Friday, February 27, 2015

Moving Week

And oh what a week it has been! This was supposed to be a relaxing week, filled with saying good bye to everyone and packing up the house.

Monday afternoon we had an ice storm that rolled through town and led to work being closed Monday afternoon all the way through Tuesday morning. I drove to work Monday morning and left Richard stranded without a car since the Jeep was in the shop, again. I had a coworker drive me home since the roads were bad so we were stranded without either car Monday night. And since we chose not to go grocery shopping, we also had no food. So we walked to the closest restaurant, that was luckily open and not too far away.
By Tuesday afternoon, everything had melted and the roads were perfect. I went out to dinner with my two good work-turned-real-life friends Laurie, Kristen and Kristen's kids. We went to a local place and I loved having that special time for just us.
Wednesday, snow was predicted so I had the morning off work, that turned into the entire day off since the snow got so bad. It was crazy to see the snow falling. I have never seen such huge snow flakes and never did I think I would see the ground covered in snow. But, I have to admit it was gorgeous.
Whenever there is snow/ice in the area, the whole city shuts down. It seems crazy, but they just don't have the resources to deal with ice covered roads, so I refuse to drive in it as well. We had our POD scheduled to be delivered on Wednesday and we were afraid that it wouldn't show up. Luckily, they delivered it right as the snow started so we did not have to worry about a Plan B. We have a moving crew all set up and ready to go today to load up the POD and weather permitting we will be on our way Saturday morning!
Because the weather was all out of whack, and schools were closed Monday through Thursday, my good-bye lunch on Thursday was missing about 80% of my coworkers. Which was a big huge bummer because I didn't get to say good bye to any of them either.  But I am grateful for those that were able to come and say goodbye.
We have a few more goodbyes to say today before we head out. It is so weird to me that this is actually happeneing. I don't think it has really hit me yet. I'm sure it will though when we drive away.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Things I Have Learned From Living in Louisiana #3

-Fried Chicken is everywhere. There are 7 fried chicken restaurants on one corner right by our house.

-There is a very specific way that southern women say "Bye". Can't even explain it, but I know it when I hear it.

-When you have a baby, expect everyone who even remotely knows you to show up at the hospital and see the new baby. Where I am from, most people won't come to the hospital unless they are specifically invited.

-Everybody is always fixin' to do something. Fixin' to leave, fixin' to get coffee, fixin' to eat, etc.

-Most people don't leave the house without getting fully dressed and putting on makeup. You can't go to target in sweatpants and a sweatshirt without feeling out of place.

-Louisiana doesn't have counties, they have parishes.

-When you buy a car and get it financed it is called a car note. Not a car loan.

-Duck Dynasty is filmed about a mile from our apartment. A lot of people that are from here went to school with them or know them in some form.

-Most of the men around here drive trucks and most sports cars are driven by women.

-A shopping cart is called a buggy.

-Richard is really bothered by the fact that they have no micro breweries in the area.

-At times, people will stop at the end of the on ramp for getting on the interstate. Beware.

-Southern hospitality is a real thing. Everyone welcomes you into their family and invites you to family functions, even when you barely know them. This is what I will miss most, the people.

Update: Read part #1 and part #2.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Moving: Finding A Way To Transport Your Stuff

Well, moving is in full swing over here. We have been packing our hearts out which has lead to having little time for anything else. Our deadline is quickly approaching so it will be a busy few weeks.

Figuring out the best way to move our stuff from Louisiana to Dallas took a lot of research. I figure I may as well share my experience with it all since I know seeing something like this would have helped me.

Moving across the country is a whole lot more involved than moving locally. You have to worry about properly packing things so that they do not break in the move and you also have to do everything in one trip, instead of breaking it up. Finding the right way to transport your stuff is key to a successful move. Here are the different options you may have.


Full Service Move
This is by far the most expensive, but also the easiest. There are usually different options for a full service move. The first being they will pack everything for you, load it on a truck, transport it, and then unload and unpack for you. The second option is to have them do just the loading, transporting and unloading for you. We actually chose this option for our move from Minnesota to Louisiana. At the time, it made sense because once we got to Louisiana we would have no help unloading a truck. And since I am basically useless in the carrying heavy objects area, we knew we would need hired help.

Pros:
-They do all(or most) of the work for you.
-You don't have to worry about transporting your items.
-If they break anything, they will pay to replace it.
-Your stuff is usually safer because they are experts at packing a truck.

Cons:
-It is by far the most expensive. It is two to three times more expensive than any of the other options.
-The company we used had transportation times that could take up to three weeks. Meaning, we would be without our stuff for that long.
-Most companies use a semi to transport your stuff. Inside that semi, they usually have two or three different households so your stuff is mixed in with other people's things.
-The moving company we used picked up our stuff in Minnesota, unloaded it in a warehouse in Minnesota, then loaded it on a truck to go to Louisiana. So there was more handling of our packed stuff than we realized. This also meant that they forgot three of our boxes in the warehouse.
-The more your stuff weighs, the more you pay. They start with a base rate and then add costs based on the weight of your items. They have an estimator come in and guess how much your stuff will weigh, but they were way off with our stuff so it cost us even more once they actually weighed the items on the truck.

Do It Yourself
The least expensive way to move your stuff, is to do it all on your own. You rent a truck, pack your items, load the truck, drive the truck to your destination, unload the truck and then return the truck. This is a great option for those who are trying to save the most money and also those who are moving locally. For a long distance move, things get a little trickier.

Pros:
-The least expensive option.
-You have full control over your items and will have full control.

Cons:
-Since you pack the truck your self, you are more likely to have items get damage if you do not pack properly.
-You have to drive a huge truck across the country. That does not sound fun to me.
-If you already own two cars, you will either have to tow one of them or get a third driver to help you drive all three vehicles across the country. Learn from our mistake-towing a car behind another car is extremely stressful. Don't do it.
-You will need help to load and unload your stuff from the truck.
-You are not covered if anything breaks.

A Good Compromise
There are a couple of different options out there where there is a compromise between the two previously listed options. Most of these companies will drop off a container for you to load, you pack your own boxes, then they pick up the container, they transport the container, they drop off the container at your new location, you unload and unpack, and they come and pick up the now empty container. This was what we chose to go with because the thought of driving a moving truck across the country was not a good option for us and we wanted to save money.

Pros:
-It is less expensive than a full service move and just a little more than a do it yourself option.
-The company will transport your items for you.
-You are able to drive your own cars to your destination.
-Some options allow you to have additional storage in your container for months at a time. Just in case you cannot move into your new place right away.
-Your stuff is insured for up to a certain dollar amount while it is being transported.

Cons:
-You still have to pack your own items and load the container.
-You will need help loading and unloading your container.
-Transit time can take up to a week. This could be good or bad.
-If you live in an apartment complex, you have to get permission to take up parking for your container.

We decided to go with the compromise option. We looked at two companies- UPack and PODS. UPack is a small semi that they drop off for three days while you load, then they com pick it up, transport, drop off at new location and pick up again three days later. We really liked this option and tried so hard to make it work, but ultimately it didn't. While the semi is parked, it takes up two parking spaces. Since we live in an apartment, this was a problem. Also, with the way our move worked out, we will have a two week span where we will need to be out of one apartment, but cannot move into the other. So we needed our stuff to be stored for a few extra days. If we used UPack, it would have cost us an extra $400 for monthly storage which brought the price up to as much as PODS. UPack would be a great option if you were moving from one house to another house where parking is not an issue. In the end, we picked PODS for our move. They have a month of storage built into the price, the container only takes up one parking spot, and we have a great discount code from Richard's work that brought the price down to about the same as the UPack quote. PODS ended up being easier to move from one apartment to another since it only takes up one parking space.


To give you a comparison, our full service move from Minnesota to northern Louisiana cost us more than $4,000. We were quoted at almost $3,000 so they charged us way more than they said they would. We had quoted UPack to go from Louisiana to Minnesota again and they quoted us at about $1,700. We then changed to quote to go to Dallas and the quote changed to $1,400. Our PODS quote to go to Dallas was $1,800 to start and then we were able to bring it down and extra couple hundred dollars by using a discount code. Using a moving truck would have been less than $1,000. So the price difference between the three options is pretty significant. To us, price was the most important deciding factor and we were glad to be able to find a good middle ground that was not too much more than renting a truck. Hopefully if you ever need to move across country, this will help you figure out what is best for your family!

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Friday, February 13, 2015

Changes

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This week my boss came into town and told all my coworkers that I am leaving Louisiana and therefore quitting my job. I had troubles sleeping the night before everyone found out because this is finally starting to feel real. I have been thinking about moving for a long time, but now its real. We are really doing this. We have two short weeks before we pick up and leave.

I am not good with change. Change scares the crap out of me and it always has. There have been two times in my life where I had big changes happening and both times I made my self sick from being so scared. The first time was on the way to the airport, when I was 17, when I decided to take a leap and spend 6 weeks in Boston with my Aunt and Uncle. I left behind friends and family and made a decision to do something by myself for the first time in my life. The second time was when I was moving all my stuff from my parents house to move into my college dorm room. I was really on my own-including living alone-and I was extremely scared.

Moving to Louisiana was the biggest change we have had in our lives yet. I was extremely freaked when we moved, but we had a plan and knew it was temporary. I figured I could do anything for three years so it wouldn't be that bad. Louisiana by far exceeded my expectations when it came to the amazing people we have met here. I have truly made some great friendships that will last for years to come.

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For some reason, moving to Dallas feels different. Maybe it's because, at this point, it is a choice. Richard already had a remote job that did not require him to work on site. We could have stayed in Louisiana for another six months if we wanted to. But, that is just it, we did not want to. We had an opportunity to move to Dallas so we decided to take a leap of faith and go. I know that we will be fine for the next six months and hopefully it will lead to getting a more permanent job situation, but that does not change the fact that I am nervous.

Things keep racing through my mind. Should we really be moving? Could we have made Louisiana work for a longer time? Will we be able to afford to live in Dallas? Why am I quitting my job again? Do I find a new job in Dallas that makes a stable income? Do I pursue my dream of becoming a photographer? What about health insurance? We don't have benefits with Richard's job, so do I chose Cobra or public health insurance? How long will it be before we know whether he will get a stable job or not? Are we being a little too crazy and jumping in a little too quickly?

I know that we will be fine. Richard will be making enough money to cover all our expenses so we don't really have to worry about money. We are young with no kids so I know that now is the time to take some risks and see where life takes us. I am just not very good at change. Or not knowing what is going to happen in the next year. So don't mind the heavy post today. I know everything will be fine, I am just going to be sitting over here scared out of my mind, knowing everything will work out in the end.


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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Things I Have Learned From Living in Louisiana #2

Here we are again for round two of things I have learned while living in this state. I have so so many of these I may run out of time to write them! But it will be fun to look back on these some day and remember how different life was in Louisiana.

-Every grocery store will bag your groceries for you. Most of the time they will put it into plastic bags instead of paper.

-When you leave a restaurant, a lot of the time they will offer you a to-go cups of whatever you are drinking. I actually enjoy this one.

-Car accidents are called car wrecks. Or just a wreck. Like, "There was a wreck on the interstate this morning." Oh and the major roads are called interstates, not freeways.

-For it being a decent sized town, it is very behind the times technology wise. Most everything is word of mouth. Restaurants and apartment buildings don't have websites which makes them hard to find. Also, at Richard's school they still have physical files for every student-none of their records have been put on a computer.

-If you see break lights, whether it be on the interstate or a side road, be ready to slam on your brakes. It happens far more often than it should, especially on the interstate.

-Where I live, there are only three bridges to get over the river. When one bridge shuts down, they all get gridlocked in traffic. Makes it really hard to get to work.

-There is no recycling around here, which makes me really sad. I work for a fortune 500 company that is huge and goes through a ton of paper, yet we have no recycling. Same goes for our apartment. Even if I wanted to recycle, I would have nowhere to bring my recycling. Cans and paper just go in the trash.

-Everybody has an area code of 318 so when you ask for a phone number, they usually leave out those numbers. Or when we give our number to someone they assume its area code 318 and we have to correct them every time.

-Everyone has to get an inspection sticker on their vehicle every two years. The purpose of the inspection is to make sure you have working wipers, signals, brake lights, etc. We have had to get two and neither time did anyone actually check our car. But we still had to pay for it.

-Anything under 50 degrees is considered cold and people will come to work wearing a winter jacket, hat, gloves and a scarf. If snow is even predicted, school will be cancelled for the kids.

-Mardi Gras is a big deal around here. There are parades and king cake everywhere. If you find a plastic baby in your king cake it means you need to supply the king cake next year. Richard even gets three days off school every year for Mardi Gras break.

-When you talk with respect to someone older its always Miss/Mr First Name. Like Miss Jamie and Mr. Pete, two names we started saying since everyone else called them that. My friend's kids call me Miss Alecia. Some of my coworkers will even use it for their boss and those bosses that come from out of town usually don't like it.

If you haven't yet, you can go back and read Things I have learned from Living in Louisiana #1.

Update: Here is part #3.

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Friday, February 6, 2015

Oh Hey Friday

Yay for Fridays! This week went incredibly fast. Seriously. What better way to celebrate Friday than with my five favorite things from this week? Here we go.

One. We have 22 days until we have to be out of our apartment. Yikes! We really need to start packing. In fact, most of our weekend will be devoted to that! My number one goal for the move is to be as organized as possible. Hopefully we can accomplish a bunch this weekend.

Two. The sunsets around here have been amazing lately! I took this picture last week and it is so pretty! Richard and I went driving to see if we could get a better picture, but the sun set super fast so we missed it. But, this one is still pretty good.

Three. Inspiration has been flowing for my photography lately. I got a new camera for Christmas that I have yet to pull out and use. Hopefully I can get out in the next few weeks and try it out. I am starting a newborn photography class next week, just in time for my sweet niece to be born. I am super pumped about taking those pictures!

Four. Nothing makes me happier than when we finally get a paycheck after waiting two months. Richard started a new contract with his job in December and it took forever for us to get the paycheck. Yay for payday!

Five. Richard's youngest brother sent us his Flat Stanley creation in the mail this week. We get to take him on an adventure and then send back pictures for his class. It is funny how excited this makes us, but we know that his brother is going to love seeing all the pictures!



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Thursday, February 5, 2015

A Letter to Me at 17


Dear 17-year-old self,

Life is pretty painful for you right now. You need to know that it is only temporary and you will soon be in the best years of your life. I know what those girls said to you hurt you more than you want to admit. Don't worry about them. They were never going to last as friends anyway. The friends that mean the most to you will still be in your life many years down the line. You will eventually be happy for what they did because it is the beginning of many events that will change your life for the better. The one friend that you care most about losing will end up apologizing and you will still consider her a friend in the years to come. Girls can be mean and that is a lesson you will learn over and over. Which is why you will surround yourself with the girls you do have because they are true and loyal friends who love you just the way you are. 

Your aunt is going to ask you to spend the summer with her in Boston. You will be hesitant to go, but it is one of the best decisions you will ever make. Those six weeks spent there change you forever. You will get distance from people in your life and realize that they do not belong. Those six weeks will make you realize exactly what is important to you. You will meet and spend time with adults that make you see life in a whole different perspective. Listen to them. You may feel lonely at times, but it will be good for you in the long run. You will come back to Minnesota and enter your senior year in high school with a new outlook on the future.

You will come home from Boston and go back to your job and meet the man of your dreams. You may not realize it right away, but it will not be too long before you know he is perfect for you. You will make some mistakes along the way and do some things that you regret many years later. But what comes out of it is having the right man by your side that you will want to spend the rest of your life with. He understands you better than anyone else and will always appreciate you no matter what. 

You will be busy finishing up your senior year, but remember to spend extra time with your mom. You know that she is an important part of your life, but you do not realize that your time left with her is so limited. You may think you will have time to talk to her and ask her questions in the future, but you will not. Ask her those questions now. You will wish you could before you know it. Also, make sure you hug her extra and always tell her that you love her. Call her as often as you can so you can hear her voice before you can't hear it any more.

College is coming soon and while you are excited, you do not realize how difficult it is going to be. You will spend so much time studying that you barely have a social life. All that studying will be worth it. You will make the grades you want and you will graduate from a great school. You will also wish you finished that application to a top school in the country. You will always wonder if you would have got in. Write the stupid essays so you will know. You also may want to consider teaching a little more because you end up enjoying it more than you realize.

You will look back on the next few years of your life with some much happiness and excitement. Soak up every minute of it because you will miss those times in the near future. The year of 17 is a big one for you and you will always remember it! The good will most definitely outweigh the bad!

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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Apartment Search

This past weekend, Richard and I headed over to Dallas to find a place to live. It is only a four and a half hour drive from where we currently live, so it was an easy weekend getaway. We left Thursday night after work so that Richard could spend Friday in the office and I could work from the hotel. We brought Paisley puppy with just in case since some places required a pet interview.
I did a lot of prep work before we got to Dallas. First, we are not 100% sure yet this job will be permanent, so we knew we would want to sign a short-term lease at an apartment. I used rent.com to find places and get a feel for what the area had to offer. The biggest concern was figuring out what price point we could actually find decent apartment complexes. From there, we ranked our favorite choices according to the following criteria.
-Price needed to be under a certain dollar amount
-Distance from Richard's work-ideally 10-15 minutes away
-Allow dogs more than 50 pounds
-Washer and dryer provided in apartment
-Safe neighborhood with a "nice" feel

We found quite a few places that had everything on our want list so then it just came down to what we liked when we saw it. We ended up setting up 6 appointments and had a realtor tag along with us. Since my dad is a realtor, she offered to help tag a long and give us a sense of the area
We ended up going with the first place we saw, but we did not make that decision until after we had seen everything. At our first appointment, we saw a smaller apartment that we were not thrilled about. After we spent the day looking at other apartments at a higher price, we knew we needed to go back to the first place and compare to a place that was a little pricier to see if we liked it. We knew the first place had everytihng on our list and then some (hello dog park!) so we wanted to make double sure and check out a different floor plan. Then we were sold. We had two places that really stood out as top choices, but in the end we picked the place that was closest to Richard's work. It was also the least expensive, but still had everything we wanted. We are so happy to have that big piece out of the way!

Other scenes from the weekend:
^^I went to Panera by myself on Friday. Couldn't pass up that opportunity.^^
^^We went to a Mexican place called Mi Cocina and it was so, so good! I am glad I finally convinced Richard that Mexican food is the best.^^
^^Our pizza lunch pow-wow where we figured out our apartment game plan.^^
^^Freebirds Burrito and an amazing rainbow!^^

We had a pretty packed weekend, so the picture taking was sort of forgotten. Hence, all the food pics. We did spend Saturday night getting dinner and drinks with Richard's co-worker and his girlfriend. It never ceases to amaze me how much you can have in common with complete strangers. There is always something there! We are looking forward to moving into our new apartment come March!

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