A Real LetterJoy Review

I find it odd. When searching for actual customer reviews and testimonials for the LetterJoy, there aren’t many.

I WONDER WHY?

If you haven’t heard about LetterJoy, it’s a subscription that sends one historic letter a week to your mail box. Their tag is something like: “History’s best letters to your door”

The boy gifted me a 3 month subscription this Christmas. When I heard what he picked out for me, I was geeked. This was going to be the gift that kept on giving, and I was eager to also get their educational letters since we homeschool.

HOWEVER… I’ve had 3 separate issues and have been given the runaround by whomever mans their FB messenger – which is where I contacted them to (hopefully) resolve my issue(s).

My general overview and review of the LETTERJOY service is: cool concept, but too many glitches, lackluster customer support, and I feel they still haven’t rectified my account situation. In short, I was awarded TWO WHOLE ADDITIONAL LETTERS “for my troubles” and still crossing my fingers, toes and eyes whilst I await their arrival!! Below is my blanket review of LetterJoy for anyone that cares to read:

Got LetterJoy as a gift. Have had 3 separate issues with my account. Since this was a gift, I contacted them through their FB messenger. My first letter arrived (late- but I figured NBD) was excited, and happy… at first. Then my second letter arrived with 2 duplicate pages. I contacted c/s- was told they wouldn’t send a replacement- that they would add a letter to the end of my subscription (after a lot of verbal run around)… ok- so incomplete letter #2 – letter #3 never even arrived. I live in a pretty big city, no inclimate weather conditions, and got ALL my other mail timely. After a lot of back and forth I was given excuses, and ambiguous solutions that I had to ask for actual clarification… more than once. SUPER FRUSTRATING. Felt like I was dealing with a bot. As it stands, I’m NOW awaiting letters #2 and #3 – which I have been advised they are resending, and then hopefully whatever else is supposed to arrive as per my gift subscription – oh and TWO whole additional letters “for my troubles” As of now, I’m definitely underwhelmed. Hopefully others haven’t had my same negative experience with their customer service. It’s a cool concept and I was totally geeked when I found out about my gift… BUT- it doesn’t feel like Christmas every week when I open my mailbox and get NOTHING!!

the B word

I used to hate the B word.

Sometimes when I use it, I get “the look”. You know that look, it’s the seemingly confused, nearly disapproving look.

I’m talking about the BUDGET.

So back in 2017 January, the boy made me reluctantly read the Dave Ramsey book, “Total Money Makeover.”

At first I read half heartedly. I knew what the premise of the book was, and I understood why I was asked to read the “good book”.

We were looking for a way to make a drastic change, and become EVEN MORE financially stable.

Now let me just say, we didn’t really have credit card debt, We had gotten that under control a long while ago, but we were rolling. By that I mean, we used a card or two, and then paid them off when the statement came in. In essence that meant we were always a month behind financially to what we were bringing in monthly. Doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it was a little bit of a crutch.

After reading the “good book”, we took a few months to plan out our actual budget. We saw where we had some “leakage”, where we could tighten up and get laser focused on creating an actual savings account.

Every little thing went onto our spreadsheet. We had weekly Sunday morning meetings, to discuss what we spent money on, addressed needs and wants and went on FINANCIAL LOCKDOWN. We actually argued over $20. But we had to get on the same page, on track and understand each other and our money.

It was difficult. Those $5 coffees really add up. Grabbing a bottled water when out shopping added to the bottom line. Ordering delivery pizza every Friday evening… that was a major change. Sure we were living a nice and comfortable life, #havingfun -but we were also making some inexpensive mistakes, that could easily be rectified.

We all got on board. Armed with this new info, we made coffee at home about 75% of the time in lieu of grabbing one out. We bought filtered water bottles and took them along when we left the house. We started grabbing a frozen pizza for our Friday nights, and only ordered out once a month- and we usually would just drive and get it. We even made sure to include a little monthly family fun money, and we each had a column to cover a little extra fun- that was tracked to the cent.

Fast forward 2 years later and we’re in 2019.

We’ve managed to financially get by while the boy took time to work on a (failed) project. There wasn’t a paycheck or funding, which made things difficult. Kiddo had an expensive dance and medical year, and we had a minor medical scare with my little old man. We got through it, a little easier, because we budget.

So 2019- what are our plans? Do we have any financial goals? Of course we do. We’re paying off my car. That means doubling and tripling up payments whenever we can throughout the year- once all the monthly bills are paid and the spreadsheet says it’s ok!

It’s become a bit of a game for me. I’m excited to see how fast we will get my SUV to PIF status. My guess is it will take to the end of 2019, as planned- with no foreseen surprises. Josh thinks we’ll do it a bit sooner than that. Either way, we’re all on board to make it happen.

Getting on a budget can be difficult and overwhelming at first. While we’re growing up as children, we rarely think about money and its value. As we enter adulthood, many of us make financial mistakes, get in over our head and are trying to figure out HOW to afford to live. Everyone is trying to keep up with each other. Then as we are actual “grown ups”, we have more added responsibilities as home owners and parents.

All of this growing up time, we really don’t have a good idea about how to treat our money, how to make it work for us in the best way possible. We get sidetracked and bamboozled by the things we think we want or need.

We get off track.

Getting back on track takes focus. It takes the desire. It means taking a good hard look at yourself, your lifestyle and your money.

I tend to treat the dolla dolla billz like our personal little money soldiers in the war of our personal finances. After some soul searching and a kickass spreadsheet or two, I’m feeling super confident and happy about the B word.

It looks good on me! 🙂

If you’re interested in my awesome spreadsheet LMK in the comments below. I’ve already shared it out to a friend or two and have helped them to get back on track.

Hello 2019

I’ve been doing some guest posting on the boy’s website, and this year 2019, I’ve decided that I should get back to my own blog.

We ported everything over to this lovely WORDPRESS site, and eventually I’ll give my blog a bit of sprucing up and some TLC. #dontgochasingwaterfalls

OK, so what’s been going on?

Just a short and sweet catch up:

Kiddo isn’t dancing, has taken up drums, and still homeschooling.

Pugs- the boys are getting older but are still alive and kicking.

the boy- new job and focusing more on his own projects. seems much happier now!

ME- fighting laziness and attempting to be more creative. Personally – I think I need to paint more. LP- need to keep her interested in homeschooling. the boy- needs more QT with me.

I’ll just say that we’re moving forward on this journey of life.

I’m focusing more on manifesting and keeping an abundance mentality, although I’d like the abundance in my thighs to diminish. LOL

More to come as I will make more of an effort to write. 🙂


Salem with my Sister


Jencation winter 2018, was very special. My little sister KT was my travel partner! She had surprised us with a visit over the summer (with my mom), and Josh mentioned how great it was to see us bonding together. This reminded me that my sister has always been a true friend, and that we hadn’t had a lot of time together over the last few years, especially since I moved to ATX. We had a lot of laughs.

I’ve always wanted to visit Salem, MA, made popular back in the late 1600’s thanks to the Salem Witch Trials. I’m all about dark and spooky. I knew how to best entice KT to come along, by promising to visit the Sam Adams Brewery in Boston. She really likes beer. (I do not.)

SHE. WAS. IN. We had about 2 months until wheels up.


Salem Wharf

We both arrived to BOS before noon, where the weather was expected to remain cold and wet throughout weekend. I bought matching scarves in our grade school tartan and greeted my lil sis with a big hug. Our adventure was about to begin!

I’m usually a planner. I tend to do a lot of research and make reservations; I think it’s a mom thing. This trip I wanted to just be a little more organic.

Boston Freedom Tour – as close as we got to Sam Adams… LOL

We spent our first afternoon wandering in the city of Boston. There’s much to do and see, one day was not nearly enough. We had a great UBER driver that clicked off the meter, took us around downtown to show us some sites, and gave us some suggestions. To get a little history lesson, we decided on a walking tour called the Freedom Trail. We didn’t consider that we’d be walking around with our luggage, in the cold and wet, but we had a lot of laughs, and got to see some great historical sites. Our guide was very nice, talkative and thorough.

FRANK!

Oh and photo opps, KT is great with photo opps.


Hello Boston, it’s thatgirljen and KT – sistercation!


We grabbed a mid-day lunch at Cheers, walked the market, then headed to the Trillium Brewery, (which had recently relocated- more walking and laughs) where our very attentive beertender found something that I actually quite enjoyed. I drank 3/4 of it! GO ME!

Growing up we never relied upon PT. Of course we took the commuter train from Boston to Salem, very budget friendly. With help, we managed to purchase tickets, went to the wrong platform, ran to the correct one with seconds to spare before the doors shut. As we sat, the train was moving!

About 45 minutes later we arrived in Salem, and walked in the dark to our hotel. Checked in, dropped bags and headed out to take in the nighttime sights and grab dinner. Note: November and winter in Salem – it’s colder and wetter, there’s not a lot of night life after 7pm.

That night we slept well. Lights out around 11pm. This night owl was pooped!

Good Morning Salem, Hello Nathaniel!

Day 2 We grabbed breakfast at a local spot, did a bit of shopping. We went to the oldest candy shop in the US. We had bought tickets for the house tour, where we learned much about the history of Salem, the people who lived there, and the tales of this city. I was super happy that there was a bit of sunshine, so we made our way to the wharf and walked along the shore. We visited another microbrewery, and had beer#2 somewhere in all of this.

This beach is too cold!

This was a BIG beer, I drank more than half!

Surprising highlight of our trip was Christmas in Salem House Tour. This 3 day tour granted us access to homes that are usually unavailable to visit any other time of the year. I loved seeing all the old homes, and KT enjoyed all the Christmas decor. A perk of the home tour, is the free trolley. We got all sorts of extra historical tidbits thanks to our sweet driver.


Retirement Plans

Our final day, more wet weather- perfect for some cemetery time, we visited the Salem Witch Memorial. We finished up in Salem at the Peabody Essex Museum. Back in Boston, we readied for our flights with one last stop at another local brewery. Beer#3

Why does this give me the feeling of being at WDW?

At the airport, one of my candles set off a TSA alarm. My bags were searched and items scanned and rescanned. When asked about my purchases, I advised them that: “We’re coming from Salem and these candles are supposed to be used for spell casting, you know, witch crafting and magical stuff like that…” I thought I was pretty funny, I got a sideways glance, a half smile from the very serious TSA Officer and then was handed my stuff.


Due to the weather, both our flights were delayed. We got to spend an extra bit of time together at the airport terminal before heading to our separate gates.

This sistercation was really great. KT was such a great travel partner, and in return I drank beers with her! Maybe we can find another place to meet up in over the next year or two!

It’s half past 2018

I haven’t felt much like writing (read that as lazy and unfocused). But I guess it’s about that time to catch things up a bit and touch base. Get pen to paper so to speak, and let the words flow. 

This summer I turned… 46. That’s more than half way to 90! I decided to grow my hair out again, and am returning to my natural color. That’s right. I’m swearing off bleaching with the 40 vol peroxide, having the gorgeous purple colored dyes, and getting back “to my roots” as they say. Oh and I have BANGS! LaPetite also took off about 15 inches of hair and is sporting a cooler layered look. 

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This summer marks some major changes in our lives. 

LP is no longer dancing, and has turned her focus to music. More specifically- playing the drums. She also has been in the kitchen a lot more after taking a cooking camp. I tend to micromanage, so I’m allowing here to just have fun and be creative, and am letting her do more on her own.

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We’ve had both of my parents visit this summer (separately of course) and a belated birthday surprise houseguest (my sister KT) so this really has been an eventful summer in many ways. These might not be the glamorous of shots, but I’m not usually one to have my camera out snapping pictures at every corner. I take mental photographs. 

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Lets see, what else… I’ve gotten back to painting. It’s been good to be creative. 

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Oh and my boys are still alive and kicking! 

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So that is about it for now. 

Momcation

The jencation has morphed into a momcation, as I tend to invite another mom I know to break away. For those who don’t know what a jencation is, it’s a vacation that I take without my family. I’m kicked out of the house for a weekend, leave for some destination without the boy and kiddo, and spend some girl time with a friend. 

Here are some of the cities I’ve visited:

10/2015 Savannah, GA-  I especially loved the overall charm of Savannah’s cobblestone streets and historic downtown buildings and the Victorian District. Delicious southern homestyle cooking, and downtown there’s beautifully manicured parklike squares every few blocks with benches to sit under old oak trees. Really just picturesque. Savannah is also the oldest city in GA, and one of the original 13 colonies.

03/2016 Austin, TX- Before moving to ATX, I took a momcation to check out the city that I was soon to call home. Stayed downtown, had lots of whiskey and tacos, and through it all, found a place to live. I realized on this mom-cation that I was moving to a bigger city from where I had grown up. Austin is the capital city of TX, and home to the University of Texas. And did I mention is the live music capital of the world and has some of the best most delicious BBQ!

08/2017 San Antonio, TX-  Do you remember the Alamo?  I stayed in the Historic (read that as haunted) Menger Hotel directly across from the Alamo site. Every night people were “ghost-hunting” throughout the halls. San Antonio has a lovely river walk, so many little shops and eateries dotted along the river. Nice cool breezes and foliage. It’s especially beautiful when lit up at night.

11/2018 Next on my list is Salem, MA! I’ll be checking out the Sam Adams Brewery in Boston, and spending the weekend in Salem, home of the Salem witch trials. I’ll be on the prowl for pubs, lobster rolls and visiting the oldest candy shop in the United States. The Boston area is has an impressive maritime history museum, and maybe some whale watching, if we’re lucky!

Feel free to comment below, I’m open for suggestions on where my next mom-cation will take me.