Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 2010 In Review

The first month of 2010 is now behind us. We experienced a rather cold and snowy one, too. At the beginning of the month, I did not even know what a sun dog was, but we ended the month seeing at least 4 of them! And, there were a lot of pretty snowy sunsets, too.

We began the month (New Years Day) with our Christmas celebration with Grandma Bet, Grandpa Bill, Aunt Marsha and Grandma Marci. The kids got a jumpy jump and they have really used that thing. What a great winter toy (and summer one outside!). Chris' 1st day back to work brought bad news. He was told he would have to lose his job or go to base where he had a job through the summer. In the end, he was able to find a position within the building through contacts he had. He is still keeping his options wide open though, since this position may only be there through the end of the year. It has been a stressful month as far as that goes. Alivia started her first day at her new school, Bell Elementary. She did okay the first day, but had many rough days after that. Alivia missed 3 more days of school due to the snow and extremely cold temperatures (negative 26 is cold!). It was hard for her to get used to the new routine with all of those missed days. She is now finally going to school without a fight and making new friends and staying 15 minutes later each day to make up for snow days. Addison, who celebrated her half birthday this month (3 1/2 years old already!) is still going across town to the Gingerbread House. We enrolled her in preschool again next year at the GBH and at Sacred Heart Catholic Preschool over here. We will find out in February if she gets into Sacred Heart, but she is in the GBH. We will see what February brings. Asher tried again to potty train, but I quit when I found he was having too many misses (and messes).

The kids enjoyed some fun in the snow this month as well as the usual trips to the Children's Museum and a cold day at the zoo. We ended the month with the kids having an overnight stay with Grandma Kathy & Boppa Bob while Chris and I celebrated our 6th Catholic Wedding Anniversary (we renewed our vows in 2004 in the Catholic Church but were married officially in 1999). It was fun for all of us!

Enjoy our January 2010 Pictures!

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Celebrating 6 Years

Although Chris and I have been married in general 10 1/2 years, we have been married within the Catholic Church 6 years today. Seems like yesterday that Chris and I "renewed" our vows in the Catholic Church on a very cold winter day. To celebrate, Chris and I asked his parents to take the kids OVERnight (Thank you Grandma and Grandpa!)!

So, yesterday afternoon, we dropped off the kiddos with Grandma and Grandpa and were on our way. We first hit the furniture mart to look for a few things, but we left with only 2 lamps for our bedroom. The mart was a mess of people. It was crazy! We then headed to the main event, our couples massage. It was relaxing and quiet. We then just picked up pizza and went home to watch movies. It was so nice to just have a quiet and peaceful evening at home. Let's just say, our home is rarely quiet. :)

Today, we slept in! What is that? Chris and I could not recall the last time we slept past 7 am. I then talked Chris into a run around Shadow Lake. It was cold at first, but it warmed up as we ran. It was a nice run, and I loved running with Chris, too.

As soon as Chris is ready, we will go and pick up the kiddos and see how they did. We did (& do) miss them. With that said, however, the break was nice. We think we should have Mommy and Daddy time more often. Until then....

Happy Anniversary, Topher!

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Friday, January 29, 2010

January Visit to the Zoo

Addison has been begging me all month to go to the zoo. It has been so cold that I have told her no...until today. I checked the weather last night and it said it was going to be warmer at 17 whole degrees! Lovely. So, I packed the parkas and the blankets and set out.

We arrived to the "warmer" temperature of 12 degrees. It was sunny at least. Addison wanted to see the butterflies first. We RAN over there to see one blue butterfly and 4 or so moths. That exhibit seems to be lacking their feature namesake. We then went next door to see the sharks. Addison and Asher love the aquarium. They sat there for 15 minutes, snacking on goldfish crackers (Of all things!), watching the fish. We then went to the jungle where it was so hot I practically got sick from the combination of heat and smell. There were a lot of missing animals in there, though. I think I remember now that January is usually like this - missing animals for some odd reason. Wonder where they go? We ran over to the desert dome, which was completely closed, then back to the building with the jeep in it (the kids like to play in there) before heading out just about noon. It was a peaceful morning as there are few people there during the cold winter months. That is kinda nice actually!

Addison's favorite things were the penguins, sharks, and the monkeys. Asher liked the monkeys. I think next month we will see a IMAX movie in the warm theater!

If you plan on visiting the zoo during the winter, here is my suggested list of things to bring:
* Dress in layers. It may be cold outside, but it is super hot inside.
* Blankets and hats for the kids. It is easier to take off a blanket than to put on and take off coats constantly. This only works if they are going to stick to the stroller. I had both coats and blankets on hand.
* Drinks, snacks, and a picnic lunch. Many vendors are closed during the winter. It is just best to bring your kids' own favorite snacks to the zoo anyway.
* Patience. We did not really need it this morning because it was so peaceful with few visitors. However, you have to have some patience if your child really wants to see something and it is closed. Alivia would had been quite sad to have the desert dome closed. So, I was glad that Addison and Asher did not seem to be too heartbroken by it.

Enjoy the pictures from our adventurous morning!

Butterfly ExhibitAsher 2yr, Addison (HOLDING her coat), 3 1/2 yr.Feeding timeWatching the PenguinsShark teethFish WatchingMonkey WatchingWaterfall WatchingAddison Driving?

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our Upstairs: Before

Master Bedroom and Bath Before

Bed BeforeMaster Bath BeforeMaster Bath BeforeMaster bath before
Master Bedroom & Bath with some work done:
The bed afterSitting space before (nice sheet, huh? Stops the show to the contractors next door though).UGLy Fan BEFOREBath after some touchesBath accessarized

We have now taken pictures of our home at the start of 2010. We hope to have it looking much different by 2011 (if we still live here that is). Chris is insisting that I only do things that we can take with, just in case. You know, just in case his new job is not local and we are packing up in the next few months. I am having to sit on my hands so I do not paint and update everywhere.

Here is our plans for out upstairs:
1. Alivia's room: Paint, buy her a desk and chair and a new lamp (never buy lamps from Pottery Barn Kids. We purchased 2 and they both just stopped working. Nice, because they were not cheap!).
2. Addison's room: Transform her bed into a full sized bed, paint, new bedding.
3. Asher's room: We are going to try giving Asher our spare queen sized bed. He is only 2, but the bed is so nice! We purchased it from Ethan Allen and it is hardly used. We have the airplane bedding ready to go and would like to paint his walls a very light gray. We hope this is our first painting project.
4. Master suite: New bedding (goal for the year): Check! Yeah!! The kids ruined our bedding prior to the move, so we just had a light quilt on our bed that we received from our wedding. So, while I was looking for Asher's bedding, I found bedding for our bed! Love it! It looks great with the chocolate brown tiles and towels in the master bathroom, too. We would still like to paint the bedroom this year (grrr) and replace the tropical fan (grrr again). We just started buying fans, and those things are not cheap either! Anyway, we would also like to create a sitting space over the corner. This is really the only furniture that we would like to buy for this house that we did not have at the other address. We will see if we make this a priority this year. Obviously, the sheet has to go that is over the windows as we hope to get shutters on all the windows upstairs. This is one thing, for good reason, Chris is insisting we wait on doing until he secures a job. We also would like to get some cool lamps to go on either side of our bed. Maybe we will find something this weekend at the Mart.

6. Master Bath: Get chocolate brown rugs and towels. Check! Just put them down today and love them. Thank you to Grandma Marci for the money for our master suite updates. We also need to paint this space. We are also going to ask Jamie, our contractor for our main level closet and drop zone, if he could build a linen closet in the master bath.

7. Kids' Bath:I need to find a shower curtain we like before I move forward on towels and painting. It is not a huge priority since nobody showers in there anyway.

8. Rod Iron spindles. We really wanted these in our next home. When this one did not have them, it was just one more thing on the list I could  not check off (actually, I am not sure I checked anything off of the list. :) ). But, with that said, it was something we thought we could do. We have selected the spindles and are looking into finding the most economical place to purchase them. We have over 40 of them. So, with labor costs, it is not a cheap thing to do!

9. New ceiling fans in every room.
10. Shutters to every window upstairs. 

Sounds like a lot of paint, work and money to me. But, if we still live here in 2011, it will be worth it because it will look amazing. We have been in this home for nearly 2 months but I still do not feel like it is ours because we have been unable to put our touches on it. Hopefully Chris knows soon if we will be staying (and perhaps he will be staying at his current job a while longer) or if we will be moving again. Hopefully I will have more before and after pictures to share soon!

Here are the upstairs BEFORE pictures. I can hardly wait to see the AFTER pictures! Let's get to work NOW! Sign in to see all the before pictures...

Alivia's roomAlivia's RoomAlivia's RoomAlivia's RoomAddison's Room (she loves her bed!)Addi's RoomAddison's RoomView down the hall from the girls' rooms (look at all those spindles!)Asher's RoomTrain Table (minus the train set)View from the Master BedroomKids' bathroomKids' BathOverlooking Downstairs

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Beating the Stereotype

I am a stay at home mommy (SAHM) of 3 kiddos. Yes, Alivia goes to school, so my role at home should be easier, right? I have been accused of many things, but today I was accused of not doing anything. Sorry, but I think someone may have hit a nerve, a big one. Unfortunately, I get accused of doing nothing a lot.

As a working person - I got paid, and paid quite well actually. Rarely did they thank me when I went above and beyond - so I got used to not being thanked or appreciated. I also had to wait a long time for doctors, who then told me they did not have time for me today. So again, I got used to being underappreciated. But, I could ignore it more because I got paid. Now I get paid in hugs and kisses, but not from those who call me lazy.

The SAHM stereotype is of some frumpy woman who has no interests other than her kids. I have interests other than our kids, thank you. I like to run and love, love, love home design and HGTV. But, I am not sitting around all day running and watching HGTV as some believe that I am doing. I run during naptime or at night, and I rarely turn on the TV during the day (unless it is Dora while I make lunch). Our kiddos are the priority. I am not frumpy, either, and try to work on maintaining my non frumpy status.

Those who think SAHMs have it easy, they clearly have not stayed at home. Our home does not have a self cleaning button, although I wish it did. When you are at home with 3 kids, the home seems to have a self dirty button that is stuck in the on position all the time. I am constantly following kiddos around cleaning up. We sing the clean up song 100 million times a day. Oh, and the laundry. That's right - SAHMs have a maid to do the laundry, right? Wrong again. My wash machine and dryer are stuck in motion. I am sure they are going to die soon out of sheer exhaustion. I buy almost all the gifts for people and wrap them. So, if you have said that I am lazy and do nothing - you will be gifted accordingly (My cousin Wade once wrapped up poo and gave it to my Dad as a joke. Humm...that's an idea. :) ). I strive really hard to have it all done and taken care of for Chris when he returns from work. Yeah know, laundry folded and put away, bed all make, house looking clean, Chris' slippers laid out for him in the laundry room, dinner in the oven, happy kids waiting with hugs. To get all of that done some days takes many miracles.

So, what do I do here all day, when we are actually here that is? Well, there is the laundry, the dusting, the vacuuming, the cooking, baking, the toy picking up and rearranging, the stocks to buy and trade and the money to manage. I am proud of the fact that although Chris and I do not make a wealthy man's amount of money, that we probably have more than the average wealthy man does in savings and invested and our only debt is of our home. We have no credit card debt - period. Why? Because I am not out spending what my husband earns all day. I pinch every penny, clip every coupon and catch every bargain I can. Then there are the books to read, the crafts to do, and the dolls to play with. There is hide and seek and playing kitty cat. There are the explanations as to why color can not be placed on the walls and poo all over the crib. Need I say more? 

That is another stereotype: SAHMs go out shopping all the time spending all of their husbands money. 1. If they do - I am not one of them, and 2. What money? We live on one income for crying out loud! I do upon occasion go to the Mall. But, let me tell you about my last 2 visits to the Mall. Last Tuesday Asher and I went to Oakview. I ran through the Gap Stores before going to the play space to play. I spent no money. Thursday Asher and I went to Westroads while waiting for Addison to get out of preschool. Again, we went to the playspace and to Von Maur so Asher could play on the trains. I spent $2.60 on cookies for the kids and for Chris. Boy, I think I may have broke the bank. The only thing we brought home from the Mall was a bad cold.

Obviously, I already broke the stereotype that we stay home all day. I take the kiddos all over the place: museums, libraries (love Saddlebrook and still drive over there every other week while Addison is in preschool), the zoo, etc. I also drive Addison 40 minutes to preschool 2 times a week. One would be hard pressed to find a lazy person to do that (or a sane one for that matter) because that is a lot of work and noise. Addison and Asher are so noisy that I rarely get home without a raging headache. But, I love the time I get with Asher while Addison is in school. And, I would have hated to disrupt Addison's first year of preschool. So, in the end, it is worth it - even for this lady who does nothing all day long.

On most days, I do love staying at home and would not trade it for the world. I get to enjoy every moment with our kids. I am very thankful that I am married to a man, a real man, that works hard to support his family and provides for us. There are not many real men out there anymore. With that said, my only break from being a mommy is the 2 times a year I get my hair cut and going to work on a psych ward a couple times a month. I'm sorry, those are not breaks! I would love to get a vacation where I can just sit around watching HGTV, scrapbooking, in a quiet environment. Maybe I would take a jog DURING THE DAY, go a store without anyone whining or without having to go in the middle of the night, or maybe, just maybe, I would treat myself to something. Maybe I will get to do that one day when my kids are 30. Until then...

...I better get back to doing absolutely nothing, right? Too bad nobody has volunteered lately to fill my shoes for a day. Nothing must be too much work. :)

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

1st Overnight Guests - Almost

Spring clean up project?Leaning TreesDown LinesBroken poles/down linesIcy LinesLine of Broken PolesBroken PoleIce frozen up?Down Poles and replacement poles

Last night we nearly had our first overnight guests (if I do not count the mouse, that is). My parents came to visit us and packed their bags to stay. They had been without electricity since Wednesday night when the ice had caused the electrical lines to break, and there home in Iowa was now in the 40s inside. Without heat and hot water, it was just not livable, at least comfortably.

The kids were so excited! Grandpa went to Egypt and got Mamas Pizza, our favorite. We never get it anymore since moving way the heck out here. After we wore Grandma and Grandma out jumping in the jumpy jump, we put on a streaming netflix movie, 88 minutes (great flick too!).

At 10PM, Grandpa's phone rang with a report that their electricity was back on. We finished the movie and they were on their way.

Guess we are one step closer to being prepared for an overnight visit. Now, we just have to get the bed up. :)

Jumpy Jump Nose DiveWeee!Baby dolls Addi & AsherPlaying Baby?

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Friday, January 22, 2010


I have posted before that Chris and I have been doing a little of our own buying and trading of stock. With interest rates the way they are, money just is not earning anything in a savings account, even if it is a "high" interest online account. So, for now, Chris and I are trying to invest more money and just keep our emergency fund in the high interest savings account. I wish we could save and invest more, but doesn't everyone? Our kids each have a Berkshire share, which was just split into 50 shares each. Chris and I had 3 Berkshire shares, which split into 150 shares. We are not sure if that is a good or bad thing yet. What else is in our portfolio and how do we decide what to buy?

Well, I do the buying on TD Ameritrade. They have tools to let you know what is recommended - buy, hold, avoid, etc. We have been investing in stocks that we are interested in: Walmart, Gamestop (which has tanked but is still labeled as a BUY, go figure), Apple, Adobe, etc, and most recently Google which we purchased for Addison. We plan on depositing the kids' Christmas money and investing it as well.

Anyway, last January I wanted to purchase Google. I Google EVERYTHING! I even use Google to find stock symbols for companies! But, it was so expensive at $275 or something a share. Now, it is something like $580 a share! Ooops, I totally missed that one. Let's see how Addison does with her Google Stock. Chris wants me to come up with the money so Alivia, Asher and Chris and I can purchase Google, too. Since I try to purchase a minimum of 2 shares at a time, I have to dig for that kind of money.

On our stock watch list are our favorite stores such as Target (TGT), Bed, Bath and Beyond (BBBY), Coke (COKE), and Yahoo! (YHOO) - which is currently tanking and on a major HOLD. These are all companies that we have an interest in and contribute to their business. For example, I could never invest in Walgreens because I do not like that chain. They are overpriced and are only out to make a big buck (I know this from being a drug rep. Our drugs were always priced way higher at Walgreens). Anyway, I hope to watch these stocks for the next few weeks before deciding where to invest the kids' Christmas money. Each kiddo has their own Ameritrade Account (which is time consuming to start but easy to do once it is started. I have each of their accounts linked to our account so we can toggle between accounts to keep a close eye on all of them). I typically consult with Chris on what I plan on doing before I purchase anything. Chris has put a lot of trust in me in doing this. No pressure!

I do have a couple of mentors, whether they know it or not. Warren Buffet is my first one, for obvious reasons. That is why we bought Berkshire first. Warren clearly knows what he is doing. The second mentor is my Dad. As a farmer, one has to know how to play the market. There is a lot of risk involved in knowing when to sell grain. Well, he clearly got good at it as I am sure he makes more dollar per dollar than Chris and I do with our money that is invested with a money manager. One really has to shop around for a money manager. As I understand them, they get commissioned more for certain things they buy over others. Therefore, they may not always have their clients interests at heard. Additionally, they have numerious clients. They can not possibly be looking at all their portfolios daily! Chris and I are slowly trying to take back the money from our money manager as he has just managed to lose all that we give him every month. At this pace, we will never retire.

Since the Berkshire stock split, I am sure the stockholders meeting will be hopping this year and Nebraska Furniture Mart will make big bucks in those few days of the meetings. Maybe with any luck, Chris and I will be able to purchase Alivia a desk during those days and get some bang for our stockholder buck!

Now, back to being a Mommy/Day trader. What else is there to do during naptime. Oh and do laundry.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Give Us a Sign

When Chris and I were pondering our move, we kept wishing that God could just give us a sign. You know, a sign telling us what we should do because we just did not know.

Well, obviously, we made our decision to move.

After selling our house, then we began to see the signs. Like the house we wanted to buy had liens placed on it, or maybe that the previous owners were getting a divorce and not being transferred after all (that is not a positive thing), or the builder was going bankrupt. Then there was the waiting, sleeping on the floor in an apartment while using a leatherman to open up can goods and cut bread. Then, we finally get into this home, and we, for the most part, do not like it. Yes, I have said it, we do not like it. We like small parts of it, but overall, we do not like it. I will not even bother to get into details. Alivia does not like her new school, misses her friends, and gets extremely upset before going to school in the mornings. The girl has just not been herself since we moved from our first home. Then, Chris finds out that he only has his job located right down the street until the end of the year. Great! We moved over here to be closer to his work and now he will not be working there! Lovely. The mortgage is higher, but it is not too bad at this point. With that said, we could have handled the mortgage much better if we had never moved in the first place considering Chris' work situation and the possibility on living on our savings until he finds suitable employment (or I will be returning to work. If Chris completely loses his job, I will be returning to work as a full time nurse while he finds another job). So, there are many signs now saying that we should have never moved.

I saw a billboard like the one pictured above while driving down L street shortly after moving into this home. The sign remained there until today, when I saw that it had been taken down. Does God punish? I didn't think so. I guess He did cause the flood - but I thought He said He would not do anything like that again. Humm...I don't know. Perhaps He is trying to tell us that we were wrong and make us work harder to repair things. It is all on how we look at the situation.

So, we are back to trying to make the best our of the situation. We would give ANYTHING to not have made the decision to move. But, we can't go back now. Jesus probably would not have moved if He were in that situation. We had our 3 kids in mind, though, and we did not want them to growing up thinking that you had to watch out for flying dog poop and hotdogs while playing in the backyard. That is just not normal.

The adjustment period may be long. Or, maybe, must maybe, we will move back to northwest Omaha someday, the land where there is more than one grocery store to select from and they have food on the shelves and where there is a big Cross in the front of Church.

For now...we are home. Thanks for the sign though. It was just a little too late to help us.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Active Austins

Runner Girl AliviaDSC03840Weight lifting time

When Chris woke up this morning, he said he wanted to go for a run today. Assuming he would be doing this on the treadmill, I decided to go running outside.

I have ran outside at our new home only a few times since moving here. I ran on the trail one time during snowstorm and then through the neighborhood a few times at night. Running here at night is like running in the country. Most of the street lights do not work and it is dark...quite dark. And, we have spotted deer tracks in our back yard and empty lot and have seen a fox roaming around. I really do not want to run with a fox, thank you. And, I do not want to see if I can outrun a deer, either.

Anyway, so today I went down to the trail to run. Love the trail and love it even better than it is right down the street! It was initially cleared of snow but it went from being cleared to, wait, there is now 2-3 feet of snow! I guess it was a rugged workout. I ran through the neighborhood after getting off the snowy and icy trails. I really did not know what homes were around here until I run around a bit. There are a lot of homes being built with many of them being sold. The market may just be turning around. Maybe we should sell and move back out west! (Seriously, so miss it out there!). It was an amazing run, and I quickly remembered why I like running outside.

I came home to find Alivia on the treadmill! She walked/ran for 15 minutes! She wanted to go longer, even. She loved it! Like Mommy like daughter, I guess. Then, Addison got up from her nap and wanted to give it a try. The treadmill was very moving as she clutched onto the handles, but she wanted to stay on. She snail walked for probably 5 minutes, and then she was done. Asher wanted to get on to, but we talked him out of it. Can you imagine that?

Chris, the one that woke up saying he wanted to run...well, he did a few weights with Alivia. Maybe he will run tonight.

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