Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What's In My Bag Wednesday - Week 1

For this week's installment of what's in my bag, I thought I would talk about what is literally in my bag. These are two things I pretty much never leave home with out. The one on the right is my trusty datebook. I love this datebook because it is just the right size to toss in my purse so I can keep track of what is going on in my world. This is actually my second time purchasing this particular datebook (I picked the first one up at a car wash on a whim because I liked the Austin theme to the book) and I'm getting ready to order my 2014 book for myself and two of my coworkers. The other massively huge item is my wallet.  Yes, I said wallet. I know it is big but that is why I like it. It holds everything. All my cards, including all those ridiculous loyalty cards that are hard to keep up with, and my checkbooks (we have 2 accounts) for those random times I need to write a check. Plus it is easy to grab and go if I don't want to take my full purse along with me. It has been nice to toss in the diaper bag and not worry about needing anything else or it getting lost in the bag.  Needless to say, I carry a rather big purse for this reason.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Take Me Out Tuesday - Week 1

Texas is known for two types of food: Barbecue and Tex-Mex. While I have to be in the mood for barbecue, I can eat Tex-Mex 7 days a week. The better question is where do I want to get the Tex-Mex. There are so many good places to chose from here in Austin but I have a few favorites that tend to be my go-to places when I am in the mood for good Tex-Mex.

First, there is my favorite taco joint: Torchy's. Two weeks after we moved into our new house, a Torchy's opened across the street from our neighborhood. There is also one near my office. So I end up hitting there close to once a week. Their queso is to die for with the diablo sauce and guacamole mixed in and my all time favorite, Fried Avocado Taco, is always on the menu.  Plus, I usually like to try the taco of the month just to mix things up a bit.

For quick bite close to work, I like to hit Cabo Bob's Burritos. Cabo Bob's is basically a locally Chipotle where you can select your tortilla, meat and fillings.  I love this place and so does everyone else who works near me because this place is always packed at lunch. Plus they carry the pure cane sodas from Dublin Bottle Works. (Oh how I miss Dublin Dr. Pepper!)

When we want to have a sit down meal, Chris and I always have the debate of Chuy's or La Margarita. Personally, I would always choose Chuy's if for no other reason than to eat a little creamy jalapeno and to sip a Mexican Martini. I love the food. I love the atmosphere. This is always the first place I want to go when I've been away from Austin. La Margarita is Chris's personal pick. He took me there on our first date and we do go there just about as much as Chuy's, many times because the wait is shorter. The food is good, probably more authentic then Chuy's but I still don't think it holds a candle to my favorite place.

My most recent Tex-Mex discovery is Lupe Tortilla. The restaurant has been in Austin about a year and we made our first visit there on Easter. They are known for their beef fajitas and I can understand why. One taste and you will never try anything else there.  I am typically not a fan of beef fajitas but these I crave.  If it is your first visit there, let your waiter know and they will bring you a sample.

So now my mouth is watering and I am ready for some fajitas. Want to join me?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Makeup Monday - Week 1

Somewhere along the way, I became one of the makeup people.  I have always had a love for makeup even though I don't wear a lot on a regular basis. I'm always quick to try new products once they get on the market, which is funny since I still tend to go back to my tried and true long time love products. I think I have tried just about every foundation on the market. The problem I run into is not know if something will work out with my oily skin.  I can't always follow the recommendations of many of my fellow makeup loving friends because they have drier skin than I do which means products that work well for them most likely won't work for me. So I have to try things out for myself and often end up being on a different side when it comes to favorite products.  So here are some of my go-to face products:

For everyday wear, I prefer the CoverGirl Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 Foundation. This provides decent coverage although it isn't as long wear as I would like.  My go-to foundation for many years has been Estee Lauder Double Wear. This one does provide the coverage and last through the day despite my oiliness. This is my special occasion makeup and it has yet to fail me. Every time I stray away and try something new, I always end up going back to my Double Wear.  I did find a blog once that stated the Double Wear was the best foundation for oily skin.  I believe it.  I also have a bottle of MAC Pro Longwear that I have been using off and on. It does provide the coverage and staying power that I like but I just don't love the formula.  It feels sticky and thick to me so I don't think this will be a repeat purchase. (Once again, I don't know why I stray away from my Double Wear.)

For pressed powder, I always go with CoverGirl Fresh Complexion Powder Foundation. I love the extra coverage this adds to my foundation. Occasionally, I will even use this by itself and it is enough to even out my skin.  For loose powder, I recently stumbled upon a blast from the past that brought me back to my grandmother's bathroom: Coty AirSpun Loose Powder. The smell, the texture, everything about it was like being a kid again. And, you know what, this stuff works which is why it has been on the market forever! Seriously, go get some. You won't regret it.

I've been using Benefit Erase Paste for a while now and I like it alright. It isn't the best concealer I've ever used but it works for now until I use up my current jar. I think I might try Boi-ing next. I had debated Fake Up but was told to steer clear of it since I have oily skin and it is formulated for this with dry skin (good to know, thanks Benefit Brow Bar lady!). I used Prescriptives Camoflage Cream  for a while and it was really good, probably the best since the old school Mary Kay concealers that had the yellow or green tints to them to cover certain things. I was happy to find out that you can still buy Prescriptives online. I just haven't bitten the bullet yet to make my purchases from them.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Supper Club Sunday - Week 1

Chris and I have been doing Weight Watchers since the end of July with a pretty decent amount of success.  I've lost 16 pounds and he has lost about 20.  I think we have both stalled a bit which I hate with the holidays coming up because I wanted to be closer to my goal so I could relax a bit and enjoy some of my favorite seasonal foods. But I figure I can still enjoy my holiday favorites in moderation and really hit the diet hard again after the first of the year. I'm still pretty motivated to lose weight, especially when I see a picture of myself with a roll right above the waist of my jeans. 

One of the things that has helped us be so successful on our diet was the menu planning we have been doing using WW friendly recipes. I found a lot of recipes that we really got excited about trying. As people who loved food, this is just what we need so we wouldn't be as tempted to cheat. One of my favorite new recipes that I discovered was the taco soup my boss made for us for lunch one day (we started out doing Weight Watchers at Work). This soup was so tasty that I made it two days after I first tried and it is sure to be a regular on my menu plan now.

Taco Soup - Weight Watchers
serves 8
6 points per 1 cup serving

1 pound lean ground beef
15 oz can pinto beans
15oz can yellow corn
15 oz can stewed tomatoes
15 oz can kidney beans
1 cup chopped onions
1 oz packet Taco Seasoning Mix
10 oz can Ro-Tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chiles

Brown the ground beef and onions together until the beef is no longer pink. Transfer beef mixture to a stew pot. Add the remaining ingredients. Do not drain any of your canned ingredients as this makes the base for your soup.  Bring to a boil.  Then reduce heat to a simmer until heated through (about 20 minutes). 

You can also fix this in the slow cooker. Just brown your ground beef as mentioned above. Then dump everything into your slow cooker on low for about 2 hours or until everything is heated through. (This is actually how I fixed it. The stove top method is from my boss's instructions.)

I served this with Southwest Tortilla strips on top but you could add avocado, shredded cheese, or sour cream.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Scoreboard Saturday - Week 1

It was my intention to discuss interesting football games I watched in my Scoreboard Saturday posts. However, that would have required me to actually watch football today. Alabama had a bye week this weekend so I ended up spending my day in other, less fun ways.  My company is in the middle of upgrading our accounting software so we had to spend our morning completing the work needed for our month end close so the upgrade can take place on Monday.  Not really my idea of a fun Saturday but we made the most of by enjoying some Round Rock Donuts and my boss's yummy pulled pork. On my way home, I had to pick up my team's packets for the Austin Race for the Cure next weekend and hit the grocery store. The nice thing (bad thing?) about HEB on a Saturday is they give out samples while you are shopping. I tried some tasty chicken, wine, and sushi. So of course I ended up coming home with some of it.

After I got home from the store, Chris mentioned that Jackson's eye had looked a little goopy before nap time but seemed fine when he woke up.  I leaned over to give him a kiss only to spot the telltale goop in both eyes. A quick call to urgent care and we had an appointment an hour later.  There went our date night since we could no longer leave Jackson in the (free) child care we had setup for the evening.  Disappointing for certain but I hate that my little man isn't 100%. Fortunately he seems to be feeling OK overall. He was playing around and coloring at urgent care while we watch Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs until the doctor came in. We now have antibiotic eye gel that has to be put in J's eyes twice a day for 5 days.

So it's a little different scoreboard this week but here's where we stand:
Stressful Saturday 1
Julie 0

Friday, November 1, 2013


Surprise! Two months later, I finally decided to show back up in your feed reader.  I really didn't mean to fall off the blogging band wagon but it happened.  Since school started back, we have been non-stop.  I know that never really changes in my world but it is the truth.  Somehow we seem to be busier than normal.  Plus I used a lot of my Fridays off during the summer to blog and schedule posts.  I haven't had that free time recently so I guess I will have to try to make up for it now.

Luckily, it is now November and that means NaBloPoMo.  One of the goals I set for myself this year was to complete NaBloPoMo again.  The last time I did this, I found out I was pregnant with Jackson at the end of the month.  Hopefully we won't have any surprises like that again this year but nonetheless, I suspect it will still be fun.  I decided to make things a little easier on myself by deciding on a them for each day of the week. Unfortunately, since you are catching me in the middle of football season, there will be football talk so beware! Here they are:

Supper Club Sunday - where I share some of my favorite recipes
Makeover Monday - where I talk about makeup
Take Me Out Tuesday - where I talk about restaurants I love
What's In My Bag Wednesday - where I talk about products I can't live without
Thirsty Thursday - where I talk about drinks I love
Football Friday -  where I talk about the upcoming games
Scoreboard Saturday - where I recap interesting games from the day


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

As Summer Ends

     Thanks to Ginger's Bring Back the Words linkups, I have been blogging a lot more recently. However, I haven't really talked much about what has been going on with us, just responding to her prompts.  As you all know, we sold our house and moved in May.  School ended and our summer began.  I'd like to say I'm one of those moms who plans all these fun activities for my family to do during the summer.  Truth is our schedule doesn't change much just because it is summer.  Sean went to camp at his school and Jackson attended the summer session at his daycare.  My office implemented summer hours which meant I worked 10 hour days 4 days a week with Fridays off (normally we do 4 9's and half day Fridays).  The only major change this year was having Sean here rather than heading to his mom's for the summer.  So I thought I'd do a quick recap of our summer now that it is coming to an end.


  • I spent a week in DC with my boss attending a conference and training on some of the software we use at work.  When we weren't in session, we were out seeing the sights of our nation's capitol. Lesson learned: always pack tennis shoes and comfy clothes even when you don't think you will need them.  I apparently need a mid-sized suitcase because I underpacked since I didn't want to take my large suitcase on the trip.
  • Sean took swim lessons so he could be free to swim in the pool at camp without floaties this year. Plus I felt better knowing he was able to handle himself in the water.
  • Chris and I celebrated 3 years of marriage by being in different states.  (I was in DC.)  My boss bought me wine and dessert to thank me for missing my anniversary.
  • We finally found a Bible Life class that we love at church.  Even though we miss as much as we attend, we are excited to hear the lessons each week again.
  • We visited Chris's grandmother and extended family in Wichita Falls for a long weekend at the end of the month.  It was high time Jackson and I met the rest of the family.
  • I spent the 4th of July trying to calm Maverick down while our neighbors immediately behind us shot off fireworks.
  • We celebrated Jackson's birthday at The Little Gym with his friends from daycare, church, and the gym and an Elmo theme.
  • We spent Jackson's actual birthday in Alabama with my family.  It was nice to have a week off work. We wrapped up the trip with a visit to my brother's family in Houston and the Houston Aquarium on the way back to Austin.  Jackson loved seeing all the fish.
  • We celebrated Sean's birthday at Bricks 4 Kidz with his school friends and an Angry Birds theme.  I will never again plan 2 birthday parties and a vacation in two weeks time.
  • I started Weight Watchers at work in an effort to lose the baby weight (OK...I just need to lose weight period.)
  • I met up with my sister-in-law and her family to shop till I dropped at the MamaCents consignment sale.  I bought a mesh rail for J's bed and we converted his crib to a toddler bed.  It has actually been a quite easy transition without a lot of fussing or issues.  J seems to love being able to climb in and out of the bed on his own.
  • Chris and I finally moved the excess furniture that we had stored when we staged the house out of storage into the new house.  We still don't have pictures on the walls or boxes cleaned out. Eventually we will be all moved in.
  • I went to the range with Chris.  I shot once and that was enough for me.  I'm good.  I checked the box.
  • We attended my company's summer outing at the Round Rock Express stadium.  The boys enjoyed the baseball game more than I expected they would.
  • Chris was promoted to Senior Deputy.
  • We took the boys to the McKenna Childrens' Museum.  If McKenna was closer, we would go there more often but I can't justify the hour drive there to go a lot.  The boys loved it.  Jackson went 90 to nothing the entire time we were there.  I have decided my boy has one speed: GO!
  • As of the end of the month, I have lost 10 pounds.  Chris joined me on my Weight Watchers journey and he is down 15 pounds as well.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

BBTW Week 10: Back to School

Prompt 2: School is starting for a lot of people these days. Tell us your most memorable “back to school” related story.

I didn't get this post in before the cut off for Ginger's link up last week but I still wanted to write my story so here it is.  I don't remember anything significant happening on any of my days heading back to school.  I can remember loading down the car to drive to Marion for college (my freshman year sticks out most in my head).  I can remember helping out with registration at Murphy when I was a cheerleader.  But mostly, the back to school moments never really seemed like a big deal to me.  What does stick out to me was the year I had to change schools in elementary school.  

Growing up in Alabama, even in the 80's and 90's, racial tension was always an issue.  So much so that I was forced to change schools when I was heading into the 4th grade because they were cracking down on the districting that was in place as a result of segregation case that had been ruled on in 1971 in Mobile County.  The result was school districts set up to try to even the balance of the races in schools, which resulted in students being bused across town to schools that were uneven prior to the districting.  For the first time in my school career (and that of both my brothers), we were required to show a proof of residence in order to attend school for the year.  Prior to that, we had been using my grandmother's address to go to school out of district. The school we attended was closer to our house and the high school, middle school, and elementary school were all in one location which was good since we were spread over all 3 for a couple of years.  The only way out was a transfer and those were very hard to come by.  

I clearly remember when the news broke that we were going to have to change schools.  It was only a couple of weeks before the start of the new school year and we were already registered to attend our old school for the year.  My parents were scrambling to try to get us into our new schools for the year (at the time, my oldest brother was in college but my other brother was heading to 8th grade).  I called all my friends from my old school in tears because we would no longer being going to school together.  That first year at my new school I only knew the students in my class.  I didn't know my way around the school and I rarely had to enter the building since we were in a portable (which was new to everyone in my class but not to me). I hated it.  My missed my old friends and my old school.  That was probably the hardest year I had in school socially because it was all so new.  I only attended that school for two years before I headed to middle school.

In the end, that change was for the best for me.  I was able to get away from some bad habits I had picked up at my old school and my academics improved.  I ended up attending one of the best high schools in the state because of the districting (a 30 minute drive across town past another high school) and I loved it.  But this experience has also stuck with me which is why I don't want the boys to go through the same changes I had to.  It's hard starting over that close to the end of a school and I am happy to see that our district will allow students to transfer back to a school for their final year at the school if they move out of district.

Monday, August 26, 2013

BBTW Week 11: Legend Has It

Prompt 1: Tell us a story that is “family legend.”
In this week's installment of Bring Back the Words, Ginger is asking us to tell a story about a family legend.  Well, this prompt has been wracking my brain trying to come up with a story to tell.  I keep thinking back to stories I heard from my grandmothers and their sisters growing up but none really seem like legend.  So I decided to tell a story that isn't so much legend because I actually lived it.  It is the story of how I met the elusive Harper Lee.

If you have ever read the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, then you know it is set in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama.  What you may not know is that it is based on the town of Monroeville, Alabama, which just so happens to be my father's home town.  Harper Lee grew up in Monroeville and was known as Nelle to those who knew her in town.  That included my grandmother who taught Nelle (aka Harper) in the 4th grade before she married my grandfather.  I remember hearing stories about Nelle when I would visit my grandmother growing up.  She also encouraged me to read To Kill a Mockingbird one summer while I was there well before I was required to read it in school.  Needless to say, my family was pretty proud of our link back to so famous author.

One day when I was in late middle school, we were visiting Nanny (my grandmother) and we decided to head out to lunch to one of the few restaurants in town.  David's Catfish was our location of choice for the meal.  For some reason, it was only myself and my oldest brother on the trip with our dad.  While we were sitting there, a lady came over to speak to my grandmother.  They chatted for a few minutes and Nanny introduced us but she never mentioned the lady's name.  I didn't think much of it because my grandmother had been a fixture in Monroeville for years and knew just about everyone either from church or her days working at the bank. After the lady left, Nanny leaned over and said, "That was Nelle." Of course, I hadn't seen a recent picture of Miss Lee so I had no idea that was who had been standing at our table.  My brother and I both geeked out.  We immediately went over and thanked her for her work on her novel and told her how much we loved it.  I am sure she hated it because she has always hated for people to make a fuss over her.  But we couldn't let the opportunity pass.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

You Had to be There

     I finished reading John Green's Looking for Alaska last week. As with many of the books I have read recently, I didn't really know much about the book before I read it.  I had just heard some recommendations for John Green's work and I decided to check it out.  I was pretty excited when I read the synopsis that the book took place at a boarding school in Alabama.  I just knew this book was going to remind me of my time in Marion and I was right.  
     You see, I went to college at a Southern Baptist women's college that was three blocks away from a military boarding school in small town Alabama.  MMI, the military school, was a high school and junior college.  While I was there, they added 8th grade to the school.  Most of the younger students were locals who opted to attend the school over the local public school so they could receive a better education. However, there were several students at the school who were sent there because they were behavior problems. Personally, I always thought this was a bad idea.  It didn't make sense to me to send children who were acting out away to a school with limited adult supervision.  Even with the rules in place at the school, there were always antics going on.  Pranks and partying were regular occurrences on the campus.  All while I read the book, I could imagine similar events taking place in Marion.  Pudge and the Capitan and Arizona all reminded me of people I know while I was in school there.  So Looking for Alaska really brought me back to a different time in my life.
      Marion was a special town that seemed to be separated from the rest of the world.  I have often said that I had a unique college experience but no one would really understand it unless they had lived it as well. It's like all of us who were there share a secret that the rest of the world can't be a part of. It was hard to leave the bubble of Marion at the end of my 4 years there but it was time to move on. I cherish the time I spent there because it helped shaped who I am.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

BBTW Week 10: Hobby Time

Prompt 1: Tell us about a hobby/addiction/obsession of yours.
I used to have hobbies.  I would cross stitch and scrapbook.  I danced when I was younger.  I acted in musicals.  I was an avid reader. And then work got busy and I got married (again) and had a baby and my hobbies kind of disappeared.  I moved my scrapbooking supplies for the 3rd time and still haven't taken them out of the box because I have no time and no space to work on all the books I have wanted do over the last 5 years.  Same with the cross stitch work.  And the dancing and musicals fell to the wayside as I got out of shape thanks to sitting at a desk all day with no exercise.  I am trying to read more but even that is hard to fit in.  So I really don't feel like I have hobbies anymore.  But I am hoping that will change.

As for obsessions, well, there is this certain college football team I am kind of fond of.  You know, the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.  Heard of them?  I mean they aren't very good.  They've only won three of the last four national championships.  Of course, if you know me, then you know that saying I am fond of Alabama is an understatement.  I love college football.  I spend most of my Saturdays in the fall glued to my TV, starting my morning out with College Game Day and then watching whatever game interests me until Alabama plays.  College football is my sport but Alabama is my team.  It's interesting to be an Alabama fan in the land of the Longhorns and Aggies though.  I'm sort of a fish out of water but somehow I keep finding fellow fans around me.  I have two coworkers who are Alabama grads.  Our neighbors are Alabama fans.  There are a few at church and our pastor is from Alabama but he is an Auburn fan.  I try not to hold it against him.  I am so ready for football season to start.  9 days and counting!
Check out Ginger's Linkup for Bring Back the Worlds Week 10!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bring Back the Words Week 9: Where Have I Lived?

Prompt 2: A getting to know you list–share all the places you’ve lived (and if you want to, how you got there, and why you left). Bonus points for expanding on whether you plan to stay where you are now, or if you have a dream location you still want to get to.
I'm not sure if I will answer Ginger's other prompt from this week because I have absolutely no idea what character from a TV show I would want to be.  So I'll have to think on that one and come back to it.  But talking about where I've lived is pretty easy because it hasn't been that many places.
1977-1995: Mobile, Alabama - Obviously, this is home.  I was born here.  I have spent the majority of my live (so far) here.  I wouldn't be opposed to returning here one day.
1995-1999: Marion, Alabama - I'm not really sure if I should count college but I did spend 90% of my time in this town while I was in college.  Although I like going back to visit Judson's campus periodically, I know I would never want to live here again.  This is truly a town that time forgot.
1999-2005: Mobile, Alabama - Back home after college.  This is where I started my career, went to graduate school, and got married the first time.  I also bought my first home in Mobile before I got married and sold when it came time for us to PCS.
2005-2007: Killeen, Texas - We moved here when my ex received orders to Fort Hood.  I call it the armpit of Texas.  I never really enjoyed living there so I was happy to leave once I started my job in Austin.  Killeen has a lot of bad memories for me and I've only been back a handful of times since I sold my house there in early 2008.
2007-2008: Austin, Texas - Maverick and I lived in an apartment in NW Austin for the first 6 months we lived here while I got the lay of the land and decided where I wanted to live.  I really loved this area of town because it felt close enough to everything without being right in the middle of it all.  
2008-present: Round Rock, Texas - I decided to buy a house in Round Rock when the time came to move out of my apartment because the housing prices were cheaper in Round Rock but I was still close enough to my job that it didn't matter much.  We have been really happy here and Chris has lived most of his life in Round Rock so that is where we are for now.  
We are still on the fence on whether we want to stay in Round Rock or move closer to my job.  That would put us back in Austin but I really don't want to live in South Austin.  There is nothing wrong with it.  I just like the N/NW Austin area better myself.  At this point, I would say our options are either moving into Austin or heading back to Alabama one day.  I wouldn't be opposed to either so we shall see what happens.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Bring Back the Worlds Week 8: To Take a Trip

Prompt 2: What are your top 5 favorite vacation locations?

The second prompt from this week's Bring Back the Words linkup asked us to list our top 5 favorite vacation destinations.  This one was harder for me than I thought it would be because I realized when I started writing it that I really hadn't traveled as much I would have liked in my lifetime.  So I had to try to pick from the places I have actually been.  I didn't really want to include any of the traveling I've done around Texas, not that there aren't lovely places to visit here, nor did I want to count trips to see family.  So here are the places that my list.
  1. New York - My mom work for the University of Mobile Theatre Department for several years after I graduated from college.  Every other year, the director would take her seniors from that year & the upcoming seniors to New York to see shows and tour the city.  The last four times she took the trip before leaving the school, Mom and I were able to tag along.  The last two trips also included my sisters-in-law, Shannon and Jenny.  I love everything about New York. The hustle and bustle, the food, the atmosphere, the shopping, and especially the theatre.  It's been five years since our last trip and I am dying to go back. 
    Shannon, Jenny, Mom, and Me on the top of the Double Decker Sightseeing Bus
  2. Disney World - My first trip to Disney World was during my senior year in high school when I went with the Azalea Trail Court for the Easter Parade.  I've been 8 times since that first visit, including my honeymoon the first time I got married.  Every time I step through the gates of the Magic Kingdom, I am swept away by the feeling of being in another world.  I have a love affair with the Mouse.  I can't wait to take Jackson to Disney and I only hope he loves it as much as I do.  If I actually thought we could squeeze it into the budget to take the four of us, I would be there in a heartbeat. 
    Me with Mickey during my last visit in 2004
  3. Hawaii - This trip was supposed to be a pre-deployment getaway before my ex's 3rd trip to the Sandbox that did not happening.  He ended up not staying with the unit so he didn't haven't to go overseas but our trip was already planned so we still went.  It was amazing.  We stayed in Waikiki on the island of Oahu and we were really in the heart of everything.  I loved the food (taro pancakes with coconut syrup, iced mango, pulled pork at a luau).  I loved the culture.  I loved the blue water and the weather.  I felt like I was living a dream so much so that I could pretend my marriage wasn't falling apart while we were there. Chris has promised me a do over for this trip so I can replace some of the so-so memories with happier ones.
    Me at climbing Diamond Head
  4. Gatlinburg, TN - Chris and I got married at a B&B in Gatlinburg (OK...technically it was Sevierville but close enough).  When we decided to elope instead of having a "real" wedding, Gatlinburg came up on the list of options as a place where a lot of people elope.  I had no idea they had wedding chapels and special rates on marriage licenses for out-of-towners.  I had always heard wonderful things about Gatlinburg so we decided it would be the place for us and it did not disappoint.  The Smokey Mountains were beautiful and majestic while the area had a quaint, small town feel to it.  We are dying to go back when the opportunity presents itself.  I'm just hoping we don't have to wait till our 10th anniversary like we promised the minister who married us to renew our vows.
    Chris and I on the balcony of our cabin overlooking the Smokey Mountains the morning after we got married
  5. Austria - My sophomore year in high school my band director put together a 10 day tour of Europe for those from our band as well as other schools in the area who wanted to participate.  On a whim, I asked my father if I could go and he agreed with the stipulation that my mother go to.  It was an amazing experience at only 15 years old and one I would love to repeat some day.  We visited Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, and England.  We saw a lot the countryside traveling from one destination to the other but I have to say I feel in love with Austria the most.  We stayed in Salzburg and Vienna while in Austria and both cities were wonderful.  At our crazy pink hotel in Salzburg, we had a fondue party our first night.  In Vienna, my balcony opened up to a view of the Opera House across the street.  I couldn't have asked for a better way to see this amazing cities.
    Not a picture I took but a sight I did see: the tree lined street from The Sound of Music

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bring Back the Words Week 8: TV Time

Prompt 1: Share your top 10 favorite TV shows with us.
One of the questions Ginger gave us this week was to list our top 10 all-time favorite TV shows.  Just like the movies last week, it was hard to narrow it down to 10.  I love TV.  I watch a lot of TV.  I easily have more than 10 shows scheduled a week on my DVR.  So I really had to think about the shows that I could rewatch again and again or the ones I was upset to see cancelled.  Here is my top 10 (in no particular order) with a few extras added in.
  1. Sex and the City - We didn't have HBO when Sex and the City was on so I didn't watch it until after it was over and I purchased the entire box set.  I loved this series.  I firmly believe there is a Sex and the City episode that relates to most of the issues women face.  I can think of several episodes that I have encountered personally.  (I'm a Charlotte by the way.)
  2. JAG - This was a show that my parents and I would watch each week.  It played into my love of men in uniform and had me wanting to go to law school just so I could go JAG.  I know that most JAG officers don't deal with all the exciting encounters that they did on the show but it just still made the career seem fun.  I still wish I knew what happened with Harm and Mac after the show ended.
  3. Friday Night Lights - This was another show that I watched after it ended and I still can't figure out what I didn't watch it when it was on with as much as I love football.  This show was amazing.  The cast was amazing.  The storylines were amazing.  I am still sad that FNL is no longer on the air.  I will admit that I am not a Riggins fan.  I started to like him as the show progressed but I always thought he look kind of greasy to me.
  4. Downton Abbey - I started Downton around the time the 2nd season was starting by catching up on season 1 on Amazon Instant Video and I was instantly sucked in.  There is just something you want to love about the characters.  You get invested in them.  You want to root for them and you want to see how their lives play out.  I'm still mad about the season 3 finale.  I cried when Lady Sybil died because it hit so close to home.  I can't wait to see what is next both upstairs and down.
  5. Gilmore Girls - Oh my favorite fast talking mother-daughter duo.  There were days I wanted to tell them to step away from the coffee.  But the show had such fun, quirky characters.  I really wanted to live in Stars Hollow becuase it just seemed quant.  But, why oh why, did Rory tell Logan no?
  6. Smash - A show about the creation of a Broadway musical...what's not to love?  The entire 1st season I wanted Bombshell to be a real musical.  Unfortunately, they went down a different path the 2nd season and tanked the series.  I was sad to see it end but they didn't carry on with what made the show great during the 1st season.
  7. Boy Meets World - Boy Meets World started around the time The Wonder Years ended and I loved Fred Savage so much that I wanted to see what his little brother could do.  The only episodeI ever missed was Cory and Topagna's wedding.  One day I will track it down to see it.  I am looking forward to Girl Meets World next year.  I hope it lives up to my expectations.
  8. The Wonder Years - I am still sad to know that Winnie Cooper and Kevin Arnold didn't end up together.  I grew up with their characters.  I watched history unfold in front of their eyes in a way that made it seem like I was there living it with them.  And I hate that I can't buy this on DVD because of all of the music rights associated with the show.
  9. So You Think You Can Dance - If I was younger, in better shape, and a better dancer, I would totally try out for this show.  This is the one reality show that I really can get in to. I have watched and loved it from the beginning even the seasons where I wasn't as invested in the dancers.  I even watched the season finale in 2011 during one of my hospital stays the summer Jackson was born.
  10. Dawson's Creek - Joey, Pacey, and Dawson...what a love triangle.  I'm sorry, guys, but I wanted Dawson to win.  After all, it was his show and his lake. But I think it ended well except for the whole Jen dying thing and leaving her baby behind.   
Honorable Mentions: Glee, Lost, Felicity, One Tree Hill, West Wing, and Friends. All great shows that I loved as well and never wanted to miss an episode but didn't quite make my top 10.

What are you all-time favorite TV shows?  Want to see what everyone else is saying?  Check out this week's linkup on Ginger's blog.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Kids These Days

One of the things we have been excited about in our new neighborhood is the number of kids Sean's age on our street.  We live on a cul de sac and there is a playground at the entrance so there are kids out playing all the time.  This is something we didn't see much of in our old neighborhood.  There were kids but they weren't out as much.  So it has been nice having others around for Sean to spend time with until Friday.  There is one little boy who lives across the street and he has just rubbed me the wrong way from day one.  If we tell him Sean can't come out because it's dinner time or too late then he starts questioning us.  He basically has no respect for our rules (I know...he's only 8 but still) and we know he has rules at home because we've met his parents and heard some of the things he gets in trouble for.  However, things reached a breaking point on Friday.  Eric was at our house and left only to be sent back a few minutes later because he had "traded" some toys with Sean.  Eric's dad said he couldn't do that and Chris agreed that wasn't OK with him either.  I'm not sure how Eric got out of the house without Chris seeing the toys in the first place but I wasn't here when it happened.  So I asked Sean over dinner why he'd given the toys to Eric.  He said Eric told him that he would leave and wouldn't be his friend if Sean didn't give him the toys.  Oh, I was livid.  The kid basically bullied Sean and, because Sean wants to still have a buddy to play with, he went along with it.  It just made me so angry that this kid was taking advantage of him.  Of course when Eric came back, he didn't return all of the toys he took from Sean.  We made the decision then that we just didn't want Sean playing with Eric anymore.  It seems our instincts were right to caution us against him.  So today Eric came over and wanted to play and Sean had to tell him no.  My heart just broke for Sean because I know it was hard and he didn't fully understand our decision but no one is going to treat him like that.  How is it that kids this young can learn to be so mean?  I just don't get it.  I don't remember people being like this when I was young.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Bring Back the Words Week 7: In Another Life

I am participating in Ginger's Bring Back the Words Link up...check it out!

Prompt 1: In another life, what career/job would you have, and why?

I've thought a lot at different times through my life what I would do different if I was able to start over and select a different career.  There are a couple of ideas that have crossed my mind at different times and given the right circumstances, I could have made them happen.  But let's first start with my current career.  I decided to study business in college because I had a dream of opening my own dance studio and I figured a business background would help me know how to run the place and my school didn't have a dance major.  My first business classes included accounting principles and, much to my surprise, I was actually really good at it.  Accounting made sense to me.  Once I realized that, my path changed and suddenly I was exploring my options for completing an accounting degree and sitting for the CPA exam.  The CPA exam hasn't happened and I have ventured away from true accounting to a more finance role within my industry (government contracting) but I do have the accounting degree now.  I don't love accounting but I am good at what I do and it pays the bills so it works.
Now if I was to do a job that I would love it would either be as a makeup artist or an arts administrator.  I have always loved playing with makeup.  I love the colors and seeing what other people wear.  My sister-in-law was a Mary Kay lady while I was in high school and college and my favorite thing to do was go through all the samples to try out the different colors.  So fun!  I'm not sure how far I would have been able to get making a career out of makeup.  I'm not a sales person so doing Mary Kay wouldn't work for me and I doubt I would have ever made it doing makeup in the theatre but that doesn't change my love for it.  Surprisingly, I don't wear a lot of makeup on a normal basis.  I love to dress up with makeup but for every day, it is just the basics.
As for being an arts administrator, I really think this is the career I was supposed to have.  My senior year in college (a little late at that point!), someone came to speak from the Alabama Arts Council about her job as an arts administrator.  She worked on grants for arts programs and other activities around the state.  I was fascinated listening to her describe what she did and suddenly realized I had found my calling.  I love dance and theatre and most everything associated with the arts.  This sounded like a dream job to me.  I went so far as to apply to the College of Charleston's Arts Administration program.  I was accepted but the timing and the logistics just didn't work.  So here I am 10 years later doing what works not what I'm passionate about and that's OK because I think about all the things I wouldn't have if I had followed a different path and that I wouldn't be OK with.


Movie Time

Prompt 2:  Give us your top 10 favorite movies of all time.
So Ginger gave us something a little different to work with this week for our weekly link-up prompts.  We are supposed to list our top 10 favorite all time movies.  Well, most of my fellow bloggers couldn't limit it to just 10 and I'm not sure I will be able to either.  So I have decided to just list my favorite movies in no particular order.
  1. Mona Lisa Smile - This movie reminds me so much of my college experience.  Even a women's college in the 90s had a tendency to feel like we were still living in the 50s or 60s.
  2. Under the Tuscan Sun - I watched this the first time around the time I was going through my divorce and it just hit home.  While I didn't decide to movie to Tuscany, I did decide to move to Austin all on my own.  Not exactly the same (OK...not even close) but I knew what Frances was going through.
  3. Chasing Amy - I love Kevin Smith movies but this one is my favorite of his.
  4. Lion King - If I had to pick one Disney movie, this would be it.  I was a senior in high school when this came out and I watched it several times to the point I had it memorized.  I almost did Jackson's nursery in Lion King until I found all the elephant stuff we ended up using.
  5. Center Stage - As a dancer, how could I not love this movie.  This was the life I wanted as a teenager when all I did was dance.  Only I'm not that good.  (I have bad feet!)  Who wouldn't want to do the final dance sequence though with the red shoes and everything.  Just fabulous!
  6. Rent - Have I ever mentioned the time I saw Rent 3 times in one week just because it featured Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal and I wanted to make sure I got the opportunity to see the guys who created the roles in the show? No, really?  Yeah, that was about 5 years ago right after I moved to Austin and Anthony and Adam were touring with the show.  It was amazing.  So is this movie.  Most of the original Broadway cast reprised their roles which helped to keep it true to the show.  I just love this.
  7. Courageous - Chris and I love this movie not only because of the lesson it teaches but also there are some really funny scenes (The Snake Kings scene!)
  8. The Blind Side - There is nothing I love more than a good football movie (except maybe a musical) and this is one of the best football movies out there.  Sandra Bullock is great as Leigh Anne Tuohy and I just want to hug Micheal Oher.  It warmed my heart to see him playing in the Super Bowl this year along with a couple of my Bama Boys (Mount Cody!)
  9. Les Miserable - Chris and I saw this during one of our date nights early this year and I just didn't want it to end.  The cast was so well selected and it was so well done.  I was completely sucked in just like I have been the 2 times I've seen this show live.
  10. 13 Going on 30 - I really do think this was one of Jennifer Garner's best roles.  Plus the Thriller dance scene...I want to learn the Thriller dance now.
So I narrowed it to 10 but there are some other movies that I have to mention that I will watch every time I see them on TV even though we have them on DVD.
  • For the Boys
  • Beaches
  • Steel Magnolias
  • The Notebook
  • Legally Blonde 1 and 2
  • Grease
  • any of the Harry Potter movies
  • Mary Poppins
  • Wizard of Oz
  • Hairspray
  • A Few Good Men
  • Chicago
  • Shag
Well, I guess I could basically list my entire DVD collection since I only buy movies I really love and would watch over and over again.  I will also note that this does not include any of the movies we watch regularly thanks to a certain tiny man (I'm looking at you, Cars, Finding Nemo, and The League of Incredible Vegetables!)

Want to find out what other movies my fellow bloggers loved, check out Ginger's Bring Back the Words link up!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bring Back the Words Week 6

Prompt 1: What’s your very earliest childhood memory?
(Courtesy of Kristina)
This one is actually easy for me.  I was two and it was during Hurricane Frederick.  Frederick was the last direct hit to Mobile and it occurred in September 1979.  It actually hit on my cousin's first birthday.  However, that isn't the memory.  I have heard lots of stories about that storm but what I remember is sitting on the couch watching my dad and my oldest brother, Vincent, walking out the back door of our house to check the damage to our house. (A tree fell on the house and did a number on the roof over my parents' room.)  I was sitting on the couch right across from the door and all I could see outside was gray.  (I'm not sure if it was early morning or why it was so gray.)  I remember thinking they weren't going to coming back because it looked like the had been swallowed up by the grayness.

Prompt 2: Do you have a habit that wouldn’t make sense to most people?
(Courtesy of Jessica)

I am sure I have several habits that most people don't get.  Like I cough when I finish brushing my teeth.  I picked this up from my mom and I do it to clear my throat.  I've had people think I am choking the first couple of times they hear me do it.  I have to follow the same order in the shower (face, body, hair) or I will forget to do something.  But the one thing I do that most people don't understand until I explain it to them is how I get on escalators.  I have to wait and watch one full stair roll by before I will step on to the escalator.  You see, escalators are a major source of anxiety for me.  When I was 6, I witness a little girl about my age fall down the escalator in our Gayfers and slice her head open.  She was crying and there was blood all over the back of her head and my mom leaned over to me and said, "See...that's what happens when you play around on escalators."  So now I am terrified of escalators which of course means there is one at our church to get to the second floor where the married adults and children's Bible Life classes are.  So escalators and heels on Sunday morning are fun for me.  I'm OK going up but going down freaks me out.  Chris knows this and just goes ahead of me until I work up the courage to step on (there is an elevator and we took it regularly when I was pregnant but the escalator is faster).   But yeah...I hate escalators.

I am participating in Ginger's Bring Back the Words Link up...check it out!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

To Jackson on Your 2nd Birthday

Dear Jackson,

Two years ago you entered this world in your own stubborn way after a couple of long, tiring days for your daddy and me.  At that moment, my life changed and it has remained that way ever since.  I never realized you were the missing piece of the puzzle I had waited 34 years to plug into my life.  Not a day goes by that I am not amazed by you.  You surprise me all the time with things you know that I didn't teach but you learned somewhere.  And I am so excited to see what is in store for you next.

I will say that not every day is a picnic.  Some days you are very much 2 years old and that is the only way to describe your behavior.  Some days you are my sweet boy who gives me kisses and wants to snuggle.  Either way you are still my baby and I wouldn't trade you for the world.  I want to cherish all these moments because I know they won't last for long.

Right now you love Cars and Memo but Elmo is still your buddy.  Puppy goes everywhere we will let you take him (and some places that we don't).  Macky (Maverick) loves you very much and you love him although you get tired of his constant licking.  You ask us almost daily to go swim even though we don't have access to a pool.  Your curiosity is always on display and frequently gets you in trouble.  You love to sing, especially at bedtime when you should be going to sleep.  You are fascinated with the fish tanks at church and run to check them out every Sunday when we get there.

Oh little boy, how I can't wait to see what the next year brings for us.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Bring Back the Words Week 5

Prompt 1: What’s something you believe/support that 20 year old you would be surprised about, and why?
20 year old me would be surprised that I am a mom and I love it.  In college, I was always the one who said I didn't want kids.  I was going to be everyone's favorite aunt.  Even through my first marriage, I had no desire to have children.  Until I turned 30 and everything changed and then I got divorced and it started to look like having a baby would never be an option.  Even more so, I loved being pregnant.  I would go through pregnancy again.  I just don't really want another child.  This is not a surprise to me. Nor was the fact that labor was miserable.  And if I go back and think about it, that was always my issue with having kids.  But now I have and it wasn't fun but I'm glad I did because then my little J wouldn't be here.
Prompt 2: Tell us the most ridiculous moment of your week.

We are traveling this week so it hasn't been a typical week for us so I thought I'd share a story from a couple of weeks ago.  I have a 35 mile commute to work every day on one of the toll roads.  It's long and boring and I want to change it but it is what it is right now.  Well, I was rolling a long one day about 2 weeks ago when I noticed this bird off to left side of my car.  The bird kind of swooped down into my line of sight and caught my attention.  Then about 5 seconds later, it flew into my windshield.  There was a thump and then the bird was gone.  All I can figure was that the bird bounced off my car and into the road.  I'm pretty sure it died but I really have no way of knowing.  But man, did it freak me out.    

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Catch Up Post: Week 2

Week 2 Prompt 1: Tell us a favorite summer memory.

My mom and I actually talked about this on the 4th of July. Growing up my extended family would get together would get together somewhere near a body of water to celebrate. As we all grew older and got busier, we stopped having these celebrations. I miss sitting on the dock of my step-grandfather's beach house, eating watermelon, and spitting the seeds into the water.  Those were the days! Spent in and out of the water and in a bathing suit all day. That was the way I wanted to live life and, if I had my way, I would live near the water now (and I don't mean a lake like we have here). There is nothing like early morning with the sun rising over the water or the calm of the waves at night. So that is summer to me. 

Week 2 Prompt 2: What is your quintessential summer supply list?

One of the things about summer growing up is that it was the start of hurricane season so summer always meant that we made sure we had all the supplies we would need if a storm started heading our way before the stores were overrun with last minutes shoppers.  That meant batteries, flashlights, candles, etc.  So I don't know if could really count that as a summer supply list but I remember many a summer tracking storms and waiting them out when all they did is rain a lot but everything was closed so there was no leaving the house.  

Thursday, July 11, 2013


So today is my birthday. Yay!  I'm at the point in life where birthdays aren't really a big deal anymore so it is nice when you end up with little surprises like this:
One of my coworkers had decorated my desk before I got to work this morning.  Plus there was also a fun card and a box of donuts waiting for me.  Then they took me out to lunch and we shared a cake at the office afterwards.  The morning had started off pretty rough with Jackson being crabby (which is why he wore his crabby but cute shirt to school) and Chris taking something I said the wrong way.  So I needed a little pick me up and I got just that when I arrive to see my coworker's handy work.  It was a nice day and the great start to a long weekend.

I really wasn't expecting much out of today and my mood the last week or so has been evident of that.  Pretty much since my mid 20s my birthdays have been a bit of a let down.  My ex was never big on birthdays and, even though I would tell him it was a big deal to me, he never tried to do much of anything for me.  I was lucky to get whatever gift he found at the store the day of that he thought was neat or cool regardless of whether I'd like it or not.  After I got divorced, I spent my next couple of birthdays alone which was no big deal really but it wasn't much fun either.  Now my birthday is kind of skipped over in favor of Jackson's which is a week from Saturday and Sean's which is 9 days after Jackson's.  (As a matter of fact, J's party is Saturday since we are traveling on his actual birthday next week.)  After all, once you reach adulthood, birthdays are just another day.  You still have to go to work (although I worked somewhere once that gave you a day off for your birthday only I didn't work there on my birthday).  You still have to pay bills and clean house and take care of all your responsibilities.  The only thing that is different is you turn another year older.  So today was a nice surprise and it makes me feel good to know that I work with people who try to make me feel special on my day even when they don't have to.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bring Back the Words: Week 4

I’m participating in Ginger‘s Bring Back the Words (BBTW) link-up!

Prompt 1: What is your best dating story?

I can't really think of a best date because I was never a fan of dating.  Not in high school, not in college, not after college, and especially not post divorce.  I know I should probably say that Chris and I had a wonderful first date and while it was nice, it was nothing special (sorry, Honey!)  It was just dinner out and time to talk and it was good for us.  I didn't need anything fancy.  But what I will say is that Chris has been trying this year to find opportunities for us to "date."  About once a month we try to get a night out without the kids when we can get the chance (and preferably free babysitting) so we can spend a little quality time together.  It has been good for us as a couple because it is easy to get stressed out by work and home responsibilities and forget why we are together in the first place.  Apparently he has a date planned for us for Friday night to celebrate my birthday (tomorrow) since we never got to go out for our anniversary (I was in DC).  I am kind of excited because he has planned all the details of this date and made the arrangements which is something I normally have to do so it is a bit of a break for me.
Prompt 2: What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
So in my wild and crazy single days (ha...if you know me, you know that's a joke), I decided to get a tattoo.  I'm still not sure why I wanted to get one but I did and I have thought about getting more.  To the point of going to the tattoo parlor but leaving without one because I didn't know what I wanted.  I know in comparison that isn't as crazy what some people have done but for little ole conservative me, it was pretty out there.  Of course, I had a few crazy days in college but those might be another topic for another time.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Catch Up Posts: Week 1

Since I was late to the party for Ginger's Bring Back the Words link-ups, I decided to go back and do a catch up post for the prompts that I missed.  Here we go!

Week 1 Prompt 1: Why’d you start blogging?
I originally started blogging some time in 2005 when I moved to Texas because I thought it would be a great way to let my family and friends back home know what was going on with us.  I closed that blog and didn't save any of the posts unfortunately so I can't show what I posted back then.  This makes me sad because we did some fun stuff when we first moved and it was all documented there.  Then I started blogging on MySpace (ha!) when they added that feature.  I moved those posts over here after I setup this blog.  I decided to setup this blog because I like writing and, while I am not super consistent with it, I love having the option to get my thoughts on to paper so to speak.

Week 1 Prompt 2: What’s the best decision you ever made?
Definitely moving to Austin.  I have talked about it before but it is worth saying again.  My life wouldn't be what it is today if I hadn't made that decision.  It was scary and totally took me out of my comfort zone but it was so worth it.  I met Chris because I moved here and I have Jackson because of that.  My career also really took off as a result of moving to Austin. So as hard as it was not to move home after the divorce, I definitely think I made the right decision.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

2013 Goals Mid-Year Review

Now that we are half way through 2013, I thought it would be a good time to review the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the year.  Things have changed a lot around here since I set these goal in January so a lot of them don't apply anymore.

  1. Actually attend The Blathering this year. I am sad to say that this isn't going to happen. When the attendance cap was reduced, we had just moved and we just didn't have the money for it at the time.  I am still chatting with my Blathering buddies on twitter so I am sure I will make it back one year.
  2. Take Jackson to his first football game. This has happened yet since football season hasn't started but I found out my hometown college will be playing here this fall so that might be a great game to take him to.
  3. Buy a new rug for the living room. Bought it. Loved it. It's in my garage right now because the new house has carpet and we don't need rugs like we did over the hardwood in the old house.
  4. Read The Great Gatsby before seeing the movie. I tried, I really did but I just couldn't get in to it.  I haven't seen the movie yet either so there is still time. If I can get the book from the library again, I might try again.
  5. Get another tattoo as a tribute to Jackson. Still haven't been able to come up with a design or location so this may not happen this year.
  6. Take a trip that doesn't include visiting my parents. I have come up with several ideas of places to go but moving really did a number on our funds.  I'd like to make it down to Sea World before the season ends but we will see. 
  7. Pay off another credit card. (Maybe even two!) This I did. Two cards even. Then we moved and we need stuff so the cards got used again but I am still working and making a dent in all of our cards.
  8. Go on at least 1 date a month with Chris. We were doing pretty good until May. We sort of had a date in May while Sean was at a Lock-In but we did have Jackson with us. No date in June, not even for our anniversary. Hoping to get in two this month: 1 for my birthday next week (hopefully Melting Pot to us our Groupon) and 1 while we are in Alabama.
  9. Spend more time outdoors with the boys. This is easier with the playground across the street from our house now. It is now the too hot to be outside for long time of the year but once fall hits I expect to spend more time at the park.
  10. Make more time for myself. I found an activity to be involved in that I am pretty excited about: Susan G. Komen Young Professionals for the Cure.  Great organization and it gives me something to look forward to.
  11. Replace the fence. This didn't happen before we moved since we could never find someone who would return our calls to do the work.  Now it doesn't matter.  The new owner can worry about that.
  12. Repair the driveway. Sort of the same as above except that we couldn't afford the $7k they wanted to charge us to make this happen so it didn't happen and now we don't live there anymore.
  13. Get the exterior of the house painted. We didn't even look into having this done. The main reason I wanted to do this was to cover the spot where the breaker box had been replaced. But that was in the back of the house and didn't matter when we sold the house.
  14. Increase our charitable giving. Still working on this.  We have a huge pile of stuff to donate since the move and we donated a lot before we listed the house.  That counts, right?
  15. Read 24 books. So I just checked my books to be read list and I realized I haven't read anything since November.  Can that be right? Probably.  I have started several books but haven't finished anything. Unless I kick it into gear in 2013 H2 (as we call it at work), this isn't going to happen.
  16. Blog at least once a week. Yeah, you already know I suck at this. So there's that.
  17. Spend an entire weekend kid free. Yep, this probably won't happen this year. 
  18. See Alabama play in Bryant-Denny Stadium. A girl can dream, right?
  19. Run a 5k. I am signed up for the Race for the Cure in November.  There is still time for me to get my butt in gear and prepare to run this.  It might happen.
  20. Visit Chris's Grandmother. Done!  We went to Wichita Falls last weekend and it was great.  I enjoyed meeting Chris's extended family and they all seemed to love Little Man.  We will definitely be going up there more.
  21. Visit my brother's family in Houston. Still trying to find a time to make this happen. I know we will be stopping in Houston on our way to Alabama in a couple of weeks but just to pick something up, not to visit.
  22. Setup Savings Accounts for the boys.  This I really need to get on.  We have their money in the safe right now and I will feel better once it is at the bank.
  23. Keep money in our savings account all year. So far, so good on this one.  The account got a little slim during the move but we have kept it going and it is back up to a happy level.  Plus we have a Holiday Savings this year to help with Christmas.
  24. Go to the gun range with Chris. You know, we haven't even talked about this.  Will have to try to make it happen this summer while I still have Fridays off.
  25. Clear out the excess stuff in our storage unit.  Well, we ended up adding more to storage when we staged the house. Now I am still waiting to get all of our stuff out that we want at the new house. Then we will get rid of stuff because I am not taking it with us when we move again. 
  26. Update mortgage, house, and bills to married name. Um, yeah...still need to make this happen.  I've been married 3 years now.
  27. Participate in NaBloPoMo. We will see how this goes come November.
  28. Complete the 52 Week Money Challenge. So far, so good.  We are 27 weeks in now and I have managed to make the deposits every week.  This is funding our Holiday Savings and I am loving this idea so much that I think I am going to do it every year from now on.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Bring Back the Words: Week 3 Prompt 2

I’m participating in Ginger‘s Bring Back the Words (BBTW) link-up!

Prompt 2: Share a small moment of happiness and/or peace from your week.
While trolling through my blogs on Wednesday night, I happened upon a post for our local 4th of July celebration.  I had forgotten that the city puts on a pretty big event for the day.  With Chris working most holidays, I normally don't really plan for us to do anything.  However, I sent a text to Chris this morning asking if he wanted to head down to the parade after he got home.  I thought the boys would enjoy it and it would be nice to get out of the house for a little while. So we loaded up, grabbed some breakfast, and headed downtown to find a spot to watch the parade.  Jackson got a bit testy waiting for the parade to start but he really seemed to enjoy sitting on his daddy's shoulders watch the parade go by.  I had so much fun watching him point and wave at the different sights he saw.  I love watching the world through that little boy's eyes seeing everything for the first time.

Bring Back the Words: Week 3 Prompt 1

I’m participating in Ginger‘s Bring Back the Words (BBTW) link-up!

I am a little late to the game on Ginger's BBTW challenge but I think it will be good for me to give me something to write about and a deadline to get the post up.

Prompt 1: What is your worst dating story?

Oh, there are many bad dating stories in my past but I think the most appropriate thing to mention here would be how my anxiety would effect my dating in high school and college.  It wasn't until I was an adult that I understood what caused all my issues.  You see when I was younger, I would get so excited about something that it would make me nervous and would cause me to get sick.  I pretty much didn't go on a date in high school or college that didn't require me to run to the bathroom or else I'd get sick in front of my date.  Somewhere around my junior year in college, I finally got over this problem but man, was it miserable while it lasted.  I remember one date my sophomore year with this really hot guy from the military school and having to beg him to pull over on our drive back from dinner so I could throw up.  How embarrassing!  Yet he asked me out again and we dated for a couple of months before he went home for Christmas and decided to get back together with his ex-girlfriend and then became best friends with my ex-boyfriend after returning to school.  I glad I grew out of the issue because I ended up dating a lot more in my adult life than I had planned or hoped to.  Divorcing at 30 will do that to you.  

Monday, June 3, 2013

Pros and Cons

We have been in the new house almost a month now and we are still getting used to it. Almost all the boxes are unpacked but we still need to hang pictures and bring some stuff over from storage to really make it feel like home. I am ready to be settled but very disheartened at the thought that it will likely be time to move again before we are really settled into this house.

I like the new house alright.  It has a very drawbacks that I don't love but can live with.  I have to tell myself a lot, "This is a rental. You won't live here forever."  Mostly when I am doing the dishes, this comes up.  I hate the sink.  It is so shallow.  When I try to rinse dishes, I end up covered in water because it sprays everywhere.  And the dishwasher is tiny.  I am not sure how that is possible since it is the same size on the outside but the inside definitely has less room.  I honestly think we could do 2 loads of dishes a day and still have an overflow.  And that is hand washing all pots and pans.  I guess I have been spoiled by my old sink and dishwasher which I didn't realize were all that special till now.

I am also missing my bathtub.  I don't even miss having 2 sinks in the bathroom because that hasn't really been an issue for us but the tub I miss. I am mostly a shower girl but there are days when a nice soak in the tub is warranted.  I don't have that option here.  And, no, I am not going to go to the boys' bathroom and use their tub.  I also miss being able to bathe Jackson in our bathroom while Sean showers in his.  Jackson's bedtime keeps getting pushed while I wait for Sean to finish.  I think we are going to need to switch this out somehow.

Also, our "2-car" garage is not so much a true 2 car garage.  In theory, you could fit two cars in there if at least one of them was a SMART car.  But alas, we have a Camry, a 4Runner, and Chris's patrol car so only one car is allowed in our garage at a time.  The problem is the laundry room juts out into the garage.  Even the Camry came all the way to the door when we tried to park it on that side and we were barely able to shut the garage door.  So a 1-car garage it is.

But it isn't all bad.  We have space!  It is amazing how much more room 300 extra square feet is.  Sean can play in his room.  Jackson can play in the living room.  We have extra room in our room.  I almost don't know what to do with the extra space.  I feel like I need to fill it with stuff.  And some of the space will be filled once we get everything out of storage but then I like have the room to move without feeling like we are tripping over each other.

And we have a pantry that you can walk in that isn't the size of a linen closet.  And we have an island in the kitchen that is the best place for serving food and making lunches and prepping meals and I will never have another kitchen without these two vitally important pieces.

We also love that there is a playground across the street.  We have taken the boys there several times.  Plus Sean has made friends and he goes out and plays with them on the weekends.  Somehow, even with kids on our street, Sean never had friends in the old neighborhood.  It is nice to see him interacting with children besides the ones he goes to school with.

So it isn't the perfect house for us but it has a lot of good features and we are happy for now.

Monday, May 20, 2013

So We Moved

Two weeks ago, we loaded up a U haul with the help of a moving crew and moved our stuff 1.6 miles to our new "home."  I say "home" because a rental doesn't feel as much like a home to me.  Not that the new place doesn't have some great qualities.  It just all feels so temporary since we only plan to be here for a year while we look for our next place to live.  We haven't figured out exactly what we want to do next.  If we want to build or if we want to buy an existing house.  Where we want that to be.  Do we look closer to my office or try to plan around the school we would like the boys to go to?  There are just so many factors to consider.  I'm afraid I'm still so stressed out from the move that I can't seem to narrow my thoughts down to one thing.  Of course Chris would like to stay close to where we currently are since this is where he grew up but I would really like to live in Austin proper.

We also closed on the old house a week ago.  Chris was in training so I had to attend the closing alone.  Jackson ended up being with me because he was sent home from daycare the day before with a fever.  He ended up sleeping in my lap through the closing which let me know he really wasn't feeling well.  A trip to the doctor after the closing revealed a 103.5 temperature and his second round of strep in a month.  While I was sad to see my little house go, I was happy to have the closing behind me so we didn't have to deal with the selling process anymore.  I had my doubts about selling the house and it didn't all go smoothly but it is done now.  I'd say I'm happy but I don't think I will be until we figure out or next move.  I guess I am more relieved.

Monday, April 29, 2013

To the New Owners of My Home

Dear Future Residents of Elder Way,

     Welcome to my little cottage on Elder Way.  I hope you fell in love with this place much like I did five years ago when I first stepped foot in it.  I can remember the first time I walked into this house and how I was captured by the openness of the living area and the space in the kitchen.  I remember how I planned for the furniture and decor I was going to place throughout the house during the time I was waiting for my closing date.  I was so excited to call this little slice of earth my own.
     You see this house was not just a house to me.  It represented so much more than just a place to live.  It was a place to start over.  Five years ago, I was newly divorced and trying to navigate the world truly on my own for the first time in my life of 30 years.  This house was my fresh start.  It was all mine.  I had done it on my own and that was huge for me.  I was doing everything that no one, especially my ex-husband, expected me to be able to do.  I was living away from home, away from Alabama.  I had a successful career and I was making a place for myself in this world without the support everyone believed I needed.  Buying the house was a way to say I had made it.
     Since that time, this house has seen a lot of laughter and some tears.  This house has seen the first kiss of newlyweds returning home from their honeymoon.  It has heard the cries of a newborn fresh from the hospital.  It was here that Chris proposed, that I found out I was pregnant, and that Jackson took his first steps.  This house is full of memories for me and for my family.  While I always knew this wouldn't be our forever home, I knew this place would be special to me for many reasons.
     So I just ask that you take care of my little cottage on Elder Way the same way it took care of me for the last five years.  Make it more than just a place to live.  Make it your home and love it the way I did.  I know I won't be back here but I will be near by and maybe our paths will cross again one day.