a night before having to get up for church.  A racoon walked up to the patio door while we sat inside on the couch.  He sniffed around with his tiny nose before scampering back to the woods.

I didn’t sleep well that night, between allergies and the thunderstorm that woke me, shouting and shaking, as thunder and lightening and pounding rain rattled the house and my nerves.  But the next morning, everything was washed clear of pollen and the air smelled clean and fresh.  After Justin went to help with set-up, I sat on the rug inside the open front door eating my breakfast and drinking coffee.  He came back to get me for church, which was wonderful, and then we helped with clean-up before heading home again.  We decided to nap, making up for the restless night, sleeping longer than expected, waking when another thunderstorm rumbled through, with hail bouncing and water pouring over the roof like a waterfall.  And then we slept some more, snuggling back into sleep by the sound of rain on the roof.

Today is colder than expected and I’d rather be at home, extending my weekend, than reading drawings under florescent lights.  The seeds I planted Saturday have probably all washed away, and the grill, now filled with soggy ashes, is sulking on the back porch.  But my lunch break is over, so I’ll stop complaining.  Time to get back to work.


Sometimes there’s noise that only Rachmaninov can silence.

This is why I haven’t been writing

Sunday was great!  Slept in, got breakfast in bed, read a book, talked with all my immediate family, got delicious dinner, and watched a funny movie.  It was delightful!

Monday, my department moved from one side of the building to the other and considering all that has to happen with that (people to move the computers, people to move the boxes and bookshelves and file cabinets, people to move the phones) and the number of people moving (about 30) and trying to get some work done at the same time, it went surprisingly well.  My feet ached by the end of the day, but I think it was the most smooth move we’ve done yet.  I got lots of compliments on how well I got everybody organized.  It almost makes up for how frustrated I was getting at the end of the week when people kept interrupting me to answer their questions about why the printer still wasn’t working or where they could get keys for their desk or what to do about it being so cold on one half of the room (the other half is warm and part of the problem there is that the thermostat for the warm half of the room is actually out in the hallway, and the thermostat for the cold half of the room is broken — we’re working on it).  Anyway.  It was successful.  I went home, Justin rubbed my feet, I fell asleep sitting in a chair, but woke up in time to watch Castle.

Tuesday, I woke up and couldn’t move my right arm very well.  I couldn’t raise it up above my shoulder and it hurt.  All day, I kept on trying to solve moving issues and try to get a document completed that I’m really late to submit.  That evening we went to the chiropractor’s office for adjustments and he (actually, let me put in here that when I say “my chiropractor” I could mean one of three people — it’ s a family business, so it could be the father, his daughter, or his son — but it’s just easier to be non-specific) (in this case, it’s the son) fixed up my shoulder blade so I could move my arm, commenting that I “really messed it up.”  Trust me, it gets worse.  And afterward, we stayed behind for a health talk and free pizza.

I have no strong recollections of Wednesday, so it’s safe to say it was a lot like Tuesday.  Answering annoying questions while trying to get work done.  Not making it very far on my work, but resolving a lot of moving issues.  I did manage to make a good deal of progress on one aspect of the project, though, so that was good.  Unfortunately, my shoulder was still hurting.  And I spent the evening working on paying bills and balancing the checkbook.

Thursday I worked from 7am to 8pm and it was exhausting.  I had to finish up as much of my project as I could, so I eventually put on my headphones and put up a sign saying that I was trying to finish up this project, so please let me concentrate.  And I’m pretty sure that my lead started turning people away and telling them to let me work because I was able to get a lot of work accomplished without being interrupted.  I was still there after everyone left, but I managed to get it done and sent out for review and I might actually get it submitted before the middle of next week.  Still VERY late.  I went home, Justin drew me a bath, and I sat in the bath, reading, until after 10, when I got out and went to bed.

Friday, I slept in a little before going back to the chiropractor’s office again because my arm was feeling even worse.  He (the son, again) started poking at different spots on my shoulder to try to identify the problem.  Once he found the spot and I stopped gasping in pain from him poking a finger at it, he took his activator (hammer thing) and tried to put it back into place.  Once I stopped crying from the pain (seriously, it hurt SO MUCH! it was like an 8 on my pain scale), he put a cold laser on it and then gave me a cold pack and said that if it wasn’t feeling better by morning, I should come back in and he’d take an x-ray.

What I hurt, somehow, was my sternoclavicular joint, though I’ve got no idea how I really did that because usually it takes something like getting punched in the chest or something with a contact sport.  But let me tell you, it hurts.

I went to work after getting an ice pack from home and managed to get caught up on another project that I’d been neglecting all week and left after about 4 hours of working.  I went home, kept putting ice on my collarbone and relaxed.

I was still in pain this morning, (I keep moving wrong in my sleep and hurting it) though not as bad as the last couple days.  The constant pain has dulled down to a localized dull ache from a pressing pain across the whole shoulder and I have a lot more range of motion through my arm.  I still went back in and the chiropractor (son, again) took an x-ray.  It didn’t show anything, which was a little disappointing.  But I guess that’s still the better option rather than having something broken or obviously wrong.  He put the cold laser on it again, did NOT hit me with the activator (I think I might have punched him if he’d tried again), and told me to rest it and keep in icing it.

And that’s the plan.  Rest.  Ice.  Tomorrow I’m singing at church and Justin’s running the projector from the back.  Today we have no plans.  So I’m resting.

Quick babbling post o’stuff


Yeah, it’s been a little crazy around here. 

Starting on the work-front, since I’m doing this on my lunch break, has been insane.  We finished two projects earlier this week and are hoping to finish another one this afternoon or tomorrow.  And besides that, I have three documents that I was supposed to have submitted on Monday in order to get into a 30-day window for it to be reviewed, and I’m still not done.  And they’re moving the date back a week, so I have even less time now to do it all.  PLUS, we’re moving from one side of the buidling to the other side and everybody packing and trying to figure out what can fit into the new area because it’s smaller than where we are now and what’s going to go where, and because there’s two groups of us in the area and such very little space, there’s been low-level fighting with the other group about who gets to use which space.

If I didn’t enjoy moving so much, this would be more challenging.  But I kinda like it, so it’s kinda fun.

I’ve been working super-late (7:00) for the last couple days to get things done and catch up on some time that I was out for a meeting Tuesday morning, so my evenings have been very short once I get home.  I’m trying very hard not to work tomorrow, but right now (just before 12:00), I’m not sure how that’s going to go.

I did manage to bring something home from work, apparently — there’s been a nasty cold/flu thing going around and although I haven’t had any effects from it (tea and water and hand sanitizer and yea!), I think it skipped right over me and into Justin, poor guy.  He hasn’t been feeling great the last couple days.

On the away-from-work stuff, we’re still waiting for the Admissions department from Justin’s school to process his letter and get that started.  There’s nothing we can do until they open it up so he can start school again, so we’re just stuck waiting.

This Saturday we have a couple people coming over to play cards and have cake with us — one of them has a birthday on the 22nd, so we’re sharing cake.

Um . . . what else has been going on….  Last Saturday we helped Habitat for Humanity in a place they’re working nearby.  It was mostly moving mulch around and making the properties look nicer.  But it was still hard work and good stuff to do.

Last Sunday I sang with the band at church and it was a lot of fun.  This Sunday is my birthday and I’m hoping for a pretty low-key day.  Order a pizza, watch a movie with Justin.

Anyway, yeah.  Most of my brain right now is stuck:  What else needs to get boxed up and labeled for the move?  Is there anything else I can plan ahead for in order to make this go more smoothly?  And what is up with the drawing for the monitors for my document?  Why can’t I find the drawing that shows me where the monitors go?  And the 50/60 Hz power?  What’s up with that?

So that’s that.  I really hope I don’t have to work tomorrow.  I’m probably going to be here again until 7:00 or so tonight.

It’s been a really loooooooooong week.