Monday, March 27, 2006

We're on our way

Home ownership here we come!

After 3 days, 30+ houses, and 2 bid attempts on houses, I think we have a keeper.

We left our house at 5:30 Friday morning and parked in the long term parking. We rented a car, which was an ordeal in and of itself. Since we're not yet 25 (I'm only 2 weeks away!) we had extra fees that were actually MORE expensive than the car rental itself. After the car rental, the penalty for being "under age", and insurance, we paid almost $300 for the 3 days. Yikes.

The drive through Dallas toward Mckinney was interesting. I think Dallas itself looks like a 70's version of a "futuristic" city. You know, something out of Tomorrow Land in Disneyland. It was pretty flat and barren looking with buildings jutting out all over. There were roads raised and curving over top other roads. I actually thought McKinney was very nice when we actually drove through town. I'm happy about that.

Our realtors were a great husband and wife team. They were wonderfully hospitable and had the great southern drawl. They did everything in their power to get us a house we wanted, and they were very concerned about us. We saw probably 15 houses that first day and thought we'd found one we were willing to bid on. (It was actually almost exactly like the house we're getting, but brand new.) The woman who'd had it built had two extensions on her closure date and Friday was supposed to be her very last day before he put it on the market again. At 5 PM he told us she hadn't signed so the house was open to us. The next morning we found out that her mortgage company called and said they were working it out with her and she'd sign on Monday. So, that was out.

We looked at about 12 more houses Saturday and found one we loved. It had a great kitchen with good cabinets. It had a HUGE master bath with a jetted tub. also had a sprinkler system and was within walking distance of an elementary and high school. We decided to move on this one fast. We went back to their office and started the bid process. About 5 minutes before we faxed in our bid, we were informed someone else bid on the property. So we changed around the numbers and put our highest bid in hopes we'd out bid them. The bids must have been close because it took the seller an hour to decide who he was going with. We were outbid. We found that out at 9 PM Saturday, so if we were going to have a house, Sunday it would be.

We ended up going to the 9 AM sacrament meeting and hit the houses again at 10:30. We had 3 houses left we'd consider. Unfortunately, we found out that 1 had sold the day before and 1 was being sold at the very minute we drove up.

That left one. This cute house is 1504 ft/sq

We went back to make sure it would work for us and decided it would do just fine.

I love the bead board cupboards

And the only thing I'd want to add in the kitchen is some sort of back splash.

The master and two bedrooms are pretty roomy.

It has a cute little fire place...

The other nice things about this place are:
  1. It's only a mile to Raytheon
  2. It's in a fairly new yet still established neighborhood
  3. The yard is very large and we'll probably end up taking out a little grass and making a garden. Our lot is about 2x's the size of the houses near us.
  4. The previous owners seem to be very clean (though they have indoor animals...) and everything's in as good of shape as could be hoped for
  5. The price was pretty good and we're able to roll the closing costs into the mortgage so we don't have to pay them up front. (135K after all is said and done)
  6. They were fine with our close date.
  7. BEST OF ALL (well, not really best, but it did make a big difference to me) IT DIDN'T HAVE THE UGLY SHELL SINKS that almost every other house had. I don't know who made the decision that this was in! I personally think it will be hard to resell that in a couple of years.
He graduates April 27-28. The packers will come on May 3rd (our 3rd anniversary and second move on our anniversary). We'll clean the house on May 4th, and fly out on May 5th to sign the closing papers. I can't believe it's only one month away! Hooray! It's really exciting to me to move onto something new. We've been in Provo 7 years now and I think it's time to exit.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Bee

"The word is 'trouble.'"

The synapses in my little second grade mind were firing away making connections with words I knew I knew. "Trouble rhymes with bubble and I know how to spell bubble. Yes! I know how to spell this one. This one's easy."

"TROUBLE," I said confidently. "T-R-U-B-B-L-E. Trouble"


Walking away I distinctly remember thinking "This language is messed up."

Despite my early encounter with the frustrations of English spelling, English was actually one of my best subjects growing up. I enjoy writing, and I love reading even more. I always received good grades on spelling tests because I could memorize fairly well. It's unfortunate my memorization retention was not super. I think I love and rely on spell check too much anymore. I've definitely become lazier and lazier about spelling as the years go by.

Because I minored in Spanish, I had the opportunity to learn a language in my adult years from scratch. After doing so, my loathing of English spelling, conjugation, and grammar has increased. I've decided that we should just throw out all the old spelling rules and create new rules with few to no exceptions. We could call the language "American." We'd speak the same, but the spelling would reflect the actual pronunciation.

I guess it's too bad that pronunciation varies from state to state and region to region. It wouldn't do, I guess to spell "oil" "erl" just because my grandma pronounced it that way. (Not "Far," my grandpa said as he was helping me with my 4th grade rock collection. "Far agate. No, no. Not far, far. F-I-R-E...far. If you're going to spell it, spell it right." Maybe I should have said, "But Grandpa, if you're going to say it, say it right!" No, that would have been a bit too cheeky.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Wikipedia correction

If any of you were stymied by my link to wickipedia, yes, I linked you to the wrong page. I was going too quickly. This is the real link. Sorry. =)

Home buying 101

The count down has begun. In 3 days we're flying to TX to look at houses. We're hoping to find something this weekend, but if not we're probably just going to rent for a couple of months while we still look. We don't want to buy something out of desperation. I think we should be able to find something, seeing as though I have 26 possible homes on my list. Those homes range from 120K-140K and 1450 sq. feet to 2100 sq. feet. Most of them were built in the last 6 years.

It's a little scary making this jump into such a huge commitment. We don't know how long we'll be there or anything. We know we'll be there for at least 2 years, but after that who knows?

One of the things I've had to learn the most about is the mortgage and all that that entails. There are so many different options, I have a hard time staying on top of it all. I think right now I'm leaning toward a 7 year ARM. If we have 1 point down, our interest rate would be 5.9% for 7 years and then we could refinance (without penalties) or the interest rate could change once a year for the next 23 years. The 30 year fixed would be a rate of 6.408 with 1 point down. Anyone know if this is high? We're locked into this rate right now for 90 days and we'll have one chance to float down to a lower interest rate if it ever drops. That means, once we start the actual house buying process I'll have to call every day to see what the interest rates are. A bit annoying, but what can you do?

Also, anyone have suggestions on:
1. size/type of home
2. loans and mortgages
3. anything else you didn't think of but would have liked to know when you were buying

Monday, March 20, 2006

Mi esposo travieso

Translation: My mischievous husband

He's always been kind of mischievous. When he was still living at home, he strung up a huge fake spider in his sister's bedroom to illicit a scream and terrified reaction. He even set up their video camera to capture her response. (Though I've never seen the video, I've heard he was not disappointed in his footage.)

Luckily we don't have a video camera yet, but he does like to try and scare me. Often times as we're going to bed he'll run through our apt. and turn out all the lights so it's pitch black. I know he's there, and I try and brace myself, but I can't keep myself from screaming and jumping every time he jumps out at me. It's unfortunate I do because that totally fuels his desire to scare me. He loves a good reaction and I give it to him every time.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The cute little couple

Here's a fairly recent picture of us. Matt
think's it's not a very good one, but I like it.
He thinks we're both unphotogenic.
 Posted by Picasa

A pirate's life for me?

Concidering the fact that most of you reading this have in the past or will continue to pirate music and the like, I thought that you would enjoy reading this article by one of my favorite authors, Orson Scott Card. It's a little long, but very interesting and well written.

The article is called "MP3s are Not the Devil." I very much agree with him and the position he takes in this literary rant. I'm interested to hear what you think...

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hobby update

Though semaphore looked appealing, I didn't have the right equipment so that was a no go. =) I'm still debating the juggling, but the only juggling items I have on hand are knives, and I'm not so sure that's a good idea. The weblinks Nate gave me proved to be interesting, though I'm still trying to figure out all the plug ins I need to run the properly. Since we're trying to save up as much as possible for the house we're hoping to buy, all craft projects that require purchasing things I don't already own are out. Despite all this, I've found a few new things to occupy my time.

1. Wickapedia: so many interesting things to read about.

2. Photoshop and Picasa: I used to use photoshop once upon a time in production printing in high school. I've forgotten most things so I'm sure it will take me awhile to get reacquainted with the program. It's fun messing with picture and making them look better or worse than they really are.

3. Though I said I was bored of the piano, I have been practicing quite a bit this week since I'm accompanying the choir for Stake Conference tomorrow. I got the music two weeks ago. Two songs aren't difficult. The third is a Mendelssohn piece that has required a little attention. It's fun to have new music. I've also been practicing up on BYU campus on real pianos. My little keyboard the Brasfield's gave me is nice, but oh how nice it feels to play on a real piano...

Amanda, or any other piano player reading you have any suggestions for new music or composers?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Weighing on my mind

I just have to preface this post with: I normally do not stress about these things. I almost always feel fine about my body and what shape I'm in.

However, ever since I went to the Dr.'s, I've unfortunately been thinking about numbers. Stinking weight numbers. I hate it. Why do they have to weigh you if you're going in for a bladder infection??

I think I'm a little bitter because the numbers on the scale said I was at my heaviest ever. Rubbish. I do not believe that ONE BIT! Never mind the fact that I still had my shoes on and never mind that "muscle weighs more than fat." I just flat out do not believe the numbers were correct. Nor does the husband. He said he thinks I'm as thin as when we got married, and that's when the scale's number were the lowest in the last 10 years. He's a pretty honest chap and I really believe he would not tell me something if he really didn't believe it. Plus I can fit in all my "skinny clothes" that I couldn't have fit in after I got home from China.

When we got married I wouldn't allow the purchase of a scale. Odd, maybe, but you see, I do not own a scale for a number of reasons.

1. If there is a scale, I feel a compulsion, even an obligation, to weigh myself. I hate that and feel like it then consumes my life. Then if I'm even 1 or 2 lbs (or 5-10 lbs.) off of my "target weight" I look at my body and start scrutinizing it wondering "where it's all gone." Goodness.

2. I want to control my weight; I don't want it to control me. If I am in good general health, eat balanced meals a good 98% of the time, and exercise regularly, I think I should be able to eat some "sinful" dessert or meal. Obviously one should not have high fat, high calorie, junk food junk every day. But why cut out something you love completely??

3. Scale numbers are so very subjective. They don't tell you your fat/muscle ratio. The numbers also vary from scale to scale.

4. I work with Eating Disorder girls every day. I see what improper use of scale numbers does to a person.

5. I would much rather go by how my body feels physically, how I feel emotionally, and what my husband thinks than some stupid numbers on a scale that I don't even know are accurate.

6. Doesn't everyone have another 10 lbs. they can lose, regardless of what weight they're at...?

7. When someone weighs in at X and says "I'm so fat" or "I could lose another 10," there is always someone at Y weight who then thinks, "If she's fat, I'm HUGE." I hate that.

That's my ranting. Soon I will forget about this whole number thing. I will continue to eat balanced, exercise regularly, and listen to my body. I just had to get it off my mind and onto paper...I mean computer...

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

East vs. West

I am a cook at a treatment center for teenage girls. We have girls come from all over the US, but they often come from the east coast and west coast states. I have noticed that there are some differences in food knowledge and preference.

For instance:
1. Lox: Almost no one from the west coast has any clue what this is. (I didn't until about a year ago.) It happens to be smoked salmon. It's often eaten for breakfast or brunch with bagels and cream cheese. Some like to add red onions and tomatoes. I"m not a fan, but that's mostly because I have yet to really accustom myself to sea food.

2. Burritos, fajitas, taquitos, enchiladas etc., mole: I've only had one girl from the east coast who knew the difference between these heavenly staples in my diet upon arrival to New Haven. I have heard from an inside source (originally a west coaster) that after years of living in NY he's only eaten 2 Mexican meals that measured up to southwest standards.

3. Falafel: This delicious Mediterranean dish is made out of mashed chickpeas (I made it today for lunch...yum) and can be eaten on a pita with a yogurt cucumber-dill sauce. I've actually found that it doesn't matter if the girls are east or west coast on this one; rather, it depends on if they live near a large Jewish community.

4. Cheese steaks: Quality cheese steaks just don't exist in the west...People try and pass things off as cheese steaks, but more often than not the bread, cheese and meat just don't measure up.

5. Pizza: There are very few non-chain pizza places in the west. There, however, are a few, and the west coast is not completely devoid of all good pizza. It does appear, though, that east coasters have found the way to really do the crust and toppings properly.

6. Beans: this kind of goes along with #2, but most of my east coast girls know no beans beyond Rosarita refried.

7. Fish: Both coasts seem to eat fish pretty well, but inlanders are quite a bit pickier when it comes to seafood. I have to say I fit in the pickier category. I'm working on it.

Anyway, those are my observations. I could be totally wrong since I'm working with a limited sample group. =) Were there any on the list that you weren't acquainted with?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

sick of being sick

I had to go to the doctor today. Apparently the bladder infection I had last week that I thought was getting better actually moved into my kidneys. Now I have a constant pain in the right side of my abdomen that hurts even more when I stand up, sit down, breath deeply, or in any way crunch my stomach. Ow.

Tips of the day:
1. If you have a bladder infection, go to the doctor asap because it requires antibiotics. You almost positively can't get rid of it by drinking a lot of water or cranberry juice.
2. Drinking cranberry juice only helps prevent bladder infections; it does not help cure them.



I have been feeling kind of sick off and on the past week with revisits of giardia (my Guatemala souvenir) and a few other ailments. Today I reached the pinnacle of my achiness (I don't think that's a word) with a headache, body aches, jaw ache, stomach ache and a couple other problems. I felt completely exhausted and I just hung out on the couch all night.

The husband noticed I was not feeling well (maybe it was because I mentioned it a time or two hundred) and he ended up getting his own dinner, doing the dishes, and doing the necessary laundry. He also gave me a back rub during home evening (though he really hates doing that because his hands get tired). If it wasn't for the sick feelings I was having, I'd have thought it a wonderfully peachy evening.

Then I started thinking, "man, I must be a pretty darn good wife. If I feel like this is a night of pampering, I pamper him all the time. " (Well, I do all those things minus the rubbing. He's WAY too ticklish for back rubs and cannot understand for the life of him why anyone enjoys a good rub down.) Since he has a few more outside responsibilities than I do right now in the way of school and work, I pretty much do the laundry, cook, clean, and do the dishes all the time. (I have to say, he will usually do his own lunch dishes.)

Maybe when our life situation changes I'll whip him into shape and require a little more housework of him.

A quick story: Sometimes I forget that these things are NOT required of me to be a good wife, but are responsibilities I have taken upon myself and can share as I please. Sometimes I feel guilty for not doing any one of those afore mentioned items and I will feel like a bad wife. In good humor the husband brought home an article a co-worker gave him. He gave it to me and said, "Hey, I've got a few tips to help you be a better wife!" It was funny to read and helped me lighten up a bit.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Hobby help

If anyone has ideas for fun things I can do on my own (at my house), I'd appreciate it. I think I need a little break from scrapbooking, playing WoW and boggle, online house searching, watching TLC and Discovery, and piano. Though I like doing those things I'm feeling burned out and bored. Yoga's still wonderful, but I can only do that about 1 1/2 hours a day. Readings also good, but I already do that...

Anyone? Mom suggested Family History, but I don't think I'm quite there...

Friday, March 10, 2006

Chocolate? What's that?

I know I'm weird, but I am a salty girl rather than sweet. As a child I loved salt so much that my siblings would tease me that it looked like it snowed on my plate. "Celia, would you like some food with your salt?" my brother would ask. That usually ended up with me getting mad and slinking under the table like a wet noodle as my brother called me "spaghetti woman." My mom was convinced that I had some sort of iodine deficiency because I craved salty things. I don't know. Maybe I did... Anyway, I've cut back dramatically on my salt intake over the years, but I still generally prefer a salty snack to a sweet. Don't get me wrong. I like to eat sweets here and there, I just don't crave chocolate, ice cream or other sweet treats. (How can I even be called a woman?!)

Despite all this, I had a first today. Today was the first time, in my life so far as I can remember, that I had a craving for chocolate. Now, it's not that I hate chocolate; it's not so bad. I just genuinely don't care if I ever eat it. Those rare occasions I do end up eating chocolate it's usually dark chocolate because milk is too sweet. But today after lunch I had this feeling like I needed some chocolate, and I ended up eating 4-5 bite sized candy bars before that feeling went away! (I know, I pigged out. haha.)

And I promise, I'm not pregnant. (That would have been my first question if someone else had written this post...)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Changing tastes

The lunch I made today consisted of taco soup, quesadillas, a green salad and a fruit salad. Some of the quesadillas had red and green peppers and onions in addition to the cheese. The other half were just plain cheese. Some of the girls refused to try the quesadillas with the peppers and onions, and others refused to try the taco soup because it had beans in it. I thought "how the heck could anyone dislike beans???? I LIVE off beans." Though I wasn't frustrated today at their lack of ethnic adventurism, I often am frustrated at girls who refuse to try new things.

That got me thinking about my own teenage eating habits and how they've changed over the years. I used to hate: bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives, meat, seafood, and cracked wheat. Now, I legitimately had a reason for disliking bell peppers and onions in raw forms because they hurt my stomach. I don't know if I ever gave the other things a fair chance. I think the thought of eating them was unappealing so I didn't even try.

I think I started "growing up" and "branching out" my sophomore year of college. I started building up a tolerance for the peppers, onions and mushrooms cooked and later figured out they're not so bad raw. Olives turned out to be a wonderful addition to my much eaten mexican food and my rarely eaten but much loved pizza. After meeting my husband I started incorporating meat into my diet little by little. (That by far was the hardest adjustment...) I love hot cereals such as cracked wheat (thank you Grandpa for introducing me to it though I didn't appreciate it then...) and oatmeal. The only thing I have yet to really incorporate into my diet is sea food. I can eat a little fish, but I still get grossed out by pretty much all shell fish...they're just so chewy and...*shudder* I don't know if I can move past this one...

I really do think that people should try foods they don't like at LEAST once a year just to see if their tastes change. I also think that if you force yourself to eat something enough you'll build up a tolerance and eventually can come to like most anything. (That ONLY works if YOU are the one forcing you to eat things you don't like. If your mom or spouce force you to eat things you don't like, that most likely will will just build up resentment and that's never good...)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

So effective you can skip a day

You'd think with a slogan like "so effective you can skip a day" that Michum deodorant would be at least SOMEWHAT effective for people who sweat a lot. But no, it's actually worse than other products I've used. But then again, I've yet to find something that does work.

My struggles began with puberty around 6th grade. (Don't they all?) The shirt I was wearing was one of my favorites. It was a fitted, teal green, wide scoop neck cotton shirt. As I was walking somewhere with two friends I began to notice large, discolored wet spots under my arms. I was horrified. I'm pretty sure I was already wearing deodorant by then so I couldn't figure out what had changed. Little did I know that that would begin a self conscious and unfortunately wet teenage reign. It also really affected my clothing choices and styles over the next few years.

I've decided my excessive sweating is and always has been anxiety ridden. Though I generally feel confident and outgoing in social situations, I always feel a little insecure and immediately I start to sweat. When I notice I've begun to sweat a little, I become more insecure and self-conscious and I, in turn, sweat even more. It's a horrible cycle. Maybe I should never step outside my house. I don't usually have this problem when I'm at home...

Luckily during my most awkward and self-conscious years, baggy shirts were still in style. I also wore many multi-colored shirts that didn't matter if they had a little discoloration. In high school when fitted shirts started becoming more popular I found that stretchy spandex/polyester shirts dried quickly. I came to really love my bright and loud shirts and I think they helped define my personality. (Once when I showed a co-worker my senior pictures she said, "and you had friends?" Ouch.)

So, it's been 13 years since that first sweat incident and I'm still wondering if there's any hope for me. Probably not. I mean, if the deodorant that's "so effective you can skip a day" doesn't give me a dry hour, I think I may be a lost cause...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Crossing over the middle

Today as I was driving home on my 1/2-hour commute, I was thinking how far I'd come in my confidence as a driver. When I started this job 2 1/2 years ago I was very, very scared to have to drive on the freeway. So scared, as a matter of fact, that I probably prayed 20 min. of the 30 min. drive to and from work that I would get there and back safely. I wasn't necessarily scared of the other drivers, though that was a mild concern; rather, I was scared of my own inadequacy as a driver as well as my poor night vision. (I originally worked 3pm-11:30 pm.) The bright shining lights at night were terrifying enough to keep me in the far right lane right at 65 mph.

Why was I so afraid of driving on the freeway? You see, I come from a very small town, called Snowflake, AZ, wherein we had no stoplights. All roads but Main Street were back roads, or so it seemed. The roads were very wide and roomy (something I still marvel at every time I go home), and it was never super crowded.

One day as my dad and I were driving down the road he started crossing over the middle line. (He was probably dancing to the music as he often does...what a fun and charismatic man he is...maybe not the most careful driver, but fun nonetheless. hehe.) Though there was no oncoming traffic, I felt obligated to say the obvious. As I pointed out his momentary cross over the middle line he jokingly replied, "That's ok. I pay taxes for both sides of the road." Haha.

Luckily I no longer confine myself to the far right (though I try to stay in my lane), and I rarely give a second thought to driving on the freeway. I still don't enjoy driving at nights with lights blaring at me, so I am grateful I work days. Maybe one day I'll even be able to drive more than 2 hours at a time! Though I am confident in my ability to drive decently, I am not confident in my ability to stay awake longer than 2 hours. (Thank heavens I have a husband who doesn't mind driving the whole way...)

In conclusion, though I've decided it's probably not the best thing to drive in the middle of the road, I do think it's a good place to live your life. You know, somewhere in between extremes; somewhere you can see both sides and take a little bit of both to make a balanced life.