Monday, June 28, 2010

Changes

Even though we moved just 3.6 miles, we not only changed wards, we changed stakes. We are back in the Austin Oak Hills Stake again, in the Sunset Valley ward.

While we are excited about our new ward and everyone we've met so far has been very friendly and welcoming, one of the saddest things about our move is leaving our primary classes. I have really gotten attached to those kiddos and will miss them greatly. I hope to see them around the building sometimes!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cleanliness is next to.....

"You know how you throw your jacket on a chair at the end of the day? Well, like that, except instead of a chair, it's a pile of garbage. And instead of a jacket, its a pile of garbage. And instead of the end of the day, it's the end of time, and garbage is all that has survived!"

"I couldn't sleep knowing that just outside my bedroom is our living room and just outside our living room is that hallway and immediately adjacent to that hallway is this!"

Apparently, the previous owner of our new home never met dirt she didn't like. And has no idea where the "cleaning" aisle is at HEB.

We have moved everything into the new house (Thank you Adam, Mandy, Josiah, and Parker!) but haven't unpacked a single thing because it's so filthy. I mean, we have stuff piled on top of furniture so we don't have to set it on the ground. And nothing touches the walls. Because every. single. surface. of that place will have to be scoured before I'm convinced I won't contract something from it. Some of it is so far gone, it'll be easier to replace/paint over than try to get clean. We'll be painting every wall, door, and piece of molding. Awesome.

Today, I decided to start with the master bathroom. I figured I would want to get clean and couldn't do that in that bathroom. It seriously reminded me of the bathrooms at Camp Liahona (YW girl's camp from a decade ago. Yuck).

First, I went to HEB and wiped out their cleaning supply section. Seriously, I grabbed about 10 different products because I wasn't sure which one would be up to the task. Mandy graciously came over to help me and we hit that bathroom hard for 2.5 hours. Ya, you read that right. And while it looks better, it's still not up to Erika/Mandy standards.

The shower had pink mold growing all over it. I think I may get sick just from inhaling mold as I cleaned. I cleaned every inch of the shower three times, with three different products.




While it looks amazingly better before, none of these were able to get rid of ALL the soapy scum film on the glass. Any other suggestions?

The floors, the tub, the baseboards, the doors, the mirror, the sink and counter, and the cabinets are all infinitely cleaner now.

One room down, 11 to go. Oh my.

Bonus points if you can identify the two quotes I threw out at the beginning!  

Monday, June 21, 2010

New fridge!

Check out these three beasts (ok, Mandy's a pretty beast). They, and Hans, went and picked up our new fridge at Best Buy and brought it home in Abinadi's truck. Go team! It looks great and I'm so relieved to have a fridge.



Isn't it purdy? We got a steal of a deal on it because it was an open item. I had to pick between the French door style fridge or having in-door water/ice. I'm really sick of bending over to reach the fruit/veggie drawers in our current fridge, so the French doors seemed like the way to go. Hans has been all for this one since we saw it because it looks cool. It's a GE profile and I hear those are well (and we have a good warranty) so here's to hoping it's a good one!

One more!!

Man, I'm on a blogging spree today.

In all the house craziness, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention another major event that happened this weekend: Our very good friends, Miss Molly Lewis and Mr. Tom Wright FINALLY got engaged!!



After three years of dating and not dating, a mission in Norway, a study abroad in Cairo, and plenty of back and forth (and even more drama), these two crazy kids are finally going to tie the knot. We are SO HAPPY for you guys and wish you the best life together. Love y'all!!

A rough video tour



Hans forgot the camera had video capabilities until he was upstairs in the back bedroom. So the tour's kinda backwards, but you get the idea.

Have I mentioned yet that Lori, our realtor, is HUGELY pregnant? I don't know how she's doing all of this while about to pop. I mean, literally! She's due Friday! What a rock star.

House pictures

Thought I forgot, huh? Here's the good stuff.

House is in South Austin, off Slaughter and Westgate. Yes, it's the street over from Adam and Mandy Krutsinger. We are very excited about that.

It's two stories, three side stone, living, dining, kitchen, breakfast, four bed, two and a half bath.
We really liked that it had trees. Many houses we looked at don't, but this has three good ones in front and several in back.

Dining room:

 
 Downstairs has no carpet, which we love. No more accidents to clean up after our little ones.
 Living room:
Hans is super excited about mounting our tv over the fire place.
Kitchen:


It's a good size, but needs some upgrading. That's our first big project.
Master bedroom:

Sadly, the giant art fan did not convey.
Master bath

The only really sucky part about the house is how bad the closet is. The master closet makes me weep. That'll be interesting...

Bedroom #1:
This will be our guest room. Please come visit!
Bedroom #2:
Bedroom #3
While technically the fourth bedroom in the house, this bedroom is really large and has glass french doors. The former owner used it as a gameroom and I think we'll use it as an office until we have kids.

Hans took some video of the house too... I'll see if I can dig it up and post it.

So you might be wondering...

Hans and Erika bought a house? Where did that come from?

Yes. We did. And now that we're closed, we're ready to tell you all about it. Until the keys were in our hands, we were too nervous that something was going to fall through. So here's the relevant facts.

We had planned on taking the next year or so to save up money and have a nice little down payment. But we still like looking at houses, so we'd occasionally stop in to open houses and model homes. One day, way at the beginning of April, we were looking at some new construction homes just down the street from our apartments. While chatting with the sales woman, she asked why we weren't planning to buy until next year. She said we really should cash in on the Obama money while still available.

It got us thinking. Not only was Obama handing out $8k (which would totally cover our down payment...) but the interest rates lately are stupid low. We can't see them getting lower any time soon, and certainly not this time next year. Hans' parents agreed with this and said they would front us the money for our down payment until our Obama check arrives.

We agreed to meet with a realtor, Lori, just to see what was out there. If we found something we loved, we'd get it. If not, we'd walk away and stick to our original plan. This was all around the beginning of April. Over the next three weeks, Lori showed us so many houses we lost track. Based on the stack of MLS sheets on my desk, I estimate it was in the 80-100 range.

It was funny how our wants/priorities changed through out the hunt. We originally thought we wouldn't mind moving to Buda for the cheaper home prices. But after driving out there, we realized just how far it is and how none of our friends (I'm looking at you, Andrew/Abinadi/Tom) would come out to see us. Even though it wasn't even on our radar at first, we quickly decided we wanted to be in the Bowie school zone. Not that we expect to be in this house long enough to see our yet-to-be-even-considered children attend high school. It was more thinking about re-sale value. We noticed that two houses we looked at that were the exact same floor plan, same upgrades, same condition, etc. but in separate school zones (One Bowie, One Akins) had a $20k price difference between them. Better schools = better house value.

We ended up making four offers, on three houses. The first house was not worth nearly what they were asking and they weren't willing to budge. I'm now really relieved we didn't get that one because that was in the early stages of the hunt, back when Akins didn't look so bad...

The second house had the best location and a great floorplan. Seriously, killer location. But it was older and didn't look like anything had been updated, ever. We'd probably have had to gut the kitchen and redo. And the price didn't reflect that. Her house had been on the market since October, and she wasn't budging on her price. We decided to sweat her out until the end of April, figuring that as the Obama tax credit neared it's deadline, buyers might get more willing to negotiate.

In the mean time, we found a third house. We love the floor plan and the location. While not *quite* as good as the second house's location, still stellar. We put in a low ball offer, expecting to have to negotiate up to the where we really wanted to be. I guess she was desperate, because she took it straight out. Now counter offer, no nothing.

Incidentally, House #3 accepted our offer about an hour before House #2 caved and cam back and accepted our offer. That's what she gets for waiting. I check the MLS periodically to see if it's sold - it still hasn't. Suck-ah!

Even though we went under contract on our house at the end of April, we couldn't close until today. 1) we wanted the latest closing date possible because our lease isn't up at our apartment until Nov. 1 and paying rent AND mortgage is gonna suck. and 2) they needed a certain amount of pay stubs and other paper work that took us FOREVER to get together.

And that's it, so far. We were able to lock in a killer rate of 4.875%, the house appraised for more than what we bought it for, and the inspection turned up virtually nothing wrong with the house. I feel like I signed my life away today at the title office, which was scary, but the house is ours!! No more moving every nine months. No more not being able to paint walls or hang stuff because of renters' policies. No more listening to the guy upstairs entertain his lady friend at 2 a.m. A yard to let the dogs out in! A garage to park our cars!! A big kitchen to cook in! I'm excited - our first home.

BIG announcement!!

I haven't been blogging much lately because I've been trying to keep my mouth shut about something big in the works.

But as of about an hour ago, it's official - we bought a house!!


I'll share more details later, but for now I just wanted to finally get this out there!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

See ya :\

In the past 24 hours, I have had some very mixed emotions.

Yesterday, my mom and dad and Josh dropped AJ off at the Missionary Training Center in Provo. He is officially on his mission and I won't see him for two years.


Now, I'll be honest. I've been ridiculously weepy about the whole thing. I'd like to try and blame my over-emotional-ism (yes, I made that up, deal with it) on the stress I have been under lately. But really, I'm going to miss that kid so much I can hardly stand it. He's really matured into such an intelligent, mature, compassionate, considerate guy and I'm so proud of him. He is such an example to me of selflessness, trust, faith, and sacrifice. Did I mention how much I'm proud of him, or how much I love him?

I feel a little guilty crying though. It's such a great thing that he is doing, and will be such an amazing experience for him. It's a happy thing!

So he'll have to get used to copious amounts of letters and cards and emails and cookies.

If you're interested, you can follow his mission on this blog that we're keeping for him. We'll post pictures and emails that he wants to share and such.

Here's to hoping two years goes fast.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Mustang is no more

Good news!

We sold the Mustang.


This beat up old thing has been in Hans' family since the late 90s. First his brother's, Hans started driving it when he turned 16. It's been through several wrecks and isn't in the best condition. The A/C only blows out of the defrost vents, one of the tires has a slow leak, the emergency brake is broken, and the muffler needs replacing. Hans hasn't driven it since we got married because it can't pass a state inspection. It's been sitting in our apartment parking lot for months.

But not anymore! We finally sold it on craigslist. We didn't get as much as we hoped for, but given the condition it was in and our great need to sell it, it's a miracle that it sold. It couldn't have come at a better time, either.

Thank heaven for answered prayers.

Wanna put the book in the freezer?

Friday afternoon Hans and I went to Half-Price Books, one of our favorite things to do on a lazy evening. I picked up a book called Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin. I was excited to find it - I have read several of her other books and loved them. I didn't even read the back to see what it was about, I just figured I liked the author so I'd like the book.

Less than a hundred pages into the book, I started getting this gross, sick feeling in my stomach. The book did not make me feel good. I kept reading hoping it would get better, and it didn't. In fact, I read the entire book Friday night (into Saturday morning) and had to wake Hans up when I finished because I was crying.

The book is told from the point of view of a woman named Tessa. She's a professor turned stay-at-home mom who battles witchy upper-class housewives, soccer games, dinners, house cleaning, and two young children while her husband, the surgeon, is constantly rushing off to save lives and help others. She's unhappy and feels alone.

One night (their anniversary), her husband is called in to help a little boy who fell into a fire at a friend's house. He's badly burned and needs several operations over the course of several months. The doctor grows closer to the boy and in the process, the boy's single mother.

See where this is going? Doesn't take a rocket scientist. He seems like a good guy, an honest, loving family man. So I kept reading hoping he wouldn't do it. But he does.

And the rest of the book is about Tessa finding out and trying to figure out what to do. She doesn't want to be with him anymore because she doesn't trust him and feels like from her experience (her father and brother are both cheaters, too) that men who cheat will do it again, no matter how sorry they say they are. At the same time, she doesn't want to ruin her kids' lives the way her parents' divorce ruined hers.

All cheating makes my stomach hurt. It seems like everyone cheats now. I mean, isn't that the big trend of the year? Tiger Woods, David Boreanez, David Letterman, Larry King, Jesse James.

And over the years, I have been shocked by some of men I knew (family friends, friend's parents, etc) who cheated on their wives. It wasn't the ones you might expect - though you never want to expect that of someone - but rather the ones who seemed like the most loving, honest guys.

But this book took it to a new level. It follows Tessa as she examines and ultimately starts to blame herself. Their sex life wasn't good enough. She was distant and unsupportive. She was too materialistic and caught up in the day-to-day dramas of getting into the right pre-school and feuding housewives.

The surgeon (Nick) eventually blows up at Tessa, telling her it was her fault. She changed, not him. She wasn't the ambitious, driven, independent woman that he fell in love with. She has become just like all the other women in their vapid, rich neighborhood. The woman he had the affair with reminded him of how his wife used to be.

Woah, woah, woah. Why is this her fault? She changed, so it's ok for him to cheat? When does he talk to her and tell her about his concerns for their marriage or how he feels like she's changing and pulling away from him? When does he suggest counseling? Heck, when does he even attempt to keep himself on the side of right by staying away from the other woman? Did I miss those pages? No? That's right, he puts himself in compromising positions by showing up at the woman's house in the middle of the night to "check on the boy." He didn't want to cheat on his wife, "it just happened." Maybe it wouldn't have "just happened" if you didn't spend so much time alone with her, at her house. Jerk.

When the book finishes, Tessa is taking Nick back, accepting that she's partly responsible for his cheating and accepting that most men cheat. It made me sick. When did we get to the point that cheating is expected? Really?! So vows are just... guidelines? Why don't we expect that people keep their promises, to be faithful and true? That's what I expect of people.

I am thankful for the good examples I have in my life of people who are faithful and true. My own dad has always been a loving, devoted, loyal husband and I am grateful that he has put my mother first for the last 27 years. My in-laws, too, have been a strong and loving couple for over 20 years. It's good to know that it can happen, that people can stay together, and in love, for all that time. I think a common element in the strong relationships I know is that they are grounded in faith. The commitment isn't just between the two of them, but with our Heavenly Father, too. They are not immune from rocky times or temptations, but He's there to help them through, if they will remember Him and ask Him.

I'm disappointed by this book and hope that it does not represent the reality of our world.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Success!

Remember when I mentioned baking Parker a cake? (The Peanut Butter Cup [pause] Cake).

I made it yesterday and it looked so good, Hans and I needed one for ourselves.




Isn't it pretty? So easy to make. Instructions found here. Did I mention that it's decadently delicious? Melts in your mouth. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A swaggy update

You may remember a few months ago I blogged about giving Swagbucks a try. A girl who was in my ward growing up does it and had used her prize money to get a dyson vaccuum for free. It caught my attention so I decided to try.



So here I am a couple months later checking in to say how much I like it! It's really easy and rewarding. All you do is use Swagbucks' search instead of Google. It'll randomly award your searches with Swagbucks in different denominations. You can also get bucks for Swag Codes (put out over Twitter, the blog, and the widget), online shopping, and completing special offers.



I do follow the codes often, and have used the shopping tool maybe twice, but I mostly get my points from searching.

I've lost count of how many swagbucks I have earned because I have redeemed most of them for prizes.  I do know that I have about $60 worth of Amazon giftcards, which is a pretty sweet little reward just for searching. I decided I'm going to save up for a KitchenAid stand mixer.


Want to give it a try? Follow this link: http://www.swagbucks.com/refer/thesweetingspot. I think you get something like 50 swagbucks just for signing up. Good luck, and happy swagging!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

ESPN, once in a while.

Hans' phone buzzes.

Me: Who's that?
Hans: CNN.
Me: oh? What about?
Hans: Baseball.

Or I don't know. Stanley Cup...

Two minutes pass.
Me: Have you figured out what sport that is yet?
Pause.
Head shakes.

What?

Erika: Oh! I forgot to tell you. Parker got into UT!
Hans: Ya. I know. He told me yesterday.
E: oh. well... I want to make him a cake to celebrate!
H: which one?
E: That Reese's cake.
H: The Reese's cupcake?
E: No, cake.
H: Cupcake.
E: No... cake.
H: The. Reese's. cup. [pause, separates air with hands] cake.
E: ooOOOoooh... yes.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Late to the party

Since AJ wanted to gorge on Bluebell while he was here, we bought two half gallons. I knew I'd be angry at myself if I joined in the massive indulgence, but wanted to participate in eating yummy treats while curled up on the couch watching Arrested Development.

I read a blog last week about Skinny Cow treats and decided to give it a try. I'm usually wary of "diet" snacks because they taste like cardboard - or nothing at all. After reading some reviews, I decided to give it a try.



Holy Skinny Cow - I love these things! I got the ice cream sandwiches variety pack with vanilla and chocolate ice cream. They're really good and only 140 calories a pop. I heard a few negative things about the cookie part, but I thought it tasted the same as any ol' ice cream sandwich cookie. The Ice cream was definitely different, much more like a frozen yogurt than an ice cream. But I didn't mind that - it even *felt* lighter than ice cream.

Apparently everyone but me has already heard of these, so I'm late to the party. But they are definitely my new guilt-free go-to snack.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Miss my brother :(

He just left, and I miss him already

One last visit

I know I have been a bit MIA lately, but I promise I have a good excuse!

For the past few days (since Wednesday) my youngest brother AJ has been visiting us here in Austin. It's been busy, but so much fun!

Unfortunately, I've really sucked at taking photos (it's been dark/wet/insert other exuse here!) But here's a rundown of all the stuff we've packed into the past few days:

  • Home Slice pizza and Union underground bowling
  • Bluebell, bien sur.
  • Endowment session to the San Antonio temple
  • Lunch at the Trailer Park (nom nom Torchy's Tacos)
  • Lazing around SoCo, candy at the Big Top, yumminess from Hey, Cupcake!, goofing off at Monkey See Monkey Do
  • Looking for short sleeved, white, 100 percent cotton, trim cut, wrinkle-free dress shirts (with no success)
  • Taking Oliver and Hudson (and AJ) to Redbud Island for some running and swimming
  • Alamo Drafthouse (Shrek 3D - pretty funny, actually!)
  • Kolaches!
  • Floating the Comal River
  • More Bluebell
  • Laying out by our apartment's pool
  • Chuy's!
  • Church
  • Nertz and desserts
  • And lots of COD, Guitar Hero, and Arrested Development
It's been a really, really fun trip and we have loved having AJ here. I'll be so sad when he goes home tomorrow :( And I can't believe that when he gets on that plane, I won't see him again for another two years... Makes me want to cry. But I know that the he will be an incredible blessing for the people of Thailand and I am so excited for the new adventures that lie ahead of him. He's going to be an amazing missionary. I'm just so grateful for the past few days we have been able to spend with him and will be counting down for June 2012!