Friday, September 30, 2011

Live in Concert

I have 2 concerts this weekend. The first is tonight at our home and I've invited about 22 guests.  It's sort of a warm up show to get my nerves out before Saturday night's concert in Seattle.

I just wanted to let anyone know that if you want, you can watch my Saturday night concert LIVE online on uStream at 7pm Pacific.

Here is the link:
http://www.pianohavenlive.com/

Saturday, Oct 1st. 7pm PST

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jewelry Box

There are many things I love in life, and one of them is jewelry.

Why my husband is only just now catching on to that little fact this year, I don't know.  I keep telling him, babe, listen.  What do I want for Christmas? Smelly stuff, chocolate, a Fazioli piano, or jewelry. I'm easy like that.

I finally organized my jewelry yesterday.  I have too many items to fit into my jewelry box anymore, so I now use the box that our wedding silverware came in.  Creative? Yes.  Functional?  Mostly.  

Any kleptomaniacs out there, don't get any brilliant ideas here.  You will be sorely disappointed.  While I might love jewelry, I never said I was a lover of fine jewelry.  Most of these items are bargain shopped.  The only high priced item I own is my wedding ring - which is on my finger and I never take it off.  Partly because I decided after Taylor was born I was going to get it on my finger gosh darnitt, and it's been there ever since because apparently I still haven't lost enough weight to take it off without buttering up my finger, but also because I don't want to take it off :).

Two sentimental pieces though are my princess earrings from Will - can you spot them?  And my pearl necklace that my Grandma gave me when I turned 21 (it was her's) - it is a vintage piece from the 1940's (upper right hand corner).

P.S. I have a stash of jewelry that I'm willing to donate to the first niece that wants them.  It is random necklaces, earrings, etc that I no longer want or use. I will package them up all pretty like and mail them. Let me know.

Caterpillar

There once was a caterpillar named, uh, "Caterpillar"...


He lived in a jar, not very far
from Preston's bed shaped like a car.


Then one day, Preston said "Hey!"
As he looked at his caterpillar gone brown.
I said "He's not dead, he's just sitting down with a big frown, so settle down."

But really, the caterpillar was toast,
too many days in a jar to roast,
with a 3 year old showing him to everyone to boast.

Goodbye caterpillar, it was fun.
While you were in a jar out of the sun,
Kept, admired, and loved by our little Preston.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

House Full of Blessings

House that we originally made an offer on 3 weeks ago - buyer walked.

We made a new offer, for $10K less than our first offer.

Waited all week to hear back from the bank.

Yesterday - found out the bank accepted our offer and our terms.

We did a happy dance. YAY!!!!!!!!

Now if you want the nitty gritty...

So let me just start off by saying that my dear husband will probably not approve of me writing this blog so soon, but I am justifying it by the fact that it's mostly our families that read our blog.  Obviously, we still have many steps to go to complete the buying of this house - the biggest hurdle being the financing. And so even though we're super excited, it's still not time to break out the sparkling cider and celebrate. Yet.

So remember the post that I wrote last week entitled "House, Car, Job"?  And you remember me telling you about a house that we had found and put an offer on, but didn't end up getting it because a few others had made an offer on it as well and someone else ended up being chosen over us?

I was so sad about that whole thing.  We looked at more houses after that happened and just weren't finding anything.  What we were finding were either super ugly, old, or just plain weird.  So we decided to just stop looking until some new foreclosures came on the market. I told Will "I hope the other buyer backs out and we can still get that house."  But as Will kept checking the MLS listing, he saw it go from available, to pending inspection, to pending. It seemed quite certain that their deal would go through.

And then last week, as you know, our Kia died.  As in totally ka-puts.  We've been a one car family now for over a week, and it's been all right. I haven't gone anywhere, but have a huge long list of things I need to do this weekend to make up for it.  Meanwhile Will has been driving our Jetta to his bus stop, and then either carpooling or busing it to work from there.

We've been looking online for a used car.  We had the discussion about whether or not we should get a nicer newer bigger family car (which would be more money), or just get a temporary dinky cheap commuter car for Will.  If we got a nicer newer car, it would use up our down-payment for a possible home (because we want to pay cash for a car).  For a moment, we considered it because the home we wanted was gone and there wasn't anything else. But we decided to still keep hope that we would be able to buy a home soon, and so we decided to either get a cheap commuter car, or something slightly nicer (and then the Jetta would become Will's car).

A few days after that, we received an email from the real estate agent on the house that we had originally wanted, saying that the buyer had walked.  We talked about it that night and put together a new offer on the home, and waited all week to hear back.  We finally got word yesterday afternoon that the bank had accepted our offer.

I know we don't have the house for sure yet, because we still need to get the financing from our bank, but if we do get the home and all goes through - it's amazing to know that Heavenly Father really is mindful of us.  Sometimes we think we know what we want, but He knows what is better for us.  If we had gotten the house 3 weeks ago, we would have paid between $10 - $15K more for it.  We also wouldn't have known that our 2nd car was going to die and needed to budget money for that as well.

Here is a photo of our hopefully future home on the left.  As you can see, it needs some love.  It is a foreclosure and we will basically be re-doing the entire thing.  We would love to do the exterior the same color/style as the home shown on the right - with pale yellow paint, black shutters, and white trim.  We also want to put a white picket fence in the yard and do it up cute.  And then the inside of course is a whole other story.


So we obviously still have a ways to go on the process, but we are really excited.  This will be our very first home!  We are trying to do a loan that includes an extension loan for fixes on the house, which makes the process more lengthy.  But hopefully all will go smoothly and we'll be able to close on the house at the earliest Oct 21st (but probably be later).


Anyway. That's the good news!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Craft Project: Brag Board

So I don't normally do crafts.  

It's not that I don't enjoy doing them, but a) I have a problem finishing projects that I start, and b) I don't have enough time to pursue all of the projects that I truly would like to do.

Case in point: I would love to sew curtains for our living room and haven't done it.  I would love to sew dresses and haven't done it - even have the material sitting there waiting. I would love to reconstruct some of my old dresses into new ones - even bought a sewing bust and haven't used it.  I have empty picture frames on our walls that are waiting for photo projects and I just haven't had the time.

But...

I did manage to do one project yesterday. But I need the help of other more experienced craftees to help me fix what I messed up on.

I wanted to make a "Brag Board". Otherwise known as a photo board, or a memory board. It's just a thing that you can post stuff on that you want to keep.  Since these days I am mostly all digital, a lot of my paper things tend to get lost without a place to put them. Hence the reason I wanted to make a brag board.

So these are the materials I used:


I used a staple gun to bind it all together on the back side.


The problem though, is the pins are just sort of sitting there.  They are supposed to go into the board and fasten the ribbon down so that you can stuff things in between the ribbons.  But my pins keep popping back out.


I think for one thing, I put too much batting on it.  And the other thing is I just don't know if pins will stick into a foam display board (I didn't want to use wood because it would be too heavy to mount on the wall).

So what do I do? Take it completely apart and remove one layer of batting? Or are there special pins/hooks out there that will actually stay nailed into a foam board?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fall BBQ


We enjoyed a fun evening at the annual Fall BBQ Picnic that a member of our stake hosts at his property every year.  



Oh my goodness, just have to say I love the new Blogger format. I just increased the size of a photo without having to go in and change the HTML. Amazing.

Standing in line waiting for THE craziest carnival-ride-of a tractor hayride ever.


This was us the last time we went (2009) Preston was about 14 months old - slightly older than Taylor right now.


Monday, September 19, 2011

House, Car, Job.

I've been terrible at blogging the past couple of weeks.  We've had much going on.  So I'll give you the quick run-down, and you must also know that I worked super hard on finally finishing Will's 100 mile race video - so scroll down to the next post as well.

So yes - the three things in life that are essential.  House. Car. Job.  Those all were dancing in the midst of change for us these past few weeks and we weren't sure how things would end up.

I'm happy to say that we now know, though all three possibilities sort of didn't work out for us.  But please, no pity.

House

Will and I have been married since 2005 and have yet to ever buy our own home.  If you total up the amount of rent we've paid over the past 6 and 1/2 years, it is a lot.  Let me emphasize a LOT.  Mucho.  Mega.  Hugenss.  Especially since, hello, we live in Seattle. Rent isn't cheap.

However, we have just never been in a place ready to buy a home yet.  For one thing, up until now the home market has been outrageously high. Remember just a few years ago when dinky 50 year old 1,000 square foot homes were selling for $500,000?  Those same homes are finally back down to the $200,000 or less range - which is right where they should be.  Simply put, it's finally a great time to be buying a home.

We are renting a home right now that has been on the market since January.  We feel blessed to be living in it because we have a 3/4 acre backyard, fully fenced, a garden, a garage (which we've never had before), 4 bedrooms, upstairs/down, and 2.5 baths.  Seriously those are luxuries we'd never had in any other place we've lived in.

However, we can't stay here forever.  Will's commute is about 2 hours in the morning, and anywhere between 2-3 hours in the evening.  He takes about 3-4 buses to get home, and while on said bus is either on his phone or laptop working.  And then when he gets home, he sometimes has to work some more.  It goes without saying that Will's job is very busy, and that we hardly see him during the week (thank goodness for weekends!!).

So a couple of months ago, our rental home had a buyer interested and we thought we were going to have to move.  So we started looking at rentals closer to Will's job.  And then we got discouraged after seeing how high the rental prices were on Seattle's eastside.  It got to the point where we were actually back to looking at apartments - which we thought we had graduated from quite a while ago.  But seriously it was the only thing in our price range.

So then we started talking about buying a home, since we would actually have a lower mortgage payment than a rental payment every month.  But as you know I'm married to a man who has a Masters Degree in Real Estate Development and Finance.  What that means is he's not just going to go out and buy a new house.  He will want to find the biggest bang for his buck - which means foreclosures.

It might sound crazy, but I've always loved the idea of finding a home that we could re-do and fix up.  Buying a new home is too boring.  I want to be able to take something that is dirty, old, and ugly and turn it into something new, beautiful, and clean.  Yes it's a lot of work, but I would enjoy it.

So we did find a home.  Will spent quite a few weeks researching it thoroughly before we decided to put an offer on it. Our VERY first offer on a home, EVER. It was a big deal. It was a foreclosure, but had very high potential to be high in the cuteness factor.  We spent a lot of time planning stuff, talking to banks, etc. I even started picking out paint colors and planning things in my head of how we would re-do the inside of the home.

But...

The Monday that we put an offer down on the house, we found out that apparently there were multiple people with the same idea and we were competing against several offers for the home.  We actually re-did our offer for more, with better terms too.  However, in the end, it was a sad day when we found out the bank chose another offer over ours.

Since then we've been browsing the market but still haven't found anything as cute or as good of a deal.  So we're still here for a while.  Sorry to confuse anyone who thought we were moving.

Car

In case you never had the pleasure of being aquainted with Will's car - it was a 2000 Kia Sephia.  It was the car that he picked me up in for our very first date.  It's the car we had when we got married.  We've taken several road trips in that car while holding hands across the gear shift.

Well it died.  Officially.

The plan was to drive it into the ground, and that day finally came last Thursday.  Will was actually taking it in for some routine maintenance, and 5 min from the garage the water pump blew, as well as the belt.  The diagnosis was that it would cost us almost $1,000 to fix everything on the car.  The car itself couldn't have been worth more than $500 alone.  So we decided to not fix it, but donate it to charity.

However, just for kicks and giggles, Will decided to post it on Craigslist to see if anyone would pay $250 for it.  Within 12 hours he got over 100 emails.  People were saying they would pay upwards of $400 - $500 for it.

So he basically emailed several people back and told them he would be at the garage at 5:30 on Friday, anyone interested, please show up.  A few people showed up, with several more on the phone waiting to find out if it had sold.  Will ended up selling it to a Hispanic woman with 3 kids. Her brother was going to fix the car up for her.  We're so glad that it went to someone who could use it, and not just a random mechanic for parts.

But now we're a one car family.  And being that we still want to buy a home, we're not really in a place to be buying a car as well.  So if you know of any dependable inexpensive used cars, we're in the market.

Job

Will has been working at his new job since the beginning of July and doing well.  I don't think he would really want me to go into details, but he had another job offer last week that had the potential to be in line with his passions more, but in the end the pay and benefits were less appealing.  He likes his current job though - although stressful and busy.  He is busy, busy, busy.  But we are very grateful to be employed. And he couldn't be working for a better company.

So yeah.  House, car, and job all within a week.  Crazy, right?  So that's the update on us.  I must now go rescue my crying 1 year old from his crib.  See ya.

P.S. Will's 100 mile race video below.

Video Blog: Western States 100

My husband ran 100 miles in an elite trail running race this summer.

It's only taken me how many months to finally get the video footage together?

Here it is.  Please watch and enjoy.  Will's actual blog about his experience running the Western States 100 Mile Race is coming.  Believe it or not, in between working 10-12 hrs a day, commuting, and taking care of a family - he is actually trying to make some time to complete the race post.  So that lengthy recap will be coming soon.

Until then...enjoy the footage!


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Who...Me??

What food on the floor?

Why are you lookin' at me?


Yes, I do sweep the floor at least 3 times a day underneath his highchair.

Taylor is constantly picking up food off of his tray that he doesn't like, hanging his hand over the side, LOOKING at me while doing it, and dropping things to the floor. That look that you see on his face is the "look" he gives me when he knows he is not supposed to be doing something, but does it anyway while watching for my reaction.

One year olds can be cute and so much work at the same time. :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sunday Reflections - What is the Point?

I'm sure all of you parents out there have had at least one occasion where you've gone to church and wondered "What is the point?".

You spend half the time in the hallways with your little one, or if you are a nursing mom half of your time in the mother's lounge (not the case for me anymore thank goodness). And by the time church is over, you look at your spouse and say "So, did you learn anything in church today? Because I sure didn't."

Today was such a day.

I remember going through it with Preston, and now we are officially going through again with Taylor. It's called "I'm-too-wiggly-and-hungry-and-sleep-deprived-to-sit-through-church-anymore" syndrome.

1:00pm church is hard with little kids because it's nap time. But on the other hand, it should give you plenty of time to get ready right?

Unless you're us, of course.

Today we were fashionably late (as usual) to church. Please, don't judge us. If you have little ones at home you know that sometimes it just doesn't matter how early you start getting ready to be somewhere, something always happens and you are typically always running a little behind. Even with the best intentions.

Everything was going all right at church for the first half hour or so. Preston sat on Will's lap and took a nap, while Taylor charmed the people sitting behind us with his smiles and waves, while also being interested in Grandma's lap. And then he started getting fussy. Don't worry - this is normal. In fact he was right on time with all of the other Sundays as far as his fussiness goes.

We tried goldfish crackers, toys, spoons, papers, books, and eventually it got to the point where he would do a big swiping motion so everything would fall to the floor and he would fuss.

Fuss, fuss, fuss.

Noisy, noisy, noisy.

So I scooped him up and out we went. There is one thing I won't tolerate is my kids being noisy during church.

So we went out into the foyer and sat on the couch. He didn't want me to sit, so I put him down and he cried. Not only cried, but threw himself onto the floor and laid down and cried. Ooookay.

So I thought, hey, maybe he would like to go outside and get some fresh air because the church was very hot today. We went outside and he wasn't really diggin' that either because the sun was actually hotter outside than in.

So we took a walk to the ladies room. I set him on the counter while I fixed my shirt that was buckling up. He found his way over to the sink and plopped himself in. Not a big deal, except that today he figured out how to turn the water on.

It was too late before I could grab the knob to turn it off. He had completely soaked his britches. I took a few paper towels and dried him off the best I could and then we left.

We went out to the foyer again and I held him by the back doors so that we could peek in and listen/watch the speakers. I though just for a second that he might fall asleep because he laid his head down on my shoulder for a minute. Nope! The first sign of distraction and he was up looking around and wiggling for me to put him down.

So we went back over to the couch where I had originally left our little baggy of cheerios, water bottle, and baby spoon (that he likes to chew on and hit things with).

We played "Open and close the water bottle" for about 10 minutes, and then I didn't realize that it didn't get closed tight. All of a sudden I feel cold water under my rear, and I look down to see that my water bottle was draining out on the couch right where we were sitting.

Great!

So I hurry and close the water bottle and assess the damage. Most of the couch cushion was soaked, and so was Taylor and myself. Taylor was already wet from the bathroom sink though so I wasn't too worried about him. I fed him a few cheerios, to which he then did a big swipe and dumped them EVERYWHERE.

So during the closing prayer, I was on my knees trying to pick up all these little cheerios before people starting pouring into the foyer after Sacrament meeting. All the while I have one hand on Taylor so that he doesn't fall of the couch because he is wiggling like a worm. All the while people keep passing us and saying "Oh he is so happy today!" or "Look how cute he is!" and I just want to give them a full explanation of how he really is today, and then offer him to them.

Oh, did I mention I had a huge wet spot on the front of my skirt that looked like I wet myself? Yep let's not leave out that tiny detail.

So Sacrament meeting was over, and Will came out with Preston and took him to nursery. Preston was all rosy-cheeked and groggy, but still gave us a passing wave. When Will returned, I promptly handed Taylor to him and said "Your turn."

We decided Sunday School should be manageable since Taylor could just be set on the floor and scoot/crawl around. No more than 3 minutes passed before one of the nursery leaders stuck her head in the door, looked at me, and did a hand signal for me to come.

"Preston is just in tears and not consolable, do you mind going into nursery?" she said.

Last week Preston broke down in nursery because he had an accident and peed in his underwear and was so embarrassed about it. So my first thought was that he may have had another accident. Super.

When I got to nursery, he was on the ground hunched over in a little ball just crying profusely. Two nursery leaders were patting him on the back trying to get him to feel better, and then when he realized I was there he just went hysterical and cried even harder. I picked him up and we went outside to the picnic tables so that he could calm down and tell me what was the matter.

"Why are you crying?" I asked.

"I nunno." He answered (which means "I don't know")

"Can you tell Mommy why you are so sad?"

"No" he said through tears.

"Did you go pee-pee in your pants?"

"No"

"Do you NEED to go potty?"

"No."

"Um, let's see here, did another kid take your toy that you were playing with?"

"No."

"Did you not get the puzzle that you wanted?"

"No."

It's like a game of 20 questions and I'm totally losing.

"Does someone in nursery seem scary to you?"

"Yeah."

"So do you like your nursery teacher? She's really nice and she likes you a lot."

"No." he said.

I started to think he was just saying "no" to everything. So I held him for a while on my lap, and then I told him he could come with mommy to her class but that it would be really boring and he would have to sit still. He still wanted to come.

So Preston sat on my lap for the last 20 minutes of Sunday School, while Will was out in the hallways with a very loud and wiggly Taylor.

Third hour came, and since my mom had to play the piano in Primary today, she agreed to take Preston with her. Preston will be going into Sunbeams in January anyway, so I thought it would be fun for him to go to Primary.

Meanwhile, I went to Relief Society because I was subbing for the pianist today. During the lesson, I would see Will walk by, and then walk back. One time I saw Taylor was passed out in his arms, and then a few minutes later I would see Taylor scootin' down the hallway trying to escape.

Will never did get to go to Priesthood.

Preston never did go back to Nursery.

I dare say, even though I missed Sacrament meeting and most of Sunday School, I at least got to hear the RS lesson.

But as we were leaving the church building to go back to our car, Will looked at me and said, "So honey, did you enjoy church today? Didya learn anything?" he said with a chuckle.

Sigh.

I know, I know. It's a habit. You go, even if you don't learn anything, just so that you simply GO.

We have about 6 more months of these types of Sundays before Taylor is old enough to go to nursery. So I suppose we should just hunker down and just accept the fact that we will be in the hallways more than in class. But still, it doesn't mean that we can't occasionally wonder what the point is? Haha!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I Love These Two.

Awe, I love these guys.


Preston was holding Taylor's hand and said "Mama, you take a picture of us?"


And he also insisted that they both wear their Thomas the Train shirts that Gwenevere gave them so that they could be twins.