Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Are you sick of my home-related blog posts yet?

Well, too bad. It's the biggest thing we've got going on right now!

I really love this house. When we first got to walk through it after the sellers moved out, it was pretty dirty. They left the place without even a basic cleaning run-through. I loved it still, but was down. Fingerprints on the walls, little tracks of mud on the tile, soap residue in the glass shower. (Seriously, people, haven't you heard of a squeegee?!?!) After our realtor had a battalion of cleaners run through it, it returned to being the home that I remembered. After Michael and I spent a weekend painting while Mom ran around the house with Magic Erasers, it really started to take shape and look like a brand new home again. I walked through the house and our furniture started popping up in my mind. And so did our future.

There against that wall would be our couch, where we'd snuggle while watching episodes of Grey's Anatomy. Over there in the corner is where our Christmas tree will go. The bed will be positioned just-so in the extra bedroom for our overnight guests. There's the laundry room, from which Michael will emerge, exasperated, crying, "Julie! You forgot your clothes in the washing machine again! How long have they been sitting in there! Two days?!"

This being said, I do have quite a list of To-Do's. After I read off my list of projects Michael laughed somewhat nervously and muttered, "Sounds like a five year plan." I'm torn here. There are a few 'must' things that we have to do, like install a peep hole. Then there are a lot of things that I'd like to do for my own aesthetic tastes that might make living a little more pleasant. (Oh, plantation shutters, how I covet thee.) Then there are huge projects that Michael and I have discussed, like getting rid of most of the carpet (except bedrooms) and installing tile throughout. But how much money do we really want to put into this place? It's not our forever home, but we do certainly plan on living here for at least five years. Then there's the issue of cost of projects versus the factor of increasing the property value.

Wow, home ownership is a lot of work! ...or I guess I should say, "Thinking about home ownership is a lot of work!" I need a latte, stat!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Anniversary Celebration

Before I recount what we did for our one year anniversary, I'd like to proudly crow about defeating a week-old nemesis of mine this morning. The rival: an uneven patch of sidewalk on my 4-mile running loop. Last week at approximately 5:55 am, I was running without abandon down a major thoroughfare (Hayden Rd, for any of you Phoenicians) - a 3-lane-each-way road. I was jogging along a winding sidewalk, trying to avoid the sprinklers, pretty pumped about my time when suddenly...I tripped and fell flat on my face.

No joke. I don't even remember falling, just the loud "PAH!" escaping my lips as the air was pressed swiftly from my chest, and the ridiculously loud slap of my palms on the wet pavement. I might or might not have slid on my stomach like a penguin for ten feet. The only thing I know for sure is that my momentum was such that my body curled in an unnatural way, feet-over-head, creating a perfect C.

This morning I ran the same route, putting on an expression of false bravado as I approached the spot. When I came upon, then passed the spot, I danced around in victory. Well, maybe I just cast a menacing glare, but I was tired, you know?

Moving on...One year anniversary!! We started off the morning with a family brunch because my parents were in town. JP, Shannon and Kai also came over for a bite.
Mom and Dad brought a box of wine: always a great way to start the afternoon!
The cake was great! I mean, it wasn't as wonderful as it was on the big day, but I ate a whole piece! The thick layer of buttercream icing must have kept in the moisture, because it was still pretty moist. Don't mind the strange-looking indentations on the top, it's just the places where the roses were placed.

After brunch, Michael and I went to get a couples massage! Michael set it all up on his own. It was so amazing! After that, we relaxed at home before getting ready for dinner. We went to Donovan's Steakhouse and had a great three course dinner. I ordered this little diddy that looked like it came from the Mesozoic era:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

We're homeowners! (...sort of)

No, I shouldn't discredit our big day. It just didn't happen quite like I expected. Let me 'splain.

We met last night with the Escrow officer and our realtor (Paul) and did all the paperwork. As expected, there was a ton to sign. I was all excited and let out a little giggle at the first item we signed. Paul said, "That isn't it, Julie," meaning that it wasn't the exact document that made us homeowners. So this, coupled with my perhaps-overdramatized expectations, made me believe that there would be a document that was IT. The one thing we'd get to that, upon signing, would make us homeowners. Well, that didn't happen. We just went over a stack of paperwork, signing and initialling, then the Escrow officer made us a big copy of it and it was done.

The trouble was that it was all done by 5:30 last night. So our paperwork wouldn't be recorded or processed until today. Because of that, we weren't official homeowners until that was completed (even now haven't heard from Paul yet). So we were told that we weren't allowed to get the keys until today because we aren't legally the owners yet, and should anything happen to the house, there would be legality issues. Well, there goes my idea of having that big moment where they hand the keys over and we giggle excitedly and give each other a jumping high-five. And a smooch. Or a jumping smooch, hopefully without any physical injury.

Once we get out into the parking lot, I say to Michael that I was bummed we didn't get the keys. He says, "Oh yeah, I do have them." And pulls them out. Paul was so awesome and secretly gave Michael the key so he wouldn't have to make another trip out today to pick them up. And that's so very sweet of him to be so considerate...but it didn't really make for a climactic moment, you know?

I'm off to check with Paul about the home. If all goes as planned we'll be having some champagne tonight!

UPDATE at 5:30 pm: We have recorded on the house! It is ours! Pop the corks! Cut the cake! Do a jig! (Don't hurt yourself!) Give a Tarzan yell!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

One Year of Love

Today we're celebrating our one year anniversary of being married. I am thrilled and so blessed to have married my best friend one year ago. This year has been exciting and full of change. So, in taking a page out of my friend Lauren's book, I'm making a blog post about some of the fun things we've done this year.

In the past year, we:

Got hitched:

Went on a honeymoon: Drove to Utah for a 'Mountain Cocktail' wedding:Worked (a lot):
[images removed]

I went to 6 out-of-town conferences within an 8 week window:Got some reading in at Jaye and Derek's wedding: Spent some time with the President:
Visited friends in San Diego for the 4th of July:

Tried to live a little greener: Went to the Emerald City for Amy and Erik's wedding:Michael became a Big Brother:
Jumped: (Kauai, October)
And jumped: (Scottsdale, December) And jumped: (New Year's Eve)
Rocked out: Visited our loved ones: And bought a home:I've heard (a time or two) that the first year of marriage is the hardest. I doubt that that's true, but if it were, I'd consider myself to be very lucky. Sure, we've had little arguments and adjustments in turning two 'me's into 'we', but it's been one wonderful year. We've had lots of laughter and very few tears. We've been blessed more than we've been burned. We've been happy and healthy, surrounded by the best family and friends a couple could ask for.

Baby, I'm the lucky one.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Our Early Anniversary Present

We recently heard from our realtor that the current owners of our new home found a new place and have already moved out! Because of this, the home is just sitting there, eagerly waiting for us to move in. (I told it to be patient, but you know homes, they're just so excitable!)

Michael and I have made some arrangements and now the plan is to meet early on Friday to sign the papers and exchange our down payment for a set of house keys! I'm trying not to get too excited in case anything falls through. But, if it does all work out, we will officially have a home for our first anniversary! There is still some stuff we wanted to do before moving in (painting, maybe have the carpets professionally cleaned - not that they're dirty, just for a fresh start), so we might not be moving stuff into the house this weekend. This also works nicely because my parents are going to be in town this weekend. We'll get a chance to show them the place!

On to other matters, I'm now halfway through week five of my training for the half marathon. I had a bit of a setback today. I'm just low on motivation. I haven't missed a single workout, even when we were on vacation and Michael and I did a run through the rain in Indy. I ran 18 miles last week. And yet I don't feel like I've lost any weight. And it's so very dark (and now chilly!) at 5:30 am, which makes it hard to roll out of bed. You might think there would be a lot of other runners out at this time, well, there aren't. There's only creepy old men with strange pants.

We've got another 5-miler looming ahead of us on Saturday (Michael does the long runs with me), after which Michael will be working all day entertaining clients at the big ASU game. The only thing keeping me going is the fact that tomorrow is a rest day and that Glee and Modern Family are on TV tonight.

Here's hoping everything works out with the house! I'm crossing my fingers, toes, legs, and eyes hoping that it goes smoothly.

Update 10/15/09: Of course! I jinxed myself by posting this yesterday. We got an email from our Escrow officer...she can't meet tomorrow morning. We're going to try to arrange to close on the house on Monday now. Michael is trying to see if we can still get in to see the house so my family can see it.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Super Secret Family Shindig

Michael and I got home last night from a wonderful trip to Indianapolis. Now, I didn't follow my normal blogging habit of blogging about how excited I am about an upcoming trip because this trip was a secret one! It was Fred's birthday on Saturday, and because of that the family banded together to make uber-complex arrangements for the surprise.

Michael and I flew into town Wednesday night. He came from a sales conference for work in Pittsburgh. I came from Arizona. Judy took her parents to the airport where they thought they were picking up Fred. They were very surprised when it was Michael that walked out of the airport!

Fred didn't fly home until Thursday night, so we took the afternoon to drive over to Danville! I got to see my Grandma Mickie and Grandma Helen. We went out to eat, saw the many sights in Danville and then paid a visit to my Great Uncle Don. It was great!

Thursday night we surprised Fred at the airport. Michael called Fred on the phone, then walked up behind him. Let me tell you, Fred has certainly mastered the speed-walk. I had to jog to keep up! Well, as Michael approached Fred from behind (still talking on the phone), he hung up, but continued the conversation. Fred was a little confused, since he could still hear Michael but the sound was different. Finally he looked over his shoulder and spotted Michael! It was good.

The next afternoon Michael's sister, Lauren, came into town. She also surprised Fred when she got home from the airport. These In-Laws of mine sure do enjoy surprising each other. Which, I guess, shouldn't be too surprising given their name. :)

Saturday was Fred's birthday. We went to a really lovely winery about 45 minutes away.We ate a picnic of cheese, olives, crackers, apples...well, nevermind. Just picture the most charming little meal, add two bottles of wine and that's what we ate.

Don't mind the strange little pile of items at the corner of the table. That was what I used to make an attempt at the self-timer.

After that, we took a little scenic drive. We got out of the car for some view-gazing, picture-taking and general sighing.

Check out this picture.
Now, we don't know that little old lady. She was just sitting there by herself. But I like to pretend that her little half gallon jug is filled, not with the predictable apple cider, but a healty portion of strong ale. Wouldn't that be great?

The trees were so pretty here.

That night we went to a really cool restaurant called Fogo de Chao. (There's one in Scottsdale, also). First, there were the most delicious rolls ever. And a non-traditional salad bar that had things like sun-dried tomatoes, asparagus spears and fresh balls of mozzarella. (Or if you, like me, try to speak like Tony Soprano, 'MOH-sah-RELL!"). But you had to play your cards right. You didn't want to be the sucker who got full on these delicious distractions, because that's when the real eating started. Instead of ordering a cut of meat, servers came around with all sorts of different meats. Top roast. Filet mignon. Rack of lamb. Sausages. Parmasean encrusted pork loin. You had a little button that was green on one side and red on the other. Red meant, 'No thanks, I'm taking a breather.' Green meant 'MORE MEAT!' I think you can guess what color our buttons were kept on. I felt like some kind of small-country royalty, huge pieces of juicy meats being carved right in front of me.

From right to left, we have Mary, Ken, Fred, Judy, Lauren, me, Michael, James, Mimi and Tom.

Well, needless to say, we were just a tad meated out by the end of it. And I love this picture of Fred eyeing his special dessert! (Papaya ice cream, because papaya helps break down meat in the stomach. Any fact-checkers out there?)

After that, the immediate family went out for a celabratory drink (or two). Here's us kids doing an Irish Car Bomb with Fred. Classic.

What a great time. Seriously, a really wonderful trip. My great thanks go out to all of my in-laws for being such amazing hosts.

With that, I'd like to end this (incredibly long) blog post with one of my favorite pictures of Michael from his college years: Yes, it is a picture of a picture. What a hunk!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Brad and Dierks Concert!

Even though it was only October 1, Michael and I did part one of our first anniversary celebration. The reason: I decided to get tickets to the Brad Paisley/Dierks Bentley concert for Michael as a gift! We love these two artists...seriously, they make some of the greatest country music out there today. Plus, the ticket itself was paper, which is the traditional first anniversary gift. That worked out nicely.

We were in a bit of a hurry since it was a Thursday night and we both worked that day. So we stopped for a gourmet anniversary meal at Quizno's.

Our seats at the concert were incredible. We were row H, with the first row being row A, if that can give you a visualization. And there was this little catwalk that came out into the audience, so when the artists sang there we were SO close to them!

Dierks came on first:

Then Brad:

I love cowboys:The above picture was taken while Brad Paisley sang 'Then,' which is an adorable love song. Then Brad, Dierks and the other opener (Jimmy Wayne) came out and sang together.
So we had this great time and in two weeks we'll have another anniversary celebration! Better start thawing out that year-old wedding cake! Also, two weeks before closing on the house! Woot!