A Highly Successful Vacation Redo!

My girls standing at Pickering Wharf in Salem, MA

I can honestly say that this most recent vacation with my girls was the best one we’ve had so far. We crammed a lot into it while still finding time to relax and best of all, we had fun! Having spent last year’s vacation in hospitals, Jaycie was eager to do things on this vacation and every day she enthusiastically asked, “What are we doing tomorrow?” She wanted every day filled with something and for a girl who admits that she’s lazy and is proud of that fact, it was an amazing thing to experience!

While the drive out was filled with the usual traffic on 495 the last hour or so, we all had a good time. The girls watched movies on my laptop and I listened to my music up front. We stopped plenty of times for leg stretches and snacks and I didn’t worry about being stuck in traffic because we were in no rush.

We arrived at the Best Western Merrimack Valley in Haverhill, MA a little after 5 p.m. and I was immediately impressed by the cleanliness of the facility and the friendliness of the staff. Our room was on the third floor and I was pleasantly surprised to find that we had our own private balcony with a sliding glass door leading out to it. Being on the top floor, the room had high, upward slanting ceilings and was very spacious. We had two queen beds and they were very comfortable with clean bedding. The room felt very homey and welcoming and I knew we’d be happy there.

Shortly after unpacking the car, the girls and I headed down the road to the 99 Restaurant. We don’t have 99’s where we live in New York, so it’s a treat going to one in New England. Although the restaurant was a little busy for a Wednesday night, we had a great waitress and got our food relatively quickly. The food was delicious and the girls devoured their food, while I took half of mine back to the hotel to eat later. It was a great first evening on our vacation.

The next morning, we headed into Newburyport for the Newburyport Whale Watch. This was what Jaycie had been most excited about and her excitement continued for the entire cruise. She loves boats and being out on the ocean and she was smiling, animated, and happy the entire time. We saw a large pod of dolphins, a sunfish called a mola mola, a couple minke whales, and a humpback whale. At one point, Jaycie was walking back and forth through the lower level of the boat checking one side and the other for whales as the narrator of the tour suggested. She’s spent most of the summer relaxing on the couch or outside swinging so watching her be so animated was almost like seeing a different child. Jordan enjoyed herself too, but was a bit more reserved in a typical 15-year-old fashion. She’d go up on the upper levels of the boat or sit inside reading the book she brought along.

We ate lunch on the boat and weren’t quite ready for dinner yet so we headed into Amesbury, MA to Friendly’s for some ice cream. Ice cream after several hours in the sun on a boat was just what we needed and we decided to just have dinner back at the hotel after picking up some groceries.

On Friday, we headed into Salem, MA because the girls had never been there. I’ve visited twice before, once in October and once in the summer, so I knew my way around pretty well. We walked the streets a bit and I took the girls to the Salem Witch Memorial and around the graveyard a little. We then ate lunch in Red’s Sandwich Shop, which was delicious! Jordan and I brought over half of our lunches with us and they were worth carrying around Salem for a bit before we returned to the car. We visited the Peabody Essex Museum just for the gift shop and to enjoy the air conditioning and then decided it was time to head back to the hotel. We ended up back at the hotel most evenings by 5 p.m. and that was fine with all of us because we were tired.

Saturday, we headed into Boston via the Oak Grove T Station and we got in shortly before lunch. Comic Con Boston was going on so we headed toward the Convention Center just to people watch. On the way there we stopped at South Station for lunch in the food court area because we could all get what we wanted and it was nice and air conditioned! We eventually reached where Comic Con was happening and sat down outside to watch people coming and going. It was fun seeing all the people dressed in costumes and trying to guess what some of them were. Jaycie didn’t quite understand why Jordan and I were so excited seeing people in costumes, but she was a trooper and made the walk for us.

After that we headed back to South Station and then took the necessary subway lines back to where we’d parked the car at Oak Grove. It was a good day to be in Boston because there had been some clouds and a nice breeze, but we were all hot and tired nonetheless. I showered once we got back to the hotel to wash the T humidity off of me and we just relaxed for the evening again.

I’d determined Sunday would be our day of not doing anything and that’s indeed what it turned out to be. We hung out at the hotel for most of the day then drove to a nearby town in New Hampshire to get Popeye’s and Long John Silver’s for dinner. We don’t have either of those chains near us so again, it was a treat for us. I got my beloved hush puppies from Long John’s while the girls got chicken and biscuits and we all ate happily back at the hotel.

Monday, we headed up to Portsmouth, NH for a bit and then drove the short ways up to Nubble Lighthouse in Maine. There’s not enough parking at the lighthouse for the endless stream of cars coming in so we ended up parking at the ice cream place up the road and walking down to the lighthouse area for a bit. We then walked back up the hill and enjoyed ridiculous large “kiddie” size ice cream dishes as a reward for our exercise.

The highlight of Tuesday was heading to Hampton Beach State Park in New Hampshire in the afternoon. The girls had a ball walking and splashing in the waves and as they both said that was their favorite part of the trip, we’ll be spending more time at the beach next summer. Actually, when I asked Jaycie what her favorite part of the day was at the end of the day she’d always say getting whatever toy I happened to buy her. When I asked Jordan what her favorite part was, she’d say not being in a hospital. So having both girls agree that the beach was the best part was quite impressive.

Although the hotel was nice, clean, conveniently located, and had a lovely indoor pool that Jaycie enjoyed, we all three agreed that next year we’re going to rent a cottage on Plum Island, MA again. It’s just nice staying in a home where I can make dinner and we can just hang out and enjoy our surroundings. I’m going to try and reserve the cottage I stayed in our first week long vacation in New England because it was on Plum Island sound and I loved watching the various birds fly overhead every morning and see the tide come in and out from the sound. As I have a whole year to save up for next summer’s trip, I know I won’t have to type my fingers off the last couple months before the trip and I won’t feel quite so pressured. Next summer sounds like a long way away considering this summer isn’t over yet, but I know it will be here sooner than we expect!

The Great New England Vacation Redo!

Humpback whale tail. Image by Newburyport Whale Watch

Humpback whale tail. Image by Newburyport Whale Watch

Every summer I take my girls on vacation to New England. This year marks our fifth year of this annual tradition. Although we’ve visited the areas of eastern Massachusetts and southeastern New Hampshire many times, there’s always something new to see and we always have interesting adventures.

Unfortunately, last year’s “adventures” were a bit more than I bargained for as Jaycie had a bout of appendicitis that had her spending almost the entire New England vacation in the hospital. She received the best care in the two hospitals she stayed in and she doesn’t remember much of the ordeal thankfully, but her older sister and I still remember. Jaycie had her appendix removed last fall and has been healthy and happy ever since, much to my relief and delight. She’s feeling perfectly fine this year as we prepare for our trip and we’re all looking forward to making new memories. 

There’s one particular memory I wish to erase from last year.  During the ultrasound in the hospital that was very painful and uncomfortable for Jaycie, she told the nurse that we were going on a whale watch later in the week. The nurse and I both knew that wasn’t going to happen and that moment broke a little crack in my heart because she wouldn’t be able to do the thing she so wanted to do. None of us really got to do what we’d wanted or planned and it was difficult for us, but I know that all that really matters is that Jaycie was properly cared for and eventually recovered.

To help undo the unpleasantness of last year’s trip, one of the first things we’re doing is going on the Newburyport Whale Watch. Jaycie loves boats so she’ll be happy even if we don’t see any whales. Being out on that boat will replace a bad memory with a good one and I’m sure everything that happens on vacation will continue to erase last year’s memories.

We’re staying in an area of Massachusetts I’ve never stayed in before but it’s close to a T station and a short drive to the coastal areas I’m familiar with. Although we were in Boston last year while Jaycie was in Boston Children’s Hospital, our visit there obviously wasn’t the fun time we’d hoped for. So our return to Boston this year will be infinitely better. We’ll make it into Salem, MA this time and wherever else we feel like venturing. 

It means so much to me as a mother to spend a full week with my daughters and I know this year’s trip will be another amazing vacation for the triumphant trio!

Clever, Crafty, and Creative Wonder!

crafty girl

Jordan painting wooden centers for my earrings.

My oldest daughter turns 15 today. Just typing that out I’m in disbelief! It seems like I just gave birth to her moments ago, but obviously that’s not the case. She’s been a blessing since the day she was born and she continues to develop into an amazing young woman.

Along with my brown hair and eyes, Jordan has inherited by artistic nature. Although in her, it’s magnified far more than the talents I possess. She’s a great painter, drawer, writer, sculptor, and musician and she’s far smarter than I was at her age, or even than I am now. She’s always on the highest honor roll in school and she uses her clever and intelligent mind in constantly evolving ways.

She loves to paint in both small and large forms and her freehand abilities with a brush astound me. She’s painted a map of her fantasy world on her bedroom walls and she’s paint quotes from favorite movies and shows that further express what makes her tick. I’ve been asking her for over a year to draw or paint some centers for my earrings and over the last couple months she’s painted several wooden centers that I’m looking forward to beading around. Her steady hand and uniquely creative mind helps her design and implement artistry that is both intricate and fun.

Jordan has also inherited my sarcasm, wit, curiosity, and sense of humor. Although really, I can’t take full credit for that that because she has her own personality and individuality. I’m happy to say that Jordan and I get along very well, which isn’t always the case with parents and children with similar personalities. I’m also very happy that she’s not like “typical” teenage girls in that she’s not interested in any of the high school drama, has no interest in boys (unlike me at her age), and is more intent on enjoying her life than getting caught up in teenage stuff. She’s mature beyond her years and I count myself extremely lucky that she’s my daughter.

Jordan makes me laugh, she makes me think, and she makes me proud to call her my daughter. She’s a wonderful older sister to Jaycie and both encourages her and keeps her on her toes. Being Jordan’s mother inspires me to be the best version of myself because that’s what she does every single day. I love my clever, crafty, and creative wonder!

Revving It Up!

blue keyboard

This past spring one of my closest friends sent me a link to an article sharing various work from home opportunities involving transcribing. One of the company’s listed was Rev. As I’ve been typing fast ever since I took keyboarding class in middle school, transcribing seemed like an interesting new avenue to explore. A highly appealing part of Rev was that they pay every Monday and for a self-employed person, that was music to my ears!

I’ve been a full-time freelance content writer since I quit my secretarial job in July 0f 2013 and while I’ve loved being able to work from home and have more time with my girls, being self-employed has its challenges. I’ve enjoyed success on several content marketplace sites but quite often I’d find myself “chasing the money” as I hoped a client would accept my work or waited for someone to buy my articles listed for sale. Reading that Rev paid for all accepted work and paid weekly was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

I went through the online application process for Rev, which involved an online grammar test followed by a test with a sample transcription file. Although I’ve been a writer for almost 30 years and am currently majoring in Communications from Southern New Hampshire University, I was still ridiculously nervous taking the grammar test. I was afraid all the rules I’ve learned over the years would fly out of my brain. Fortunately, I did fine with the grammar test and then it was on to the transcription test.

When I started the test, I was immediately impressed with the user-friendly transcription editor Rev has created. There are numerous options that make transcribing files easier and they have an online style guide that helps transcribers understand the correct formatting for Rev. I don’t remember how long it took me to do that test transcription job but I remember my hands shaking as I did it because I really wanted to pass and see what Rev was all about.

Much to my delight, Rev accepted my application and I promptly started taking a few transcription jobs during the week. I was still mostly working as a freelance content writer and was also doing all my usual jobs of being a mom, homeowner, and college student. In hindsight, I should’ve started typing more frequently for Rev much earlier because the more I transcribe, the better I become and the more money I can earn.

A few months ago, I threw myself into Rev as my full-time job because I had fallen in love with the work. I’ve transcribed so many different types of audio files and learned a lot in the process. The jobs are brief glimpses into other areas of the world and industries I previously knew nothing about. Quite often I end my day feeling like I’ve had some really interesting conversations with people until I remember that I’m just the unseen transcriber listening in. Even so, it’s helped me feel like I’m more part of the world, which is a great thing for me since I work from home and live in a rather rural area.

I started as a Rookie as all newbies to Rev do and quickly moved up to the next level of Revver and in early June, had transcribed enough minutes to become their highest level of Revver+. The amount of jobs available daily is astounding and even on light job days, I always manage to find something I can do. I’m happy to report that I’ve received the highest grade of five on almost every job I’ve submitted (one 4.5 out of 5 in 30 graded jobs isn’t bad in my opinion!) and I often get five-star reviews from customers. I do my best on every job, submit every job on time and love that they provide feedback and review opportunities.

As a writer, I view these transcription jobs as little stories that people are telling. That may sound odd when referring to conference calls, video interviews, focus group meetings, and so on, but to me they’re all people with a story to tell and information to share. My experience as a writer of fiction and nonfiction helps me format the jobs in a way that makes sense even during times when the speaker might not pause for breath through a long discussion. My job is to help them make their information shareable and searchable and I do my best to always submit quality work.

An interesting thing I’ve discovered while working for Rev is that I’m good at understanding certain accents. I credit that ability to my love of watching TV shows and movies with various accents throughout my life. While I might struggle a bit at the beginning of a job with an accent, as I continue to listen and type, it starts making sense and I barely notice the accent anymore. By the time I’m done typing the job and do my final listen through, I can usually fill in any parts I marked as inaudible during the first lesson. Learning how people speak in other areas of the world and understanding the context of the conversation helps everything make sense during the final listen through.

I can proudly say that my upcoming family vacation with my girls has been made possible in large part by my job as a Rev transcriber. I’ve been working diligently since late June to save up for this trip and I’m so proud of myself. On days that I have my girls I’ve been doing two to three jobs and on days I don’t have them I do three to five and have been working from sunrise to sunset. I feel so accomplished at the end of the day and I really love being paid reliably every Monday from Rev.

Another great part of Rev is that they keep improving their transcription editor to make it more versatile and user-friendly for Revvers. I love the ability to create my own shortcuts for commonly used words because that improves my speed and prevents my fingers tripping over words and slowing me down. I have my own transcription language now thanks to Rev and I find myself wishing their editor worked in everything I typed so I could get my messages across faster.

Rev really is an innovative and intuitive company that listens to their transcribers and their customers and I’m so grateful that I have the opportunity to work for them. Working for them has greatly improved the life of this self-employed mom and self-sufficient woman and I’m sure numerous Revvers feel as I do. So keep up the good work Rev as I hope to be Revving it up for years to come!