And I STILL Haven’t Met One of My Closest Friends

Let’s get personal again, shall we?

So.. I’m a weird friendship person. I’m a weird heart person! I sometimes feel so much that the emotions are unfathomable. You literally can’t move on, go on, live on like that. So I stifle them and shuffle them and push them deep inside, and then they leak out in the strangest ways. I’m a weird emotions person. I’ve been spending years cracking the code on getting closer to.. well.. ME. The thing is, once I did/do that, then I can get closer to others. Friendship is that weird bird for me. You don’t choose your family, although you choose your friends who become family. Romance is.. well.. romance. It’s bizarre and everlasting and unlasting and totally in a world all its own. Friendship, though. Well, that’s my great mystery.

Sometimes you’re friends with people for convenience or location, geography, timing. They go in and out of your life. Sometimes, they last forever. Sometimes you’re friends with someone but one of you has feelings for the other and whether that’s the basis or a symptom or a cause, those don’t last very long either. It’s so different now that I’m an adult and a parent. The friendships, man. They’ve been some of the best. I’m still awkward, though! I’m still scared to make those first or second moves. I can’t sustain friendship the way my heart wants to sustain friendships. I might feel left out, or leave someone out, but it’s not intentional or even logical. I think the problem is, if not often, sometimes mine to have.

Every now and then, though, I meet someone and there aren’t complexities. The underlying love is rather simple and that makes it easier to reach out and take hold. It happens enough to sustain my friendship heart. Sometimes, people get me. Sometimes, I get people. There comes that familiar ache – when you deeply care about someone and want them around. You hear that click and everything falls into place. Only, this one time it happened with someone online. And I STILL haven’t met her, but I feel the same – and stronger! We have about 3,000 things in common and that list grows every day, for years now.

The first time we ever talked on the phone, I was in a crisis and I thought of her, and two hours later, we got off the phone and I completely forgot why I had called her to begin with. The stress melted away easily. I can talk about her for 17 blog posts, but you can just read her blog and get to know her. Janine is my online soulmate and one day we’ll meet for real!

friends

A few years ago, Janine and I interviewed each other for Ask Away Friday. It was special! I found the old transcript (it wasn’t hard) and decided to put it back here because it fascinates me. And this fits in with the Finish the Sentence Friday theme!

To see Janine’s answers to my ten questions, go HERE. And here are my answers to her lovely questions:

1. This week we both got the brand new iPhone 6. I know that we were both more then excited and would love to hear what your favorite new feature on this phone is?

With going from the 4S to the 6, with no dabbling at all with the 5 (other than using Cassidy’s once), the camera upgrade is awesome! The first photo I took with the new phone was at night in a dark room. My 4S would have taken a blob of nothing.

This was the first photo:

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Here’s the second from the next day in daylight:

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I LOVE the slow-motion video and the time-lapse video options: (Des whining “Mama” in slow motion)

This next video isn’t the best technically, but it might be the most joyous video I’ve ever seen. This is Des eagerly waiting a piece of chocolate birthday cake. Can you remember the last time you were SO excited, that you just couldn’t handle it?

2. An extension to question one, Apple touted this camera during the original press release feed (yes I was that crazy and watched the live feed while working the day it happened). As a professional photographer, have you used the new camera yet and what do you think of it compared to some of the heavy hitters out there, such as Canon/Nikon DLSRs (is there any comparison even)?

The Verizon sales guy said to me, “This is the only camera you will ever need. Except..you. Didn’t you say you’re a photographer?” I giggled. I half agree, though. If you don’t have a great camera or if you have an old point-and-shoot, this might be better! Even if you do have a great camera, there are just situations in life that call for the iPhone. When I go to fairs and I don’t want to carry the big one and I can easily upload and share the photos/videos? Awesome! It’s personally nice to have both. For clients, of course I use my Canon. Creamy, dreamy, bokeh, catchlights, and most of all – CONTROL.

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3. Since we both love summer and are not winter fans, but still seem to enjoy fall (yes it is definitely here), what is on your fall bucket list for this year?

I love fall! I only like spring better, because it means summer and then fall. Poor fall, leading to winter. Anyway, it’s glorious here. I definitely want to do the Frozen-themed corn maze, link HERE. I’d love to go on a foliage drive up to northern New England. October is the best month here, and that’s when my sister is getting married, so we might not do everything I want to do, but we’ll come close. I want to visit the Florence Griswold Museum to see the Wee Faerie Village Alice in Wonderland exhibit. I’d love to book fall foliage clients, although I already have quite a few set up, and weekends will run out fast.

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4. We both had a shared obsession for Robin Thicke’s song (Blurred Lines), but that was so last year. What would be your favorite song for 2014? I need a new song addiction and would love to share with you in new found music collaboration of sorts.

I was going to reply with… “Obviously, it’s Safe and Sound” but I just found out that song isn’t 2014! Like.. at all. So…I think it’s “Promise” by Tori Amos. It’s not at all pop.. as far as I know, though:

5. When I do finally someday in the future get to visit you, what would we do?

When is this happening??? I think if it’s fall, we’ll definitely do the Frozen corn maze in Vermont! And check out the beautiful New England fall foliage. Of course, I’ll bring you to my favorite cookie store, because it is just so talked about on my blog and on Facebook. If you bring the girls, I’ll have to do a photo shoot. And let them play with Scarlet’s princess stuff endlessly. I’ll have to show you this small and proud city’s wonderful downtown, and I’ll buy you a hot drink of your choice. And of course we’d talk for hours! Cassidy would make something great for dinner.

6. What do you think you would be thinking the first time we do actually meet for real?

At this point I’ve met a lot of blogging friends and with pretty much each one, it was like this: “Oh yeah. It’s you. I’ve.. known you for five years, it feels like!” There was.. no adjustment period. I showed up on Michelle’s doorstep and then met Ilene and Stephanie like it was nothing. I spotted Bev across a park and Jennifer across a parking lot while I was driving with my window open and we just instantly knew each other. I had a magical meeting with Tricia across a grassy hill and with Iva and Kristi in the dorm “lobby” of BlogU. Not to mention sitting next to Katie during a wonderful class. And Allie in a trampoline park! Sometimes I get really nervous, though! I’d either be really nervous or totally calm and I’d just.. know you.

That’s what I’d be thinking. That’s what I’ve been thinking all along.

Edited to add that I walked into Dana and Lisa’s dorm room like we were old college buddies!

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7. Ok, even though we haven’t met in person, I read your blog with ever new post, I talk to you sometimes through text multiple times a week (sometimes even daily) and yet there has to be something I don’t know about you. Can you share something about yourself that I don’t already know about you?

When I was a kid, I got something stuck up my nose and had to have it removed by a doctor.. after.. weeks.. or months. Of my three pets, I’m in love with Athena, I’m in love with Dinah, but I don’t care much for Bella. Like.. if she got a new loving home, I’d be ok. I keep her around for Scarlet’s sake but she has a terrible personality. Does that make me sound mean?

8. I know we both have had our recent moments with dealing with the mere thoughts of our kids no longer being babies anymore. In this vain, what are your hopes, fears and dreams as kids grow up.

I’m hope they’re always as happy as they are now. They are.. so happy. Right now, Des is dancing and singing and Scarlet is laughing, despite having a fever. She’s also eating raspberries and cookies, so I’m thinking the fever went down. I want them to not feel trapped in life. I want them to see the world, do what they love, and most of all – be kind and strong.

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9. How has Scarlet’s first month of Kindergarten been for her? For you?

It’s been wonderful for her. When you ask her how her day at school was, every day, she says “GREAT!” She loves music class best, and also Physical Education. She calls it “Physical Therapy” and I don’t correct her because it’s adorable as heck. She has a lovely class – of both boys and girls. I’ve gotten to know many of them. Her teacher told me she was delightful. We also stay after school a lot on the playground, while the weather still holds up, and it’s such a nice community of other school parents. As for me, I’m getting there. I still have traces of PTSD nearly every day before I pick her up. I just feel.. heart-poundy. Stomach-butterfly-like. It’s strange. I’m working through it. What else can I do? We learn. We learn together.

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10. I have one last year of pre-school with Lily and believe you have two with Des. I still am not sure how I will be with Lily starting compared to how I reacted with Emma starting Kindergarten this past fall. How do you think you will be with Des when he starts Kindergarten?

I remember a few years ago when my friends’ kids were starting kindergarten, that I felt a little smug. I felt like I still had so much time before I had to worry about it. And I did, to an extent. I guess I feel that way now. I still have three years with this wonderful boy, before worrying about full school days. I think Scarlet is hand-holding me along the way. Some people say it’s harder with the first. Others say it’s harder with the youngest. I can’t imagine it will be, to be honest. And if it is, can’t I just have another baby and prolong the inevitable? Yes. Yes, I can.

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This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “Online relationships remind people of their social experiences in high school…” Come link up with your spin on the matter: HERE.

What would you say?

5 Ways Your Family Can Plan For The Future and Live in the Present

I’ve partnered with Fidelity & MEFA in support of the U.Fund Dreams Tour. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Is it possible to enjoy the present, but also plan for the future? Of course! It just requires balance, and following these 5 smart tips. #ad #UFundDreams

One thing I’ve struggled with a lot as a parent is financial balance.

Do you struggle with that as well? It seems like every day there is something to pay for and save for, which is normal. I always wonder if I should save or spend? Or both? It seems to be a conflict because I have a desire to save for the future, and for my children’s futures, but I also have an inherent impulse to live for the present and enjoy the NOW. Not only enjoy the NOW, but I want to enjoy my hard-earned money NOW. It’s such a delicate subject. My father passed away suddenly when he was only in his 30’s, so I’ve grown up knowing that no one is promised a tomorrow. Yet, I also am hopeful for my future and for my children’s future, and I don’t want to live out my later years with limited choices. Or worse, no choices at all.

It seems like I have two different conflicting traits – that of prioritizing the future, and that of living in/for the moment. You see, if you have a plan for a financially secure future, you’re providing yourself with peace of mind and comfort – and that actually does provide instant value and gratification. Here are 5 ways your family can act NOW, to plan for a bright future.

1 – Understand your cash flow NOW. I think this is most important for my family to proceed – we have to understand what we spend now, to understand how to save for then. Analyze your current spending/saving patterns and habits as well. Isolate it in terms of what you spend a week, much less a month. Then you can catch things you may have or may spend too much on, and see the impacts of leaner weeks too. Sometimes it’s feast or famine here, but we meet somewhere in the middle.

2 – Limit your monthly bills NOW. When we bought our new car last year, we were bummed because we had JUST paid off our minivan and were in a sweet spot for a while, until the sedan broke down for good. As a two-car family, adding a new car payment was a no-brainer, but generally we have enough bills with mortgage, electricity, etc. We limit unnecessary bills.

3 – PLAN to be spontaneous. I know that sounds contradictory, but bear with me. It’s not about planning exactly what you might feel like doing two weeks from now, but it’s about leaving that possibility open. It’s about leaving wiggle room for your wild and crazy selves. Since tracking your spending so intensely can feel overwhelming, it helps to build in money that is purely for spontaneity. That way you can still be spontaneous WHEN you want to be, but with a built in cushion!

4 – Think of your financial status the way you would your health status. As in, take it seriously. The way your health needs regular check-ins and checkups, as well as maintenance, you will see how your planning/saving needs tweaking. And with your diligence, greater financial stability brings better overall health – financially and emotionally.

5 – Don’t do it alone. The world is different from when we were kids, and is changing quickly. We need to revisit our plans constantly, and make sure we’re on track. And things will change again! When making big decisions about your financial future, seek help tailored to YOUR family’s needs. MEFA’s U.Fund College Investing Plan, the Massachusetts 529 college savings plan, offers you control and flexibility as you save for your baby’s college education. You can open it up with $50 or as little as $15 if you set up automatic monthly payments. They can be used at any accredited college, and are managed by Fidelity Investments. It’s never too soon to start. Think of your short-term and long-term family goals.

Every day of every year, I’m stunned by the passage of time and the pull between enjoying my kids’ rapid development, and also wanting them to stay young and innocent longer! Luckily, we don’t have to go it alone. The The U.Fund College Investing Plan empowers us to make decisions about our family’s future, with resources available to help us better navigate this process.

How can you find out more?

We went to KidsFest at Wachusett Mountain last month and such a blast – testing our skills, eating delicious local food, and finding out more information about our future options at the U. Fund Dreams Tour Tent.

The U. Fund Dreams Tour takes place between May and October of 2017. My family attended U. Fund Dreams Tour events in 2016. 2017 has been no exception and we’re having a blast locally. The events have a large “U. Fund Dreams Tour Tent” filled with engaging discovery activities for kids to have fun with and connect. There are discovery activities intended to help parents better understand the challenges of saving for college, and they are also there to be fun and interactive for the kids. The U. Fund Dreams Tour is a fun and interactive chance to connect. It aims to bring awareness to the importance of saving for college, to offer viable solutions, and to help you on this journey of planning for the future.

MEFA’s U.Fund College Investing Plan, the Massachusetts 529 college-investing plan, is a tax-advantaged college savings plan managed by Fidelity. MEFA is a non-profit state authority that works to make higher education more accessible & affordable.

So how do you find that balance between living in the present and planning for the future?

Is it possible to enjoy the present, but also plan for the future? Of course! It just requires balance, and following these 5 smart tips. #ad #UFundDreams