Thursday, September 27, 2012

Homeowner = 1 year

Yesterday was our "one year anniversary" of moving into our house!  I can't believe it's been a whole year already, where has the time gone??  I am 90% sure I haven't posted any pictures of this house.  I still don't have many, and to be honest, we haven't done much (I've been studying remember??).  I'll try to change that.  Here are a few when we first moved in:

 We haven't done a ton in here:
It's now painted a whitish/blue-- not teal
The trim is now white around the window
That crazy fan is removed (still with a hole in the ceiling--the light we want is at Home Depot and is NEVER on sale).
We are debating on what to do with the cabinets.  They will certainly be painted, the color is the question.  We'll add some sort of bar or island at some point, and granite, and a viking range (but now I'm getting way ahead of myself...).

Dining Room
All the trim is white now
And the walls are a light blue/gray
We did add curtains
 Still the same tiny table, working to fix that this winter
Still the same ugly light fixture
Still nothing on the wall
and usually mail on the shelf that I don't know what to do with.  High class.

Living Room
 One of my favorite rooms with its high ceilings and skylights!
Trim is white (notice a theme?)
Walls are light gray 
I get that these pictures the colors look okay, but trust me the walls were crying for paint.  they were in pretty rough shape.
We are going to carpet this floor to cozy it up (that's laminate on the floor anyway, not real wood like the dining/kitchen/family room)
We need new curtains/blinds
New furniture of course
This will all take a long time to happen.
Here's a shot from the other side of the room.
 Look at that!  a Picture with Paint on the walls
everything you see in this photo was free- from the curb
Except the big picture on the wall that was 50% off at Ikea and Mike now HATES it, so it will be going at some point.

Other angle-  yes that desk was free.
Also, nothing in these rooms was permanent, it is not set up the same at all.

 Now painted and filled with toys.  I hate the tile and this will be carpet too at some point.  That door leads to a gross bathroom, with a NEW sauna.  The things people spend their money on!  We'll keep the sauna, but the bathroom will need a major renovation.  You guessed in, in a long while.

Family Room
 Mid Painting-
Otherwise the same

Basically we painted the trim white and the entire house that light color.  which we will change as we work on remodeling each room to how we actually like it.  right now is the first time in the past year that we've actually had the option of doing some stuff, so we'll tackle it slowly and learn as we go.

But there's a few pics for you and happy 1 year house anniversary!

The Last Hurrah- FAR Passed

After I passed REG, I just had 1 exam left.  The entire process you dream of being on your last exam.  I was sincerely hoping that I would be extremely motivated and ready to go, but the truth was, I was bored.  Some things I did to help were:

1) Get that exam scheduled a.s.a.p.  My test date was August 6th, this was 13 months from the day I took my first exam.  I figured the "6th" had served me well before, and it would serve me well again :).

2) Line up care for my kids, so that they'd be able to be away the week before this last exam.  It's not fair to anyone when they have to be around me the week before this test.  Plus, the 3 exams I had passed, they had all been away for the week before.  The 2 that i had failed, they had been home.  Trend? I think so.

3) Study-  no brainer right?  But I had to decide if I wanted to watch all 50 hours of lectures again.  I didn't want to, oh how I didn't want to, but I did anyway.

4) Run!  I started running again-  3-4 days a week, but it really clears my mind and I needed something else besides working and studying to fill my days.  This was probably the best choice I made in the exam process.

So anyway, I got down to studying.  I started June 5th and my exam was Aug 6th, so like I mentioned I gave up my entire summer.  Honestly, by this time I was just always in a study mode.  It had been over a year, and while it wasn't easy, and was certainly not fun, it was what it was, and I just was in such a groove you couldn't get me to change.  Maybe some of that last test motivation was kicking in after all.

This time I did buy Ninja notes from Another 71.  I highly recommend them.  I read 20 pages of notes every single night before going to bed, over and over and over.  I probably read the packet 20 times at least (I had it in my ibooks so it was super handy). 

The weekend before the test, I studying 17 hours.  It was tiring.  My exam was monday morning so Sunday I made sure to only study until noon, giving my head a rest for the remainder of the day.  Monday I woke up, and went to Starbucks for coffee/oatmeal and then headed to the test.

The excellent thing about this test is that it was hard.  And it stayed HARD.  It was 4 hours of 'drain your brain', but that's what I was ready to do.  The SIMS were challenging, but I felt like I knew where to go with all of them.  Almost forgot to do one of them, I thought it was finished because I had done a very small portion of it, but then when i clicked on it, with 6 minutes left, I realized it wasn't done.  EEK, Thankfully, I was able to finish it super quick!

Honestly I walked out knowing i passed.  Or at least I had the feeling of "if I didn't pass, I have no idea what the AICPA wants from me, because I did well."

I was just so happy that now was a waiting game and nothing was on the horizon to study.

The next day I went to work and got put on a new project.  A big project.  My boss later told me he almost told me about it the week before my exam, but didn't want to overwhelm me.  That seriously may have saved me.

I found out sitting in traffic on August 21st.  Mike was driving and i was checking forums at another 71.  I saw that people with NTS's that were higher than mine were getting their scores.  I was soooo nervous, but figured it's now or never.  So I got on NASBA's website and checked.  I PASSED.  and the sweet cherry on top was that it was the highest score I had gotten on any exam.  I almost threw my phone.  I was so excited!

So that was it.  No more intense studying.  Just an ethics exam (take home-  i'm almost finished with it) and an application (also in progress).  Send it all in, give them $50 and that should be it.

AND then I got a promotion at work, and a big pay bump, so as one of my co-workers put it "you've had a really good month."

Yes.  I have, and I earned it!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Regulation Retake = Pass

This is long-  I'm sorry...

After I took my FAR exam I didn’t take any time off.  I jumped into restudying REG the next day.  I wasn’t sure how to restudy…I had 5 weeks.  Do I watch all 40 hours of lecture again?  That would probably take me 2-2.5 weeks leaving me a max of 3 weeks for MCQ’s and studying.  I didn’t think that was enough time, so I decided to rewatch the tax lectures, and just plan on reviewing the business law stuff. 

First things first, I bought Wiley Test Bank.

Second things second, I gave up coffee (!!!) and deactivated my Facebook.

Giving up coffee stunk.  People always asked, “why would you give up coffee NOW?”  But my reason was simple really.  I was burnt out by the time I got home from work, so I would make coffee to get through the evening, then I wouldn’t be able to sleep, so I would get a terrible night sleep, waking up tired and needing coffee.  Vicious cycle I tell you!  It took about 2 weeks to get off caffeine, but it ultimately was worth it.  I would have one grande half-caf Americano each Sunday morning during my regular power study session. That was it.  I probably drank 48oz of green or white tea each day as a replacement. (even as I write this I have my handy dandy tea cup right next to me).  The one benefit is that when I did have caffeine my brain would go high time and I got a ton done.  Good arsenal for exam day!

Overall, studying was better the second time around, concepts I was 50/50 on before, became extremely understandable.  Overall I had a much better grasp of the material, compared to the first time around.  I still knew Regulation was going to be tough.  REG is totally tricky with all the silly little miscellaneous tax rules, but I had much more confidence the second time around.

I made my own flashcards and this helped a ton.  A few days before my test, (my mom and dad had the kids), and Mike and I walked every night for about 90 minutes and he quizzed me on flashcards.  He of course had no idea what he was asking me, but it is a great review to have to explain the answer to someone, out loud, thinking on your feet.  I really think it helped.

And then 2 days before my Regulation retake, my FAR score showed up in my inbox.  I was still debating whether or not I should look at it, or wait until after REG.  However, having it sit there in my inbox was way too tempting.  Mike was home and said he’d check for me.  When he didn’t get back to me I knew…

It was pouring rain.  I ran through the parking lot to my car after work.  Sitting there in the rain, I opened the email.  FAR:   72    FAIL.

I cried.

The next morning my work friend showed up with candy for me (she knows me too well!)  and a nice card reminding me this wouldn’t last forever. She had been through it.  She had to retake one exam twice and another 3 times.  She knew.  Friends are good.  I forced myself to write down my feelings from that day.  Here’s what I had:

I’m pissed off.  I’ve poured my heart and soul into studying and have come up just short 2 times in a row.  Twice.   I want to throw something.  I want to slap anyone who says ‘you’re not done yet?’  I want to scream.  My brain is tired, my body is worn out.  I am exhausted both physically and mentally.  I spend hours upon hours each week sacrificing time with my husband and kids, my house is a mess, projects around the house lay undone, I don’t remember what it’s like to live without a constant cloud of stress hanging over my body. 

But then I stand up. I think about my options, and I know stopping isn’t one of them. That might be the thing that pisses me off the most.  I just can’t stop.  I have to do this.  I have to sacrifice deeper, study harder, and pour more time and energy into this.

I’m doing it for them.  For my family.  For myself.  No one said it was supposed to be easy.  In fact I knew, I knew, the opposite was true.  I knew that this was going to be the hardest thing I’ve done in my life.  I knew that I’d have to cut deep, to dig down, to give every ounce of energy I have for this goal.  I underestimated the impact it would have on others.  I underestimated the sacrifice.

But I know.  I know that if I stop pushing, then I’m afraid of finishing.  My heart is still in it.  If the passion is still there, I’m not stopping. 

I’ve succumbed to the fact that people think I’m crazy,  putting myself through such torture, and they are right.  There is a little bit crazy in there.  But somewhere along the line maybe everyone has confused comfort with happiness.  I am more engaged with the pain and misery sets in.  I can do this.

And with that, one of my favorite quotes:

Most people never get there. They're afraid or unwilling to demand enough of themselves and take the easy road, the path of least resistance. But struggling and suffering, as I now saw it, were the essence of a life worth living. If you're not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you're not constantly demanding more from yourself--expanding and learning as you go--your choosing a numb existence. Your denying yourself an extraordinary trip.”

Wow.  Nothing like some serious pushing of myself.  I tear up as I read that though.  I was so open and raw.  I had 2 days to pull it together for REG. 

I did.  The test was demanding, as it should be, but I felt good about it.  And 11 days later.  I got the sweet, sweet, news that I passed.  Here is what I wrote on that sweet day:

It seem appropriate to write down my feelings after receiving a passing score, just like I did when I received a failing FAR score.  I just found out yesterday that I passed Regulation, it was my second face off.  I am thrilled, no, I am ecstatic.  You cry when you fail and you cry when you pass, that’s just how it goes.

I think the thing that I am most in awe of is this feeling of shock, like I am somehow managing to do this.  I am working full time, being a wife, a mother to 2 preschoolers, and somehow staying on top of this studying thing.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely don’t want to make it sound easy, it’s so so hard, but I’m doing itI’m doing it suddenly I  can hardly believe what I am capable of.  That is what I’m most proud of.  I’m most proud of the fact that I ‘show up’ every day.  When people (specifically those who understand the demand associated with these tests) ask me how I do it, I tell them, I.Show.Up. I SHOW UP  DANG IT!  All those lunch hours, nights, and weekends, when THE ONLY THING  I want to do is sleep, or watch TV, or do absolutely anything brainless,  paid off because I took out those books and I gave it my all. 

I have given up so much for these tests. Time with my husband and kids, I’ve given up friends, no birthday parties, picnics, weekend get-togethers.  I’ve given up Facebook, Pinterest, blogging, internet, TV, movies.  I’ve given up coffee.  I’ve been skirting by doing what absolutely is necessary.  Is it worth it?  It absolutely is. 

I have begun to understand that sometimes, the pursuit of your goal is more important than the goal itself.  Immersing yourself so deeply, and with heartfelt intensity, continually improving, and never giving up, is fulfillment.  That is success.

3 down, one more to go.

Friday, September 7, 2012


I'll get back to the CPA blog bore soon.  I had nightmares the other night that I hadn’t actually passed.  Glad it was just a dream.  Wouldn’t be messing with that exam again! 

In other more exciting news—our campus (work campus) just built a FABULOUS five star gym and it opened up this past Tuesday.  I’ve been 3 times in the past 4 days-  2 treadmill runs, and today I did a 60 minute extreme abs and interval class over lunch.  My arms feel like jello.  It.was.fabulous.

I got back into running in June, I had to in order to pass my last exam.  What?  40 hours of work + 25 hours of studying + 1 husband + 1 three year old + 1 four year old?  Add 15-20 miles a week to the mix and you find sanity.  I had to get something else going for me other than just work and study, so running it was.  And when you have been mentally challenged over the past 12 months, the mental challenges associated with running aren’t so bad.

In other ‘news’  I found out Lululemon is pronounced loo loo lemon.  I thought it was Loo loo le mon.  I like my way better.  Am I right on this?  I am trusting google here…

How do you stay sane?


I was going to dominate FAR.  Coming off of a Regulation fail, my first time not passing one of these tests, I was bound and determined that I was going to nail this test.  I even got all gutsy and purchased the Wiley Test Bank so I no longer had to do questions out of my book with a pencil and paper, I could rock through a bunch online and then follow how many I did and what areas I was strongest it. 

Oh..FAR stands for Financial Accounting and Reporting.  In short…GAAP/IFRS/Journal Entries/Financial Statements/Government/Non Profits/Investments etc. How you ‘account’ for all that.  It’s by ‘far’ the biggest exam covering the most information.  The Yeager DVD has 50 Hours of lectures.  Put that in perspective will you…if you take a class during a semester in college, it meets once a week for what 8 or 10 weeks?  Even if you meet 3 hours a week for 10 weeks that’s 30 hours in the classroom.  50 hours of lectures is a TON.  It’s almost taking a full year course.

I did 2477 multiple choice questions (they were being tracked remember?).

This is when I ‘built up’ my study habits.  What I mean is this…you know when you start running and you can only run like 2 miles but then you just force yourself to go more and more even though it sucks, and then pretty soon 2 miles is like nothing?  That’s what I did with studying at this point.  I used to watch an hour of lectures each night…during this time I was up to 3 hours.  I would go out to Starbucks for 6 hours at a time on the weekend and hardly stand up from my chair.  I had a plan, it was all tracked out, I was flying through these lectures, complete focus, no deterring me.  FAR  is a lot of information and this was the hardest part during the studying.  When you’d finish one section you forgot what you studied 4 sections ago.  Remembering what certain things were valued at was tough, remembering the differences between IFRS (International Standards) and GAAP (U.S. Standards) got swampy, but you just keep going.  I was keeping my chin up.  I decided that I was better than this exam and it wasn’t going to beat me.

I took this test April 9th at 8:00 am.  It was the day after Easter, which was sort of dumb, because my poor family didn’t have any fun while I was stressed out and studying.  I got to the exam early, again, and got in early.  I was ready.  This was a 4 hour test and my plan was 45 minutes for each testlet and then 90 minutes for the SIMS.  I got through the first testlet in 30 minutes, the second in 25, and the third in 30 again.  That was a problem.  My testlets were easy…sad but true they were not getting harder.  They were embarrassingly easy (Note: if you are taking the CPA exams and you don’t know if your testlets are getting easier—they probably aren’t.  you will know.)  Please just let me out of this exam! I tried not to think about it and went on to the SIMS.  I felt good about the SIMS, or as good as one can feel when getting beat up, no really they were okay.  Nothing about these tests are easy, so these were not any different, but I felt like I did okay with what I was given. I left the testing center feeling numb.  I just wanted to be alone, but I had a husband and 2 kids at home.  All I wanted to go do was watch Hart of Dixie reruns and eat junk food.  It didn’t happen. 

I had REG rescheduled for May 11th and had to get started on restudying that right away.  My plan was to have passed this test and then take REG in May and then still have my summer.  No studying during the summer, what a dream.  Luck would have it I would find out this FAR score 2 days before my REG retake.  To look or not to look before the test, that was the question?

Next up- REG restudy and waiting for FAR Score.