Preparing for Another Move

So Hubby and I are working away on Goal#2 for TwentyTwelve.  I am knee deep in house hunting mud.  I admit, I have dreamed of this time for years, YEARS, yet now I'm impatient and frustrated.  We have SO much to learn.  I'm not completely clueless, thanks to HGTV, home bloggers, and the internet.  I've also mentioned my addiction to Zillow, previously.  However, I still feel like a First Year Student wondering what I've gotten myself into!

This past weekend we had a couple of good learning experiences.  Hubby and I went to see a house in our current neighborhood.  The pictures online showed an updated kitchen and clean house.  After driving by, we noticed it was one block from a lovely park with playground.  Additionally, it was 5-6 blocks from the beach.  Oh, and in our price range.  Well, the showing was a disaster.  It was a multi-level house.  The railings were wide (my two year old could walk thru them) and plentiful.  There was an indoor balcony over the living room (WTH??) off the master and a small balcony outside.  Outside was a nice large deck, however, we noticed some places were rotting.  Toward the end of the showing, Handsome tripped and bumped into a door frame.  He would not calm down.  We ended up leaving shortly afterwards.  He cried for about an hour.
  • We learned we need to see more houses.  Online pictures are not sufficient.
  • Childcare is a necessity if Hubby and I want to see houses together.
  • Think of resale when you are buying.  If the seller is having difficulty convincing you, are you going to have the same issue when you sell? 
A few days later, I meet with a Buyer's Agent suggested to me by our mortgage lender.  (alone while hubby kept the kiddos)  She answered questions, asked me a few, then took me out to look at some developments.  We toured a few custom homes being built and she discussed building as an option.  Honestly, hubby and I haven't even thought about building, especially a custom build.  We didn't think it was in our price range.  She showed me places farther away from the ocean, but in a wooded area on a lake.  It was still quiet and beautiful, and 10-15 minutes from the beach.  The afternoon was overwhelming with information.  That evening, I drove through the areas to show Hubby. 
  • Branching out your search with a professional allows you to learn of more options.
  • Driving through neighborhoods is a vital starting place to see where you want to live.
While I've been waiting for this time for ages, I wasn't prepared for the stress level and information overload.   It's a lot to process at once.  Finding the perfect house for your family is a daunting task; one that I am excited to take on.


Long week

I don't have anything inspiring to share this week.  No new recipe, decor, or precious picture of my kiddos.  Its been kinda boring around here.  I've been working all week and trying to survive the stress/anxiety/stomach bugs that come with my job.  Its zapped the energy out of me.  I started blogging for several reasons, one of them being to serve as a creative outlet.  I'm struggling with that.

This week hubby and I took a step toward a goal of ours, one of home-ownership.  We got pre-approved for a mortgage.  Now, that's not really a huge step, but it has caused us to seriously ponder our next steps for our family.  What is it we really want out of life?  A beautiful spacious home for family and guests?  A small place close to the sea?  How important is it to pay off our debt quickly?  How long to I want to work full-time?  Unfortunately, I can't have these things at the same time.  We have to prioritize and make choices.  I don't like making decisions.  I'm afraid I will make the wrong one.

I once had a pastor say, "Sometimes, you have to say 'no' to the good things in order to say 'yes' to the great things".  How do you know what's good and what's great?  Hubby and I are praying for some great things.  I think I will always be afraid to make the wrong decision, but I pray that I won't let it paralyze me.

We've toured a few new home communities, and one resale house.  Hopefully, we will meet with a realtor next week.  I have been dreaming about this for years, and while it's exciting that it is actually happening, it's terrifying as well.  I've spent waaay too much time on Zillow, and Realtor.com.  Although, I have found a new blog to read Hooked on Houses.  It's a fun read.   You should check it out.


January Birchbox

Another month, another lovely surprise! 

I really treasure opening these boxes.  I'm really like a giddy little girl.  Perhaps its a bit silly, but sometimes its the silly things that brighten our day.

Now, I realize this pictures aren't the best.  They were snapped on my phone, and its not even a fancy iphone.

Five goodies came this month (six if you count the Birchbox logo magnets)

  • Borghese: lovely moisturizer enhancer.  Its supposed to help your moisturizer work better.  Maybe that goes without saying?
  • Stila:  waterproof eyeliner in peacock.  I'm not one to normally wear bright eyeliner, but this blue/green shade did make my eyes appear brighter.  Plus, its a nice, smooth eyeliner, goes on easy and its twists to sharpen.
  • LaraBar.   coconut cream pie fruit and nut bar.  It was surprisingly yummy, I don't normally like these sort of things.
  • Juicy Couture:  Viva la Juicy perfume.  A bright floral/fruity/sweet scent.  My Princess loves it.
  • Jouer:  body butter in an intoxicating scent.  It smells of gardenia, jasmine, and honeysuckle.  I haven't found a Jouer product I don't love.  In other words, I heart this lotion.
And that's my monthly box!  I adore the tiny pink package and the delight it brings.  Have you tried it yet?  (read about past boxes if you are interested here, here, and here.  And more info here.)

Birchbox has no idea who I am, I just love this product.


Queen City

Last week, we took a much needed vacation.  I had lofty goals of photo documentation, but I fell flat on my face.  I didn't take a single picture.  Nevertheless, I had loads of fun and feel well rested.  Even if I can't prove it.

We started off by driving my kiddos to my parents house three hours away.  My brother and sister-in-law were to meet us there.  Hubby and I left the kids in in their care while we drove on to Charlotte.  We had booked a hotel for two! nights.  I had dreams of lounging in bed and ordering room service.  Basically, I wanted to be lazy.  Did I mention we were also celebrating our anniversary?  (seven)  Hubby wouldn't let me book the Ritz-Carlton so he found a room in a Hilton.  One freeway exit away from Ikea.  That's right, the highlight of our anniversary vacation was a trip to Ikea.

This was our first trip to Ikea together.  While we really didn't need anything, we did set a cash budget ahead of time in case we found something we were unable to live with out.  Like most people, we have a list of furniture items we are on the lookout for.  Ours includes a desk chair, coffee table and end/occasional table.  I also wanted another Rens sheepskin.

I'm not really sure how much time was spent at Ikea.  Maybe two hours.  We browsed to our hearts content in the showroom, picked apart the living room organization centers, lusted after the kitchens, and found a desk chair!  (luckily, it was intended as a dining room chair and therefore not ugly)  Then, we took a break for meatballs and chocolate cake.  Yum.  Of course the downstairs received its fair share of attention.  I picked up my sheepskin and two clothes drawer organizers.  We shall see if the Princess will leave them in her dresser.  I also picked up two junior chairs for the kiddos.  They are white molded plastic and much easier to wipe clean than our existing wood dining chairs.  We even came in under budget!

After Ikea, we browsed an outlet mall.  Its floor and paint job made my eyes bleed, but we got more exercise so I guess it was worth it.  Another highlight was the two hour nap I got to take on our king size bed.  Delicious sleep.  And afterwards, a romantic dinner in a trendy sushi restaurant.  We haven't been out for sushi since we moved to the beach!  Isn't that ridiculous?  We were waaay over due.

Hmm...what else am I missing?  We made a trip to West Elm our first night.  It. Was. Awesome.  Except for the part about Hubby saying their furniture doesn't match my design style in our house.  He missed the point of me wanting to replace MY furniture with THEIR furniture.  I did get a few decor items, two small clocks (silver and green), a beautiful cereal bowl to hold my jewelry, and a lovely mug with a heart on it.  And we bought a rice cooker from Target.  I guess you  could say we are no longer newlyweds.

Oh?  And the kids?  They spent three days of bliss with Grandma.  And by bliss, I mean Princess doesn't like dogs and Grandma has one, and my brother brought his, so Princess spent three days in tears with her hands over her ears.  We thought she would warm up to them.  Apparently not.  This means I've already blown my Mother of the Year award and its only January.  Plus, there goes Hubby's plans to get a dog for his birthday.  Darn.

What did you do last weekend?  Anyone else terrified of dogs or used to be and can tell me the secret of how to get over it?


Pretty Hairpin Tutorial

Like most of my good ideas, I'm pretty sure this one came from pinterest, although I didn't pin it at the time and my subsequent searches have been unsuccessful.  It's a pretty basic idea, just paint bobby pins.  I chose to use nail polish because its the only kind of paint I have lying around in multiple colors, plus it dries quickly.  So here ya go:



It's hard to believe seven years have past.  Time is an odd thing, on one hand it feels like yesterday I was shivering in the cold eagerly awaiting my walk down the aisle; and on the other its seems I've known you all my life.  Despite my memory trying to play tricks on me, I do know one thing; I can't imagine my life without you.

Eight years ago I prayed for my future husband, that God would bring him to me when He thought was right.  I'm very thankful for you.

Seven years ago we made a vow to each other for better or worse.

You were my whirlwind romance, the love I wasn't expecting, my best friend I needed.  You are my partner, the father of our children, my balance in life.  I adore you, my love.  I am grateful for the last seven years and eagerly anticipate the next one.   Happy Anniversary.


Wheely Bugs

Have you heard of or seen Wheely Bugs?  Hubby and I saw them in a toy store a year or two ago.  We thought they would be an awesome present once the kiddos got a bit bigger.  Well, we forgot about them.  Lately, Handsome has been sitting on all his trucks, trying to ride on them.  Princess has tried and failed as well.  The Wheely Bugs came rushing back to memory.  I looked them up and found a good deal on Amazon.com. 


Shower Fresh

So three months ago I spied a pin on pinterest that I had to do.  I mean, I had to do.  It was easy, inexpensive, and all the while I kept thinking "why hadn't I thought of that".

I absolutely adore the two shower curtains.  It frames the tub quite nicely, don't you agree?  And while I don't really dig the starburst mirror trend, I think it looks smart here.  Of course, this shower really isn't functional and I couldn't pull off the mirror-in-the-tub look, but I can easily recreate the two shower curtain style.


Shoe Delight

Its no real secret I love shoes.  Most women do.  But like many, my shoe habit has been put on hold while outfitting small kiddos.  So for Christmas this year, I asked for shoes.  You may remember my birthday wishlist, well, the ballet flats made the Christmas list, too.  Luckily, I have a JCrew Factory store nearby, two actually.  While I dreamed about the suede shoes I saw online, I thought I should pay a visit to a store to determine my size prior to making the important purchase.  I was in luck!  The local Factory store had suede ballet flats!  And on sale for 1/3 the price of the ones online!  Now, they aren't exactly the same color, but I was happy just the same.  So yes, I bought my own Christmas present, wrapped it, and waited in anticipation for the Big Day so I could wear them.


twenty twelve

I have a ton of goals.  If I think about them too much, I get overwhelmed.  Sometimes, goals are frustrating because you can't always do much about them right away.  I suppose those are technically called "long term goals".  Last year, I was able to mark off some long term goals (moving!) so its time to re-evaluate and make more.  Tis the season, right?

get out of debt.  Specifically, pay off credit card and a private student loan.  Its embarrassing to admit I carry a credit card balance.  However, I've already made the baby step of not using it and not carrying it with me.  We paid off two (small) student loans and a credit card last year, so its time to step it up to the larger balances.  I'm excited to see how fast it can be knocked out know that I can almost triple the minimum payment.

buy a house.   Ok, so this has been a long term goal for sometime now.  Hopefully, we can actually make it happen this summer.  Once our taxes are completed and we have a better idea of our down payment, its off to the bank to get pre-approved, then house hunting!

manage budget.   More precisely, track personal and food spending better.  I've discovered my online banking service has budgeting tools and more pie charts then I know what to do with.  The past few months I've learned our "personal" and "food" budgets can vary widely and really make or break staying on track with our money plans.  I'd like to come up with a more realistic expectation for the budget and an improved plan for staying on track.

improve balance between work and home.  Is this on everyone's list?  So this is probably the goal of a lifetime, but seriously, I have some work do be done here.  I want to leave work on time two days out of the week, but obviously I need to have my act together at work.  Its all about prioritizing and time management.

have more quality family time.  Another no brainer, I know.  Dates with my kiddos, dates with my hubby, and turning off the computer while the kids are awake are how I planning on making this one come true.  (anyone have any ideas for inexpensive kiddo dates?  let me know in the comments)

really find a church.  enough said.  well, maybe except we need to attend said church and get involved.  seriously, we need friends.

make time for personal fitness.  walks on the beach are easy when its 80 degrees and sunny.  not so much when its 45, windy, and the sun sets at 5pm.  I should probably invest in a windbreaker and work on leaving my job while its still daylight.  Or push this one to the back burner until spring.

See how I get overwhelmed with goals?  I didn't even really include my long term ones.  Or the ones like "buy a pair of Frye boots".  Maybe next year.


this is life

I don't know about you, but this holiday season has been extra crazy.  I normally love to write up posts, however, I am really struggling to find time to fit everything required of me into 24 hours.  Unfortunately, this blog has had to take the back burner.  I am hoping life will return to some normalcy the next few weeks and I can maintain some sort of regular schedule.  Until then, here is a "normal" family picture for us.  I hope you enjoy it!

Christmas 2011