One down… more to go

Mar 02

There are times when you have to celebrate the small things.

For example, I know I’ll be paying student loans off probably beyond being retired… or at least close to that time. That’s how it is when you take out a ton of loans.

Heed this advice, those of you who may just be in or going to college — avoid loans as much as possible. Work hard to get grants and scholarships. Work. Do whatever you have to do, but avoid the loans as much as possible.


Besides the normal federal loans (ie: Sallie Mae, or Navient as it is now), I took out some private loans when I went to college. And these aren’t as fun.

When I first got out of college and was working in the newspaper industry (which, for the record, pays quite awful), I paid what I could and used the forbearance card and such as much as I could.

The problem?

In February 2011, I became unemployed. I got help with the forbearance and such with the federal loans, but when it came to private, I was out of time. So the private loan people told me I had to keep paying. To the credit of them — they did work with me to get me a lower interest rate and such.

Over the past four years, I’ve paid every month. Once I gained employment again, I paid more when I could. I just kept chipping away.

Then, late last week, I got my federal tax return back. With a little portion of that, I did something I had been looking forward to doing — paying that loan off. With one click of the mouse, it was all done. Paid off and done.

I can’t lie — it’s pretty refreshing to go to the account page and see “You have loans paid in full” and a balance of “$0.00.”

It’s going to be a long time before the next ones get to that point, so for now… this is a small victory and one I am excited about having.

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Photo Blogging Challenge: March 2015’s theme is …

Mar 01

march 2015

It’s still cold where I am.

But with that winter theme out of the way, it’s time to start looking forward — and hoping for — better weather.

This month is so much bigger than that, at least with the Photo Blogging Challenge.

We turn two!

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that was possible. Two years. We’ve had some good participation (who has done every month of this challenge so far?) and in recent months are starting to see some growth.

Let’s hope that continues.

For now, we start our third year of the challenge and I am excited to keep it going. So, are you all ready? Let’s keep it going and growing!

The theme is below. But before we get to that … let me remind you of some important items:

  • I set up a Facebook group for those who are interested. Reminders and maybe some discussions or other things can be done there.
  • If you haven’t already, attempt to check out everybody’s posts and consider commenting. These challenges are great for personal growth, but it’s also nice to be interactive with all the others in the challenge! That’s one of the best parts of this challenge — interacting and seeing other people’s work!

Before we hit up this month’s theme, for new people, allow me to refresh the rules a bit.

Here’s how it will work.

  • On the first of each month (or close to it), I’ll have a blog post here with the theme for the month.
  • Over the course of the month, participants will take photos with their interpretation of the theme. On the last day of the month (or close to it), participants should  publish their blog post, which will include five photos from the month. (please don’t recycle photos from the past … the idea is to hopefully challenge you to go out and take new photos each month to interpret the theme). And please only use photos you took.
  • I’ll have a link-up thing at the end of my post so people can come and post the links to their posts so, hopefully, everybody can go go check out and comment on other posts.

There is no rule on equipment or anything. Use a cell phone. Use film. Use a point-and-shoot. Use a DSLR. It doesn’t matter. Just make sure you publish your blog post on the last day of each month, come here and link up.

It’s simple!

Your blog posts can be as simple or as in-depth as you want. I’ll likely talk a little about each photo. But if all you want to do is post photos, feel free. The idea of this is to give a small challenge and give everybody a chance to express themselves with photography, participate in a challenge and have something to blog about.

That’s it. Easy, right? So join in! Help us continue to grow this challenge by telling fellow bloggers/photographers about the challenge and hopefully it can become a great monthly thing!

For those still with me, this month’s theme is: Two I’ll be excited to see what people can come up with. This won’t be an easy one, that’s for sure. But work it out and hopefully it will be a fun one!

Let’s see what you have for this one! And let’s see if we can get some others interested in joining us! Pass along the word!

Please make sure your blog post publishes Tuesday, March 31. Then come back here and link up.

If you think you are going to take part in this, drop a comment below so we can see who all might be trying to tackle this challenge!

History of the challenge (past month’s themes – links to see everybody else’s posts are at the end of the linked post):

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Photo Blogging Challenge (February 2015): Winter

Feb 28

(Note: There is no Snapshot Saturday this week because it falls on the final day of the month, so the day for the Photo Blogging Challenge. Snapshot Saturday will return next week!)

OK, I wish I hadn’t had all the winter things I did this month.

Turns out, in our area (and many others), February was the coldest month … ever. Can you imagine? We had 20+ days where the temperatures were in like single digits or something like that.


Oh yeah — and we had a ton of snow.

Mix the two together and I am to the point where moving somewhere warm would be great. In fact, hook me up with a winning lotto ticket and I’ll be somewhere in the Bahamas during every winter going forward.

Until then … it’s time for this month’s challenge. Winter was the theme and here’s my five.

1. Winter fog

I was heading to work one day this month and I drove past this bridge — like I do three days a week. But as I looked over on this particular morning, I saw that fog and everything else and knew I needed to stop and snap a few photos.

Hamden Covered Bridge.

Hamden Covered Bridge.

2. First snow

I got my nephew/godson Cameron his first pair of LL Bean boots in the hopes of grabbing some snow shots. Turns out his first time out in the snow wasn’t so fun. This is shortly after he got some snow on his face. He wasn’t pleased. Both his parents gave the OK on using this photo, though I actually struggled with it. But, within moments, he was fine (snow wiped off) and you could see he didn’t enjoy when he got put on the ground. Maybe the boots were too heavy. But either way, hopefully he’ll get better as he gets older with the snow!

Poor Cam.

Poor Cam.

3. Courthouse Square

The Courthouse Square in my town is quite picturesque and historic. I liked the look of this image after I took it.

Winter wonderland.

Winter wonderland.

4. Happier

Cameron was OK outside with the snow as long as he wasn’t down on the ground. He seems pretty interested in watching is mother blow out a handful of snow.



 5. Snow blowin’ 

If you live anywhere that has been hit by the white stuff, you’ve probably used a snow blower a whole heap. Here’s my brother clearing some of the snow on the side of his house.

Clearing snow.

Clearing snow.

That’s my five and now it’s your turn!

If you took part in this month’s challenge, make sure to link up below. And for those of you who participated, make sure you try and get to other people’s blogs and comment (here, too!). Let’s continue to grow this challenge and have a strong community. Come back and check out the others who link later on, too!

Also, don’t forget to get back here tomorrow, March 1, to see the theme for March! It’s our two-year anniversary month!

NOTE: I set up a Facebook group for those who participate in the challenge and are interested. I’ll post any announcements there and hopefully it can be a place where things are discussed and some interaction etc. You can access it here.

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Snapshot Saturday: Feb. 21

Feb 21

Another blast from the past!

Let’s continue with the same theme as the past two weeks… here’s another!

Who am I?

Who am I?


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It’s time for you to go, Winter

Feb 18

I’m so over winter

This is something many people in the Northeast are saying in recent weeks, that’s for sure. But I look at it in a different way. It’s not just because of the mounds of snow that might not disappear until July. It’s not the arctic temperatures that are more suited for Antarctica or the North Pole than in the Northeast.


Winter might be pretty, but it gets old.

Winter might be pretty, but it gets old.

Then, why, you may ask? Well, it’s simple — I’m sick of being sick.

Allow me to count the ways I’ve been sick since the start of winter, which in my area is usually well before the Dec. 21 “official” date.

  • Common cold (usual)
  • Flu (unusual, especially considering I get a flu shot)
  • 24-hour bug (unusual)
  • Stomach bug (unusual, and it piggybacked the 24-hour bug)

One thing to notice there — I usually only get since once a year or so, and it’s usually a doozy of a common cold. It’s something that will last about a full week and usually follows the same pattern. This year has been different.

The last two happened over the past weekend and forced me to burn a sick day. I’m actually writing this during that sick day, covered up on a recliner with my “writing” laptop. I’ve barely been on a computer since this past Friday night, so I’m trying to catch up on e-mails and other things.

Oh yeah, and it’s still bitterly cold out, though it’s been nice to peek outside and see sun and blue skies the past two days. I know better though — that’s just enough to pull you outside and then you freeze your tush off.

By the time this publishes, I’ll be back to work — thankfully.

For those who know me, I’m not much for taking sick days. At my previous job, I rarely took one, despite knowing I should at certain times. I felt guilty, even though me being there was probably worse than me not being there. Maybe it is how things were instilled in me.

Remember last year? That’s when I had the foot saga and had surgeries and such. I felt guilty taking sick days. I still do. But, with this week being a vacation week for the places I work (at least for students and teachers), I figured it wasn’t so bad if I called in sick when I actually needed that day. I’ve been exhausted!

What stinks about this whole bout is that I didn’t have the desire to be near a computer, let alone blog. That meant nothing up for the past few days, which is fine. Alas, it also broke a streak as I had posted something daily since late November. Now, it’s time to get back to the grind and get on another streak! Probably next week, though, as I might not be every day this week as I still get my “legs” back under me.

But, back to my original point — it’s time for winter to go. In my area, February traditionally seems to be our “harsh” month. Hopefully that holds true and March brings the upward trend of no snow and better temperatures. Allow this snow to slowly (we don’t need spring weather and rain or we’ll see some serious flooding in some areas) go away and the spring bloom to come to us… I think we’ve (and many parts of the Northeast) have earned it.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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Snapshot Saturday: Feb. 14

Feb 14

Another blast from the past!

I am battling some sort of cold, so this one is late. Don’t think I’ve used this one, so I’m going with the theme I started last week. Who is this little guy?

Name me!

Name me!


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Living with Diabetes: Up and down

Feb 13

It’s been a while since I wrote one of these, so I wanted to give a quick update, especially considering my plan was to do at least one of these on a monthly basis.

I had a run over a couple of months where I got a little annoyed. I thought I was doing OK, but every morning, I’d be high. Usually in the 150s-170s range.


The rest of the time would be fine. From about Nov. 16-Jan. 16, and only counting days when I was up at my work time, I was in my “range” like 12 times.

That’s not good.

The rest of the time – in other words, lunch, dinner, night etc. – was fine. And it annoyed me. My A1C went up ever so slightly (5.7 to 6.1), so my doctor wasn’t ultra concerned. He explained a few things to me and gave me some ideas to try.

Those didn’t work, either.

Frustrating as it was, I didn’t give in. Then February came.

As part of my Day Zero Project, one of my goals was to give up soda for a month. Now, I don’t drink regular soda. It’s diet only. I didn’t realize that it could do something to me. And… maybe I’m wrong, but this is a coincidence.

In February? I was a tad high from Feb. 3-5, and then on the 12th. But that one, I can explain. I know what I did the night before. All other days have been solid. My other numbers have gone down, too. In fact, since all of this, my average has dropped some and my ratio has vastly improved (115 average, 90 percent in range/10 percent out).

So is it the diet soda? Possibly so.

One thing that’s good about this is the lack of missing the soda. I’ve been fine with it and if my numbers are going to be like this, I have no issue eaving it out.


I try it at different times. I used to have one with my night snack, so mixing it all together might have done it. But that will come in time. First, I have to finish February without having a soda, then I’ll worry from there.

But on a good note, I’ve been feeling pretty good, so that’s a step in the right direction. This is a lifetime thing and there will be steps back and steps forward. Hopefully this remains a big step forward.

Feel free to leave a comment, or e-mail P.J. at hoohaablog [at] Also, please “Like” HooHaa Blog on Facebook!

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