Friday, January 29, 2010

A Little Stressed

Well, it's no secret that buying a house is stressful.  However, buying a house and planning for your company's largest event of the year in one month is REALLY stressful.  Yep, Pet Expo is set for February 20th, and we're supposed to close on the house on the 26th.  Whew!  It's exhausting!

Surprisingly, I've kind of been on the ball.  I've always said I work best under pressure, and apparently it's true.  I've been working all day, coming home, going straight to my office and working most of the evening.  Most of the paperwork that's needed for the loan application has already been sent in, and a lot of the rest of it are things that I can't do, so it's just a waiting game.  I also decided that baking bones for the Pet Expo would probably be a bit too stressful, so I've decided to buy biscuits and put them in bags. 

I am waiting for things to slow down a little, but at the same time I'm happy with all that's happening.  I can only assume that this is a sign of good things to come.  The house means the dogs will be happier and our family can grow.  The pet expo means the dogs will be happy and the business can grow.  Woot!

Alright, though, I know this post is a bit rambling and effect of too much stress on the brain.  However, for all you current homeowners, I have one question:  Any tips?  Thanks!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Well That Was Fast

House, la-di-da!  La-di-da house!  La-di-da-di-da-da!!!

Well, it's official.  We're officially under contract.  I never thought in all my dreams that the process would go this fast.  Honestly, it's been less than a month.

Towards the end of December, but really after the new year, Hans and I secretly started looking at houses.  We spent a bit of time on trying to get a good range of prices and basic ideas of areas.  Then we found a house we liked.

I called the realtor for that house January 4th (I remember because it was Mom's birthday), and he arranged a meeting with Diana Morgan (a fellow realtor) so we could see the house.  The house we saw was a short-sale, and while lovely, we decided to keep it on our list of possibilities and to keep looking.  Really, who buys the first house they look at??

Diana Morgan, realtor to the gods, was absolutely fantastic.  She set us up with a personalized website to show listings that had everything we were looking for, and she was there to answer any questions we could possibly have.  By January 9th we had a list of favorites and were going on a few showings.

Out of the seven houses we looked at that day, one stuck in our minds.  It was b-e-a-utiful.  However, by the next week it was sale pending.  Oh well, we said, we'll keep looking and hope that sale falls through.  We gathered another list of 7 houses and decided to go see them.

January 21st, two days before we were set to view houses again, I got an email from Diana saying that the wonderful house was no longer sale pending.  The sale had fallen through.  Yay!  There was a strong possibility we would get that house with the perfect bathroom and the great kitchen.  We added it to our list of houses to see, but decided to see it last so we wouldn't compare every other house to it.

January 23rd (yesterday) we set out to look at houses again.  All were lovely, and it was much harder to scratch houses off the list than it was last time.  We saw a variety of houses, from a poorly renovated farm house to a city house with a stripper pole (that was quite a shocker).  Again, however, there was a house that stood out...and it wasn't the one we'd seen before.

Yes, we still loved that one, but there was another nearby that was larger and cost less.  We figured it wouldn't last long, so we called Diana last night (who was available even late on a Saturday) and said, "Let's do it!"  She met us at the theatre (Hans had to work) today, a Sunday, to write up an offer.  Hans was under a time crunch, so Diana was great by being thorough but quick.  We signed the papers and she sent them in.

Then around 8:30 this evening, Diana called me.  We already had a counter-offer and it was close to our original offer.  We countered again and got it!!  Now we have to worry about loans, inspections, and other paperwork, and that will be a fairly lengthy process.  Still, though, assuming everything goes as planned, we should be closing on our first home by the end of February.  So, I must ask, "How did that happen so fast?"  The answer?  Diana Morgan is freakin' fantastic!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Next Step

Two and a half years ago Hans and I graduated from college.  Two months later we got married.  Just under 2 months after that Hans was hired at master carpenter at TIV.  Just over a year after Hans was hired I decided to go to dog training school and have since started my own business.  Now, two and a half years after the graduation and marriage Hans is happy in his position at TIV (still master carpenter) and I'm thrilled to be a dog trainer.  Business is good, not great, but it's getting better.  I'm finding that I'm comfortable with the business now, and I'm worrying less and less about the day-to-day operations.  This, of course, means I can enjoy my time with Hans a lot more.  So, what's the next step in the game of life?

A lot of friends and family say it's time for the baby.  I've already posted this before, but let me be more adamant.  SHUT YOUR TRAP!  Yes, I want a child, but I certainly don't want one yet.  I want to wait until my income actually counts for something.  Others might say that now is the time to just relax.  Take a break and don't worry so much about the next step.  To these people I say that I'm an American and sitting still isn't an option.  Basically, I want more.  So, again, what's the next step?

Well, Hans and I are looking for a house.  Yes, I'll make it official.  We want a house, and we are actively searching for one.  Of course, I already mentioned my income situation, so our budget is small, but that's the joy of this economy.  We can actually afford a house!  We have a decent down payment, but we're really looking for something slightly below our budget.  The rent here is closer to the top of our budget, and I'd rather be able to go out for dinner without having to worry about the cost.  Besides, if we can find a great house at a cheap price, we can fix it up a little and sell it for an even hire price in a few years. 

I've tried to be quiet about the whole process lately because I wasn't sure it would actually be a possibility, but after talking with banks and looking at house prices, I'm certain we'll be moving into a home by June (because that's when our lease is up).  I'm so excited, and that's all I can think about when I'm not thinking about the dogs.  I'm dreaming of giving Cody a yard to play in, of having a yard and being able to adopt Merlin, of a nice large kitchen with room to store our supplies and plenty of counter space to cook in, of using the bathroom without the neighbors hearing (granted they only hear the pipes running), of a garage to store dog supplies and tools in, of a basement to run to during inclement weather, of a train room for Hans. 

Ok, I'm dreaming of a lot, but I know that perfect house is out there somewhere.  I just can't wait to find it!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Tuesday: Good or Bad?

Tuesday started out as a good day.  As a matter of fact, it started out as a great day.  Then things turned blue...literally.  Let me describe my day.

The morning was fairly relaxing.  I played online (and wrote a blog).  I read some of my book.  I got a little work done.  Around 11:00 I left for my first appointment.  This appointment is a little ways away, but the drive is relaxing and the clients are fantastic, so I always enjoy it.  This day was no different and I left happy and relaxed.

I also finished a little earlier than planned, so I took the time to stop and read some more.

On to my next appointment (2:00).  This was a little further out, but it was relaxing as well.  I had a consultation and they signed up, so Yay!  It also went faster than planned, which was great because I realized I'd forgotten treats for my last appointment of the day, so I had to swing by and pick them up real quick.

Well, not only was I able to pick up treats, I also was able to drop my tax info off at my Dad's (3:30)...another large task completed.

My last appointment wasn't anything special, but I had fun with it, so it was good.  After I left that appointment, I picked my business cards up from the printers (5:45) and got some medicine for Merlin's paws from Southern States (6:15).  I went home, but as soon as I got home I realized I'd forgotten to get more dog food, so I went back to the store (7:30).  I was home by 8:00, Hans had baked dog biscuits, we worked out (finally!) and I started dinner (albeit a little late).  By the time we had eaten it was just about 9:00.  I wanted to put the medicine on Merlin's feet before I went to bed, so I took him into the kitchen so it wouldn't stain the carpet. 

I never thought the medicine would stain our linoleum floor!  Yep, we in essence experimented in tye-dying our floor blue.  While it might look artistic and edgy, I doubt the leasing company will like it very much.  And trust me, we tried everything from alcohol to vinegar to acetone to remove that stuff.  NOTHING WORKED!  I won't put the name of the medicine yet, because I'm waiting to hear a response from the company who failed to put any sort of warning out, but it has stressed me out a bit.  While I thought I'd be productive all day and get to bed by 10:00 or 10:30, I ended up failing miserably in my quest.  Let's hope some good comes out of this!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Random Post

First of all, let me apologize for not having posted in a while.  Maybe no one cares anyway, but I always feel I'm disappointing anyone who reads this blog if I don't post something.  That being said, it's my blog and I can do with it as I please.

Well, there's a lot happening in the Paul household right now.  Business is going well in the new year (YAY!), and Hans is keeping busy at work.  Merlin is still our foster, and we just think he's the sweetest dog ever.  Well, unless you count Cody.  Cody is the sweetest, hands down.  We're starting to discover some of his little quirks, and we're learning to work with them and to train him out of those behaviors.  All in all, he's a fantastic dog who just wants a lot of food and love.

Cody seems torn about the situation.  He loves having someone to play with, but I'm pretty sure he misses his old lifestyle.  You know?  The one where he's the only child and no one is intruding.  He's definitely a jealous boy, but he still loves to run around the coffee table with Merlin.  It's cute...even if it is annoying to our downstairs neighbor.

Otherwise, I feel I'm doing well on my resolutions so far.  I'm having the biggest trouble with the fitness one, but I attribute that to the cold.  I'd like to go outside, but it's freakin' cold (well for VA anyway).  I'd workout inside, but there always seems to be something to do.  Anyway, I'll just have to keep trying.

I am trying to help out more around the house. I think I'm doing O.k. even though I definitely see room for improvement.  I just need to remember how good I feel, how accomplished, when I finish a big project around the house.  Or even when I just keep things really clean for more than a day.  If I can channel that feeling and use it to encourage me to clean, maybe I'll do O.k. 

The resolutions about less t.v. and reading more are going very well.  I'm already on my fourth book, and t.v. has fallen to about an hour or two a week as opposed to the 15 hours it was before.  Granted, the books are easy reading, but it's a good way to get me back in the habit.  Oh, and the last time I started watching t.v. I was so tired I fell asleep with in 15 minutes.  I slept through the entire show until Hans woke me up and we went to 10:00.

Now then, like I said, if I could only get a handle on that fitness thing.  Right now, I feel like this guy!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, a.k.a. Happy Birthday Jesus, Dad, and Mom!

Yes, Happy Birthday to all.  I'm one of those lucky kids who get to celebrate Christmas on the 25th, Dad's birthday on January 1st, and Mom's birthday on the 4th.  Sometimes this means I can slack a little on the gift giving, but often it means I end up spending more on one giant gift than a little on smaller gifts.  Either way, the season is filled with festivities.

The main reason for this post, however, is to discuss the Christmas happenings.  As I stated two posts ago, I celebrated Christmas on the 28th instead of the 25th...sort of.  So, let me go into full detail.

The 24th (Christmas Eve) was spent mainly lounging around, enjoying the day off.  Hans was off finally and we really didn't have much to do.  That evening we went over to Dad's for a Christmas dinner where everyone except for Dad and I had roast beef.  We had salmon (remember the no meat thing on the Eve) and were slightly ridiculed.  Ah, the price you pay for your beliefs.  Honestly, I don't always understand the reasoning, but I do enjoy the tradition, so my witty response is, "Thbbbt!"  Anyway, we then returned home for about 3 hours before meeting up with Dad again to go to Midnight Mass.  Yes, my life-long dream was finally realized!  Hurray!  It was packed, but it was also supremely fun.

Christmas Day we slept in.  And by slept in I mean we woke up as soon as Merlin announced he had to use the bathroom, and then we chilled on the couch.  We did do some minor tidying, but really we just relaxed.  Around 1:00 we left for the Jefferson Hotel for lunch.  The Jefferson is the uber-expensive, high-and-mighty, Elvis-and-multiple-presidents-stayed-there, cheapest-room-is-$250-a-night hotel in Richmond.  Anyway, Sherry and Dad had booked reservations there for lunch.  The food was delicious, but a bit over-priced.  It was a great experience, but I hope I have more money before I try it again.  After lunch we came back to our apartment for more relaxation and a bit more prep.  You see, Hans' parents and sister arrived that evening.

Actually, there had been some drama as to whether or not they'd arrive on schedule.  Weather was pretty bad there and flights were being canceled left and right.  Not to worry, though.  Not only were they on time, they were a few minutes early!  We picked them up, got them dinner, and dropped them off at the hotel for some much needed rest.  Christmas was finally beginning!

The next day, Saturday, we did a final sweep over...making sure everything was off the floor and pictures were hung.  Plus, I made more pierogies.  Hans' family came over in the late afternoon for some family time, we went to get groceries, had dinner, and went to see Bus Stop and the Hanover Tavern.  The basic theme of the day was final preparations for us and relaxation for them.  Well, at least I hope they relaxed.

Sunday more family arrived.  After church, Hans, Garret, Betsy, Emily and I went for a pizza lunch.  After lunch, Hans, his parents, and I went to see the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at Barksdale Theatre while Emily went to pick up Gan (Hans' grandmother) and Meredith (his cousin).  First let me say, if you have a chance to see the show, go!  It's hilarious.  Second, Gan and Meredith's arrival was much anticipated.  The real drama that day, however, was Chris and Liz's arrival (brother and SIL).  Chris and Liz were supposed to fly out of Wisconsin and arrive around 4:00 that evening.    A flight cancellation, however, meant they ended up having to drive all the way to Chicago, a 3-4 hour car trip, and catch a different flight just so they'd make it before Tuesday.  Instead of arriving at 4:00 as planned, they didn't get in until 10:30.  As if traveling with a baby isn't hard enough!  After about an hour of car seat woes, they were finally destined for a night of rest.  They had missed the pierogie dinner, but were at least here for the rest of the family fun.

Finally, Monday the 28th arrived!  This was my real Christmas.  Hans and I spent the morning fairly relaxed, counting down the minutes until we thought cooking would be a good idea.  I ran out to obtain a last-minute Christmas present.  When I returned at 2:00, the cooking ensued.  Family came over after an hour or so, and Hans and I had people to talk to (other than each other that is).  After a mere 5 hours of cooking, and some assistance from Dad, we set the table with ham, lamb, yams, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, green beans, and rolls.  We then followed that up with apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and fruit tart.  Don't worry, the apple pie was the only homemade dessert and Hans' mom made that in Minnesota.  We did realize recently that we forgot the stuffing, but I don't think anyone really noticed.  The whole evening was spent with food, family, and friends, and it was followed up by the great gift opening of 2009.  It was fun!

Really, the rest of Christmas was great, but that was my highlight.  This Christmas, Hans and I were surrounded by loved ones.  We were able to see our nephew, Edward, swim for the first time, and we made mental notes on how much Meredith had grown.  My greatest compliment came from Gan when she said, "You made a memory."  Coming from an 83 year old woman, that means a lot.  Really, though, it was all of them who made the memory for us.  It was fantastic having them here, and I'm more than willing to do it all over again.  Now if only plane tickets were cheaper!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year! New Everything!

Ok, so really nothing is new...yet.  First of all, let me apologize for not having blogged in so long.  I can't guarantee that I'll be able to keep up my usual blogging rate right now, but I should be able to blog more than just once every three weeks.  So, I'm at least trying to start the new year off right.

Second of all, I usually try to mention around this time of the year anti-resolutions and how resolutions are too short-lived and often die just a few short weeks after the beginning of the year.  This year, however, there are so many changes happening anyway, that I figured I'd go ahead and make some resolutions.  Some are about physical health, some about mental health.  Some have to do with relationships while others are just fun things to try.  The thing is, while 2009 was great, I really want 2010 to be better.  I made some huge improvements to my life in 2009, but now I need to improve myself on top of it.  So, I'll pretty much just give you my list of resolutions.  I may not be able to keep all of them, but maybe having them in writing will be a huge help.  Plus, I might have fun trying.

1) Stay in touch- I'm a horrible long-distance friend.  I don't write letters, I abhor the phone (unless it's for business or to arrange a meeting), and if it weren't for Facebook, I probably wouldn't stay in touch at all.  Unfortunately I've lost many good friends because of this.  I ended 2009 by actually writing Christmas cards (I still have a few to send out), and I was thrilled at how many people responded.  Even if all I do is send out Christmas cards again and stalk a little more on Facebook, I want to let people know I'm thinking of them.

2) Sleep more- I actually sleep a lot, but not on a great schedule.  I nap during the day and stay up half the night.  I need to set a bed time each day and keep to it.  With this, I'd also like to be able to get up earlier.

3) Watch less t.v.- I'm a t.v. junkie.  T.V. rots your brain.  I should read more, or go outside, or play a board game with Hans.  Basically, I should get off the couch.

4) Read more- Specifically I'd like to try the 50 book challenge.  I think it sounds like a great idea, and I want to do it.  Plus, this ties in with watching less t.v.  It's a win-win.

5) Help out around the house- Right now, Hans takes on a lot of responsibility.  I help out a bit, and I'm getting better, but I'd like to be great.  Areas to really work on include cooking and kitchen and bathroom duties.

6) Fitness- What's a resolution without a fitness goal?  Yes, I want to be at a certain weight by the end of the year, but I also want to be a certain fitness level.  It's all fairly easily attainable.  I just have to do it.

Well, that's pretty much it as far as resolutions go.  I'm sure I'll think of more throughout the year, but that's all I've got for now.  Wish me luck!

Lastly, a lot has happened in the past few weeks, and Christmas was a blast.  Hopefully I'll be able to post about all the events soon, so keep your eyes posted!