Thursday, February 25, 2010

Lists, Houses and Chipotle

Looking for a home can be frustrating, intimidating and scary. It is the biggest financial investment most people ever make in their life, but it can be a truly satisfying and exciting experience.

Bryan and I are just in the dipping-the-big-toe-to-test-how-cold-the-water-is stage of buying a home. A few months ago when we were frantically trying to find another rental home, we were told about a local grant that gives a loan (with great incentives) to first-time home buyers that meet a specific income. We weren't even thinking about buying a home at that time, but we figured it couldn't hurt.

So, I met with a broker one evening after work armed with all of our personal information. Unfortunately, the news was not good, we weren't qualified. We made "too much" money for a family of two people. I'll never forget, she looked at me hopefully after telling me that we were denied for the grant, "Do you have a child?" I've never seen such disappointment on a strangers face when I said I didn't.

The good news was that we both have good credit and were approved for a loan. GREAT news. So, I filled Bryan in after the meeting and we decided to try to find a home.

After we find me a new car.
After we buy him a new truck.
After we pay off all of our credit cards.
After we start up all of our new insurances and create a new monthly budget.

Finally, all of that is done and we are ready so start looking!

We had plans tonight to go to Guitar Center and Chipotle. I heart Chipotle. It's delicious. Bryan and I always share a burrito now and we sometimes spring for chips and guac. Mmmmmm.. Oh, sorry back to the point of this post.

During our meal I pulled out my handy-dandy notebook that I keep in my purse. I started writing down things that are important to me about a house. Obviously, you can't get everything you have ever dreamed of in your first home. But there are some things you are willing to let go of and some things that you are adamant about.

My list (below) included four items that were important to me, in no specific order.
1. Bathrooms - Are the big enough? Is there at least one tub? Would we have to renovate? Is there potential to expand?
2. Kitchen - Are the cupboards in good condition? Are the appliances older/newer? Is there a gas stove? Is the kitchen roomy enough to actually cook in? Is there enough counter space?
3. Location - Is the property in a nice/safe area? What school district does the house fall in?
4. Fireplace - Does the house have a wood burning or gas insert?

Of course, every one has different priorities when thinking about purchasing a home. But those things are important to me personally and I am obviously not saying the above four things should be on every one's list.

I turned the page to a fresh sheet and hand Bryan the notebook after explaining my list and I say, "Don't be flip. I need to know what is important to you."

Here is a picture of Bryan's list.

Apparently, the only thing Bryan cares about in picking a house is if I am going to be there and if there is a big backyard for his dog.

I definitely have my work cut out for me.

Google Vs. Yahoo


Why is it always about me?


Why is it always about you?

Touché, Google. 1:0.

Jonah's EB Auction

Right now, until February 27, you can participate in an auction that benefits the organization DebRA.

DebRA helps families like the Williams Family and the Turnquist Family during some of the hardest moments of their lives.

There are two ways to participate:

1. Go to JonahsEBAuction blog and start bidding on items.

2. Go to Meghann Turnquist's Avon page and buy items you would normally purchase anyways - but this time it goes to a very special charity.

Actually, there are three ways! You can always go directly to to submit a donation and rest assured, you are donating to an a charity that provides assistance to families that are hit with a genetic disease that no one really knows about, they are searching for a cure, and they provide hospitals with knowledge of how to treat EB babies.


Friday, February 12, 2010

In Honor of Valentines...

Valentine's Day.

Where do I even start?

As trite as it sounds, I love love. Love is one of the most powerful emotions the creatures on earth experience. You have love between spouses, love between parents and their children, love between two children, and love is even so powerful it can be experienced between humans and animals.

I do not, however, love Valentine's day. I feel like a lot of men love Valentine's day because it can be their "catch-all" day. I would guess that for most of the other 364 days men don't pay attention to the romantic needs of their prospective wives and girlfriends. They don't woo their women after they have sealed the deal and they use Valentine's day as a way to go all out for their partners.

Which frankly, sucks.

I'm sure a lot of women say they hate February 14 on a rule, because if they set their sights low, the man they are dating could just take them out to dinner at McDonald's and it would be an improvement. But then again, a lot of women might REALLY look forward to it because they know it is the ONE DAY that their man might do something really spectacular and that falling-in-love feeling comes back for a moment, oozes into the next few days and then finally tapers away.

And lets not forget, some men might use Valentine's day to make up all the time they spent thinking about and watching football, and then also having three or four different fantasy football leagues to attend to. So, they do something sweet for all the time their wives wasted on making dip and grabbing them chips from the pantry.

Sigh. How sad. All of those versions up there just make my heart ache.

As much as I can see why the idea of having a day to honor love could be admirable; To actually sit down and think about where you would be without the love of your family and friends. To take a step back and just remember the feelings you felt for your man or woman when loved stopped being a flutter in your stomach and became more of a choice and commitment. It seems like a good idea, in theory. In practice? I don't know. I'm not convinced yet. I feel like there is just not enough expressions of love during the rest of the year.

Now, just for the sake of saying it, expressions of love don't have to be over the top and costly. When my husband takes out the trash without me having to ask, that is a huge expression of love. When he feeds our dogs every day like clock work, its an expression of love. Even when he carts off to work to provide for our life together, that is an expression of love. And most days, I have to remind myself to take a moment to THINK about it. To remember that doing the tedious things we do for each other is a very important expression of love.

But there also has to be more than that. A man should court his wife every day. He should give her devoted attention and he should flirt with her and woo her just like he would if he was still trying to spark up a relationship with her. He should do things on a weekly or biweekly basis, like write her love notes and/or leave a flower on his pillow if he leaves before her in the morning. It should be a constant. Romance is so absolutely and completely necessary in a relationship.

Such simple things can be done to keep it alive. Maybe Valentine's day has killed the meaning of romance. Romance doesn't have to be a grand gesture. It doesn't have to be running through a town in Italy to stop her from marrying someone else. It certainly doesn't have to be thousands of dollars worth of jewelry. That is not what it needs or has to be. Its small things. Small continual moments, running after her out the door to give her just one last kiss, surprising her with a cup of coffee and the book she's obsessed with on a Saturday morning. It's running her a bath at the end of a rough day. Such simple, non-monetary expressions of love that will keep her eyes only on you.

That is what love is all about... Well, at least to me.

What I DO love about Valentine's day is kind of specific to my job. Its so cute to get a couple of students in the office that hand out Valentine's day cards, looking so sweet and giving. They get so excited when they hand their special card to you.

Two days ago two little girls, of Kindergarten age, came in and one handed us each a book-marker and the other handed us a valentine. When I said thank you and they moved on, I looked at them both more closely.

The second little girl, Lainee, gave a Valentine's day card that was a jumbled puzzle! And each piece was a sticker, which you would peel off and stick to the other side, in the appropriate numbered box.

This is the front, almost halfway through the Valentine card.

This is the back! So far so good!

Ta-DA! So cute. Its a PUG. And its kind of awesome because I have... or had a pug. My dad kind of adopted her! :)

On other love-related news, its February 12. It would be my Mom and Dad's anniversary. And even though they don't celebrate it, us girls still do. It's still a part of our history. The best thing my Mom and Dad ever did was have us girls... for me, specifically Alie and Kari. I'm so happy that when I was little I had annoying big sisters to pick on me and be there for me. Now, I'm even happier that my big sisters are my best friends.