Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Strike a Pose

In exactly 31 days, Lobster and I are having our first engagement shoot. (Point of clarification: we're having two engagement shoots...long story...not worth reciting...it is what it is...moving on.) Of course, my goal of losing about 15 pounds by now has not worked out so well. I have seriously been trying to lose 15 pounds since January. Apparently, my body is on strike. Nothing I have tried is working. I think when I turned 30, my body just said, "To hell with it. Metabolism out."

This is not acceptable.

So, I'm pulling out the big guns. I am banning carbs again. Yes, I know this isn't the healthiest alternative. No, it's certainly not a long-term solution. But it sure is effective for a short term flab issue and, by God, I'm gonna look HOT in my engagement pictures!

The gloves are off, flabby! (I'm talking to myself here, by the way. I'm not calling you flabby. I probably have never seen you in real life. And I'm sure you're fit as a fiddle. Anyhoo...) In fact, starting today I'm adding super-intervals into my weekly workout routine. They are very effective at fat burning but they are also prone to make people pass out from exhaustion afterward. Whatever. I don't mind passing out after a good workout as long as my pant size goes down.

We'll see how long that lasts. I'm tired just thinking about it. But I am determined. There's nothing more fierce than a determined, stubborn, slightly flabby bride-to-be who is about to be memorialized for all eternity in a bunch of pictures.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Where The Wild Things Are

On Saturday, Lobster and I had our house inspection and I'm relieved to say that it came back great. There were only some minor issues that we are having the seller's address before we close on the house. Next up is the appraisal on Tuesday and we are praying for a good outcome there as well.

With all this buying our first house business, it goes without saying that Lobster and I have been pretty stressed lately. I thought that we both needed a fun day where we got out and got our minds off of everything. I decided to take Lobster on a surprise date after our inspection. It was a gorgeous day and I wanted us to be able to enjoy the beautiful spring weather, so I took Lobster to the Fort Worth Zoo.

I love the zoo and I hadn't been in years. Lobster and I talked about going for a year now, but never made the time. It was so much fun! Of course, Lobster laughed at me the whole time because I tend to talk to the animals. I don't know why, but I do it to everything. Even the birds outside in my backyard or the evil Fat Squirrel who keeps digging up my garden to bury his nuts. So you can imagine how excited I was to talk to the tigers and the gorillas and the silly little lemurs.

I had lots of fun with my new camera too. Here are some of my favorite shots from the day:

Don't you just love that gorilla's face? What a happy gorilla! Love it!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our First House?

Last weekend Lobster and I embarked on round two of house-hunting. On Saturday we met our Realtor at the first house on our list of 14 that we were to see that day. Yes, fourteen houses. That's a lot of houses in one day. But we were on a mission.

Immediately we could tell that we liked the area that we were in a lot better than the area we looked in the previous weekend. Around house four or five we entered this gigantic master planned community with all types of houses in different price ranges. There was only one house on our list that we were to see in this neighborhood because all of the others were way out of our price range. When we pulled up the the house I thought is was the cutest one we had seen so far. And once we saw the inside, I knew I was in love.

But Lobster, being the cautious, business-minded guy that he is, said that it was "nice." Nice? That's it? That what he said to EVERY house we'd seen! So we moved on to the next houses on our list. Every single one paled in comparison to the one I fell in love with and I couldn't help but compare all of them to it. After we saw the last house on our list, I asked the Realtor if we could go back to "my" house and see it again. She agreed and also suggested we stop in the model home and see what inventory they have left, just to get an idea of the prices of the houses in this neighborhood.

The gentleman in the model home showed us the inventory list and, just as we suspected, they were all well above our range. We then told him of the resale that we were looking at and he revealed to us that it would be smart on our part to buy a resale now because when the builder sold the rest of the new homes and left the neighborhood, all the resale homes would shoot up in price. He also confirmed that the asking price was a really good deal for a house in that neighborhood (something we could tell by the prices of the homes he was selling as well). We thanked him for his advice and headed back to the house to check it out one more time.

Back at the house, I could tell Lobster was looking a little more carefully this time. He immediately started scrutinizing the perimeter of the house, checking the fence, the yard, etc., while I skipped my happy little self inside to imagine where our furniture would go. I did my best to pick apart the place; acknowledge all the things I didn't like so much, but there was not much wrong with the place that we couldn't live with. The master closet wasn't ginormous...okay, but it was much bigger than what we've got now. The kitchen cabinets were oak when I prefer darker woods...okay, but they're not ugly and we can always put in new cabinets in the future if we really wanted to. All of the important things were there: hardwoods in the living areas (better for having pets, cuts down on allergens), two sinks in the bathroom (seriously, we crossed out houses without this feature because we know how hard it is to share a sink), three bedrooms and a study, and a nice sized backyard. There was even a sunroom on the back of the house that overlooked the yard. I got a little bit giddy over this feature.

Lobster and I finished our walk through and reconvened in the kitchen. He looked at me and I smiled. Without saying a word, he knew how much I liked the place. He shook his head and said, "Well, we may as well put an offer on it." I looked at him in shock. "Really?" I asked. "Yeah. I like it. I think the sales guy in the model home is right: it's a good deal and the value will only go up." "Really?" I said again.

So the Realtor called the listing agent to make sure nothing else was in the works for the house. When she got off the phone, she didn't look happy. My heart sank.

"There's another offer on the house," she said, "But the listing agent said that it is taking a while for the other party to respond to the seller's counteroffer. So she said we should make an offer and just see what happens."

Lobster and I agreed and we discussed our strategy. We figured we needed to come in a little higher than what we had originally intended so that our offer wouldn't be ignored. But we knew that if we did that we wouldn't have any room to move if they tried to counter. And we also knew that the other offer may very well be better than ours. Basically, we knew our chances of getting the house were slim, but it was all we could do, so we made our offer. And then I started praying.

Sunday afternoon we got a phone call for the Realtor. She started by saying that she had received a phone call from the listing agent who told her that they were going to counter our offer. Our agent knew that this would probably be bad news for us, but she was too busy to call us right away. Forty minutes later, she got another call from the listing agent saying that they were not going to argue with our offer, but that they would accept it with two minor conditions. We were all floored! I couldn't believe that they had just accepted our offer! WE GOT THE HOUSE!

We're are still in shock and our heads are spinning from how fast this is all moving now. We signed the contract last night and I dropped off a couple of checks to the Realtor this morning. We have to schedule an inspection within the next few days and if that comes back okay, we'll schedule an appraisal. We're scheduled to close in a month!

I am still reeling from all of this. God has been so faithful in this process. He's opened this door and even though we're terrified, we're also excited. I know that He will help us to get through the rest of the process just as He has guided us through these exciting beginning stages. Of course, I am trying not to get too emotionally attached until we have the keys to the house, but I can't help but dream about the future that Lobster and I will create in that little house. We'll get a dog. We'll have coffee (well, I'll have coffee and Lobster will have Coke) out in the sunroom on warm weekend mornings. We'll watch movies in our cozy living room. We'll have the family over for holidays or birthdays. I'll go jogging on the trails and go swimming at the adults only community pool (heck yeah!). We'll probably start a family in that house. These are the things I think of when I think of our first place. I can't help it. To me, it's so much more than a house. It will be our home.

All I can do now is just continue to pray and have faith that God will provide all that we need as we continue this journey. Yay!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Top o' the mornin'!

It was an interesting walk from my parking garage to my office building today. Seven out of ten people I saw were wearing some shade of green. I find it amusing when an entire city wears practically the same thing on the same day. Although, there were the boring banker guys in their black suits and crisp white shirts and blah-colored ties. I wanted to yell "BOO!" to them as I passed, but I'm not that brave. Silly banker men. They could have at least worn a greenish tie.

In other news, I'm not sleeping well and last night I started to get a "froat." That's my 5-year-old self's name for a sore throat. And for the past three nights all I've dreamed about are houses. Lots and lots of houses. Buying houses, looking at houses, houses all in a row. DRIVING ME BATTY! I guess it's to be expected, however, when I subject myself to Property Virgins, My First Place and House Hunters on HGTV right before I go to bed. Maybe I should stop that.

Anyhoodle, I hope everyone has a very happy St. Patrick's Day! Here's to Irish people and green beer and grumpy little men wielding shillelagh sticks (seriously, that's how it's spelled; Gaelic is a very strange but beautiful language).

Slainte! Cead Mile Failte!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Whirlwind Weekend Recap

I am exhausted. Coffee is not enough. I need a vacation from life.

Saturday morning Lobster and I got up bright and early and headed to the St. Paddy's Day Dash Down Greenville. It's an annual 5K and parade in Dallas. I signed us up to run the 5K and had planned to stick around for a couple of hours for the parade and maybe to have a few green beers. I figured everything would be over by noon.

My naivete knows no bounds.

Evidently, this Dash is just the kick off for the biggest annual party in Dallas. Evidently, people drink like crazy all day and well into the night. Evidently everyone knew that except for me.

I was ready to go home and take a nap about half way through the parade. Lobster on the other hand was well into his second six pack half way through the parade. He was feeling good. He was ready to party. I was ready to take a shower and sleep until dusk. After the parade I found out that there was a giant block party that everyone was going to. Two things I hate are drunk people and crowds. Clearly, a block party on Greenville was a small kind of personal hell for me. But I agreed to go for an hour because my best friend and her husband were down there and I felt terrible because they came down to hang out with me and Lobster. I honestly thought they were joining us for the parade and then a beer or two afterward, so I was a bit surprised that they were at the block party. I wanted to attempt to be a good sport, though, so we headed on over. However, as soon as we tried to enter said block party I realized that I didn't have my I.D. on me. I left it in the car because I hadn't planned on drinking anything, but it turns out I needed it just to get in the party. So we left. Because I was a big, naive party pooper.

I am ashamed.

But, I am happy to report that I finished the 5K in 32 minutes. I know that's preposterously slow for someone who runs all the time, but I am a hideous long distance runner. I rock at sprinting and could easily kick most people's butts (don't believe me? I'll race ya!). So, I'm just happy I kept a good pace the whole time and finished in less than 45 minutes!

Anyhoo, Sunday Lobster and I began the Great House Hunt. We met our Realtor at her office that afternoon and spent a good 5 hours looking at about 10 different houses. It was confusing, overwhelming, exciting, and frustrating all at the same time. I, of course, fell in love with the nicely kept house with the amazing back yard. Seriously, I could've lived in the backyard and been perfectly happy for the rest of my life. But the Realtor felt that the comparisons would show that it was probably the nicest, most expensive house in the neighborhood, which means it would be hard for us to resell when the time came. I've asked her to look more into it, so we'll see.

Lobster fell in love with a newly constructed home and I really don't blame him. After a while, I came to love it to even though it had a very plain, boring backyard. We very nearly signed a contract for the house but after driving through the neighborhood one more time we felt that it was not in a very good location. Not bad, but kinda in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by industrial and construction lots. We both weren't comfortable with that.

The last house we saw was my favorite overall. While the house wasn't as nice as the one I loved or the new home Lobster loved, it was still a very nice, well-maintained, fairly new home. And the backyard was beautiful. I could be happy there. I keep thinking about that house and wonder if that would be the best bang for our buck, but Lobster wants to see what else is out there. Part of me does too, but the other part of me is scared because I'm fairly certain that if we wait until next weekend, it will be gone. Houses in our price range are going fast, apparently.

So...we're confused. We plan on looking at more houses this weekend. We're both waiting for God to move our spirit when we've found the right one, but I keep wondering, what if He only moves one of us? How will we know if only one of us feels that gut instinct that it's "the one"?

AAARRRGGGGHHH!

It's at times like these when I have to sing to myself a modified version of Dory's (from Finding Nemo) "Just Keep Swimming." It goes a little something like this: "Just keep praying! Just keep praying! Just keep praying, praying, praying!"

Monday, March 8, 2010

To Buy or Not To Buy?

As you know, Lobster and I have started the process of seeking pre-approval for a home loan. This is both exciting and uber-scary all at the same time. Especially after last night when Lobster had a mini-freak out after talking with his dad about trying to buy a house. I think the gist of what Lobster is freaking out about is whether we should try to buy a home when we still have a lot of debt to pay off. Lobster is not so sure. I, on the other hand, have no fear. But am I wrong?

Here's the deal: I have a lot of debt. I have eight years of student loan debt looming over my educated head. I can't help this and I do not regret it. My parents, as much as they wanted to, simply were not in a position to send me or my sister to school. If I wanted an education, I had to get it myself. Loans were my only option. On top of that, I have a few credit cards that have balances that need to be paid off. I will not lie; some of the debt on my credit cards are from stupid and unnecessary purchases. But the majority of credit card debt is from having to rely on those cards during college, law school, and the first few years of practicing when I had no other means of living because I just wasn't being paid enough. This I cannot help. This I will not apologize for. If there had been another way, I would have taken it. There simply wasn't.

In sum, my net worth is non-existent. Yes, I hate the fact that I have more debt than God, but there is not much I can do about it but diligently pay it off, which I have been doing and will continue to do. But the fact that I have debt should not preclude me from buying a house if (1) we can get a loan with a good interest rate, (2) we can find a good deal on the price and quality of the house, and (3) the monthly payments for owning said house would be around the same amount we pay each month in rent.

Am I wrong to think this way? Surely, it's better to own and build equity in a home than to throw away money on renting for the next billion years (which is how long it will take me to pay off my debt, by the way) if the total monthly cost is approximately the same, is it not?

Somebody help me out here. Am I being silly? Selfish? Too optimistic? Completely absurd?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Times, They Are A-Changin'

Oh my. Life sure is funny.

So, we all know that I lost my job, interviewed, got and offer, accepted, and started a new job in less than a week, right? Well, that is going well, but it has been a whirlwind. I am working in my favorite city in the world and I love it, but the drive is brutal. I've been praying a lot lately that God would help Lobster find a job close to Fort Worth so that everyone's commute would be more tolerable. I honestly didn't think that would happen, but I prayed it anyway.

Earlier this week, Lobster went on an interview with a company that he didn't believe he'd enjoy working for. But he went anyway. It turns out that the more he and the interviewer talked, the more Lobster realized that he would, in fact, enjoy working there. Moreover, he felt that the job itself was almost made for him. By the end of the interview, the company offered him a job at a pretty good salary. Lobster was excited, but one thing held him back: the salary was good, but not what he was hoping for. In his mind, he had been working too long and had the education and experience that warranted a bit more than what they were offering. He tells them that he needs until the end of the week to think it through and they agree. Lobster then goes to a local book store to think and walk around for a bit. A couple of hours have passed since the interview and he gets a phone call. It's from the girl in HR at the company who interviewed him. She said that she had gone over his resume again and realized that he had more experience and education than they had realized and she said they would like to offer him more money! It was exactly the amount that Lobster wanted, too! He was floored. I was floored. Oh, and it's located in...Fort Worth.

Of course, being the professional that he is, he very calmly thanked her and told her he'd talk it over with me and get back to her. Of course, being the supportive fiancee that I am, I told him to do whatever would make him happy. He took the job. He started today.

WE ARE ALL EMPLOYED!!! Praise God!

You think the story stops there, don't you? Seriously? Do you know me at all?

So, as soon as he decided to take the job, I very cunningly brought up the fact that our lease was going to end in two months and now that we're employed maybe we should start looking into buying a house because if we do it now we can still take advantage of the first time home buyer tax credit. I fully expected Lobster to have an accident in his pants and then throw a lamp at me hollering something about me being crazy and stressing him out. Luckily for me, he just thought for a minute and said, "Okay." Stunned, I asked, "Well, since we're both going to be working in Fort Worth, maybe we should look there." He paused, thought. And said, "Okay." Whaaaa?


WE ARE EMPLOYED AND HOUSE-HUNTING!!! IN FORT WORTH!!! HOLY CRAP!!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What Color Is Your Career?

I just took this Color Career Counselor test because I'm bored waiting on my next project. This is the most freaky accurate test! Seriously, you have to take it. This is what it said about me:

Best Occupational Category

You're a CREATOR
Keywords

Nonconforming, Impulsive, Expressive, Romantic, Intuitive, Sensitive, and Emotional

These original types place a high value on aesthetic qualities and have a great need for self-expression. They enjoy working independently, being creative, using their imagination, and constantly learning something new. Fields of interest are art, drama, music, and writing or places where they can express, assemble, or implement creative ideas.

CREATOR OCCUPATIONS

Suggested careers are Advertising Executive, Architect, Web Designer, Creative Director, Public Relations, Fine or Commercial Artist, Interior Decorator, Lawyer, Librarian, Musician, Reporter, Art Teacher, Broadcaster, Technical Writer, English Teacher, Architect, Photographer, Medical Illustrator, Corporate Trainer, Author, Editor, Landscape Architect, Exhibit Builder, and Package Designer.

CREATOR WORKPLACES

Consider workplaces where you can create and improve beauty and aesthetic qualities. Unstructured, flexible organizations that allow self-expression work best with your free-spirited nature.

Suggested Creator workplaces are advertising, public relations, and interior decorating firms; artistic studios, theaters and concert halls; institutions that teach crafts, universities, music, and dance schools. Other workplaces to consider are art institutes, museums, libraries, and galleries.

2nd Best Occupational Category
You're a PERSUADER
Keywords:

Witty, Competitive, Sociable, Talkative, Ambitious, Argumentative, and Aggressive

These enterprising types sell, persuade, and lead others. Positions of leadership, power, and status are usually their ultimate goal. Persuasive people like to take financial and interpersonal risks and to participate in competitive activities. They enjoy working with others inside organizations to accomplish goals and achieve economic success.
Um, hello??? Did you notice that it listed lawyer, author, photographer, teacher, and editor in there? Anyone else notice that those are all the things I LOVE to do or want to be or spend my free time doing? How weird is that?! Also, take note of my "2nd Best Occupational Category." I am a PERSUADER, and evidently that means I am "competitive, argumentative, and agressive." Not sweet, shy, little old me (she says falsly batting her eyelashes and putting on her most innocent, shy smile). Unfortunately, my mother would tell you that's all true. Lobster would add "stubborn as a bull." He may or may not be right. Harumph!

Take the color quiz. Tell me if it's as accurate for you as it is for me. Fun!

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