Friday, January 27, 2012

Happy birthday Justin!

In about 2.5 seconds you will understand the irony of the title of this post. Both the happy part and the fact that there is a birthday element involved. You see on January 25, I was 2 days into my new job and while it was going fabulous, I was just having one of those "off" days. Happens to the best of us, I guess. I'd already managed to lose my debit card somewhere and was just all kinds of out of place that day. So at around 5pm that night, I went to the gym to pick up Justin's truck to run a few last minute birthday errands (we had carpooled that day as my neighbor was borrowing my car).

Well, the particular garage that we park in has giant poles that line the interior of the garage separating the two ways of traffic. I'd like to say that some asshole was parked ridiculously bad jutting out to where I had about 3 inches in a GIANT truck to squeeze between a pole. This is quite true, however, I still made an error in judgement. I managed to miss the car but I did not miss the pole and the poor truck met the pole in quite a profound and direct way. On Justin's birthday. Happy birthday honey? 

In my defense, yes the truck is a freaking boat compared to the mini BUT I still managed to do quite a bit of damage on the poor truck. And then I had to call Justin to tell him of his not really awesome birthday present. Pictures are the proof: 

Nice yellow stripe and pole indent... check.

And one more shot... whoops. It actually is bad enough to where it is going to make the most sense to submit an insurance claim to get it fixed. 

Luckily, I have quite the patient and nice husband who was really very kind about it all. And in truth, it IS just a car that can be fixed but that doesn't make me feel like less of a shmuck. 

Once I picked him up from work and had swapped out the damaged truck with my little car I knew I wouldn't wreck, I made him a Thai dinner and we just had dinner and did a few presents at home (we'd celebrated the previous weekend with his family in a more elaborate celebration). 

I had grand plans of making a cool cake that night but I was too flustered by the pole incident so cupcakes sufficed. And no, I did not make these.

The birthday boy with his cupcakes and birthday presents (minus the little gift on this truck). Love this guy (and happy birthday honey- I promise to not run your truck into anything else!)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snow day, er, week!

So this week has been much more R&R than anticipated as we've essentially been trapped for 3 days in our house due to an insane snow system that came through Seattle. 

It all started on Sunday, see above. Don't laugh...this was just the beginning. Over the course of only a couple hours on Sunday, we had 3 inches of snow. It was a mess. By Seattle standards, 3 inches of snow has the ability to shut down the city. Monday brought a little bit more snow but not a ton. By Tuesday, we started to get rapid amounts again around lunch. Justin and I ran to Costco and Whole foods and they were empty. It was sort of awesome to have Costco all to ourselves. 

Ashley made it in safe and sound Tuesday night before the big storm hit Wednesday. We woke up wednesday to predicted amounts of snowfall of 5-8 inches. I didn't really believe we'd get that much snow but yep, we sure did. EVERYTHING was shut down, the airport was closed, the roads were a disaster. This was snow day #1.5. We hung out, watched it snow, played games, ate.

The snow really started to accumulate (notice the black pot on the right? By the end of it all late thursday, the pot was completely invisible).

Wednesday we did decide to leave the house to go to the gym for our sanity. Justin has 4 wheel drive so we figured we could make it. We did.

No one was going in or out of our neighborhood, though. It was dead.

As were the freeways... middle of the day in a work week and the freeways were completely empty. It was sort of weird.

Thursday, we all expected things to get better. Nope. Not only did we get more SNOW, we got a massive ice storm. So Thursday actually ended up being WORSE than Wednesday as far as shutdowns and roads go. For our activity of the day to maintain our sanity, we went on a walk through the snow around Kirkland. It was pretty (and cold and slippery) but nice to get out of the house.

A picture of the ice build up... insanity.

Driving around we saw cars like this all over the road (well, at least wednesday). Justin trained a couple of clients last night and said that the roads were the worst he's ever seen them. And saw cars like this all over the road. It took him 45 minutes to go 5 miles. We are pretty lucky in that we've had our power the whole time... most people have not been so fortunate.

Today we are expected to warm up so hopefully all of this snow will met. Of course a massive rain storm is on the way which means, flooding! Ashley is really hoping things improve as it's her last full day in Seattle and she has things to do to secure a move up here... that definitely don't get done by having snow days inside the house! Cross your fingers that this is the last of the snow we see here...until next year...

Monday, January 16, 2012

2012: empowerment

So the start of 2012 has been, well, interesting. We'll call the first full week of 2012 a wash- I flew to Spokane for a client on the 3rd, then the last few days of the week no one was really working THAT hard. Plus, I had my own things to take care of.

I mentioned that my word for 2011 was passion, right? Well, the word that kept resounding in my head as we plowed full force towards 2012 was empowerment. I wasn't exactly sure why or what this meant for the year ahead but it became inherently more clear as the first couple of weeks of 2012 unfolded. 

Basically, empowerment for me this year means taking my life into my own hands and embracing whatever it hands to me. Including change that may be hard especially as I am fairly comfortable with many things in my life just as they are. 

I don't talk about work much on this blog for obvious reasons. There is a lot of confidentiality in the business that I'm in and plus, I just think that discussing work matters in a public forum can really not do much for you other than get you in trouble. That being said, I'm going to talk about work now.

Before I left for Kansas City, I had a rather serious talk with a partner at the firm I am with now. That conversation, coupled with MANY conversations I have had over the past two years with about a thousand different people led me to seriously consider my future there, or lack of. I didn't see any growth potential for where I wanted to go in my career at this firm but on the other hand, I also was very comfortable in this firm. I turned down a job offer a few months ago because I liked my staff and was comfortable with the status quo. I liked working in the same building as Justin and honestly my job was EASY. I have grown complacent and really didn't have to try very hard to do well. Frankly, I just stopped was easy and I really didn't have to care much And at the end of December, I finally admitted these truths to myself fully, even though I'd known them all along deep down. The discussion I had with the partner at my current firm centered around where I wanted to go in my career and my thoughts prevented me from fully admitting that I had a future at this firm. 

Finally accepting that myself, one thing led to another and as we rang in 2012, I resolved that this year I would be empowered to take control of my life. It's my 30th year here on this earth and I deserve to be truly fully happy and fulfilled in a career that I am good at and working with people that I respect, that I value, and that value me and what I have to offer. Currently, that was not happening. 

We got back from the Oregon coast, and with the amazing contacts that I know, I was able to get a job offer from another local firm in town that I have always admired for their integrity, for their willingness to grow people, and for their culture and reputation within the local community. They are very highly regarded in the region and my only regret is that I took so long to seek them out in this more aggressive way. Sometimes it takes a shift in focus to really do what's right and best for yourself. Pay is the same, job is the same. Growth potential is HIGHLY different as is the culture and the reputation of the firm. Big plus.

That brings us to Monday January 9th:

The alarm went off at our normal time of 4:50 am (yes, trust me, I throw up a little in my mouth every day at the audacity of this time). This was, however, anything but a normal day. It was the day that I was going to tell my current firm I would be resigning. A hard, but easy, decision if that makes any sense. Hard in the regard that I don't WANT to leave the people I know there and the comforts that I know there, easy in the regard that this IS the best decision for me and my family long term. 

I told my boss and as expected it was a big shock.  I kept getting the question, "Are you sure?" Um, yes. Not many people in this industry give notice in January, nor at the level I'm at, and certainly not to go to another public accounting firm (especially a competitor only a block away). Of course, my main priority was transitioning my clients in an easy manner and of course, not burning any bridges on the way out. As much as it was time to leave that firm, I do cherish the time I had there for many reasons. We came to the decision that, given my workload, my last day would be Friday the 13th. So, I worked the week and on Friday,  I had my last day of work at the firm I'd been with for almost 5 years. 

It was bittersweet, but really, honestly, mostly sweet. It was a relief to feel that I'm going to a better place and am not just going to be going through the motions for the next day/months/years as I've been doing. There is so much better use of my time. 

On Friday the 13th, I packed up my office, worked out at lunch one last time with Justin, and right before my exit interview, I got the above care package from the best husband. 

I then headed out to happy hour with some new colleagues. Above, a thai sangria. 

We also ordered what was called "death in the pacific" a giant skull drink that tasted pretty much like a cherry jolly rancher. 

After celebrating with friends, new and old friends and colleagues, I went home to our family- Justin, the boys, his mom, Jordan (Justin's brother), Stephanie, and baby Isla. We made a big pasta dinner for everyone and celebrated some more for the changes in Justin and I's life. 

We then spent the weekend with the boys- watching football and having a snow day on Sunday (QUITE entertaining getting them to Seattle to ride the bus home on Sunday afternoon...and even worse for them, it took them 8 hours to get home. It's normally a 2 hour drive. YUCK). 

Bonus for the next week: I don't start my new job until January 23 so I have a full week off work to relax and recharge AND my friend Ashley is flying in from Texas so I'll have time to spend with her. I think the bottom line in all of this is simply, 2012 is going to be a great year. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hawaii, day #5

August 26, 2011. Last full day on the island. Boo hoo. It was highly reminiscent of a couple of days prior where we went running first thing in the morning along the ocean, then laid by the pool all day. Later that night, we headed north to Mama's fish house, a must go to restaurant on the north shore of Maui. 

We had 6:30 reservations so we got there just in time to see our last sunset in Maui.

Gorgeous ocean. 

And another one... I think I need to move someplace like this. Ah, someday...

And an attempt at a self portrait of us before we went in to sip cocktails...and then an amazing bottle of wine followed by an even more amazing dinner. It was an incredible evening and the perfect end to a week in one of the best places (I think). Now to plan when we'll go back.... (now, please?) 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hawaii, day #4

Still plugging along with the catch up in the dead of winter from our warm retreat in August 2011. On this particular day, August 25, 2011, we decided to explore more of the island by heading east. 

First stop: the Iao needle.

This spot has some historical significance for the island of Maui as a big fight took place here hundreds of years ago. The history is almost as cool as the beauty of the  landscape.

We saw a wild chicken on the way... weird! I thought those only existed on Kauai!

Beautiful stream...

Me with the Iao Needle behind me. We got out of the house so early that we were pretty much the only people there first thing that morning. It was pretty awesome. 

Justin with the Iao needle as his backdrop. 

One more shot of got a little cold and windy up there!

We continued north along the western part of Hawaii and found a hike that we wanted to do. It was sort of desolate so we weren't really sure what we were getting ourselves into but it ended up being really cool (how's that for foreshadowing?)

We started off trekking through woods that were surprisingly like the forest we have here in Western Washington but brought out of them quickly to stumble upon this view. 

Justin with the awesome view.

So my preparedness for this hike was not awesome. I brought hiking shoes but I didn't anticipate that it was going to be as freaking HUMID as it was. So I promptly stripped down into my bikini. And hiking shoes. That's how I roll. Justin, of course, loved it. And I got about 4 million comments on the way up and down the mountain (probably all the while thinking "crazy city girl.")

We continued to hike upwards to even more awesome views. 

And finally, about 3.5-4 miles later, we reached the end of the trail. But this was an up and back so we had to go 3.5-4 miles back down. And let me tell you- the down part? It was a challenge. At the top it was so foggy that everything was wet. Meaning: massive mud. We basically slipped and slid back down to the forest part. How I didn't eat it in my white bikini and mud, I have NO idea. Justin took some great videos though of me attempting not to. It was quite entertaining. 

A couple of hours later, we were back in the car and continued our drive around the west part of Maui. It was like the drive to Hana except on the west side of the island...and not as much traffic since most people do the drive to Hana. I'd almost venture to say that made this drive so much cooler. Still beautiful views, still a crazy curvy, narrow, steep road but you had it basically all to yourself. 

...and you got to see more of the "local" areas. This was a cattle ranch. If I was someone that had cows, this is where I'd want to raise them, hands down.

Gorgeous view right before we came upon a little village where we bought maybe the BEST banana bread I've ever had in my life. AMAZING.

And some more gorgeous views of the coastline. 

We eventually made it around the island and stopped in Lahina again where we had a late lunch at Kimos right on the water. 

And of course, we were total tourists who ordered a giant coconut with fruity drink inside. We then headed back to the east side of the island to our little "home" and had more tofu for dinner (a la the dinner from a couple of nights before) and enjoyed another spectacular sunset from our porch. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Hawaii 2011, day #3

August 24, 2011... a long while ago but it's nice to reflect on a warmer time as I'm currently freezing my ass off. So, the third day in Hawaii, we deemed as a beach day. We got up, went on a hot, sweaty run by the ocean, lounged around, and headed straight to the pool for the better part of the rest of the morning and afternoon. 

It was perfect. Nothing better than relaxing by the pool. We both decided we are not huge fans of the ocean so this was fabulous.

Later that day we headed to the west side of the island to Lahina. We spent a good hour or two walking around historic downtown Lahina. Such a cute little town.

An old historic landmark in Lahina... I love that kind of stuff. 

After exploring Lahina, we made our way back to the Feast at Lele, a luau we were going to that night right in Lahina. I've been to it a couple of times and it is amazing. 

Waiting for the luau to start.

Our cocktails at the beginning of the luau.

The beginnings of yet another gorgeous sunset in Hawaii.

Justin and some taro chips at our front row seats at the luau.

More mai tais.

Continued beautiful sunset.

Our "congratulations" dessert plate as we told our waiter we'd just gotten married. Still an awesome luau, still an unbelievable day in the tropics.