July 21, 2013

Catch up....again!

It seems that I am always having to write "catch up" posts...it has been almost an entire year since I have written on here! It's been a very busy and eventful year, so I'm going to write a couple posts to capture everything from the past year. Some of these I wrote a while ago and never posted. Here is a short summary of the past year in case you just can't wait to read the other posts! :)

August 2012 - Matt had signed a contract to play in France
September - We found out the team declared bankruptcy right before we were supposed to fly over to France, this means he was without a team, as the team no longer existed
October - we prayed a lot and were hoping for another contract, not sure what to do next, the season had already started and most teams had their players
November - I took a full time tax accounting job here in Birmingham, and committed to work through April 15
December - Matt got signed by a team in Cancun, Mexico, so he went there and I continued to work full time in Birmingham and visit him as much as I could
January - March 2013 - Matt played in Cancun and had a good season with no injures, I stayed in Birmingham and worked through tax season, we did not like being apart!
April - Matt came home from Cancun, and then turned around and played in Puerto Rico for about two weeks
May - now - I am still working full time at my job, and Matt is training; we are waiting to hear from his agent where this next season will take us!

August 31, 2012

I Passed!

Just wanted to let everyone know that I PASSED the CPA exam! I'm so excited and relieved. I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I have so much time now! No more studying hanging over my head.

I would like to thank Google for this great image of what an accountant looks like:

Accountants can be cool, I worked with some pretty fun people in Orlando, so there. :)

Anyway, I realized the other day that passing this exam is literally the hardest, biggest thing I've accomplished in my life. It didn't come easily or naturally to me, and I stuck with it until I made it happen. (I would also like to seriously thank the Lord Jesus - because I did not sleep the night before this last exam due to a huge thunderstorm, and I told God that all credit was due to Him if I passed - I was not in a good state of mind!)

Things have always come pretty easily for me. I always made good enough grades in school without studying too hard; I did study, but probably not as much as I should have. I've run several half marathons, and a few years ago I wanted to run a full marathon, just to say I could do it. I didn't train sufficiently, but I made it happen anyway - that was hard, but only for 5 hours. 

This CPA exam thing was on a whole different level, and lasted for 3 years, starting in the Fall of 2009. For 2 years, I took exams and didn't pass them, and I didn't understand what it would take. Then, last summer, my sweet husband suggested that if I didn't pass the next one, maybe I should take a break from the test. For some reason this was the motivation I needed! I knew I was smart enough, and I knew I could pass. By some miracle, I passed that section by 1 point! I realized that it was the hardest I had ever studied for one part, and I only passed by one point, so I better step it up for the next section! The next one I passed with room to spare, and then went on to pass the next two. Once I set my mind to it in July of 2011, it took me one year and one try on each part to pass. I wish I had just set my mind to it back in 2009! But I guarantee you I know that information better than someone who passed the first time - I've studied it for three years!

It feels really good to have worked at something for so long, and to have set a goal and accomplish it. I am notorious for starting things and not finishing them. Or for coming up with great ideas that I want to start, and never even starting. For example: 

It was such a great feeling to set a goal, work hard at it, and see it fulfilled. Now I'm full of ideas of all kinds of goals I want to set for myself! I'm trying to pick just one or two that I can be serious about and actually accomplish (hopefully with a shorter time frame than 3 years). 

August 1, 2012

This Year We Will Be In.....

This year we will be living in....


I did not mean to, but I've abandoned this blog for a few months, and now I'm back! In the meantime, Matt has signed a contract for next year with a team in North France, in the city of Lievin, France. Its a good contract and a step up from last year, so we are excited to see what this year brings! Last year, I said I didn't care if we were in Spain again (because I liked it) or a different country (because I want to see more of Europe). I am really excited about France, though, and especially about the area of Europe we will be in - perfect for traveling! We are really close to England, Belgium and not too far from Germany. Last year we only traveled within Spain, so this year I'm excited to see more of Europe.

Last year was a good experience, but I think this year will be even better, just from an adjusting standpoint. First, we will have a car this year, which will be great! Second, we already have visitors scheduled. Last year, we went all fall with no visitors, and we missed our families a lot! This year we are trying to spread everyone out so we won't be as homesick. Matt's dad is coming in October for his first game, and my sister is coming for Thanksgiving in November! I know it will be so much fun to see both of them not too long after we've been gone. The only way this year will be harder than last year is that neither Matt nor I speak a word of French! (Oui, merci, and that is all....) At least last year Matt could speak Spanish. I've started using a free library program to learn a little bit, so we'll see how that goes. 

I took my (hopefully) last section of the CPA exam yesterday! I saved the most difficult one (FAR - Financial) for the last, and it was a hard test! I'll find out if I passed or not right around the time we leave, so hopefully I passed and I won't have to bring my books with me to France. It would be so unbelievably great to be finished studying. 

Matt's been playing a lot of basketball and training to get ready for France. He played in a Pro-Am tournament in Birmingham last week, and his team won the championship! That was pretty cool, except I didn't get to see him play because I was studying for my test. His family got to see him play though, which they loved. 

Anyway, we are dealing with Visa issues right now, and as soon as we get that figured out we will leave, probably around August 22. That's soon! This summer has flown by, but its been a good one. It's been great to have a summer for the first time in a few years, work some part time jobs, be completely flexible, go on some fun vacations and spend time with our families. We'll be in France until May, and then back to the USA again for another great summer!

June 9, 2012

A Note to Myself

During the past year in Spain, I kept thinking, "I really need to remember that for next year", so I thought I would post some notes to myself on here. If you have any input, please add, I will take any advice!

We are in a unique situation where we are moving every year. We will have fully furnished apartments (including kitchen utensils, etc.) in Europe, so we pretty much just need to bring clothes. But it's tough to know what to bring and also what to buy once here. Almost anything I buy for the apartment will be left behind, and I hate to spend the money to buy the same things again every year.

1. I DO NOT need to pack as much as I think I need to pack. I don't need to pack every piece of clothing that I own, I can do laundry, and Europe is not a third world country, I can buy anything I end up needing. Also, there is always Christmas and family and friends visiting that can bring me something if I need it.
2. Trust the weather - if the reports say the city is cold, it's going to be cold, no matter how warm I wish it was! This past year, I packed for Avila, Spain while living in Orlanod,Florida. I brought lots of sundresses, shorts, sandals, etc. thinking that I could surely wear them in September and May. At Christmas I took all of these things home realizing that I will never wear them in Avila, even in Spring.
3. Don't bring more than one pair of shoes that aren't comfortable, no matter how cute they are. I won't ever wear them because I am walking so much (I guess this depends on which city we live in).
4. Bring an umbrella - small to pack, and not worth buying and throwing away every year.
5. If I have room (yeah, right!), there are some food items that I missed out on last year that would be nice to have, such as brownie or cake mix, a measuring cup and teaspoons, boxes of macaroni and cheese (my favorite), certain items I use for multiple recipes - packets of taco seasoning, ranch dressing mix, etc.
6. Also if I have room, a comfy extra blanket and some extra pillowcases would be nice. I love having a blanket on the couch to watch TV and read with, and also the pillow cases in Europe (at least the ones we had last year) are kind of weird - scratchy and very long.
7. I would like to pick out a few durable (i.e. won't break in suitcase) picture frames and bring a few pictures of family and friends to make our apartment seem more like home.

Things to buy at the beginning of the year next year (some things are just not worth the money unless you can use them all year):
1. Go ahead and buy basic baking and cooking ingredients - spices and flour, sugar, etc. (This year I waited until January, and it was so much better having a fully stocked kitchen).
2. Buy a Swiffer for the wood or tile floors - a broom just doesn't clean good enough.
3. Swiffer dusting rags - wet paper towels just don't work that great.
4. Go ahead and buy necessities - like hangers for the closet.
5. Get a bath mat for the bathroom - using a towel to stand on is no fun for an entire year.
6. Go ahead and get a cell phone at the beginning of the year. I went this entire year without a cell phone and it was doable, but not preferable.

I'm hoping that next year, where ever we are, will be even better because I will be more prepared and will be able to adjust more quickly. It will be different every year - the apartment will always be furnished, but the extent of our kitchen utensils will always be different. This year we had no dishwasher, and a random compilation of mis matched cups, bowls, etc. but next year we could have a fully stocked kitchen complete with measuring cups and cookie sheets (haha-the things I'm getting excited about!). Some of Matt's teammates had a DRYER in their apartment - this is a huge deal in Spain! I would be so excited if we ever had a dryer and didn't have to line dry clothes.

Anyway, we won't know until later this summer where we will be next year, could be Spain, could be a different country, but for now I'm just enjoying the USA! 

May 22, 2012

Home Again, Home Again

"Home again, home again, jiggity jog" I can't remember who used to always say that, maybe my grandfather? Has anyone else every heard that expression? Anyway, Matt and I are home again! We had a great year in Spain, but we are SO HAPPY to be back in the USA! We've had a pretty busy couple of weeks since we got back, and its just now slowing down. We have gotten to do some really fun things though!

Two days after we got back to Alabama, I hopped in the car with my mom and sister and went to Jacksonville to see my brother's winging ceremony (he's in the Navy, and is now a NFO - Naval Flight Officer). It was great to see my brother and spend the weekend with most of my family. 

Everyone who came to support Blair

My brother Blair, me, my dad and my sister Elizabeth

All the ladies: my mom, me, my Aunt Sallie, my cousin Claire, and my sister Elizabeth

The plane Blair flies/navigates - a P3 - it was so big!

Dressed up for the celebration that night

The day after I got back from Jacksonville, Matt and I got to go to Talladega with some sweet friends of ours who invited us! We were so excited to go (I have never been), and it was a really exciting race and a fun day. Matt dressed for the part:

My sweet friend Heidi

The racetrack

lovely orange earplugs

After Talladega, I came home and did nothing but STUDY for an entire week. I sat for the Audit section of the CPA exam on Friday, May 11, and I'm now waiting to find out my score...I might find out this week, which would be extremely fast. I've passed two of four parts, so I really hope I passed Audit and can take the last section in July and be finished with it forever!

After my exam, I enjoyed not studying for a few days, and then Matt and I went with my family to the beach. It was such an amazing trip! The place we stayed was so nice, we were on the bottom floor with the pool right outside our back door. The pool was HUGE! It was the size of about 5 normal pools with a fountain, lots of stairs, palm trees and umbrellas all over the pool deck, it was really nice. We were about a  3 minute walk from the beach, and the water was so clear while we were there, no jellyfish. We got to stay for 6 days and the weather was perfect the whole time. Thanks Mom for taking us on such a great beach trip!

Me and Matt at dinner

Everyone with my cousin at his restaurant - its on 30a and its called Local Catch - it was delicious!

Our amazing pool

Playing Risk - we played 2 full games of Monopoly (one of which I won!) and 2 full games of Risk during the week - I guess saying my family likes board games is an understatement. 

Now we are back to normal life, Matt is starting a job at Greystone this week and I'm still unemployed - know anyone who needs an accountant for the summer? Hopefully I can find something soon or you might see me bagging groceries at Wal-mart!