Thursday, December 31, 2009

December Wrap Up

Christmas came and went SO fast this year! Probably because instead putting my tree up the day after Thanksgiving, I was still packing up my apartment for the move and the tree didn't go up until the 3rd weekend of the month. If you have a choice, don't ever move into a new home in December. It's just too stressful!

Anyhoo...Christmas was lovely. I was off beginning 12/22 so Michelle, the twins and I headed for SA that morning. I had enough time in town to get my dental cleaning, hair trimmed, body massaged and my toe-nails did. I was finally able to meet my cousins baby girl and caught two movies too (Alvin and the Chipmunks part 2 and It's Complicated.) Santa was good to everyone, despite the economy and the kids were all happy.


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It snowed in Dallas on Christmas Eve so we were bummed to have missed it. However, Mother Nature gave Dallas a little bit more snow on December 29th. I was on my way home when it started to snow heavier and was sticking. So you know the first thing I did was grab my camera!

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My first visitors

The weekend before Christmas, Mom and Dad, Michelle, Jamie, the twins, Ella and Maddy came up to see me and my new home. They loved it, mom even teared up. Now you know where we get our gene for being overly emotional!















Mom and Dad spent a lot of time with my dad's brothers and their wives and my sisters and me took the kiddos out to see the Ice exhibit at the Gaylord Texan.






On Monday everyone left except for Michelle and the twins, as they were driving back home with me on Tuesday.
It was nice having them visit, I hope they do more of it next year.

Memorize This

If you are struggling, or know someone who is struggling, with the fight between following your heart or your gut, toss out this quote:

"Sometimes you have to forget what you feel, and remember what you deserve!"

Is that not some good shit?

I'm gonna type it up, print it out and post it up in various places in my house. Just as a friendly reminder for the days when I want to listen to my heart but know that my gut is right. (And it always is...so is yours!)

Consider it my belated Christmas gift to you.

You're welcome.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Grace's 40th Birthday in NYC

Back in mid November, I flew to NYC to celebrate Grace's 40th birthday with her. I'm not a huge fan of NYC and of course was just there in March, but since it was a special birthday and Grace's brother Andy and his partner, Terry, were throwing her a party, I felt like I needed to be there.

Grace and Diana arrived earlier in the day, by the time I got to the hotel it was after midnight and Grace looked like she was hungover from their earlier dinner/drinks. She was actually sick...something she ate or drank just tore at her stomach and then she got progressively worse over the weekend. But we had a good time hanging with Andy and Terry and Diana and her friend who came up from D.C. We went to the Titanic exhibit which was really neat and spent time walking around Brooklyn. I even got to spend a few hours with a friend from K-Town, who lives in Hoboken. I will say this...if I ever find myself needing to move to NYC, I will live in Hoboken. Cute town from what I could see and the BEST views of NYC at much lower prices.

The weather was cold, but otherwise dry until our last day there. On our trip home, I started to feel sick. The flight was delayed because of weather in Dallas (high winds, rain) and then when we were up in the air, we were diverted to Oklahoma because we had to circle for a while before landing and needed more gas. I felt like I was going to throw up the whole time. It was horrible. I had a upper respiratory infection, missed 2 days of work and when, a week later, I wasn't really feeling better I went back to the doctor. And was told I had bronchitis. And this was the same day I was to fly to SA for Thanksgiving. Quickly I found a ride to SA since my doc said I shouldn't fly and $100 worth of meds later I was on the road. Luckily the meds worked very quickly and I felt much better, although I was easily winded and just tired. Not exactly the kind of souvenir I wanted to bring home from NYC!

I only took my point-n-shoot camera with me, here are some pics that I took:

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Took this one while waiting on the ferry back to NYC. I love the gritty-ness about it.

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Hot chocolate at Nathan's in Brooklyn

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I love this one! Taken from the cab on our way to Brooklyn.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Home Sweet Home

As of December 1, I am the proud owner of a beautiful townhouse! I can not explain how excited I am to have my own GARAGE again! And to not have any street noise, or loud neighbors outside my window!

I'm still unpacking..mostly items that need to go in the "reading area" and office. I had to take down my Elfa freestanding wall shelf/desk for the movers and have yet to put it back up. I've been busy trying to get my kitchen done and now working on my bedroom since my new bedroom suite arrived yesterday.

There are several things on my wish list for Santa: new 27 inch flat screen TV for my bedroom, queen mattress set for the guest room, new entertainment center and bookshelves for the living room, patio furniture, new towels for the master bath, and new bedding to go with my new bedroom furniture. Oh, and a patridge in a pear tree. :)

I still have to post about my weekend trip to New York...that'll come soon!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Giving Thanks

I'm so behind on the blog, sorry! Since I just got home from the Thanksgiving holiday I'll start here and just recap on the few things since October in another post.

So... the day I was to fly home for Thanksgiving, my illness had not gotten any better (I went to the doctor the week before having come back from NYC feeling sick) even with an antibiotic. Luckily my doctor was still in the office and had some openings and I found out over my lunch break that I had bronchitis. Four prescriptions and $90 later, my doc suggested that I not fly but drive instead. So I rushed to find a ride home that afternoon and had already made arrangements to drive home on Sunday as a Plan B (in case I opted not to fly) so Plan B kicked in and I got to SA by 7pm on Tuesday.

As soon as I got home I was ushered off to the movie theater with Michelle, Jamie, Grace the twins and Jakob to see New Moon. Luckily my meds were working quickly and I was well enough to sit down for a movie after a 4.5 hour drive. Loved the movie...can't wait for the next one..and now I want to read the Twilight series all over again!

Early the next morning Michelle, Christy, Rob and I got up early to take the kids to La Villita for a photo shoot. The kids needed new pictures for their modeling composite cards and we wanted to get outdoors before the light got too bright. After 2 hours of begging and conjoling the kids into decent expressions, we had lunch at Cheezy Jane's. I even enjoyed the taste of a strawberry/banana shake. Yum!

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The next several days were spent hanging with the family and Grace, even got to see Mr. Darcy and Winston, and figuring out what all the kids wanted for Christmas. Thanksgiving lunch was held again at Christy's house and everyone was there except for Marcus who as usual had the Noon-4:00 p.m. shift at the movie theater so he ate later. A couple of hours later, we were back at home lounging around watching TV. Michelle, Jamie and I tried to do some midnight shopping at Toys R Us but when we saw the line we high tailed it back home!

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The only "black Friday" item I actually did score on Friday was an 8 gig compact flash memory card for only $20 from Office Depot! My photography friends can appreciate that deal.

I'm home now...after 5 days sleeping on a sleeper sofa and/or the twins' bed it's good to be in my own bed and in my own home.

I have a crazy, busy week coming up. Should be closing on the townhouse on Tuesday and finishing up packing for the move this coming Sunday. Plus I have a quiz to complete for school before Saturday. And I'm still recovering from bronchitis so I hope all of this busy-ness doesn't run my immune system down anymore. Wish me luck!

Oh, and I guess I should end with what I'm THANKFUL for: my family and their health, my job, my friends...past, present and future, my extended family, and the fact that Dallas is only a 4 hour drive from "home."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Inspired

On October 3rd I sent the following note to every female whose email address I had on my iPhone:

I was catching up on my Oprah shows this beautiful Saturday morning and came upon the show depicting the true life stories chronicled in the new book, Half the Sky.

You think you have problems? You would feel silly like I do by listening to the struggles of these women from third world countries who made their dreams come true....getting an education, feeding their children...things we in the U.S. take for granted. Not that some of our own don't struggle, don't get me wrong...but women in these countries are born into a life of serving men. That's it. No education, no rights at all, no dreams.

Through tears I have been motivated to support a rape victim in the Congo. For $27 a month I'll be providing my new "sister" with education, trauma counseling,women's rights training, and job skills. Even better, we get to be pen pals and as an Oprah show viewer shared, these women cling to the letters like they are their most prized possesions!

I am about to be a homeowner again and I need to save every penny. But I easily spent $27 this week going out to lunch! $27 means the world to these women and I feel very selfish for spending that money on lunch when I could have easily packed a sandwich!!!

I hope you will join me in the support of women half a world away. You don't have to sponsor, there are other ways to help. Please visit www.oprah.com/forallwomen to learn how you too can help!

Also, through November 15, any donation made to Women for Women International will be matched. So please don't delay!! www.mywomenforwomen.org/donate

And if a woman from Africa, who was married at 11 and had 3 kids by the time she was 18, could make her dreams come true and come to America and get her bachelor's degree, then her master's, ALL while working 2 jobs, raising 5 kids and caring for her HIV positive husband....so can I. Oh, and this same woman is now working towards her PhD!!! This is just another example of what we take for granted. The right to an education. So I'm going to get off my ass and go back to school. It might take me a long time to finish, but I will. One class at a time, right?


I am happy to report that I'm set up with Women for Women International and am just waiting on my informational packet about my new "sister". And, I've submitted my application to the University of the Incarnate Word's online program. If all goes well, I will be a college student again on Monday, October 19th! For the first time ever, I am actually excited about going to school. I hope to graduate before or with my oldest nephew!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

U.S. City Tour Trip #4 - Seattle

The weekend after my trip to Denver, I went on a quickie weekend trip to Seattle. We had the most beautiful weather that weekend and the city is so beautiful it just had me wanting more. So..when I have some more time I'll have to go back to explore more of Seattle and the surrounding area.

We met up with two of my high school friends, Melinda and Mirtha, for dinner and just had a great time.

The next and last stop on the U.S. City Tour schedule for 2009 will be Omaha over Halloween weekend. Can't wait to see the midwest in the fall!

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Putting Down Roots

For the past few months I have waivered between wanting to find a new home to purchase, and continuing to be an apartment dweller.

But every time a neighbor got off the elevator talking at full volume at 1:00 a.m. or was having a party on their balcony at 3:00 a.m., and woke me out of my sleep I'd swear never to rent an apartment again. I just am not cut out for this shit anymore! I am far to impatient with these younger people who really are so inconsiderate. Just this past week someone dropped a big jar of spaghetti sauce in the parking garage and didn't even try to clean up the mess. I notified the front desk and sure enough, no one had reported it. There was shattered glass and spaghetti sauce right in the path of traffic. I mean really. Accidents happen but pick your shit up and put it in the trash that is nearby!

So...knowing that my company had extended the benefit to pay closing costs on a new home to January 8th, I began to search the Dallas area market again. I was limited because I wanted a townhouse with a two car attached garage, that wasn't built in the 50's and wasn't smack in the middle of the ghetto. My search kept bringing up this particular community in Grand Prairie. I had been in that area before doing some "neighborhood drive by's" so I knew that there was new development there (shopping, housing, etc.) and the drive to work would be about 20-25 miles each way. There was also another neighborhood of townhomes nearby that I had also been keeping my eye on because they were more in the range of what I wanted to pay and several had come up for sale in the past. One Saturday I took a new friend/coworker with me to drive around to check out these communities because I was going to ask my realtor to set up a showing. The newer community had it's gates open and the model homes were open so we parked and got down to check them out.

I fell in love with all the bells and whistles...it was just beautiful. Not quite as big as I would like, but certainly big enough for me. But I was concerned with the price. You see, because they were still on the real estate searches, I assumed these were available townhomes that just couldn't be sold and we'd be able to talk the builder down a lot. Not so. This three year community had completely sold out of Phase 1 and were building and selling Phase 2. It's such a quiet community that the times I drove by before, I never saw anyone and figured it was pretty vacant. So..obviously no low-balling on the sales price would be had.

While I was still contemplating, in my mind, the price and whether I could afford it...the sales guy is explaining all of the free upgrades for Phase 2. And then I asked what the HOA fee was. Because in Dallas it ranges from $45 a month (to maintain a pool area) to $400+ for really old complexes and you don't even get a yard. So the sales guy says "It's $100 a month and that includes outside maintenance from the roof to the foundation, front and backyard mowing and we have built in water sprinklers and the HOA pays for the water."

That was all she wrote, I was sold! It is completely unheard of for an HOA to mow your back yard, and pay for the water for your lawn! And at such a low HOA fee.

So, after learning from my realtor that the other, less expensive, townhomes had a high turnover (9 had been sold in the last 6 months at really low prices) and were losing value; I set my sights on the new townhome and signed the contract yesterday.

I am extremely excited. I am also extremely sick to my stomach. Not just because I'll be putting down roots here, because I know that I will be here for a while as the job market in San Antonio is just not booming, but because I'm doing this solo....again. I just get extremely nervous that I won't have enough money, when logically I know that I will. I might be eating tuna and ramen noodles for a while and Christmas gifts will be sparse, but I know I'll be fine.

I know that this is meant to be because I can't stop beaming about this place everytime people ask me about it. I wanted to fall in love with my new home, like I did with my first home, and I did!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

U.S. City Tour Trip #3 - Denver

Over Labor Day weekend I flew to Denver with my friends Katherine and Gilbert. On Saturday we drove to Pike's Peak near Colorado Springs. The drive was gorgeous...trees everywhere, so different from Texas.

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We took the Cog Wheel Train up Pikes Peak and were warned of the altitude sickness that we would likely feel. The top of Pike's Peak is 14,110 feet above sea level and I felt all 14,110 feet as soon as I stood up from my seat when we reached the top. It wasn't the Rocky Mountain High that John Denver sang about...I was dizzy, was working hard at breathing and felt like I was going to throw up. And it was cold as hell! I quickly tried to take pictures because my fingers were starting to turn blue but I did love the little bit of snowfall we got. It brought back memories of Germany.

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After we got back down from the mountain, we drove over to the Garden of the Gods. It was gorgeous and while we were no longer high in the sky, breathing was still not easy.

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On Sunday we drove north of Denver to the Rocky Mountain region to go rafting down the Upper Colorado river. The drive was the most amazing drive I have ever been on. I was in awe of the natural beauty for the entire two hour drive. It was a completely different look than south of Denver. I was driving so I couldn't take any scenery shots out of the car window. But just soaking it in did my soul good!

I haven't developed the water camera film yet so I will try to describe the view of the Upper Colorado river. FUCKING AMAZING! How's that? We did see two bald eagles on the trip and learned that they mate for life and return to the same spot every year to have babies and make the nest larger each year. This prompted Katherine to say she wants to come back in her next life as a bald eagle because she would have a mate for life and get a bigger house every year. I really wish I had my camera and telephoto lens with me when we saw them. They were majestic and so serene watching over the river. The rapids were calm, a few level 1's and 2's and one 3. But Katherine and Gilbert had never rafted before, and the last time I did it was like 15 years ago, so we were quite alright with just paddling and enjoying the view. Our rafting company had 4 boats go out that day and they make a pit stop so people can cliff jump if they want. As we approached the guide pointed out the 30 foot cliff and I immediately thought "hell-to-the-no!" so I asked if there was a lower cliff from which to jump. It's called the Punk Rock,it's only 7 feet high. Katherine and I decided we could handle that. We knew the water would be freezing as we'd already been splashed, but we rented wet suits and river shoes so that would help a little. Somehow I end up climbing this rock with the guide first. And I must say, that was pretty scary because it was very difficult to maneuver around while holding on with my feet and hands and with a big life jacket on. Once we got to the spot I immediately got nervous. The jump looked like it was at least 3 times higher than it was! And the ledge from which to jump from was not even flat, so I felt unsteady. The guide had pointed out which direction to jump, so as not to jump into the cliff and said "smile, cuz the photographer is across the river taking your picture." The last thing I wanted to do was strike a pose when my knees were visibly shaking. I didn't know why I was up there but I couldn't climb back down because it was too dangerous and about 40 people were watching, waiting for me to jump. Finally I stopped thinking about it and just jumped. The water was ice, ice, ice, ice cold! But once I was in motion to jump, I wasn't scared anymore. I did, however, scratch the shit out of my nose from holding it shut. I guess when I hit the water I squeezed really hard and my little nails dug in. War wounds. Oh well, makes the story funnier. I'm glad I got over my fear, it's something I can put in my "you did what?" file.




















After the river adventure we drove thru the Rocky Mountain National Park, and I'm glad Gilbert was driving at this point because it was so curvy and narrow and high and there were a lot of sections that had no guardrail and the edge of the road just dropped! But it was stupidly beautiful! We even saw Elk, and heard the male elk try to catch a female elk's eye. It was the funniest sound!

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On Monday we finally spent a little time in Denver, and a friend from high school met us for lunch. It was great to see her after 22 years. Colorado is such a beautiful state, I need to go back for more exploring and I want to take the boys because they would love all the outdoorsy stuff. And when I win the lottery, I'll buy a house in the mountains!