We started 2014 by going to the Rose Bowl Parade.
2014 was a good year! Now it is time to talk about 2015. There has been a trend for people lately to dis New Years resolutions. I guess if you have no plan on keeping any of your goals that is an OK thing to do, but I have found goals to be an effective way of keeping myself on track and reaching new milestones. I think it is good to reflect on where you have been and where you are going.
If your wondering about the title, yes, I (John) know it is reversed, but I like being upbeat. Who wants to end with something ugly? Most of this is going to be about me (John) but I plan on adding a little bit Denise and AJ gave me.
This year was not a good year weight wise. In 2013 I (John) zealously tracked every bit of food I ate and I was even starting to add in a lot of vegetables. This year I got a little stressed out about a few things and I developed a really bad chocolate habit. I was really bad about tracking my calories in 2014. I think I ate chocolate almost every day this year. I also didn’t move that much. I only ran two 5Ks this year and looking at my run log I didn’t really do much distance over 6 miles. The result of all that stagnation is that I currently weigh 255 lbs.
In May AJ and John went on a trip out to Hollywood.
Gaining 55 pounds in one year is not good. It needs to be stopped and quickly reversed. Luckily for me this is something I have already done before so I know what to do to go back to where I belong. For this year I have already signed up for the Fontana Days Half Marathon and I am currently in week 2 of training. The miles at this point are low, last week I only did 6 miles total of running and this week will probably be the same. The training plan slowly builds up the length and intensity. By June I think I can lose about 25 pounds and I think a 2 hr. 45 min half marathon is possible. That would put me at a 12:35 pace, not my fastest ever, but this is not about pace. This is about health. I am also limiting the amount of chocolate I plan to consume this year (if you think I am giving it up your crazy). I bought a pick package of full size candy bars and when I hit my goals I will be rewarding myself with a sweet treat. I renewed my subscription to loseit.com, it is a calorie tracking site. There are lots of ways to lose weight but this is the only thing I have found that has worked for me.
Denise said that for her ugly was being out of shape. She is tracking her weight and says that one of her goals for the new year is to run a sub 40 min. 5K (3.1 miles). She says that she is going to try to track her eating and include more vegetables.
There were some tragedies that happened this year. Those were kind of out of our control this year so we don’t really count things out of our control as bad. Yes, we would rather they not have happened, but it doesn’t really help you to dwell on things that are out of your control. Things to us are bad when something you could have done didn’t happen and as a result of the inaction you suffered a loss.
AJ with his reading award.
Bad things for me (John) this year were not reading enough and/or studying. Both Denise and AJ were great readers, but I can’t remember any really good book I read this year. Which is sad because I like reading. I went to the library earlier this week and got some books, hopefully I can spend a little less time on a screen and more on a book. Along with that I want to study more. I am more of a non-fiction reader. I am no longer in school but I do like to be constantly learning. My scripture study this year I felt was a bit sporadic. I did complete my goal to memorize all the Articles of Faith this year, but I have another goal of memorizing a book in the New Testament. I need to get on that one. I am thinking 2nd John, but there a lot of good books out there. Either way reading the bible more just can’t be a bad thing.
Denise said that her bad thing was that she was not yet translated. I (John) am not quite sure how that works out as far as a yearly goal, but when the angelic ministers come knocking out our door I am sure the three days of rest I am bound to receive will be nice (for reference of what I am talking about please see Alma 36:10 (ok, maybe it wont be that restful after all).
AJ said that it was not fun putting a Lego in his ear. Legos are fun, but they don’t belong in ears. Good lesson to learn. AJ has told us that in the new year he plans to get better with his Lego creations. He is pretty good already so it should be interesting to see what he will be able to create during the year.
AJ and Denise inspecting a cacao pod.
For me (John again) 2014 was the marked by two awesome things. Travel and money. Those things often go together, but usually it is because travel costs money. We however bucked the trend and were able to both travel and save money. In 2014, I did a lot of investing in the stock market. If you read the headlines it was doom and gloom, but I knew it wasn’t so. I know that negative headlines sell papers, but the truth was it was what stock investors call a bull market. People get frightened of the stock market because they can lose money. Yes, it is true, you can lose money. Sometimes I did that, but most of the time I didn’t, in fact most of the time I beat the market. The stuff I invested in was not boring stuff. I like penny stocks, growth stocks, utilities with high dividends. According to all the experts these are all the stocks you should avoid like the plaque, but I didn’t and it paid off really well. In April 2014 I got the paperwork that our student loans were paid in full. I can’t even begin to tell you the joy it is not to have any debts.
It is a new level of freedom I have never experienced and I want more of it. I am not completely free, I still need a job. I am very lucky to be in the job I currently have, but I am putting my finances in order to where maybe one day I will not need it. I am not saying I plan to quit my job, there is some joy in working. The world is a crazy place and you never know what it will bring and trading in the stock market has taught me that lowering your risk is a good thing. To that end I am building up a solid core of dividend paying stocks. This year I earned about $5,000 in just dividends. These are profits paid to me for being a stock holder. I don’t have to do anything other than own a stock and companies pay me ever quarter. The way I have it set up now is that the dividends are reinvested in the company. So basically there are several companies out there paying me to own more of their company (and people wonder why the rich get richer). Our current net worth is $79,776.22. Not quite the $80K I was hoping for but considering we were in debt last year being off by only a couple hundred dollars is not that bad. I think by the end of 2015 with some active portfolio management I can get that net worth up to $100K (it all about using compounding interest to your advantage).
The second good was that of travel. Travel was surprisingly cheap this year. We took two big trips this year. One was to Aguascalientes to see La Feria de San Marcos and the other was to Belize. To help save on travel we flew on lower cost airlines and stayed with friends and family. We eat a lot of street food when we travel and take a lot of public transportation (or just walk). Sadly, we currently have no plans as a family to travel. 2015 was supposed to be a family reunion year, but there are no plans for a family reunion. I (John) have made a personal goal to save up for one of my goal trips to Mt. Fuji, but that will take a while. I invited AJ along with me and he told me “Papi, Mt. Fuji is a volcano, that’s dangerous.” Yes, it is volcano, but it has been around for a few thousand years. Geologists say is due for another eruption soon (last one was in 1717), but that is a risk I will have to take. I am using some of my investment and business money to put $150 a month into a special portfolio just for this trip. I figure not this year, but by July 2016 I will have enough money to travel to Japan and climb Mt. Fuji. Assuming of course it doesn’t erupt first.
Denise said the good in 2014 was that she was very happy with her scripture study plan. She reads the scriptures and at least one general conference talk a day. Denise was very happy to go to Woodbadge (advanced Scout training) this year and has made a goal to finish her Woodbadge ticket. Which is good because if she doesn’t I am sure her Troop Guide (it isn’t John) will be bugging her. Denise finished 2014 slightly down in weight and is hoping to continue that trend.
AJ said that 2014 was good because he did good in school. He did do well there and even got a reading award. AJ likes reading and can read most books he picks up. He says he wants to improve his reading. He also has a goal to get older, which he seems to be working on every day.
We spent our New Years Eve at Knott’s Berry Farm. We have season passes for 2015.
2014 was a good year. We had lots of adventures and lots of fun. We wish you good luck in 2015. I had a friend who used to tell me “if I get up on the green side of the grass I know it is going to be good day.” Truer words were never spoken. Every day you can wake up is a great day. The Pedroza family is a family of hope. We are by no means perfect, but we try to improve the best we can.