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A final farewell

I feel like I’m noticing a trend here, but the past week has been busy and stressful, and we haven’t had time for projects or blog posts! As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my computer died (after I dropped it…go me), which has made posting somewhat difficult.

As if that weren’t enough stress (and cost) for us, last week our trusty (or not) ’98 Nissan Altima, Friedrich, decided it was at the end of its rope.  It is 17 years old with over 170,000 miles, but we thought we’d have about 6 more months with it, and hoped we could sell it for at least $1000. Imagine our surprise (and dismay) last Thursday when Norm the tire man told us it was toast. Or a giant paper weight.

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Yeah, ok, so the paint is totally oxidized and splotchy (looks worse in person!), it has a hole in the front bumper from where someone (cough, Andrew!) ran into a trailer hitch (We glued the piece back in. If you squint you hardly notice!!), the Nissan decal on the back fell off, technically the compressor is broken so the AC could stop working at any time, you have to unlock with the fob because the lock on the driver door is broken, the driver side visor falls out and hits you in the head when you try to open it, the trunk doesn’t stay open very well, resulting in several banged heads…AND we’ve gotten locked out countless times because it randomly locks all on it’s own (but hey, that’s been happening since it was new!). So what…our car just had LOTS of character!! Nothing we couldn’t deal with…

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Until he told us that to get it running again could be up to $1000 and there was no guarantee that would even fix the problem. Kelley Blue Book value was only $1500, so we couldn’t sink any more money into it and had to say goodbye.

Initially, I was pretty upset about the timing and angry that this had happened. Like crying upset off and on all day Thursday and Friday. We had just spent quite a bit to try to keep this car running, and now we weren’t even going to be able to resell it. Bummer. *hugs*

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Plus, this was also this my first car, so I was a bit attached, and we were just not ready to make the plunge into car shopping! The used market is horrible right now, so we knew it could present a challenge.

I don’t currently work, so we could deal with one vehicle for a while, but our other vehicle is a 2000 Ford Ranger. It’s a tiny truck so you can’t fit very much in it (unless it can get rained on), yet it also has terrible gas mileage (It is fairly old, after all). Since we have several holiday trips coming up, we knew we’d need something “travel-friendly” fairly soon. Everyone says September is the best month to buy, so we started looking.

Fairly quickly, we realized we liked the newer Nissan Altima’s much better than any other car in our price range, particularly over the Toyota Corolla, which we were also considering. I suppose I may have been a bit biased from the beginning.

 

 

 

Isn’t it pretty?? I still just couldn’t wrap my mind around having to buying a new (to us) car. I even had a mini break down while one salesperson tried to sell us a car. Sorry ’bout that, Keith.

But my awesome husband, who’s great with numbers, did all the math (factoring in things like depreciation, maintenance, and potential resale value) and showed me that this car will actually cost us about the same or less to own each year than the previous car. Can’t get me with the emotions of special new features or horsepower, but talk to me about numbers and you might have me convinced.

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So, this weekend we bought this 2014 Nissan Altima in Storm Blue.

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We also stopped by to say goodbye to Friedrich and get all our stuff (since he would never be coming home again). The shininess of the new car certainly made it a bit easier to let go. No offense, Friedrich.

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Then we had quite another task in front of us: cleaning out the garage!! No way was this car is going to hang out in the driveway like the last one. Garage parking only!! So…that only took us like 4 hours. (You can kind of see the mess in the background.)

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Need to keep that paint shiny, though!

We don’t have all the fancy features, but almost anything feels fancy to us at this point! We do have push button start, which is awesome! And blue tooth capabilities for our phones! Woot! Also, great gas mileage.

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I’m sure it has tons of other features, but here’s what I care about: the driver side visor doesn’t fall out on your face while you’re driving, the car doesn’t lock us out, and we haven’t had it long, but I’m guessing the alarm won’t start blaring at 2 in the morning just because it feels like it. Oh yeah, that happened with the old one. Sorry neighbors. We have a trunk button on our key fobs, and the trunk actually stays open, even when parked in our sloped driveway! Which it never will be…cause it will be in the garage. But still, it’s the little things. :)

Oh, and did I mention it’s pretty?

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I still feel a bit emotional about saying goodbye to Friedrich and about the timing of all of this, but I think we thoroughly researched our decision and got a good deal. We did buy it from a dealer (which we didn’t think we would) because no one is selling these private party (that we could find.) Luckily, we found the exact same car at two different dealers, so we were able to do some decent negotiating. 

Then when the finance manager gave us the paperwork to sign, we noticed that the final amount was for $1000 less than we had agreed on! Andrew and I both mentioned it several times, but he insisted it was right! We even got a $500 trade in for our non-working vehicle (are they insane??) and they said they would go pick it up with their trailer if we just dropped off the title. Win win.

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The real question is, do we name this car? The old car really only had a name cause I was pressured into it in high school. The truck is still nameless. Eh, we’ll see.

So now that all that craziness is over and we’ve got the computer stuff sorted out, too, maybe we can work on some unfinished projects (like staining the deck if it would just stop raining!) and blog posts won’t be so infrequent and random? Well, one can hope.

Auf wiedersehen, Friedrich. You were a good car. I’ll miss all your little quirks and random honking. Xoxo.

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Summer’s end

Well, summer is officially over, so no more complaining from me about the early appearance of fall decorations, pumpkin flavored everything, and the inevitable (and endless) posts about “sweater weather.” (FYI, I’m wearing shorts for as long as possible!!) Unfortunately for us, we also experienced several other “endings” during the past week. Our poor ’98 Altima’s air conditioning finally called it quits (luckily it happened now and not 3 months ago!), our free grill broke for good, and possibly worst of all, my Asus Zenbook isn’t feeling so zen after I dropped it on it’s face!

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Literally. Face down on a hard floor. But really, can you blame me? This thing is as light as air. It was modeled after the Macbook Air, after all, and it’s like holding a cloud. I’m really not a clumsy person, but I’ve never dropped any electronic device as much as this poor laptop! And the last time did it in for good. Pretty sure I damaged the hard drive, and since I’ve already damaged the charging port by dropping it on that, it’s probably not worth getting it repaired. Boohoo.

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I wish I could blame my severe lack of blogging during the summer on this, but since it just happened this weekend, it’s not to blame. Now that I’m without my own laptop, though, posting will probably continue to be sporadic until we figure out what to do. (Luckily, I did have almost everything backed up! Whew.)

But without easy access to my pictures, let’s just do a little recap of the summer and talk about upcoming projects. A few months ago, my mom and I traveled to Moran, KS to visit my grandparents. Here’s me and my Grandma Reta. Let’s be honest, this post (and all of them) are really for her. :)

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While we were there, we did some thrifting and I found this great french provincial dresser (and mirror) and brought it home with me.

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We’ve been so busy with other stuff that I haven’t had a chance to redo it yet! Once it’s painted (I may shell out the big bucks for some Annie Sloan chalk paint!), it’s going in our living room to replace our current media center. Be excited!

We’ve also been working on this little project for Andrew’s office.

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It’s done now, but those pictures weren’t backed up, so we’ll have to retake some. It looks a bit different now!

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And, of course, our biggest summer project has been our awesome deck!! We still haven’t stained yet (due to the wood being too wet, then being out of town, then rain, then more out of town, a non-bleached spot under our grill mat, rain again and blah blah blah.) Maybe this weekend?? But we have done most of the railing! Here’s a sneak peak.

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This was pretty time-consuming, I gotta be honest, but it’s also the cutest railing ever! I’m in love with it! Wait until you see the finished result! I’ve also been working on a few other painting projects that I haven’t had a chance to share yet.

June and July activities included lots of hanging out with friends, a visit from Andrew’s brothers and my family, and volunteering for VBS…

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August included babysitting this little lady (my niece)…

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Letting her take selfies on my phone…

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And making cookies with her.

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Also, the annual Tontitown Grape Festival with friends…3 years in a row now!

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And we took not one, but two trips to Little Rock in August to see my family (my birthday and Labor day). On the first trip, Andrew built this dormer desk for my sister (it still needs to be painted.)

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And on the last trip, we repaired their new sofa (yes, new and it broke!) and my mom and I repainted her laundry room and shelves. No pictures, unfortunately. We also started a small group this summer, and August/September is line review time for the hubs! (If you’re not familiar with the retail world, then just ignore that.) So, you see? We haven’t been lazy! Just really busy!

Stay tuned for updates on some of these projects, especially the deck! Fingers crossed we can stain this weekend! And hopefully I’ll be able to find the pictures I need and get something posted over the next week or two, but if not, let’s blame my laptop situation and not my laziness, ok? K. Hope everyone had a wonderful summer!

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Just cruisin’

We got home this past Saturday from our Carnival cruise to Mexico! I didn’t want to publish all over the interwebs that we’d be gone, but now let’s talk about it! We did a 5 day cruise that left from New Orleans, LA and went to Progreso and Cozumel, Mexico. We went with my brother and his wife, and had a generally AWESOME time.

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I love the beach, warm weather, and shorts and swimsuits, not to mention having my bed made every day with towel animals decorating the end of it. What could be better?

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As I said, we left from New Orleans…I have to admit I was a bit worried when we arrived to the Big Easy and found cold, overcast weather waiting for us.

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In fact, all four of us got up the next morning and went to breakfast in sweatshirts and cardigans, only to realize it was sunny and 80 degrees! Hallelujah! So we laid out in the sun…

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Played some mini golf…

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Posed for cheesy pictures, dressed up for formal night (which doesn’t have to be so formal, but why not go all out?)…

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And ate until we couldn’t eat any more. And then ate some more. Truly. And this was the best of all of it: the warm chocolate melting cake!

15 Tips for a Cruise Vacation - Carnival Cruise Melting Cake

via Living Locurto

I want to go on another Carnival Cruise just for this dessert, but I suppose it might be more practical to try to make it myself.

We also did two shore excursions, one in each port. At Progreso, we visited the Dzibilchaltún Mayan ruins. Totally worth it! There were plenty of ruins to see, but it was only a 15 minute drive vs several hours to see Chichén Itzá.

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And we swam/stuck our feet in a “cenote” or sinkhole.

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Afterwards, we ate lunch on the beach and played in the water before returning to the ship.

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The next day we went to Cozumel, where the water is AMAZING…

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And paddled around in clear kayaks and snorkeled in the Carribbean!

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After another day at sea (that involved some more sunbathing and lots of eating!) we arrived back on US soil in New Orleans. We walked around New Orleans…

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And, of course, got beignets at Café Du Monde before making the long trek back to my parents house in Little Rock, AR.

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We had such a great time and loved getting away from the cold weather, projects, technology, work, etc! I have to admit I’m really sad it’s over! I loved the warmth and the beach and the sun! And the food. And now we’re back in Arkansas, which granted, is beautiful in the fall, but I’m just not quite in a fall mood anymore.

Worse than that, though, I sort of loved the break from all the projects. Maybe it’s just because our list currently consists of blah no-fun projects that we don’t want to do…but ugh, I’d rather be on a cruise ship.

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Better break out the paint brush and see if I can’t trick myself into being excited about it!

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It’s going to be a good day.

I apologize, but today I’m taking a little break from the norm to share something personal. I don’t generally like posting my feelings out there on the internet for everyone to read, but I feel like I need to do this to remind myself how trying, yet rewarding, this past year has been.

A year ago today, the trajectory of our lives changed dramatically. We were working at the same company, and on the same day at the exact same time, we were laid off, along with several other people at the company.

That morning, we got ready and left the house to make our 5 minute commute to work. As we pulled up at a stop sign a few blocks from our house (I still remember exactly where), a thought popped into my head. “It’s going to be a good day.” I was a bit taken aback by this thought, because it was definitely not mine. If you’ve ever had a thought that was clearly not your own, you’ll understand what I mean. I am a major pessimist by nature, so these are not the types of things I think or say. It was so clear and so strong, that I wanted to say it out loud to Andrew, but decided to push it away instead. Everything went on like normal, until just a few hours after leaving our house, we found ourselves at home again, jobless.

It shouldn’t have been so surprising. Andrew had mentioned just a few months prior that he expected lay offs, for his position especially. He had even prepped his resume already. But it was surprising to me. You never think something like that will happen to you, let alone BOTH of you. First, let me just say thank you to everyone who prayed for us during that time, encouraged us, gave us job leads, etc. Our family and our church family were especially supportive, my dad in particular was the best encourager!! I can never say thank you enough for the ways that so many people touched us.

We were very blessed that Andrew found a job so quickly, though I never doubted that he would. He’s incredibly smart and makes one heck of a first impression (or so it would seem since he gets offers from the majority of places he interviews at). Within 2 months he was working again, and we were so grateful for the opportunity that had presented itself. But I was still confused, lost, hurt, and angry.

The whole process was a lot harder for me. Andrew moved on. I was stuck. Not because of getting laid off, really, but because I had a personal choice to make. Andrew’s job gave me the opportunity to choose whether or not I wanted to work. I’d never really had the option before, and I’ve always been a very determined person with the mentality that you go to school to get a job, you don’t “take a break” to travel or “find yourself”, etc. I’m practical. And staying at home when you don’t even have kids seemed like an impractical choice. But I didn’t love working a full-time job, and for once, I wanted to think about what I wanted to do, not what I felt I was supposed to do. When I made the choice to stop looking, I thought it was probably a temporary decision. I’d be ready to start looking again soon.

Meanwhile, I painted lots of furniture, wrote lots of blog posts, cleaned our house, and questioned everything. I worried that maybe I was throwing away the opportunity for a successful career. I worried that other people might think I’m lazy or selfish. And what about the money I could be making? I was stuck questioning my choices, and I was angry. Angry at myself for being indecisive. Angry at my previous employer for putting me in a position where I had to make this choice at all. Angry at God for not giving me clarity or peace about my decision. Even angry at Andrew, at times, for not deciding for me.

I think all along I just needed lots of time and self-reflection. By the time the new year rolled around, I decided to stop caring about the money. We were doing fine without it and my happiness was worth that to Andrew and I. And I decided to stop caring about what other people thought. I don’t let other peoples’ opinions affect my choices about anything else and I never have, so why would I get a job for anyone’s sake but my own?

Oddly, these realizations made me want to try working again. In early March, a temp job as a Staff Accountant at a local property management company practically fell in my lap, so I decided to give it a shot. After 6 weeks of full-time, I started feeling overwhelmed with my to do list and frustrated that I couldn’t do the things I wanted to do. I was able to switch to part-time and work 2 days a week.

Working again and realizing that for me personally, a full-time schedule isn’t worth the extra income, was a freeing experience. I’m still working 2 days a week and I don’t know how long I’ll be at this company, but for now I’m just along for the ride. I’ll work as long as they need me, and enjoy having a little more structure in my week and a little more money in our kitchen fund.

But that’s really all just background and context for what I actually wanted to say in this post. Which is that the past year has been hard, but also so incredibly rewarding. I take so much comfort in that little thought God put in my head that day…it was a good day. If it’s possible, I think it lays claim to the start of both the hardest and best year of my life. I’ve shed a lot of tears, but I’ve also made a lot of discoveries about myself, about Andrew, and about God. Our marriage has grown. We’ve had to examine and re-examine what’s really important to us, what we truly value. We’ve realized how many people care about us and will be there when times are tough. We’ve been able to spend more time with family, we’ve entertained more and made some truly amazing friends!  I’ve had opportunities to do things that I couldn’t do if I was working, like babysit my precious niece and spend quality time with my sister-in-law, help my mom repaint her kitchen cabinets, invest in friendships that I didn’t feel I had time for before. Andrew’s been blessed with some amazing career opportunities.

Right now, life is good. It’s such a relief to have a time of rest and calm after a year filled with changes. I’m finally happy with where I’m at, and I’m feeling settled and content. I know this is just another phase of life, and that things will probably look very different for us in a few years. But I wanted to write this down so that when we do face another trial or something happens that we question, I can be reminded of God’s goodness. Reminded of how amazingly He took care of us and provided for us. Reminded of the fact that God had something planned for us that we didn’t even know to ask for. Reminded that today is going to be a good day.

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