Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Bras(s) Clan Curse

I must first preface this by saying we had a wonderful graduation weekend and it was great fun to have family here.

However, a trip taken by the members of the Bras(s) clan would not be complete without something bad happening. It's a curse they warned me about when we got married. I used to be a doubter; now I'm a believer.

My husband told me that growing up they never went on a vacation without something bad happening. Big car troubles tended to be the most frequent curse visitation, though sickness and a few other "symptoms" were manifested occasionally.

A couple "for instances":
  1. The Thanksgiving before we were married the Bras(s) parents drove here and had bad car troubles. They had to rent a car while theirs was in the shop here in Provo.
  2. Last Christmas while we were in CA, a tree fell on a powerline cutting off all power only to their street. Then after that was fixed, the power went out again the next day (on New Year's Eve) for some other reason. Nothing like spending New Year's Eve in a pitch black house while a house one street up had every single light on...rubbing it in our faces. Jerks.
  3. When we went to Guatemala last year I got giardia and Matt had something similar, plus we had to take him to the emergency room the morning after we got back for "inflamation of the intercostal tissues of an unknown cause."
This time around I thought the curse would be satisfied with Lady getting a gastro-intestinal virus and having to go to urgent care at the end of the week. The Big O also had a cough and wasn't feeling quite himself. But no. The curse was much more powerful. We just got a phone call from Lady and Th. and they were in a wreck today. Everyone, thankfully, is ok. Though I'm a little sketchy on the details, they were T-boned on the driver's side. The car is still drivable but the driver's side is completely smashed up. Yikes...

(Now, if you are a reader of their blogs and you heard about this before they told you, don't go bombarding them with questions...Make them think you heard it from their mouths first.)

I am glad we have a car carrier taking our car to TX for us this week, just in case the curse decided that wasn't enough Bras(s) clan calamities. Now we must just pray our plane doesn't get high-jacked or something...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

It's finished

Well, I've turned in my keys and hung up my apron (so to speak). Today was my last day, though last night the real goodbyes were said.

One of the supervisors asked if I would help teach the girls how to make fruit pizzas before I left and wondered if I could stay late yesterday. How could I say no? So, I stayed through dinner and cut up a lot of fruit in preparation. Then at 6 PM, when I am supposed to start the little cooking class, I hear "surprise" and balloons start falling from the loft above. The girls gathered 'round me, and my cute little "Bubba" handed me a stack of homemade cards and a gift card for $60. The girls had done extra work around New Haven to earn money for a house-warming gift for me! When she handed me the card she said, "It's a gift card to Target. Karen (the Recreational Therapist) said it wasn't tacky." =) So cute.

When a girl finishes the program they hold what is called a "transition." The girls all sit in a circle and everyone tells her what they've enjoyed about her or what they remember most about her. Then at the end they "support her one last time" as they all pick her up and literally hold her flat in the air, swaying, as a song plays in the background. When it comes to the chorus, they lift her high in the air above their heads and then bring her back down to stomach level for the next verse. In my 2 1/2 years there I've never known them to hold a transition for a staff. But they did it for me.

I started crying when I realized what was going on. I had no idea they had me there under false pretenses. The girls had organized the party and had even sent out "secret underground" invitations. For about an hour they went around and said nice things about me. Then at the end the "supported me" one last time. Sometimes I questioned whether or not I made a difference there, but I really felt at the end of it that I had. One of the girls parents sent me a big bouquet of beautiful flowers and called in to say goodbye. The staff that worked that night also got me a nice bouquet of lilies and balloons. I don't think I've ever had so many flowers in my life. =)

Though I've had my ups and downs there, and wanted to quit a time or two, I'm glad I've stayed there until now. I love the group of girls we have right now, and it's been a really good job for me. I've learned a ton of important life skills (cooking skillz, nun-chuck skillz, patience, time management, dedication, processing skills, how to hold boundaries and give consequences if necessary, patience, etc. Did I say patience?).

I'm sad to leave, but I'm excited to move on. I, unlike my husband, generally welcome change. I get excited to try new things and go new places.

Goodbye New Haven, goodbye.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Busy, busy, busy

Besides sleeping time, I was home yesterday a grand total of 1 hour between work and play. I'm trying to get everything at work ready to leave for the new person. Today I'll be here at work until about 7 or 7:30. Long days...I don't know how people work that long of days on a regular basis! sheesh.

My wonderful in-laws, Lady and Th., got here on Saturday, and it's been SO MUCH FUN to have family here! Last night I went with them to Th.'s cousin's and we had dinner and played games until about midnight. I got to bed around 1 and up at 7:30. I was a little tired but it was totally worth it.

One day left of work!!! Matt only has one day left of school!!! It's getting so exciting but it's a little surreal still. We haven't packed anything because the packers have to do it for insurance purposes.

Anyway, I'm a bit boring and my posts probably will be for the next week or two...sorry...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Funny boy

Ok, I admit it. I had a hard time listening to the last speaker today in church. I was more interested in a little two year old boy that was running the isles. There was one point where he started slapping his own face. He saw that it was making us laugh so he kept going. He hit harder and harder until it must have hurt him. When that happened, he stared at his hand and screwed up his as if to say "Jerk! Why the heck did you hit me?" He did the same thing twice in a row. I was laughing so hard I almost started crying.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Cell Phones

I watched a Myth Busters the other day comparing cell phone use while driving and drunk driving. The ultimate result was they did worse driving while talking on the phone than being just under the legal limit for alcohol consumption. The big difference, though, is you can put the phone down if you're in a tough situation, while you can't "just quit" being drunk.

This aside, I think that Matt and I are two of the last Americans (man, woman, and child included) without cell phones. I had one once, but it's just so hard to justify one other expense, especially sicne we have a land line. We've glancingly concidered getting a cell phone when we move, but I don't have the slightest clue where to begin. The only thing I do know is Nextel is out. New Haven uses those at work and they are infuriating. Any suggestions? What do you use? Is it worth it?

If I do get a phone, I'll probably not answer it while I'm driving. An advanced warning.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Magical Mystery Tour

I've been thinking, and there are a few things I just don't understand.

  1. Low rider cars and trucks
  2. People thinking Brick Oven (a restaurant here) pizza is actually good
  3. How anyone can sit through a whole show of "House"
  4. Why we have leg, arm, armpit and pubic hair
  5. The appeal of smoking cigarettes
  6. How anyone could dislike foot rubs, back rubs or cuddling
  7. How people have such incredibly different tastes in food, music, entertainment, etc.
  8. How the Beatles came up with their music and what is it about their music that makes it so wonderful and timeless (I woke up with a Beatles song in my head yesterday and I hadn't even been listening to it the day before)
  9. Why I feel thirsty more frequently when I drink a lot of water
  10. Technology: how anyone figured out how to do things like make pictures appear on a monitor, sending faxes, inner workings of TV, Internet, etc.
I'm sure there are more, but these are a few of life's mysteries that are coming to me at the moment.

Monday, April 17, 2006

My first book

I wrote my first (and in all actuality, only) book when I was about 4 years old. Either Julie or Amanda took my dications. It's amazing the number of similarities between my family (or at least my 4 year old perception of my family) and the "fictional" characters of the book.

As I was trying to go through my things for our up coming move, I came across it. My book sported a nice cover made out of an old fan box, cleverly decorated with green floral wrapping paper. For your reading pleasure I will now make my book available for the public via this blog. I will be expecting a book contract soon after I publish this post.

Title: Dianne's Birthday
Chapter 1: Dianne
Dianne was a girl at the age of four. Dianne wanted to go to school very bad, but she was only four years old. She didn't want go to preschool. She wanted to go to the kindergarten at the big school. She wanted the nice kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Rumby. She didn't want to have the mean pre-school teacher Mrs. Kelt.

Chapter 2: Dianne's Friends
Dianne likes her friends at the preschool but not the teacher. She especially liked her fried [sic] Celia. Celia was very nice to Dianne. She always shared with her. She has a friend Julia. Julia was Diannes friend. Julia was very nice and shared her toys, and when it was Julia's birthday she invited Dianne to her house and shared her cake.

Chapter 3: Dianne's Birthday
Dianne was going to have a birthday party that afternoon. She was going to be 5, but she still couldn't go to the big school. She was going to invite Celia and Julia. Karen was invited but she got sick. She invited Christy too and she could come. She was going to have a schoolbus cake even though she couldn't go to school. And she wore her new golden party dress. Everybody liked it. They played lots of games. The Pit and Spoons, and Spoons were their their [sic] favorite games.

Chapter four: Dianne's Family
Dianne had six sisters. She had to [sic] brothers. Her sisters names were Emily, Brenda, Chrystal, Marci, Susan, and Joan. Her brother's names were Brandon and Scott. Her moms name was Linda and her dads name was Bill. Her last name was Morgan. She had one baby brother and his name was Craig. [hahahaha. apparantly she had three brothers rather than "to"...] Chrystal was sixteen, Scott was 15. Emily was 13. Marci was 12. Brandon was 10. Brenda was 8 years old. Susan was 6 years old. Joan was 4 years old. And her baby brother Scott [haha, thought his name was Craig] was 2 months old. And Joan just turned 4 three days after Dianne turned 5. Her mom Linda was 45 years old and her dad was 49 years old.

Dianne's favorite person was her baby brother Craig. Then she liked Susan. She always liked the oldest daughter's sense of humor, but she never had time to play. She always said, "I can't right now. I'm busy." or "I have homework." So Dianne stayed with the little kids.

Dianne's brothers were always teasing her so she didn't usually play with them.

Dianne's mother always had time to play or make a cake or cookies and she always let Dianne help.

Emily and Marci were always playing together and said, "Dianne you are too little." Dianne thought they were mean.

Brenda was usually off by herself reading, drawing, or painting or making things. Dianna thought Brenda's presents were always the neatest even though they were homemade.

Dianne's Dad worked 14 hours a day but on his day off he was so much fun.

Dianne thought her family was the best one in the world even if they didn't have a big mansion or a big beautiful fancy car. That was not what a good family meant to her.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Eins, svithe, dye

After looking through my childhood journals, the only Easter entry I could find was from April 22, 1984. I had just turned 3 and I was dictating to one of my older siblings.

"The cocklet easter bunny was good. I love Nathan and the whole famly. I want mom! I am going to have Icecream. Mom! Mom! No!"

Ah. Such were the days.

I really only have fragments of memories when it comes to Easter. Our "Easter Bunny" encounters always took place on Saturday as opposed to Easter Sunday so Christ wouldn't have to share the spotlight with the Easter Bunny. Four dozen eggs (or so it seemed...I'm not sure if it really was that many), masking tape, stickers, rubber bands, crayons and dye were set out each year and our creativity was unleashed. At the very end we'd combine all the dyes together for the last egg. Our hope was to get a black egg, but it generally turned out a brown/purplely color.

Hiding eggs took place in a couple of locations throughout my life. As a child I remember going to the woods with the whole family, each child with a basket in hand. As the children paired up to look for the Easter bunny, my parents or the older children would "look for the easter bunny" in the opposite direction and actually hide the eggs. Dad would generally let out a loud whistle when they were done and he'd yell, "I think I saw the Easter bunny! He was over here!" We'd all run back and "just miss" seeing the Easter bunny, but he'd left eggs and the hunt would begin. There were almost always one or two eggs that'd get left behind because even the hiders couldn't remember all the hiding places. I also have random memories of having Easter egg hunts in Grandma Hunt's backyard with our Crane cousins. I think we also participated in a city egg hunt or two at the golf course...

It's been about 6+ years since I last dyed eggs or had an egg hunt. We generally just have a nice Easter dinner and maybe get a package of candy in the mail from Mom Bras(s). This week, however, I've actually thought more on the history and meaning of Easter from different religious stand points.

Thursday I had the opportunity to help make a Seder Passover dinner. We made matzo ball soup, chicken, vegetarian liver pate with matza bread, salad and fruit salad. It wasn't a full Seder, but it was enough to give the girls a glimpse. They watched "The Prince of Egypt" to get a little background on the Passover, and the mom of one of the girls lead them through a very abbreviated Seder dinner and ceremony.

It started me thinking about Christians and why, for the most part, we don't celebrate Passover. I knew about the Passover. I'd learned the story of Moses and the Exodus and considered it an important piece to Christian history. So why don't most Christians continue the tradition? And how does the Passover relate to Easter?

When I realized how limited my knowledge was on all this, I was quite astounded by my ignorance. My main problem is I've never really thought about it much. I didn't grow up around any sort of Jewish community so it didn't come up frequently.

So this morning was filled with wikipedia research, and this afternoon I also had more questions answered in church.

In Sunday School I asked why it is we don't all have some passover dinner just to help us remember our Israelite heritage and history. The answer I got was this:

The passover was a foreshadowing of Christ's sacrifice and atonement. Just as the firstborn were saved by the blood of the unblemished lamb, so are we saved by the blood of Christ. The unleavened bread also was a symbol of purity (because it doesn't mold or go bad) and can also be symbolic of Christ (He is the Bread of Life, and I guess that could mean matzo bread as well). As the Israelites were commanded to eat the passover meal in haste, we should be quick to repent. The Last Supper was a Seder dinner in which He told his disciples that the water and bread were symbols of his flesh and blood. We now remember on a weekly basis when we partake of the sacrament. Therefore, the sacrament should serve as a weekly reminder rather than a yearly reminder that the Passover dinner would provide.

That all made sense. However, I think it would still be neat to have a small seder dinner every year and at least recount the Israelite history and what it foreshadowed. Maybe I will, that is, if I can convince Matt...

Friday, April 14, 2006


After finding out I had a little money that rolled over from last year's insurance, I decided to follow in Th's and Lady's steps and get new glasses. I've had the glasses I have now for 5 years and my perscription's changed slightly since then. (It's actually a little better than it used to be believe it or not.) I made Matt look with me on my birthday but we weren't able to decided that day.

Today, with the help of the lady at the store, I finally decided on a pair. These are the glasses, but I don't think its a very good picture of them. The glasses I bought are brown and match my hair. I tried on a pink pair that were cute, but I hated that the sides were metal while the front was plastic. I'm all about the plastic. I also tried on a nice deep red pair that I liked alot, but they were a little too low on my eye so if they slipped at all it would project the feeling of an old librarian.

Matt thought the brown looked fine but were a little boring. There just aren't enough GREAT and EXCITING pairs of glasses in my price range. These are cute and will do fine.

I have to say, it's much easier to shop for glasses when you have contacts in. Otherwise you really can't see how good or bad you look in the various glasses. (At least I can't really see since I'm just about half way to being legally blind.)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

New High

I got a new high score in boggle. 100. Nice round number. I'm getting better...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

When did girls stop wearing underwear??

We have about 5 girls at New Haven who arrived with absolutely no underware. None. Not even 1 pair. They didn't even own any at home. It's a rule that they have to wear some sort of undies, but we have a couple very resistant girls.

I'm guessing they don't want underware lines, but NO underwear? I mean, a thong is better than nothing...

And where are their parents on this? Higienically speaking it just doesn't seem right. Especially when some of these girls wear the same pants for a week straight...


Monday, April 10, 2006

Filing Frenzy

Today I had to go through tons of files to get information for our home loan.

I had to find:
  1. 3 months bank statements
  2. Tax Returns and W-2's for the last 2 years
  3. 1 month pay stubs
  4. Matt's signed contract for work
  5. 3 months of our IDEX statements (investments)
It really shouldn't have been hard to find all these things, but it was! I was getting so frustrated and angry at myself for having such a bad filing system. I knew the general area in which to find each item, but within the folders I had no organization. I had to open every single pay stub (2 1/2 years worth) to find the most current. Since we do so much online (banking online, direct deposit, etc.) most of our Wells Fargo hardcopies of statements weren't even opened.

I have paperwork strung all over the house now. There really is a paper trail leading to me...

When we move I'm bound and determined to figure out a better filing system. Anyone exceptional at organization of files? Any tips? Boxes or folders or files in boxes?

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Svithe: Living Beyond

First, an explination of svithe.

As a yoga TA I tend to watch the class and try to keep people from doing things incorrectly and hurting themselves. Tuesday night I noticed two beginners who, throughout the class, immediately went to the hardest poses rather than doing the beginning or intermediate modifications. It never quite worked out for them. They made an attempt at the pose, tried to hold it, couldn't, fell out of it and got frustrated. I wanted to go back to them and say, "Do your own practice. Don't try and do someone else's practice. Work with what you have and where you are, not where you want to be or where your neighbor is."

That made me think of a talk at conference (was it President Monson...?) about living beyond our financial means. It's a talk we hear all the time. Stay out of debt. Remain solvent. Be a saver, not a spender. Set boundaries and work within them. If your life circumstances change, re-evaluate and set new boundaries. Don't try to one-up the Jones'.

Tonight I started thinking about living beyond our means in all aspects of life. So often we try to do more and be more than we can give at that moment of our life. That's when we stress out, cry, have breakdowns, hurt ourselves exercising...or is that just me??

Western thinking is very competitive. Most of us feel like we must be the best, wear the best, have the best, and achieve the most RIGHT NOW. Often we don't allow ourselves a starting point and time for growth, but we expect immediate perfection. Really, to be the best, wear the best, and have the best means that we must compare ourselves to others. Comparison then prompts that little pride button inside us...

“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, cleverer, or better-looking than others. If every one else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.” C.S. Lewis
Mere Christianity (1960), 95

That darned pride. I have to admit, I hate mediocrity and because of that I think I lend myself to being perfectionistic (which I've come to learn is a close cousin of pride...) I try to work hard at whatever I do. When I first started yoga I was very frustrated with myself that I plain stunk at standing balances. I couldn't hold my balance for more than a few seconds in the beginning. It angered me that I was so bad. It didn't matter that I was quite adept and a natural at arm balances or back bends, I wanted to be good (or at least not horrible) at everything immediately.

After listening to my instructors, I came to look at it differently. I needed to stay inside my body, have my own practice and not worry about how good or bad I was in comparison with others or even with where I thought I should be. I was where I was regardless of how much I didn't want to be there. Really, the most efficient and long lasting progression comes gradually. We master one thing and move on to the next step, not the last step.

Yes, we must be diligent, but we must also respect our bodies and live our own lives. We can't keep comparing our lives to others' houses, boats, bodies, lives, abilities, talents etc.

Friday, April 07, 2006

1/4 of a Century Old and 1 day

It's true. Yesterday April 7th I turned 1/4 of a century. I was thinking yesterday as I was driving to work about the last decade of birthdays. They've gone by quickly. I will now recap the last 10 birthdays of mine so far as I can remember.

1996 Age 15: I have absolutely no idea what happened this birthday. I am missing pictures from that year and I don't know where my journal was from that era of my life. Maybe I got a bad present or something that year...or no presents...this recap isn't going so well so far.

1997 Sweet 16: The age I was legally (key word here. haha) allowed to drive and date!! My friends Mike, Cam, Chan, Veronica and Michelle all surprised me at 5 AM for a breakfast of crepes (my favorite for years) that my mother so lovingly made for us. YUM! I'm pretty sure someone that year tried to write "Happy Birthday Celia" in plastic cups in the chain link fence on the football field. It was too windy, however, and only a fragment of the message remained when I got to school

1998 Age 17: The year of El Niño. I was going to take stats for dad's JV baseball team that day, but it ended up snowing out the game. Also, my friends Vanessa and Lexi streamered the inside of "my" truck in the name of "The Ninja Fish." We had a large group of friends over for a lunch of pizza, cake and ice cream.

1999 Age 18: Leagally an adult! What the heck...isn't this supposed to be a big birthday?!? All I can find are 3 pictures, all of only me, with a strawberry angel food cake. I also found a 4 page email I sent to Julie 2 weeks after my birthday about the All-State choir trip I went on...hmmm. I'm sure I did something for that birthday...

2000 Age 19: My first COLLEGE birthday. My friends Lisa and Jessica surpised me in the morning with breakfast around 6 AM.
Since my room-roomate hated my guts we ate it out in the lobby. That was also my first birthday with Matt. We'd JUST started dating and my mom's present for me was a dinner for 2 at Olive Garden. Gotta love free food.

2001 Age 20:
My one and only birthday out of the country. China probably held my largest party ever. It was a GREAT birthday. There were 20 American teachers and probably 20 Chinese teachers and about 10-15 students. They gave me cool chinese presents like a notebook with a cat with a really large head and writing that said "This is the most comfortable note book you have ever run into. You will feel like writing with it all the time." That was from a student named "John." In the front of the notebook he wrote, "For You! Make someone heppy! Make just one heppy!" My friends from the Riviera #90 sent me a package there with good eats and SALT!!!!!!! It was my luckiest of days in china. They'd taken tons and tons of packages of salt from McDonalds, Arbys, etc. and used it as packing peanuts. I couldn't obtain salt in China because all they sold in the store was straight MSG. It's true.

2002 Age 21: Another birthday with snow and rain. Matt was on his mission but he sent me a wire flower he made. It was cool. It was conference weekend and Lisa and I spent the day in Salt Lake with her sisters. They had cake and we made ice cream.

Age 22: Matt and I were engaged by this time in 2003, but I don't know what we did for my birthday.

2004 Age 23: Matt made me a cake and we went to The Olive Garden for my birthday dinner. He got me Hannon Piano Exercizes book and the promise of new shoes for my birthday.

2005 Age 24: We went to the Happy Sumo for my dinner and he made me a cake. Right after I went to yoga and he ended up playing computer games. Ha. We're so romantic.

2006 Age 25: Last night was great. We had a great dinner at The Bombay House. I LOVE INDIAN FOOD. I made him come with me to pick out new glasses and then we went and saw Narnia. It was great!! I loved it. He made me the same cake he has for the past 3 years and it was still delicious.

And today I got a haircut
for my birthday present to me. =)

Thursday, April 06, 2006


I don't know what I did, but man do I hurt. My right shoulder is killing me. It hurts just sitting here. It hurts to lift it up. It hurts to rotate my arm. I know it has something to do with yoga, but I don't know if it's a pulled muscle or something worse...probably just a pulled muscle. I thought it was just a sore muscle yesterday so I had a full hour and a half work out on it. Today it feels much worse. The Tuesday practice in which I would have obtained the injury wasn't even that hard, so I don't know why it would have caused me this much grief.

It kind of reminds me when mom had burcitis. I think I was in 5th or 6th grade and it was a little scary seeing mom, who was normally so active and not detered by anything, hurting so badly. I remember she couldn't lift her arm over her head and she cried a lot. It seemed to last forever.

I hope that's not what I have because that means I probably shouldn't do yoga for awhile...

But I only have 2 1/2 weeks left before it's over and then I'm moving to TX where it's WAY more expensive. *sob*

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Officially posted

Well, my job is officially posted and open for all you who would love to pursue your culinary dreams. Well, that is, if you live in Utah Valley, which not many of you do. It starts at $10-13/hour, depending on experience, of course.

We've bought tickets and made plans so the official itinerary is as follows:
  • April 26th is my last day
  • Matt's graduation is the 27th and 28th
  • The moving van comes on our anniversary, May 3rd
  • We check out of our apartment and fly to TX May 4th
  • If all goes well (please pray that it will) we'll close on our house May 5th


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Kitchenly Challenged

Some people are just plain kitchenly challenged. I'm not quite sure if it's a result of ignorance or incompetence or a little bit of both.

I try really hard to leave easy last minute things for staff to do for dinner. If I leave something harder than "put this in the oven at 4:15 and take it out at 5," I try and leave really explicit instructions. There is one shift, however, that remains completely kitchenly challenged despite the effort I make.

A fire truck ended up at New Haven last night. Luckily, it was just an inordinate amount of smoke rather than any fire. I'd left hamburgers to cook on a stovetop grill. They apparently cooked them on a high heat, even though it was smoking like crazy. Through the billowing smoke they didn't turn down the heat nor did they open any windows or doors. It was eventually a student who turned on the microwave vent fans. Additionally they didn't answer the phone when the alarm company called after it had gone off. Hence, the fire truck.

Am I wrong or would common sense help one avoid a situation like this?

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Stressful week

Though we've found the house, purchasing and financing the house has been a little bit of a headache. Because Matt's been burried in school work (he's actually at school right now...11PM on a Saturday evening), I've had to take over and get things figured out. Luckily I have a financially savvy brother who's trying to teach me about all the things to consider in the loan.

Lesson #1
The APR is a much more important number than the interest rate. APR takes into account interest rate plus all fees involved in the loan. Some lenders charge about $500 in fees, some charge upwards of $8,000 in fees on the same loan. Jerks.

We were supposed to have the closing costs rolled into our mortgage, right? So I figure the only money we'd pay at closing is the down payment since we tacked $3500 onto the house price to take closing costs into account. I thought all fees at the time of closing were considered the "closing costs" and that we wouldn't have to put out so much up front. When we got the estimate of cost at closing it was over $5,000 more than the down payment! What the heck?! I'm still trying to figure this one out. PHH will be getting a call from me Monday morning.

Lesson #2
Don't expect the lending agent to give you all the information you need. They'll often withhold as much information as they legally can in order to get the most money out of you possible.

When Eric (my brother) asked me what our APR was, I had no idea because the agent never told me.

So, I called in and said, "Hey, I just realized I never got the APR from you. What are those numbers?"

His reply was, "You mean the interest?"

"No," I said, "the APR. You know, interest plus the fees."

"Oh, ok. Well, those numbers can just be confusing because...blah, blah, blah."

He finally ended up giving me the numbers, but man, what a down right cheat.

Lesson #3
Do the math yourself and check their numbers. Eric was looking at the figures they gave me and said they couldn't be right. The monthly estimated house payment couldn't be right if we were using the APR they gave me.

Lesson #4 (This was something I made up, not Eric)
Do something in the evening after business hours are over. No sense in worrying about it if you can't do something about it. I decided to pick up acrylic painting. I've never tried it before and a co-worker told me it was pretty cheap. So off to Wal-Mart I went and got me some paints and canvas board. I'm doing a series of 3 because that was how many boards I could get in a package for under $3. I don't know what I'm doing, but it's pretty fun. I think Grandma Hunt's painting I have hanging over my computer is inspirational for me. =)