Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A long overdue update

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It’s been almost 3 months since I wrote my last blog.  That’s the longest stretch I haven’t posted since I started it 6 years ago.  I’m hoping I don’t regret slacking off in the blogging department in years to come, but I’ve been so busy and blogging (and photo editing) has just taken a back seat to everything else going on in my life.  I miss it though.  And I miss the past when I had time to blog weekly.

Things are good around here, just really busy.  My job as a realtor has been good.  I started working for Sean and Elisa Bell and I just love working with them.  They are great people and so knowledgeable about real estate.  It was a good switch for me, for sure, and I’ve been learning a lot from them.  Real estate is a tough business though.  I don’t really like working for commissions only and not ever knowing where you’ll find your next client.  In the past 2 days, I’ve had a bunch of clients fall through.  I found out one of my buyer clients when on realtor.com and found a house to buy and worked with someone else.  Other one of my rental clients found her own house to rent and a different one decided to buy and used a different realtor.  It’s just been tough and I take things like this too personally and it takes me a few days to get back into the groove after it seems like everything falls apart.  Real estate seems to have pretty high highs and pretty low lows and I don’t handle all the fluctuations all that well, especially when I put time and energy into helping people and take time away from my kids and pay for babysitters and then find out the client has used someone else.

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I was sworn in yesterday as the 1st Vice President of the Luke Officer’s Spouses club and I’m excited about that, although it might turn out to be more than I bargained for.  It’ll be nice to know other people though and to be involved and give back to the base some.  I just have a lot on my plate already.  Abbie is done with preschool in a few weeks and the kids both start swimming lessons the last week in May.  Hopefully Ben won’t scream through every single lesson this time around and hopefully Abbie will get better at swimming.  They both love the pool and I really want them to have confidence in the water but also be cautious at all times.  They ask to go in our pool all the time.

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Mark’s brother just moved in with us and it’s been nice having him here.  We also just got a new (to us) car, thanks to my parents help.  My dad found us a 2005 Volvo S40 with 65k miles on it up in MO and they brought it to us in Albuquerque a few weeks ago.  We love it and now we can finally get rid of the Passat we both hate.  Oh, and we paid $4000 to have the valve body fixed and the transmission rebuilt in that piece of junk and Mark got into an accident with it 5 hours after we picked it up so now we have to pay another $500 in deductible.  And then hopefully we can sell it and get at least a little bit of our money back.  I’d give the car to someone at this point, but we have to pay my parents back for the Volvo.  Hopefully it’ll all be behind us in a few weeks.  I can’t stand that car.

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The kids are growing up so quickly.  And so is Sam.  He’s such a good dog now and Mark and I both love him more ever day.  He’s the perfect fit to our family.  Just a big old lazy dog, with just enough puppy in him to make him fun.  The dog LOVES to swim and he looks like a big polar bear when he’s in the pool.  We’re glad we got him for sure.

Mark is still looking into going to TPS (test pilot school) and he’s already applied for the masters program at AFIT (Air Force Institute of Technology).  He’d love to get a masters in Electrical Engineering, but he REALLY wants to get into TPS, and I would love for him to get into that also.  That would be the perfect fit for him and I think he’d be good at it and he’d enjoy it also.  And just by chance, yesterday Mark met a guy in his squadron that was there for some training that is going to be a commander at one of the TPS squadrons at Edwards this fall and is going to sit on the review board for choosing people to go through the program.  Mark talked to him about it and told him he was interested and then changed the flying schedule so Mark could fly with the guy today.  It’s fun to see Mark get so excited about stuff like this and hopefully him having a chance to fly with this guy so the guy has personal experience with him helps his odds of getting selected for TPS.  The guy also said he would be happy to write Mark a letter of recommendation, which is HUGE, and highly weighted in the selection process.  Mark deserves it and I wouldn’t be too surprised if he gets selected his first time applying, even though that is somewhat uncommon.  Time will tell.

It’s funny, we’ve been here a year and our next assignment has been on my mind a lot lately.  I don’t really want to move.  I have great friends here, I love my job here, we have a nice house here.  But this military lifestyle as been engrained into me and moving 6 times in 9 years does that to you I guess.  It’s fun to think about the possibilities, but then you think about the reality of having to move 2 kids, 3 dogs and all our junk all over creation and then it’s maybe not so exciting anymore.

Hopefully I can start to be a little more regular on my blogging.  Maybe I can make a goal to write 1 blog per week or something.  It’s not really the blogging that takes so long because, heck, I can ramble away with the best of them.  It’s more of the photo editing and organizing everything and sitting down to do “my” stuff at the computer vs working or networking.  Until next time!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hanging on

I’ve managed to write 5 blogs this year, this will be my 6th.  2014 has been so crazy, so it’s time for an update.

I have been SO busy with my new job and I love it.  I have helped a few people find rentals already and have built relationships with a few clients which has been fun.  It is a fun job and I do like it, I’m just having issues balancing my mom/wife duties and trying to keep up a house and also figure out this real estate thing.  I was a bit down right off the bat when I had close friends tell me they didn’t want to use me because they didn’t want to mix friendship and business and I was thinking if I can even get good friends to use me, then what’s the point?  If anything you would think you’d work even harder to make things happen for someone you know personally and are friends with, but obviously not everyone views it the same way I do.  I’ve spent hours showing people rental homes only to have them look at one other house with one other agent and then go with that house, and that was disappointing also.  But I’m getting on my feet now.  I’m taking classes.  I’m networking.  My friends here have been SO supportive and encouraging and it’s been fun.  I had a client stop by my house yesterday because she was out and about and wanted to look at a rental in my neighborhood and it was fun.  I was in a t-shirt and yoga pants when she called (from 5 mins away) so it was a bit of a scramble to look presentable and I was going to have to take my kiddos along because Mark wasn’t home from work.  Luckily he got home right after she got here and he wanted her 2 kids also while we walked the neighborhood to look at homes.  So I’m getting things figured out and I’m learning this business and I’m excited for what 2014 will bring for me on a professional level.

I haven’t even mentioned our poopy on here.  I call him the poopy, because just in the past few days his poop as FINALLY gotten somewhat solid.  (TMI, I know, but you try cleaning up runny dog poop for almost 2 months and keep your kids out of it in the meantime… NOT fun.)  Anyway, Sampson, or Sammer, as I call him, is now 15 weeks old and a huge moose of a dog.  He’s put more holes in Abbie’s clothes than I can count and he loves to take anything he can get ahold of out into the yard and chew on it.  He’s pretty much my 3rd child, but I’m so excited to have a big dog again.

 

The kiddos are doing great.  Abbie is at such a fun age.  She asks some of the craziest questions sometimes and it makes me wonder what’s going on in that little mind of hers.  Today at breakfast she asked why Mark and I share a drink when we’re out of the house but never at home.  I need to do another “Abbie-isms” post in the near future because I have a year and a half of those jotted down.

Benj is at my favorite age now (read as much sarcasm as possible into that statement as you can).  He screams for EVERYTHING.  A piece of food falls off his fork and he screams like someone just cut off his leg.  He doesn’t get his way – he screams.  You don’t let him take 5 mins to get into his car seat by himself – he screams.  He throws a toy in the car and decides he wants it after he throws it – he screams.  It drives me insane.  I do not handle the screaming very well and I hope to God this is a short lived stage.  And he’s a world class whiner too.  Usually when he’s not screaming he’s whining about something and I’m not sure which bothers me more.  But he still flashes grins frequently (in between screaming and whining) and he’s learning to talk quite well even though screaming and whining is always his first choice.  The joys of having young kids.  Despite them driving me nuts sometimes (most of the time), I wouldn’t trade them for the world and I’m so thankful they’re mine.  Some days I just have to remind myself of that more than others.

Mark is doing well too.  He’s busy with his job, but I am reminded on a daily basis of why I love that man so much.  I truly couldn’t ask for a better partner in life.  He’s really been helping me a ton and picking up my slack around the house and with the kids without ever saying a word about it.  I had crud practice 2-4 times a week all of January, plus squadron coffees and bunco and now I’m part of a bible study and that means I’m gone sometimes as much as 4 times during the week nights and he feeds the kids and puts them to bed and picks up the house and never says anything about being tired of it or not wanting to do it.  I can’t even express how much I love him and how glad I am that he’s mine.

I’ve had a few people ask about Emily, the exchange student we had.  Things just didn’t work out for us so she went to live with a couple that doesn’t have kids at home.  She is getting a lot more attention than she did here and they can focus on her 100% so she seems to be much happier with them.  And I think I am happier too that I don’t have the pressure of trying to make sure she’s happy also, especially with how busy we are right now.  I think she’d be miserable here right now and that would have made me more stressed also.  So she’s still in the area, but we don’t really ever see her, but I think she’s doing well and is happier with her new family.

 

In a nutshell, that’s what’s been going on.  One of these days I’ll actually get the photos from December and January edited and on the blog.  I just don’t have a lot of free time these days, which is okay.  We are doing well and enjoying this 75 degree weather Phoenix is giving us right now!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Thanksgiving 2013

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For Thanksgiving we had a couple of our friends from here over for dinner.  Jessica and I prepared all of the food, except for the turkey, and Chris and Mark took care of that.  It was fun to spend time with some friends and have them over to our house, and actually have enough space to have people over to our house!

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It was nice to finally be back in the States to celebrate Thanksgiving and it was fun to spend it with some good friends.

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The day after Thanksgiving we went to get our Christmas tree.  We chose to get a real one (our first real one in a long time!!).  Back in IL we would go to the Christmas tree farms and cut our tree down ourselves, but they don’t have any of those around here because apparently Christmas trees don’t grow well in the desert…  So they ship them in from the NW and you go pick them out.  Not many people were at the Christmas tree lot when we were there, so we had a pretty good

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We had an Elf on the Shelf this year that the kids (Abbie) named Jingle.  Both of the kids LOVED coming downstairs and looking for Jingle every morning.  And Mark had fun finding places to put him every night.  Ben would come downstairs and say “OHHHH!!!!  Dere’s Jingle!!!  Daddy MEER!!  See Jingle!”  Definitely glad we got him.  Now if I can just remember where we hid him when he flew away to be with Santa for the rest of the year next year….  That’s the problem with hiding things from kids is that I usually end up hiding them from myself also…

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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Christmas card demographics - 2013

I was a little late getting my Christmas cards out this year.  It was a busy time of year and honestly, I wasn’t much in the mood to do them so it was more of a chore than anything.  I hate that I felt like that but December (and November) were a bit stressful for me.  Hopefully this year will be better.

Anyway, despite not really being in the mood to do them, I still sent out 139 Christmas cards.  And we received 65 of them.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one not in the mood to do cards this year…

So here’s where our cards went in 2013.

Italy – 14

Korea – 3

Belgium – 2

Australia – 1

Spain – 1

Sweden – 1

Netherlands – 1

England – 1

Vatican – 1

IL – 26

IA – 16

AZ – 15

WI – 6

TX – 6

CO – 5

FL – 5

MO – 3

IN – 3

NV – 3

CA – 3

NM – 2

MS – 2

TN – 2

OK – 2

And one to NE, WA, OR, SD, UT, ND, VA, MN, GA, NC, OH, AL and SC.

 

I meant to take a picture of all of the ones we received before I took them all off the wall but I forgot to.  Rats.  Hopefully I’ll remember to next year!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Jerome, Arizona

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Jerome is a small town located in the Black Hills of Yavapai County not too far from Sedona.  We actually saw it in the distance when we were visiting Tuzigoot and decided to go check it out, and I’m so glad we did.  It’s a really neat town and it REALLY reminded me of a western version of my hometown of Galena, IL.  It had a historic main street, just like Galena and is mainly on a hill, just like Galena, although Jerome is much smaller than Galena is.  It was mainly a mining town back in the 1920’s and was home to more than 1000 people back then, but has less than 500 people living there now.

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We decided to go check out the ghost town, and it was a lot of fun!  I recently read an article about it and it said that if you’re traveling with a photographer, expect them to disappear until their camera runs out of memory, and that is very much true.  I could have spent HOURS in this place taking photos of all of the neat things Don Robertson (the owner) had laying around.

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The ghost town is actually a suburb of Jerome, called Haynes, and it was originated by Haynes Copper Company in 1890, when they were searching for copper that is known to be in the area.  They missed the copper but they did find gold.

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This school house was moved from Flagstaff to here, but Don built many of the buildings on the property himself.  He says he only collects rare things, but since I’m not well versed in old cars, I have no clue if these are true or not.  I really want my dad to go see all of this stuff because he would know about these old cars.

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Mark was in pig heaven when we encountered this trailer full of alligator juniper wood.  It was even better that it was fairly cheap.  We already had 6 people and all of our junk in the car, but we managed to fit a few pieces of this stuff in between everyone and everything else and Mark was a happy camper.  And I was happy because he now knows how I feel when I go into a fabric shop.  He could have stayed in this little shack for a good hour inspecting all the wood, and that’s exactly how I feel when I get into fabric shops.  I’m glad he has a hobby that he likes.

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Here’s the old entrance to the mine and they even have a place where you can pan for gold (for $10 I think, maybe $5).  They had a bunch of goats you can feed also, and chickens, and their donkey also.

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There was just neat stuff all over this place and we spent a few hours wandering around it and looking at everything, although I feel like we didn’t really get to see everything because there’s just so much to look at!  (Dad, most of these pictures are for you!)

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I didn’t even get a chance to go into these buildings, but I’m sure there was lots of cool stuff to look at!

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I can’t remember what the thing on the left is below, but the thing on the right is a 1914 sawmill that they still use every day to cut lumber orders of the juniper.  It was running a little when we got there but by the time we got up to this section of the property they weren’t running it.  Luckily, we ran into Don while we were there and he started it up for us and showed us how this one worked, and the one below that he built from a submarine engine.  Both were pretty darn neat to see, even if they were loud.  Ben wasn’t a huge fan of the noise.

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We had fun petting the donkey and he was even braying for us a little bit, which is hilarious to hear.  I kinda want a donkey.  They’re adorable.  Almost as cute as my kid.

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I decided not to carry my camera with me around Jerome when we visited the town, but it was really need to see.  Such old buildings and you can almost feel the history surround you.  If you want to read more about the history of Jerome, you can go HERE.  In short, it was named after a New York lawyer who financed the United Verde Copper Company, that mined hundreds of millions of dollars in the early 19th century.  Today it’s a really artsy town with lots of chic little restaurants and art galleries.  Again, reminds me a lot of Galena.  I’m excited to go back again.

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If you’re every in the Phoenix, Sedona, Prescott area in Arizona, I would HIGHLY encourage you to check out Jerome and the  Gold King Mine ghost town.  It is one of my favorite places we’ve visited so far in AZ!!

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