Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Year-in-Review

So, I did this year and thought it might be nice to do it again.  A lot happened in 2011 and even more happened in 2012.  So, enjoy my 2012 Year-in-Review.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
The biggest thing we did was buy a house!  Our first home was purchased in July.  After a very long search (you can read about it in previous posts) we finally found the perfect home for us.  A great size for our family, convenient location, fairly quiet neighborhood, and in our price range!  That was by far the biggest thing but I also did my first industrial film (click here to see my clip), I entered a few more new entries in to the Oklahoma State Fair, and made lots of new recipes.  Yum!

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
You can check out my 2012 New Year's Resolutions/Goals here.  I was able to check off a few things from the list but still had a large number left to accomplish.  Some things that were on the list were:
*Read the Bible - I didn't say I needed to read the whole Bible.  Just start reading it.  I found a great app to use that helps me stay on track.  I am a tad bit behind but I'm reading it.  So that's a start.
*Lose weight - Well, I accomplished part of it.  I did lose all of my baby weight, so I'm counting at least 20 lbs for weight loss.  Let's see if I can get lower though. 
*Rid my house of 300 lbs of clutter - Well, I did that AND more!  I think I'll need to add that to the list again.  It's amazing how quickly things accumulate.
*Finish Ezra's One Year Collage - Umm...yeah, I didn't do that.  Okay, he's only four.  I promise I will get it finished before he turns five!!

I did make goals for 2013.  You can check them out here.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
YES!  I welcomed a little boy in October.  He is ADORABLE!  We are blessed to have him in our life and now I have two wonderful boys that keep me busy.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Peter's aunt just recently passed away.

5. What countries did you visit?
Ummm...no.  One could only wish.  Our travels this year kept us in the Midwest.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Will power and a job that will help pay off our student loans!  (I cheated and used the same answer last year.  I think it still works though.)

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Peter graduating with his Ph.D., buying our first home, and welcoming our new boy in to our lives.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
By far giving birth to my son was the biggest achievement (do you see a trend here).  I also won "Grand Champion" in the Oklahoma Photo Shoot Out at the State Fair.  I was proud of that :)

9. What was your biggest failure?
Not getting a teaching job.   (Again, I cheated and used the same answer from last year.)  This year was extremely difficult in regards to the job hunt.  You can read about some of the adventures here.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
In March I went to the ER for hyperemesis gravidarum.  It is a severe morning sickness.  I also had major hip pain with my latest pregnancy and a minor complication at the birth.  However, the severe sickness went away, hip pain is now gone, and I have no problems from the birth.  Amen!

11. What was the best thing you bought?
The best thing we bought this year was our house!

12. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage, student loans, credit cards, and Lowes.

13. What did you get really excited about?
This year I was excited about having another baby, seeing Ezra off to his first day of school, finding a home that fit our exact needs, and finally building a shed in our backyard!

14. What song will always remind you of 2012?
I was better about listening to "popular music" this year.  I listen to the radio on my to and from school.  I cheated a tad bit by looking at the top 25 songs of 2012, but the songs that will always remind me of 2012 (for better or worse) are:  Gangnam Style by Psy (NOOOOO!), We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift, and Some Nights by fun.

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
--happier or sadder?  Happier
--thinner or fatter? About the same...not too shabby after giving birth though.
--richer or poorer? Currently the same

16. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Exercise, spend more time outside with my family, and sing.  I miss singing :(

17. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Spend countless hours on Facebook and spend countless hours in front of the TV.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
This year we made a quick trip up to Illinois to visit family.  We then drove back just in time for Christmas Eve.  We went to a Christmas Eve service, where they don't sing the right "Hark the Herald Angels Sing," and then we had a pizza picnic at home.  I woke up at 5:00a to take care of the baby and answered the door at 6:00a to see my mom.  She drove all night to make it in time for Christmas morning!  After a brief nap; we woke up and ate yummy cinnamon rolls and opened presents.

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Hmmm...I think How I Met Your Mother and Big Bang Theory are still my favorites. 

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
This was the year of Hunger Games.  I read the books over the course of the week.  A bit much for a tween (in regards to the blood and gore) but I did enjoy them.  I had to read through them quickly though because I was getting nightmares.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
My favorite song this year was "Some Nights" by fun.  Loved it!!!

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
We went to the movie theater quite a bit this year.  It definitely helps having a $2.00 theater in town!  I think the favorite was "Les Miserables" and "The Avengers."  Some other movies we enjoyed were:  "Brave," "The Band of Misfit Pirates," and the new Batman movie.  We did NOT like "Snow White and the Huntsman."  Kristen Stewart...ugh!

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Ummm...I can't remember that far back.  Seriously, my brain is fried from sleep deprivation.  I can say for a fact that I turned 30!  I have a good guess that I had a family dinner at home.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
That's a hard one.  Life is pretty good.  I have my basic needs covered.  My family is healthy.  I guess if I had to pick something, I would say having my student loans paid off would make the year more satisfying :)  That would be one less stress in my life.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
So, I looked at my answer last year and chuckled because nothing has changed!  I still love the video too! 

Try and get a bra on before lunch time :) Okay, it isn't THAT bad, but this commercial springs to mind.


26. What kept you sane?
Peter, Ezra, Henry, and TiVo.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
Make sure your family knows how much you love them.

Friday, December 28, 2012

New Year's Goals for 2013

Just a few more days before the new year begins.  So of course it is time to make resolutions, or goals as I like to call them, for the upcoming year.  Last year I had 30 goals and accomplished 12 of them.  That's a 40% success rate.  It was better than the year before at 34%.  When I first started to think about my goals I didn't think I would do 31 goals for turning 31.  It was hard enough last year to think of 30.  It gets a bit hard to think of things that I might actually accomplish.  I started typing though, and I was able to come up with 31.  Some of them are repeats, but maybe I'll actually cross them off this year!

No judging and in no particular order:

31 Goals for 2013

1. Read the Bible.
-I used to say I wanted to read through the whole Bible in a year and while I think that is a GREAT goal, I also want to make it realistic for me. So, I just want to read my Bible. That's it. Just read it.

2. Lose 10 pounds.

3. Lose 10 pounds.

4. Lose 10 pounds.

5. Lose 10 pounds.

6. Lose 10 pounds.

7. Lose 10 pounds.
-Okay so maybe it is cheating by dividing this up in to so many goals, but I see it as a way to make it easier to attain my goal, rather than just say "well, I guess I didn't lose those 60 pounds that I wanted."

8. Pay off our credit cards.
-We did it once and then we decided to build a fence, get a shed, buy cloth diapers, and other life events.  It would be nice to pay all that off and start fresh again. 

9. Maintain this blog with a minimum of one post per week.
-An average will count too!  I didn't do too bad last year.  I just need to figure out more things to write about.  I'm sure not everyone is interested in my Influenster reviews.

10. Get at least 20 followers on my blog.
-Come on people, this one is up to you! I got the 10 I asked for last year.  Now I just need a few more to get to 20.  I know 20 isn't really all that much in the grand scheme of things, but I'm so close!

11. Complete my Alphabet Photography Project.
-Grrr.  I am so close with this one.  I just have one more letter!

12. Run a 5K without stopping.
-Yeah, I know a 5K isn't all that long, but for someone who hates running it is a good start. 

13. Complete "Mom" book for Ezra.
-I got this great book that let's you fill in things about your childhood to give to your own child. I want to complete that for Ezra. I'm not expecting anything bad to happen, but I'm also not expecting anything bad to happen. I would love for Ezra to get to read some things about me that I have control over the wording. :)

14. Get Ezra's baby book to a current status!
-I can't believe he is four already...I need to get on top of things!

15. Finish the Disney Scrapbook.
-All I have to do is put it together.  I already have everything I need.  Just do it Julie!!!

16. Photo book for 2011.

17. Photo book for 2010
-I love having pictures on the computer, but there is just something about flipping pages of a photo album. Maybe it is cheating for making each year a different resolution, but I think it will help my odds!

18. Organize computer documents.

19. Make a new recipe each month.
-Again, I'll take the average here.  As long as I get 12 new recipes in the year I get to mark it off!  Have any good recipe suggestions?  Check back in future posts and I'll let you know how some of these new dishes go.

20. Find a job OR go back to school.
-I have been teaching Kindermusik now for over a year.  I only have one class a week, but it has been a lot of fun.  I am, however, ready to find a bigger job.  Part-time?  Full-time?  I'll take it!  The job hunt this year was extremely painful.  I had multiple interviews, one, "oh, well you were our second choice, but we opted to go with a transfer from in the district, one, "cricket, cricket" (aka no response but then I found out the job was filled because of another in district transfer because I was then asked to interview for that job), and one, "great, you're hired...oh wait, you have to wait for approval from the superintendent...cricket, cricket...email the superintendent...oh, we decided to postpone that position."  So, if I am not able to find a teaching position, or any other job, then I need to go back to school.  Any suggestions on what I should be when I grow up?

21. Finish Ezra's dinosaur quilt. 
-My first attempt at a MAJOR project.  Luckily my mom has been a HUGE help so far.  Now I just need to do everything else. 

22. Submit my children's book.

23. Save up for a Hawaiian vacation!
-It actually sounds better than what it kind of is.  My brother and his family were just stationed in Hawaii...literally, they just got there this morning.  Anyway, I would love to go back and why not plan something for the next year or so while we have a free place to sleep!  Plus, if we go before Henry turns two then we don't have to pay for his plane ticket. 

24. Finish Ezra's One Year Collage.
-Yeah, I'm a bit behind on that one.

25. Finish Henry's One Year Collage.
-As long as I actually stay on top of things this year; I can do this one.

26. Get rid of 300 pounds of clutter.
-I did this last year AND exceeded the amount.  Moving to a new house helped.  Now that Christmas is over though, I see more and more clutter.  Do I really need four complete sets of dishes of varying designs?  Do I still need to keep my dance shoes that no longer fit because my feet got fat from baby #2?  Uh, no. 

27. Hang pictures up on the wall.
-We have been in our new house for six months now and the walls are still bare.

28. Read three new books.
-I used to LOVE to read.  Then life and TiVo got in the way.  I would love to discover three new books this year.

29. Plant a garden.
-Now that we have our own place I would love to plant a garden with Ezra. 

30. Organize the attic room.
-We have a great space upstairs that is currently a catch-all.  I would love to have it be an organized room where the kids can play, I can sew, or Peter could play video games.

31. Catch those darn cats.
-Some of you may not like this last goal, but it has to be done.  We have feral cats EVERYWHERE in our neighborhood.  The lovely neighbor one house down has decided to feed them and now they won't go away.  They use my porch as their bed and my yard as their litter box.  I hate it.  They are mean; growling and hissing.  I can't stand them.  I want to enjoy my yard!  So, I'm going to catch those darn cats.  Even if I get one it will be considered a success.


Whew! There are my 31 goals! I'll keep you updated on them. What are some of your goals for the new year?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dino Lingo Language Learning Programs for Kids

So today I was introduced to Dino Lingo.  It is a language learning program for kids.  There are 30 languages to choose!  There is English, Japanese, German, Tagalog, French, and many, MANY more.  According to the Dino Lingo website

"Dino Lingo for Kids is a language set where cartoon dinosaurs introduce the most
common 200 words of a target language. This language set consists of 5 DVDs, each
DVD focused on specific learning topics. Colors, numbers, family, animals, food, fruit
and vegetables, vehicles, body parts, clothes, nature and verbs and actions After
watching our videos several times, most small children can easily name everyday
objects and understand basic phrases such as "Hello", "What is this?" in their target
language. Dino Lingo is ideal for fostering a toddler's cognitive development and has
won the 'Influential Parents Award' in 2010 and 2011 in education category. Dino
Lingo language learning programs are most effective for children up to 7 years of age and
anybody interested in learning the basics of a new language."
 
Their website also describes the science behind the "Dino Lingo Method."
 
My son and I watched a few of the videos.  The first video we watched was in French.  Watch below to see the video or click here to watch the video on the Dino Lingo website.
 
 
We also watched the same video in Italian.  Again, see below or click here.
 
 
They are obviously identical videos with different voice overs.  
 
 
 
 
This was the last video we watched. I listened to the "song" and thought it was quite annoying, however, my son loved it. As a parent, I don't think I could listen to it more than a few times. As a teacher, I think it is a great resource for ESL students. I would imagine this would be a fun activity choice for students to do in the classroom WITH headphones :)
 
Here is my son's review.  He loved it.  His only complaint was the dinosaurs weren't around enough!
 
 
I would love to see a longer clip to get a better understanding of how the language development works.  It did catch my eye though.  I spent a little bit more time on the website and there are two different sets.  For $99.95 you can purchase the "Kids Basic Set" which includes:  5 DVDs, 150 flash cards, dinosaurs poster, and a parents guide.  For $148.95 you can purchase the "Full Home Education Set" which includes:  5 DVDs, 150 flash cards, 10 posters, a vocabulary book, a coloring book, world map, a flag,  parents guide, and a dinosaur plush toy.
 
 
 
*I viewed this clip complimentary through Influenster.
 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Random Thoughts at Gymnastics

So I am currently sitting in the lobby of the local gymnastics place. I should be working on choreography for an upcoming show, but instead I need a few minutes to rant.

---Oh people your grammar is atrocious! I can't even tell you how many times I heard"we was" or "let me 'axe' you a question." I admit that I have some flaws in my grammar, but it usually revolves around the written language. I never know when I should use a semicolon. I usually just guess!

---I don't think it is appropriate for a 3rd grader to mutter the F word under his breath. Oh wait, I just heard he was a 1st grader. He also threw his homework at his mom, ran around the room, and smacked another boy with his book. Mom definitely has no control. (All of this happened in just the short minute it took me to write the first sentence.)

---Girls...stop running around! Stop running on my papers that are on the floor. I am as close to the wall as I can get. Why are they on the floor you "axe"...hehe...ask?

---Well, I am sitting on the floor because everyone has decided they each need three chairs. They need one to sit on, one for their coat, and one for their phone. That's okay folks! I will just pull up a corner of the floor with my 7-week old in tow.

---Remember there was a time when children had to learn to entertain themselves? If you were going to be somewhere you made sure you had toys, colors, a book to read, etc. Things sure have changed. "Here kids, just play with the smart phone. Make sure you turn the volume up as LOUD AS POSSIBLE."

---Plus, while all of this is happening you can see and hear the parents laughing at how bad some of the students are in the class. Hello, they are four and five years old. I am just happy that my boy is even standing in one spot for more than a minute.

Okay. That's all for now. Even though I could add more to the list. Yes, even in the short time that it took me to write the FIRST sentence!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Palmolive Fresh Infusions...Aroma Therapy?

I'll keep this short and sweet.

I recently received two bottles of the new Palmolive Fresh Infusions dish soap.  They come in some AMAZING scents.  My favorite?  Lime Basil.  It has a fresh, clean smell.  There is just a hint of basil and the lime cuts right through.  While washing dishes isn't my favorite activity, I don't mind it AS much with my new soap.   It is definitely a good aroma therapy!  Every time I scrub a dish a burst of scents comes wafting out.  I love it! 

While I enjoy the smell; I was originally concerned that the smell would linger on the dishes after washing them.  Would I really want to eat ice cream that smelled like lime basil?  That, however, did not happen.  The dishes come out smelling...well...like dishes.  No transfer smell whatsoever.

I also shared a bottle with a friend -- Lemon Thyme.  This one wasn't quite as powerful with the scent.  I would have preferred to have a bit stronger smell but I know others have really enjoyed it. 
For more info about the new soaps check out the Palmolive® website

As for the actual cleaning power? It worked well with the many, MANY bottles I wash every day.    Check out the video I made about my dish washing adventures!  I actually made it for a contest (click here to vote) but thought I would share it here too.







Interested in trying it out? You can find Fresh Infusions™ at Walmart and Target.

I received this product complimentary through Influenster.






 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Influenster...Check it Out!

Have you ever heard of Influenster?  No, I didn't misspell anything.  It is a great site that you have to check out.  Influenster (click here to check out their site) is a "free-to-join community of invited trendsetters who live to give opinions of products and experiences."

To get started you: 
   1.  Sign up
   2.  Earn badges

That is it!  Influenster will go through their membership list and send out Voxboxes to active members that fit a particular profile.  Voxboxes are little packages of happiness!  They are filled with all sorts of products.  All Influenster asks is that you give your opinions about the products, participate in challenges, blog/vlog about your experiences, and spread the word via social media.

It isn't just about getting free stuff.  You have to work for it! 


Personally, I love this program.  I have been introduced to some great new products.  Many of the products are now staples in my own home!

If you are interested in joining...let me know.  I'll send you an invite.  Influenster is an equal opportunity program!  Women.  Men.  It doesn't matter.  Check it out!

 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's a BOY!!!

I could go in to great lengths about my labor and delivery with my new little baby BUT I will try and keep it short.

On Tuesday, October 9, I began feeling some back pain at bed time.  I didn't think much of it because for the last eight months I had been feeling back pain.  I of course didn't really pay attention to the fact that these pains would come and go about every ten minutes or so.  At around midnight/one I couldn't "sleep" any longer so I decided to wake up and do a little Facebook stalking.  My husband was the voice of reason and said, "maybe they're contractions...perhaps you should start timing them."  Contractions?  Really?  I hadn't actually thought about it.  So, bring on the trusty App Store.  They actually make apps that will calculate your contractions, time between, length, etc.  Awesome!  Sure enough they were coming at regular intervals...about every five minutes apart.  About two hours later we decide we should probably make the 40 minute trek to the hospital.  We didn't want to wait too long and find ourselves delivering a baby on the side of the Interstate. 

We finally made it to the hospital around 4:15a on October 10.  I was nervous because I didn't want to think that these contractions weren't actually doing anything.  I didn't want them to check me and say, "well, you are only at one centimeter..."  However, that wasn't the case.  Yay!  I was at five centimeters and could be admitted.  Three blown veins later...I had my IV in and was waiting for the anesthesiologist to come in and do the epidural.  I couldn't handle it.  My husband said I probably could have.  I was at seven centimeters and was doing...okay-ish.  I wanted the drugs though.  (Don't judge me.) 

Two movies later (Date Night and Napoleon Dynamite) we were ready to push.  Three contractions later and we had a little boy!  We were both shocked.  We swore it was going to be a girl, but God surprised us with another boy. 

After our little boy was born there was excessive bleeding.  The doctor was called back in and I was put immediately on some drugs to help slow the bleeding down.  I'm so thankful that the nurses and doctor were on top of things.  Unfortunately I had some sort of allergic reaction to one of the drugs.  Nothing terribly serious but I broke out in a rash and my entire body itched.  A small price to pay though...I'll take it!  A few hours to recover and our whole family was moved to a new wing in the hospital.

This hospital room would be our new home for the next four days.  If I had known that we would be staying so long, I would have brought more magazines to read :)  Our first night stay was pretty uneventful.  Our second day we were hoping to be discharged but after a meeting with the lactation consultant we decided we should get our baby's tongue clipped to help with feeding.  Unfortunately the surgeon wouldn't be available to do that until the following morning.  So we waited another night in the hospital.  My husband had to take care of our other son, so I spent the night alone.  A bit depressing, but what a great time to bond with my new boy!

The next morning the surgeon came and clipped the tongue.  The whole process took maybe 15 seconds.  We were ready to go when we found out that my son's bilirubin count was high.  That meant another night in the hospital.  He spent the entire day hanging out on the table.  Now I know that this happens to a large percentage of newborns.  However, the part I was most frustrated with came down to the table itself.  We were supposed to have an additional light that goes over the baby as well.  Of course none of the lights worked so they came up with just the lower light.  I knew that it wouldn't work but there isn't much you can say to the nursing staff.  I wasn't surprised when they checked his blood the next morning and it hadn't changed at all.  Somehow, though, they were able to come up with a working overhead light the next morning.  Another day at the hospital. 

Finally the lights were doing there job.  Another blood test showed that the number was getting a bit lower.  He was moved off the lights and if he could maintain or decrease his number over the next eight hours he could be discharged.  Much later that night we were given the green light!  Numbers went down by a half point or so and we were allowed to leave!  We couldn't pack up fast enough!  We left the hospital and made the trek back home (but first we had to stop at Panda Express to appease the older son...well, and mommy too). 

Now we are back home and enjoying the newness of everything again.  I am completely blessed to have a wonderful husband and two amazing boys.  I can't believe I'm outnumbered though.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Not a Secret Anymore

Well, it wasn't necessarily the best kept secret, BUT for almost nine months my family was able to keep my pregnancy out of the social media world.  My husband and I weren't trying to be secretive about it but so much information gets shared on Facebook and other sites that we thought it would be nice to keep things on the "down low."    I have 400+ friends on FB.  (I know that isn't a ton compared to most of my friends, but I try to keep it around the 400 mark.)  To me, it wasn't necessary for those 400+ or even 200+ people to know that I was suffering another bout of morning sickness or that my clothes no longer fit.

We never officially posted a status about being pregnant but it was amazing how things were assumed or how things spread. I think some people felt jilted almost that we didn't say anything to them.  Anyway, we did it.  On 10-10-12, I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.  Yay!  So, if you are actually curious as to how it all went down...check out the next post. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Sometimes Things Just Have to be Thrown Away

I am a recovering pack rat.  Every day is a struggle.  I used to be really bad.  I remember as a child holding on to some of the most insignificant things.  Every broken toy could be fixed or had such sentimental value that it couldn't just be tossed out.  Every sticker I ever got from school was lovingly put in a little bag to look at and peruse at my leisure.  That rusted paperclip still had some life left and it was okay to keep all of the single pairs of socks.  You might find the match some day!

I don't know if my pack rattedness (yes, I made that word up) came from not having much as a child?  Every thing I received was a "precious gift" to me.  Even if it was a ugly, UGLY sweatshirt designed by a family member (sorry if you are reading this) I would keep it for years because the guilt of giving it away was almost too much.  That's a lot of pressure to put on a seven year old!!! 

I still have BOXES of things at my mom's house. I think I keep them there so that I don't have to deal with it. Every time I go and visit I try to throw something away and it is just too much for me.  I have boxes of Barbies and stuffed animals from my childhood.  Yeah, we all have those things, but many of my dolls have their heads broken off and the stuffed animals are stained or biological hazards.  But still...how can I get rid of them?  I have shelves lined with knick knacks and Wizard of Oz collectibles.  I have a drawer full of old eyeglasses!  Why do I need them?  My prescription, and taste, have obviously changed since 5th grade, but there is this overwhelming power that won't let me throw them away.  On a recent trip to my mom's house I found a picture of a boy that I had a HUGE crush on in 10th grade.  This photo was of course taking "Paparazzi Style."  Umm, did he even know my name?  Probably not.  I can't toss it though.  No, I don't have this undying love for him either.  I think he became a priest. 

Why is it so hard to get rid of these things though?  Really, I want to know the answer!!

I thought I was doing so well with getting rid of items.  I really did.  When we started packing up boxes for our recent move I tossed a LOT of stuff.  We donated, sold, recycled, and trashed boxes and boxes of items.  When we moved in I was proud of what I had gotten rid of from the old house.  As I am unboxing the remaining items though, I have to come to the realization that there is still a lot of "stuff" left. 

I just uncovered a tub full of costume type clothing.  I remember in college how hard it was to find costumes for some of the larger individuals.  I received a personal donation of dresses for sizes 20-28 and I thought, "Wow, this is great!  I can hold on to these for the next show that I help costume."  Yeah right!  That was almost ten years ago and I have no plans on doing a show that just happens to need formal beaded dresses from the 1980s/90s.  Do I really need to keep that old sweater vest and shirt I bought to possibly make a Star Wars costume?  Oh, they are also about ten sizes too small, but the fabric is PERFECT! 

It is rough.  These clothes are just staring at me while I'm typing.  I want to just throw them in the trash right now.  I know though, that the minute they touch my (still sewer smelling) trash can that I will get the call that someone needs my help costuming "Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding" and that the actress playing the mother of the bride just happens to be a size 24!  

Plus, there is always the thought that these items are worth a monetary value.  Maybe, just maybe I can post these online and make a buck or two.  Ummm, is spending five hours on Facebook on the Garage Sale site REALLY worth the three dollars I just made on that dress?  Nope, but as I'm writing this I see that those same ugly beaded dresses are getting "likes" on the site.  Who knows, maybe someone will buy them! 

It is hard though, especially with Craigslist, Ebay, Facebook, etc, because everyone (including me) things that their items are worth something.  Well, they are only worth what some one is willing to spend.  Should I keep my pack ratted (again, another made up word) items until I get a dollar amount that seems right?  Wouldn't it be better to just throw them away?  Some items are not worth donating!  After the big tornadoes last year people were donating items left and right.  The problem?  They were donating their unwanted leftovers...broken Christmas decorations, stained clothing,  baby items that were recalled.  Sometimes things just have to be thrown away (if they can't be recycled). 

Whew! 

My therapy session is over.  I promise to throw those dresses away tomorrow morning...well, that is as long as no one wants to buy them :)


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Always & Tampax Always Radiant Collection Review

Well, the Influenster Summer VoxBox reviews are coming to an end.  I've enjoyed trying out the items in this particular box.  The last review I have is for the Always & Tampax Always Radiant Collection.  Click here for more info about Always & Tampax.
I LOVE the new Always Infinity Radiant collection.  I actually noticed this product in the stores about a year ago.  With a coupon in hand I purchased it and have never gone back.  With multiple sizes, you can always find the right one for you.  It is comfortable and you don't have to worry about leaks!  That is important.  Compared to other pads, this is the BEST!  I even wrote to Always a few months ago and asked them why they wouldn't just consider throwing out the rest of their products and just sell Infinity Radiant.  Yes, it is that good!
 
Now, for Tampax.  They have redone the packaging for the lovely tampon.  It is easy to open and has a great design.  It is stylish...well as stylish as you can get when you are talking about feminine hygiene products.  Plus, the protection is great!  
 
This has nothing to do with the product itself, but Tampax...you need to have a new commercial for this product. 
 
 
Ummm, I don't quite get it and it honestly makes me think you are carrying around a dirty "product" around with you. 
 
Anyway, check them out!  Great products and totally worth the extra cost.
 
 
By the way, I did receive this product complimentary for testing and reviewing purposes from Influenster.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Lotion Sunscreen Review

As a redhead with very fair skin, I go through my fair share of sunscreen.  I have tried SPF 15 all the way up to 105.  Does it really make a difference?  I don't know!  I still usually burn unless I diligently set my clock for every hour and reapply.  Anyway, as much sunscreen as I go through, and I don't even use it every day like I should, I will always accept free sunscreen.  So, I was excited to receive in my 2012 Summer VoxBox from Influenster the Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Lotion Sunscreen in SPF 30.  Check out their product info at the bottom of the post.



For me, there is not much you can say about a sunscreen.  It either works for you or it doesn't.  I have to say that I love the protection that this sunscreen provided and the creaminess of the lotion.  My hands were NOT greasy after applying the lotion, which is extremely important to me.  The smell was very tropical, perfect for Hawaiian Tropics, but I did find that it could be a bit overwhelming.  I have to use a lot of sunscreen and I found that the smell, while nice and not chemically smelling, was a bit too much for me.  Still, a definite must for the summer!  I'll have to check out the SPF 50 next time.

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration Lotion Sunscreen

Also available in SPF 12, 30, 50!

With its ultra-luxurious hydrating silk ribbons, Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration™ lotion sunscreen nourishes and pampers skin while providing broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, and 12-hour moisturization when out in the sun.

Where to Buy

You can find Hawaiian Tropic products at most major retailers.
Suggested retail price: $8.99 for a 6oz bottle


By the way, I did receive this product complimentary for testing and reviewing purposes from Influenster.

Sally Hansen Magnetic Nail Color Review

My Influenster Summer VoxBox is full of goodies to try!  This week I tried out the Sally Hansen Magnetic Nail Color in Ionic Indigo.  Check out the product info at the bottom of the post. 

I have heard a lot of hype about this product and was ready to try it out.    The nail polish itself has magnetic properties.  After doing a base coat of polish you do a second coat and hold a magnet over the wet polish.  The magnet then helps create, supposed, dazzling designs and waves throughout the polished nail.  As you can see from the advertisement...it looks REALLY neat.  Two separate trials later and I can say that I am deeply disappointed in the nail polish.

I followed the instructions on the back of the bottle exactly as described.

1.  Apply one coat of base coat. Shake Magnetic Nail Color to activate.  Remove overcap with magnet  and set aside.  Apply one coat of Magnetic Nail Color to all 10 nails and let dry.

2.  Apply a thick second coat of color to one nail and immediately hold the built-in magnet over the nail.  Hold for 10 seconds.  Repeat for all 10 nails and let dry.

(There were a few other instructions to I chose to cut them out to spare you ALL of the details!)

So, I followed the directions the first time and had three out of ten nails work.  I thought, "maybe I didn't let the nails dry long enough between coats?"  "Maybe I should put a thicker second coat on?"  "Perhaps I should hold the magnet over the nail longer?"  "Maybe I need to shake the bottle longer?"

I wanted to give the product a fair shot so I tried it again today.  I changed added more time between coats and I put a thicker coat on as well.  Still no difference!  Maybe I have a faulty bottle, maybe my magnet isn't as strong as it should be.  Maybe it is even the color...maybe it doesn't show up as well with the deeper color.  I don't know.  Oh, and with the magnetic lid coming off as a separate lid from the nail polish, all I could think was "choking hazard!"

If I was given this product free again...I would definitely try it out.  If I had to spend my own $10 on the bottle....nope!

So, if anyone is interested in a slightly used bottle of nail polish, let me know!  I have one that will be sitting on the shelf for quite some time.


There Ionic Indigo - Perfect!
I'm sure lighting, hand models, and make up artists help...that is if it isn't computer generated.


My Ionic Indigo - Dud!
My thumb is the only one that turned out close to a finished product.

 

Sally Hansen Magnetic Nail Color

NEW! Sally Hansen Magnetic Nail Color is summer’s hottest nail trend that allows you to create a gorgeous 3-D nail art effect in just seconds. This unique formula has been specially developed with metallic particles – just hold the built-in magnet over wet polish to reveal a unique design on the nail. Seal with a topcoat for extra shine! Learn more at www.sallyhansen.com

Easy steps
STEP 1
Shake and Apply 2 coats
STEP 2
Hold Magnet for 10 seconds over wet nail polish
Instant Attraction!
Let dry and seal with a top coat for extra shine

 Where to Buy

Available at chain drug stores, food stores and mass merchandisers nationally.
Suggested Retail Price: $9.99

 

By the way, I did receive this product complimentary for testing and reviewing purposes from Influenster.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Quaker Soft Baked Banana Nut Bar

I just received my 2012 Summer VoxBox from Influenster and so of course the first thing I decided to try was the snack :)  Included in this box was the Quaker Soft Baked Bar in Banana Nut Bread.  Check out their product info at the bottom of the post.

Banana Nut Bread bar

This product is made with real bananas and almonds and as soon as you opened the package you were hit in the face with the aroma of bananas.  You can opt to eat the bar straight out of the package or pop it in the microwave for 10 seconds.  I love warm foods so I opted for the microwave.  Just open up the package, pop it in, and enjoy.  I really liked the fact that the packaging was microwaveable.  I didn't have to hunt down a clean plate...which is hard to find at my house right now. 

As I took a bit of the product I was pleasantly surprised by a crunch.  After devouring my bar, and a cold glass of milk, I checked out the ingredients list and saw that soy crisp rice was the second ingredient listed.  It added a great texture to the bar and helped give it a little boost.  The almonds on top were plentiful and the general flavor of the bar was good.  I'm sure if you are not a banana fan you probably wouldn't enjoy this bar but check out the Quaker website and you can see that they also have Cinnamon Pecan Bread.  You can even print out a coupon for the product at their site!

Overall, I liked it and will definitely buy this product.  Several of the reviews that I read talked about how this isn't a "health food bar" but they don't market it that way.  They market it as a way to get fiber and protein.  Still I don't think 140 calories is all that bad.  Top it off with a glass of skim milk and I think you have a pretty darn good breakfast.

Don't you love my photography skills?

 Quaker Soft Baked Bar - Banana Nut Bread

Made with real bananas and almonds, Quaker Soft Baked Bars Banana Nut Bread flavor has tasty ingredients and key nutrients to help provide fuel to start your day.

-5g Fiber*
-20% daily value of 5 B Vitamins
-6g of Protein
*Contains 3.5g of total fat per serving

Where to Buy

You can find Quaker Soft Baked Bars at most major retailers.
Suggested retail price: $3.29 for a box of 5 bars



By the way, I did receive this product complimentary for testing and reviewing purposes from Influenster.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Pros and Cons of Moving

I am probably one of the few people that enjoy the process of moving.  While I am no expert in the art of moving I do have some experience...three major moves in seven years with an additional three mini-moves in that same time period.  It can be a bit daunting and stressful but there are so many great things that come out of each move too!  Since I seem to be about lists lately (check them out at "Top 10 Memorable Houses," "The Top Five Four 'Wow, these houses are really nice but there is now way that we could actually afford it' List," and "My Most Memorable Job Interiews (and a few offers)"), I thought it would be great to share with you the pros and cons of moving so often, but especially with this move in to our new home.

Pros
-My shower/tub sparkles.  I know for a fact that when I move in my tub looks clean and when I move out it looks clean.  All of the other days in between don't count.

-Every time I change my address they send me a 10% off Lowe's coupon.  Hello washer and dryer.  Hello new refrigerator!

-I can actually paint the walls!  This will be the first time that I will get to choose the paint color and it will NOT be beige, cream or white. 

-Getting rid of unwanted items.  This move we have furniture, toys, clothes, electronics, and so much more.  They were all things we needed at one time and now that we have our own defined space and updated a few things, we don't need them.  It is great to see how large the pile is getting (and this is after we already had a massive garage sale a few months ago) and all of the proceeds go directly back to the house. Plus, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to get rid of 300 pounds of clutter. I am beyond that number BUT could possibly get up to the 700-800 pound mark! 

-We already have all of our boxes.  We've saved them over the years and it makes packing MUCH easier.

-As I mentioned earlier, I do love a clean shower but often times I leave the place cleaner than when I moved in. Now that we are out of the rental game (for now at least) I won't have to worry about scrubbing the floors or cleaning under the drip pans on the stove.  Well, I'll still do that BUT I won't be charged an exorbinate fee if it isn't done "up to standards."


Cons
-For the major moves it is hard to start over--making new friends, find the right grocery store, learning how to get from Point A to Point B, etc.  Luckily this move is just a few blocks away.

-While I do like getting those Lowe's coupons when I change my address it also creates a few headaches.  It can take weeks and sometimes months to get addresses changed on every account or bill.

-You never really know what to expect when it comes to neighbors.  In Minnesota we had "Do" short for "Weirdo."  Pretty sure he was the one that stole our bikes.  Then in Kansas we lived under a guy who spilled his keg and it left a stain on our ceiling.  We have lucked out in Oklahoma so far.  We hope that our new neighbors are okay.

-Moving can be EXPENSIVE and tiring.  We have moved ourselves with the help of good friends and U-Haul trailers, but it is amazing how much those trailers cost!  To cut down costs on one move; we rented a trailer for 24 hours.  We packed it, drove eight hours to our new place, unpacked, and drove back up the eight hours.  All to save a few dollars.  I don't think we'll do that again.


Any Pros or Cons you want to add to the list?


Friday, June 22, 2012

Job Interviews Really Can...Stink...Yeah, That's the Word I Was Going to Use

**Updated 6/25/12.  Check out #9**

Currently my home buying, no longer "mis," adventures are on hold.  I wanted to think of something else to write about that many of you all can relate to.  I don't want to dwell on the negative things (or creepy things) that we go through but after the last couple of weeks I have had, I thought the best thing to write about would be my job hunt.  Better yet, the wonderful interviews and sometimes offers.

I know that these aren't horror stories by any means.  I have heard some terrible interview stories and there is no way that I can compare to that, but I have been through my own frustrating situations.  I will not tell you the name of the places I interviewed...some of them may be schools, some may be local businesses, and some may be larger, established businesses.  IF you are reading this though and are from an HR department or school board and ask specifically about a place I will get with you privately...who knows...maybe some things can change!

Again, these are not horror stories...just stories.  So, in a pseudo chronological order:

"My Most Memorable Job Interviews (and a few offers)"

1.  Sorry, it is just allergies. When I was eight months pregnant with my little boy I went in to an interview that went fairly well. It was an hour drive from home but I was looking for my first [real] job. I interviewed with the first individual and thought things went really well. I was told to be on the look out for another phone call from another individual that I could potentially work under. I said goodbye and started back on my drive. Thirty minutes later I get a phone call from the second person. He was upset with me because we were supposed to meet 30 minutes ago. So, I of course turn the car around and drive back up to meet him.

The interview was painful. At one point he said, "I don't have your transcripts. So, tell me, what would they say?" I answered, "it would say that I graduated with a 3.96 GPA. I have two degrees and maintained a course load of 20+ credit hours a semester." He then said, "NO, what would it say about you?" I have no idea! It lists my college classes for crying out loud! "Well, it would say that I have a well rounded education with classes such as: _____, _____, _____, and _____." I rattled off as many classes as I could remember. That again was not the answer he was looking for. That's when the tears started to come. I kept wiping them away and at one point told him I was suffering from allergies. Yeah...that's right...allergies. As I was ready to leave the man looked at my large belly and asked me, "is there anything that you see will come up in the future that would cause you to miss work?" Oh, because you can't specifically ask me if I'm pregnant you are going to reword it to make me say it? "Nope!" I replied and left as quickly as I could. I was actually offered the job...I did not take it.  

2. You're hired. Oh, never mind we gave it to someone else. A few days before moving to my new community I interviewed for a job. It was a slight drive for me but extremely doable. I drove the five hours to get there (at that point we were still living in a different state), talked with the hiring committee, and drove back five hours. I felt like the interview went well. A few hesitations when it came to some of the resources that I would have but I was still excited about it. On my drive back home I was offered the job. I told him I needed to talk to my husband but that I would call him bac within 24 hours. That next morning I left a message on the school phone and told them I had a few more questions but that I would go ahead and give them my verbal yes. I said I would be officially moved down there by the end of the week and would be happy to sign all of the papers. I thought that was it. The day before the move I received an email...an EMAIL!! That said they received my message but then never heard back. They didn't have time to wait so they offered the job to the next candidate. WHAT?! You couldn't have called me once just to double check...you just offer it up to the next person without even checking?  

3. Can you count money back? You're hired.

**This space intentionally left blank because that was basically the entire interview.
I accepted the seasonal part-time job.***

4. Sorry that position is...vacant...filled...vacant...filled. Yet another position became available near my community. I was excited. The position had just been posted and I submitted my materials the next day. I received a phone call from the [boss] and he said they had just filled that position. He thought the person was leaving but they were actually staying. He was sorry for the confusion but told me he would pass my name and information along if anything came up. One month later I notice the position is posted again. Okay, yay! Maybe it didn't work out. I called immediately. Nope, that position was filled by a different person. Alright, I can deal with that. It happens. However, months later I find out that the position was filled by someone without the proper qualifications. How could they even hire this person without the right qualifications? They can't! Well, they can't unless there are NO other qualified candidates. I noticed that job was available again this year. We'll see how it goes...

5.  What value is there in a stay at home mom?  Last year I was called in to interview for a position that I was excited about.  It was something I was qualified for but it would have been a new adventure.  Yes, it was about an hour away, but at the time I didn't mind...I actually received a call for an interview!  The day before the interview I received a phone call from what would have been my possible co-worker and he told me a few things I needed to have prepared for the interview.  I thought, "wow, that was sweet."  The next morning I drive to the city (which actually took 90 minutes due to a massive electrial outage in the town) but I still made it on time! 

I met the hiring committee, joked about the electricity, and felt comfortable and confident about how the interview would go.  I was prepared with my answers and had done my research about the place.  Then they start the questions.  Question #1 (from the potential co-worker that had called me earlier).  "So, I see from your resume that you haven't actually [been working] for the last year.  What have you actually done with yourself then?"  BAM.  Slap.To.The.Face.  Ummm...raising a child!  I may have actually said it that way too but I can't quite remember. 

I was so shocked by not only how he asked the question, the tone, the manor, but the fact that he asked it that way at all!  Don't they usually ask, "tell us a little bit about yourself," first?  Needless to say the waterworks sprung.  I can't help it.  I am a crier.  Luckily it was just tears that I successfully?/unsuccessfully? pawned off as allergies...again. 

6.  You do NOT want to work in this job.  Recently I had an interview for a position that I felt/knew I was overqualified for.  I knew it but was still willing and ready to take any position possible.  Plus, why should it matter if I am overqualified?  If I want to take a job that doesn't "stretch me" isn't that my choice?  I'm not sure if I would have ever been offered an interview for this job if it wasn't for my persistance in calling to see if the position had been filled and by knowing someone that worked at this place.  This interview lasted about 20 minutes.  The first five involved me giving my life/work history and saying why I would be interested in this position...the other 15 minutes involved the other person telling me about the job.  Not just telling me about it but ripping the job apart.  I was given a dozen reasons as to why I would not want to work here; the work conditions, the long hours, the noise, the never ending pile of paperwork, and the inability to talk to your co-workers.  Oh, and by the way, we use an antiquated system; you'll be printing off [things] from the internet and then typing them in to the computer.  Really this job is kind of pointless to even have in our [company.]  Hmmm...maybe they should have someone else conduct the interviews next time.

7.  Hold on, let me check my text messages.  Last week I interviewed for a position, an hour away again, that I hemmed and hawed about.  I was excited about getting an interview but that hour drive is just a bit too much.  I went anyway because interviews are good experience...blah...blah...blah.  After waiting 20 minutes past my time I was called in.  I knew the before me was doing well because they talked for 70 minutes and because you could here them laughing and talking about nonwork related things.  Hmmm...tough act to follow.  I sat down and starting answering questions.  I thought it was going okay until the [boss] jumped out of her chair and said, "oh, I need to check my text messages.  My teenage daughter is going to WalMart and isn't quite sure how to use the debit card."  Well, that is a bit rude but it is nice to see that she is looking out for her child...oh wait, her daughter is 19 not 13?  Uh, no.  Needless to say that kind of jolted the interview.  I then found the [boss] answering my questions.  She would ask, I would begin to answer, and then she would finish my sentences.  Plus, I was in and out in about 20 minutes.

8.  I'll let you know soon...still waiting.  I interviewed for a job earlier this month that I was extremely excited about.  I thought it would be a perfect fit.  I heard the job was opening...and then I waited for it to post.  I sent in my application materials...and then I waited for an interview.  I had the interview...and waited...and waited...and waited to hear about the job.  Three weeks later and I'm still "waiting" to hear back from this [guy.]  Now, I already know that I didn't get the job.  I actually found out through the grapevine via another [guy] when he asked me to interview for his current position that opened up.  Surprise, surprise...he lost his employee to a transfer.  The job I had still been waiting to hear about!!!  Another slap in the face.  Dear Guy #1, could you please be considerate and at least call, email, or send a letter that told me someone else was chosen.  Yeah, that would have been nice.  So now I know that I didn't get the job but part of me is still hoping that I will get some sort of message from him that the position has been filled.  Do you think it will actually happen?

9.  I promise, I won't make you wait.  So this is the continuation of the last interview.  This was not my ideal job but in my community the opportunities to work in my specific field are few and far between.  Guy #2 conducted the interview and we talked for almost two hours.  I felt the interview went well although I did tell him my hesitations.  I prayed and prayed about this job.  Specifically if it was offered to me would I take it, would I try and change things, would I turn it down?  I was told I would know, whether it was a "yes" or a "no,"  by _____ date.  I told him how I appreciated that and then told him the story about the previous job in the community.  He said, "that is terrible.  I promise, I won't make you wait."  Well folks, I'm still waiting.  I really  hope that they offered the job to someone else and are just trying to figure out the details but still do I really want to work for a place that treats potential employees like that?

**So here is the update.  After waiting a week later then promised I did finally get an answer...it was a no.  Am I a bit disappointed?  Yes, but I also said earlier that I hoped they would offer it to someone that really enjoys working with [this particular age group].  When I was asked by the interviewer if I was intimidated by [this group], I was honest and said yes. 


It still hurts to not get a yes, but I'm hoping that the right job is out there.  These past two experiences have also opened my eyes to the area that I live in.  It makes me appreciate the places I have worked at in the past and it makes me yearn more for my community.  I WANT to see changes being made!  Would I love to be a part of it?  Yes!**    


Care to share?  Post a comment and I will contact you.  I would love to hear about other's interesting interviews. 




Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Our Home Buying Misadventures - The Final Chapter?

Well folks, this may be the final chapter of our home buying misadventures.  We have spent almost two years looking for our first home in our local community.  We have been on the fence about buying a home and we finally just had to make a decision.  It was hard to decide if renting or buying would be the best option for us.  Renting can be a hassle when it comes to dealing with neighbors, landlords, pet deposits, etc BUT if something happens...they fix it.  Infestation problem...they spray.  You don't like where you live?  You can move out when your lease is up.  When you buy...you have all of the responsibilities.  Are we ready for it?

Yes!  I mentioned earlier that we saw a house that could be a top contender...well, we put an offer in on Tuesday and it was accepted this morning.  We knew that this was the best option for us after we saw one more rental this morning.  This rental had carpet from the 1970's, bedrooms the size of bathrooms, no backyard, and SMELLED of cat urine.  For just $17 more a month than that property we can have our own home.  Sure, we'll have to deal with the broken toilet ourselves and cut the grass, but I can control the smell and I can paint the walls!!!

The last three days were a bit stressful but we made it through.  We saw the house on Monday and talked about what we liked and didn't like about it.  We saw a few more houses on Tuesday and decided to go back to this house one more time.  We put our offer in that afternoon.  A few hours later our agent told us there was at least one other offer in at the moment.  She didn't know the exact offer but was told it was within $1,000 of the original asking price.  We thought hard about how much we wanted this house.  Were we willing to up our offer to compete against this other one?  Was there even another offer or was this a way for the seller's agent to up the price?  We went ahead and added more to our offer and waited, and waited, and waited.  This morning we received a call that said there were now "multiple offers on the table."  What?!  Seriously?!  Hmmm...did we really want to up our offer again?  How could this house be listed for almost 90 days with no major activity and now all of a sudden there are all of these offers?  We decided to add an additional $1,000 to our offer.  Enough for them to know that we were seriously interested but that was it.  No more.  This afternoon we received the call from our agent that our offer was accepted.  We went just above the asking price, asked for help with closing costs, asked for a refrigerator and removal of some items from the backyard (mainly a rotted out shed and a broken chain link fence). 

So how does it fare to our needs and wants list?  It meets seven out of our eight NEEDS and meets five out of our six WANTS.  Not too shabby I think.

We hope this is the end of our home buying misadventures, however, we aren't finished yet.  With inspections, insurance, and all of the other little things that need to be done...we know a hiccup could come our way.   

So, check it out.  These are the photos that the listing agent took.  Enjoy!


The color is not my favorite but I'm sure it helps to hide some of the cosmetic flaws and it will be easy to find.
Fireplace...it doesn't work though.  Again, not my favorite color
but that can be changed.  Suggestions for what to do with it?
The only full bathroom in the house.  Has a great storage nook beside the tub.

A half bath in the master bedroom.  It would have been nice to have
two full baths, but I'll take two toilets over one any day.
 
One of three bedrooms...they all look the same.
Dining room.  Great light from the windows.


Kitchen.  Nice looking cabinets and counter tops.  New appliances
and we'll get a new refrigerator out of the seller too.



Monday, June 4, 2012

Our Home Buying Misadventures - Part Five

As I mentioned in my last post, we had to start back at the beginning of our search.  We were lucky enough to have a little vacation to think about the past few weeks and collect our thoughts.  What came out of it was a letter to our agent.  I've deleted some of the information (because as I have said before, you don't need to know all of my personal financial details) but you get the idea.  Anything in italics was not actually in the letter; just extra info for you :) 

*****

Dear Agent,
     We have done a lot of thinking over the past couple of weeks about our house hunting adventure and will admittedly say that we are a bit frustrated with the entire situation.  We are almost to the point where we are ready to call it quits for a bit. We feel that we are spending entirely too much of our time looking for houses on the internet through the many sites we used including the company's site.  While we know we are pre-qualified for $$$, we have absolutely no intention on spending that much.  We have talked through our budget and will not spend more than $$$ (minus about $25,000 less than what we were approved for) and even still would rather spend around $$$ or less (an additional $15,000 less).  We know that there are several homes out there in the (reasonably priced range for our community) range that would fit our needs and we do not want to look at anything higher than that unless you know the seller is willing to negotiate to our comfort price.  When we hear “highly motivated seller” we expect that they are actually willing to negotiate and not just include items in the property to keep their price high.  (Do the sellers really think by adding a dining room table and a large television...the old school kind, not the flat screen kind...will make me want to pay the full asking price?)  To help aid in the search we have come up with a few items that are “needs” in our home and then a list of “wants.”

NEEDS:
We then included a list of eight needs for our home.

WANTS:
An additional six items that included school district preferences and other things that we could potentially live without in our first home.

     As I mentioned before, it is okay if minimal updates need to be made.  We don’t mind painting or doing minor projects.  We hope that this will help in narrowing down the search.  We hope that this relationship will work out but we are at the point where we need to do what is best for our family.  We need to find a home, within our budget, that meets our needs. We need someone that doesn’t push us to our top dollar but is willing to be our advocate when it comes to negotiations.

*****

Anyway, that's the letter we sent off on Sunday.  Just one day later it felt like we had a new agent.  We visited five houses today that covered most of our "needs" and many of our "wants."  One of them may even be a top contender.  We have a few more to look at tomorrow and then I think we'll try and put in another offer. 

Before I go though, I do have to share one more house with you that has taken the number one spot in "Top 10 Memorable Houses."  Yes, it beat out the "Serial Killer House with a Squatter."  Today's most memorable home...

The partially underground smoker home with an infestation of spiders.  So, we came across this home last week and, again, had high hopes for the house.  It was further out of town than we had originally wanted but it had three bedrooms, two baths, great built in shelves, over 2,300 square feet of space, and sat on two acres of land.  We know it would be hard to maintain that much land but it was mostly wooded and thought it would be enough space for a little boy.  We knew ahead of time that it was definitely dated with the large department store mirrors in the bedroom and wood paneling EVERYWHERE but the price reflected these issues. 

It looks a bit like a dental office from the front.

What I didn't realize, when first looking at this home online, was that the house was built partially underground.  It isn't very noticeable until you of course walk around the property.  When we first walked in the agent said there was definitely and odor to the home.  She couldn't pinpoint whether it was just musty or smoke.  Oh, it was smoke...and not just the casual smoker but the kind that smoked there for so long that when you took the pictures off of the wall you can see the nicotine outline of where it was hanging.  Gross! 

Master Bedroom with department store mirrors.  If you look
just down right of the fan you can see the nicotine stains.
Even further down you can see the water stains.

I didn't pay close attention to the pictures online, but after seeing the home you can clearly see the nicotine stains.  Plus, this is the wall in the ground; throughout the entire room you can see the water stains.  Everything shows up so well on the fabric covered wall!  Fabric...on walls!  After seeing this room I told our agent I was finished looking.  I was not going to waste her time or ours looking at a house that we were not interested in.  Of course, the child and husband rush through the house to see the other "jewels" and I book it out as quickly as possible.

Now, on the way out I come across this lovely creature.

Dead but still nasty.

He was thankfully dead.  Yeah, yeah, tarantulas aren't poisonous...but if you are a spider and you are larger my child's hand...I don't care!  So that creeped me out a little bit but it was really the mass of spider webs that I saw when I exited the house that finished me off.  There was the web attached to the garage that was literally the size of a toddler.  Turning the corner to walk towards the car I noticed some green shrubs that were COVERED with webs.  There was at least four or five feet of thick webs.  Seeing this then reminded me of the story I read yesterday about spiders swarming a village in India.  Check out the article here.  Again, I know they aren't the same spiders but it still creeps me out.  Needless to say, as I was researching tarantulas for this entry I did figure out that the webs we saw were tarantula webs.  So, I guess that is the plus side of the house.  You only have to worry about the large spiders...well, and the black widows and brown recluse spiders that seem to creep up everywhere in this state.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Our Home Buying Misadventures - Part Four

So I was hoping to wait on this installment until tomorrow, but due to some other circumstances....it comes today.

Out of the hundreds of houses that we have seen, we did see a few that we thought could actually be our home.

Updated House. This house was a four bedroom, two bath home.  The garage had been converted in to the master bedroom.  It had a small living room but updated kitchen, fenced in back yard and other updates throughout the house.  The two things we disliked about this home were the lack of garage and it  was on a very major street.  It was reasonably priced and we had considered putting an offer in but we didn't act fast enough.  The home was on the marker for less than a week before it was purchased. 

Great curb appeal and I loved the little picket fence in the front yard!

Older Home in a Great Neighborhood.  We saw this house and quickly grew fond of it.  It had extremely tall ceilings, a large living room, separate dining room, and spacious bedrooms.  The home was about 20 years old.  There were a few updates that needed to be done (stretching or replacement of the carpets) and a few things that should be done to help the overall appeal (new appliances and tile flooring).  The home was priced above our comfort level, but we thought we would go ahead and make an offer.  Our first one!  There were many factors that we considered when it came to making our offer.  We weren't just giving a low number to see if we could get it for a steal.  We considered the age of the home, the things that needed to be done to update the home, the number of days on the market, and specifically the fact that you could buy a brand new home that was move in ready for slightly lower than what they were asking.  We were told these sellers were "very motivated" and we thought we would get the ball rolling with a price.  Our agent listened to our offer, kind of laughed at us, and quickly called us back and told us that when we had a "real offer to give" to call back.  That was our real offer.  We used comps in the area and gave a legitimate asking price.  (By the way, I would think that it is the agent's job to find the comps, not us, AND be our advocate.)
Needless to say, we are not proud owners of the home.  This is probably a good thing because even though we really liked it, even putting in the offer we did, made us a bit hesitant with the actual cost of the house.

 

For Sale by Owner.  So here we have the last house.  This house we looked at three or four times.  I loved the location of this home, the size of the rooms, the backyard, and the fact that it was move in ready.  It had three bedrooms and two bathrooms.  We thought about this house for weeks.  As our first home we were a bit concerned about FSBO but after looking at so many houses, I felt like this was the one.  We had a contractor even come out and look at the house with us to give us estimates on what it would cost to make a laundry room, rearrange the bathroom, and even add on a sun room.  Not that we would do all of it right away, but to make sure it was a good investment.  After looking at all of the homes, this was the one that always came back to the front.  So...we called the owners today and told them we were planning on dropping off the contract with our offer tonight.  Then we hear that they already received an offer this morning right at their asking price.  Nooooooooooo! 

The one that got away.


What I thought would be the end of our misadventures in home buying has now brought us back to the beginning.  I know this happens in the world of home buying, but our deadline of moving out is in just two short months.  Maybe we should take a step back from buying a house, but on the other hand, the rental market in this town is even worse than the buying market.