About Us

Friday, August 31, 2007

Extra! Extra!

We signed the papers to close on the house today, but it won't fund until Tuesday after the holiday weekend, which is when we'll get our keys and be able to call our new place "Home."

We had our final walk-through just before meeting at the title company this afternoon. I was nearly teary-eyed as I went from room to room imagining us making this house our home in just a few days. All the beautiful memories we'd make, our children growing up here, so many plans to be made, love to share and fun to have in this place. It is absolutely beautiful and, most importantly, we are so happy.

Lots of love to all of you and a Texas sized hug!

Settin' Up Shop..er, Home

Everything is in order for closing on the house this coming Tuesday, though there is a minuscule chance we might close as soon as today. We picked out and purchased our fridge -the only major appliance needed- and it will be delivered on Wednesday morning. Our household goods have not arrived yet from Alaska, but we'll buy an air mattress and I'll busy myself putting sticky notes on all the cupboards in an attempt to pre-organize the house while we wait to put everything away.

This has all been an amazing experience and I feel so well provided for from above. I never dreamed we'd be in our new home by the time Brian started work at Ft. Hood. He reports tonight but won't have to go to work until Tuesday and even then he will probably be able to get the next few days off for moving purposes. Now wouldn't it be wonderful if our stuff arrived early next week?

We are so blessed. Yesterday we looked at cars, needing to get me outfitted with a vehicle so I'm not stranded at home while Brian's at work. Originally I was gunning for a Subaru Outback, but since I got down to Texas my preference changed. Whereas in Alaska the Subaru is a girl's best friend, no one in Texas drives them. Down here you're either a truck gal, an SUV gal or a sedan gal; no wagon gals. And I refuse at this point in my life to become a mini-van gal. After considering the need for some extra space to grow and for storage, I decided a mini-SUV would be ideal. Something large enough to accommodate the dogs, the family and storage, but small enough to easily zip around and park. With those guidelines I found the Honda CR-V and the Hyundai Santa Fe.

The Santa Fe had some excellent features such as more trunk space, rear air vents and pockets on the back of the front seats but it felt too big. The Honda CR-V was perfect. The back passenger doors open at a full 90 degree angle making it a breeze to get car seats in and out. The trunk has ample storage and room for the dogs to comfortably hang out on drives to the park. Enough knee and leg room for all. And this car can zip around; it's very responsive, has no play in the steering and drives like a dream. After we close on the house we'll go by the dealership and take one home. As the new family car, I know we'll be very happy and well outfitted for many years.

So many big things going on!
Oh! New development: We're signing papers at 1:30pm today on the house! Now, we still might not get the keys until Tuesday due to some minor complications, but there is a chance that today is the day! Here's hoping!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

The Round Rock Express played at their home stadium, the Dell Diamond, last night for a smashing win of 6-4 against the Albuquerque Isotopes. Complete with a firework finish the AAA teams played a great game and we had a blast at our first of many ball games to come.

The Dell Diamond is an excellent facility that matches -if not beats- any major league stadium. Any seat in the house was a good one, even the grassy hillside surrounding outfield. I was surprised to find a pool and spa just beyond right field next to a basketball court, rock gym and playscape to keep the kids occupied while the parents watched the game. Maybe next time I can get my nails done and have a pony ride.
Great seats just above the guest team's dugout.

The view was terrific. We were nearly in line with the pitcher smack dab between home and first base. I had been to a Mariners game once and we sat in the nosebleed section. The players were so tiny it made the game nearly impossible for me to follow, particularly since I didn't really know what was going on in the first place. But at this stadium with such great seats -and Brian being the sports commentator- it was a nearly electric experience.
Wilder is crazy about baseball. With all the music and cheering he went hog wild. Brian beamed in anticipation of taking his son to the games, teaching him the rules, talking about the players, and is contemplating getting season tickets. It will be a few years before Wilder will be able to appreciate what's going on, but with the kid-friendly atmosphere and play things I'm sure we'll be attending games next season.
This game sure beat sitting in metal bleachers on a chilly Alaskan summer wrapped up in blankets. Quite the contrary experience. I was afraid to stand up -I thought my skirt would be drenched in sweat- but nature calls and my bladder wouldn't let vanity get the better of me. Brian reassured me that everyone is sweaty in Texas so it was no big deal, and he was right. But note to self: the next ball game I'll bring a battery operated fan, shave my head and wear my swim suit. Then I'll be set.

We had a blast and thankfully our home team won making the evening and our first ball game in town a fabulous memory!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Here We Go To Grandma's House

I remember when we'd visit Grandma Anne and Grandpa Doug in hot Spokane summers. The boy cousins would come up from Massachusetts, we'd go camping, fishing, shop with Grandma, and eat raspberries off the bushes growing on the side of the house. I was about 7 when I was first told the little bugs occasionally found on our berries were "extra protein." But I think Dad told us that...

They moved to Houston ten years ago and since then I've only been down once for a visit. Now that we're only 2 1/2 hours away Brian and I -and soon Wilder- will make much more frequent trips.

After a lovely lunch out together we returned home. Plopping on the comfy couches I asked question after question about each of their lives -where they grew up, where they went to school, where they moved to, their jobs- and was in heaven hearing all about their eclectic and adventurous pasts. I never knew Grandpa had such a hard time getting into military service during the height of WWII. I didn't know Grandma and her sister ran a diner by themselves, nor did I know she was a riveter for Boeing during the war. It was marvelous sharing this precious time learning more about my grandparents with Brian -who's helping me keep some of the stories straight.
We dined with Aunt Carol and her family: husband Russ, daughter Bailey, and son Remington. Carol is my dad's youngest sister. All joined for a post-dinner chat at Grandma and Grandpa's. Now we just have to make it up to Massachusetts to meet Aunt Ruth and the family and Brian will have had the grand family tour!
Saturday Grandma and Grandpa took us to Kemah, a fabulously fun tourist town on the Gulf of Mexico.

We dined at The Aquarium, a nearly underwater experience brought to us by the owners of The Rain Forest Cafe. Massive fish tanks filled the restaurant, one ranged three stories high, containing all manner of sea life from sharks to clown fish. Now, if a restaurant that specialized in steak had cows meandering around for our viewing pleasure the effect would be quite different. I ate my grilled fish sandwich with no remorse and watched in fascination as these great creatures swam around us.

Say "cheese!"

Yachts and all manner of boats passed us as we walked along the boardwalk.
I'm gonna be a shrimp boat captain. Brian's my first mate. You know, there are a million ways you can cook shrimp. There's shrimp gumbo, shrimp stew, BBQ shrimp, there's shrimp cocktail....
I was amazed at how much Dad had picked up from Grandpa's mannerisms and habits. From his endless piles of papers, his clear way of speaking, even his chuckle, I saw echoes of my father in his father all throughout our visit that made me glow and ache at the same time. Most of all I was pleased as punch just to be with my grandparents and share this very special time with Brian.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Being 30....weeks pregnant, that is.

Oh, I remember the days when I lamented not feeling pregnant enough. I wished my belly had a bigger bump. I wished the baby would begin kicking. I wished everyone around me would know right away that I was pregnant. Now all my wishes have come true.

My belly is beginning to get in the way of things. Everything. I have to readjust my tummy when I sit down. I have to lean forward beyond my grandness to kiss my husband. I have to be extra careful when trying to pass other customers in the store aisles. People are beginning to ask when the baby's due, if I know what gender it is, if I'm excited, etc. It's kind of fun but I'm contemplating making a t-shirt with the stats.

Since a few days before our drive south from Alaska I've been having a difficult time sleeping. At first I thought it was all the excitement of the move. Then I blamed it on sleeping in strange places (no, not the closet or the kitchen -staying in different hotels.) Now that we've been in the same place for awhile it is apparent that the diagnosis for my several hours of insomnia a night is baby related. Go figure. Wilder seems most active at night in the wee hours.

Speaking of Wilder, just a few days ago it felt as if he grew a significant amount since his kicks have changed drastically. I can't describe exactly how they are different, other than it feels like stronger yet smaller movements and he seems to shift and turn quite a bit. Some of his activity makes me catch my breath, but mainly it's a hoot seeing my belly move through my clothes.

Heartburn and acid reflux are fun, occasional visitors and I've been adjusting to shrinking stomach size. Not being able to eat as much at meals can be pretty frustrating. Here I've spent time cooking up a yummy dinner and I can only enjoy tasting half of what I'd normally eat. I guess that would mean more leftovers, except I have a husband...and he eats it all. Well, I'll just have to remember those recipes for later.

As expected I don't have as much energy and I have to limit my excursions. Brian isn't too sore on this point -I can't shop as long as I used to, which of course means less time he has to be dragged to the store! Also with being hungry so frequently I'm prone to giving warnings for how soon we need feed me before I turn into a monster. I'm getting better at my guestimations, but still haven't perfected it yet. Just in case, I keep a bag of trail mix in the car to hold me over.

Still, the pregnancy is going wonderfully. Though I'm beginning to feel discomfort now it is incredibly minor to what I know it could be. I am so thankful for how easy I've had it and can only hope that my future pregnancies are as flawless as this one has been.

Sunday in Georgetown

This Sunday we attended the First United Methodist Church just diagonal from the university. Oddly enough it was directly across the street from St. John's United Methodist Church. It seemed very strange to have two ornate United Methodist churches built roughly the same time within spitting distance of each other.
We were a cautious 20 minutes early just in case parking was difficult and the pews filled fast. Parking was a bit of an issue as there was another church (Evangelical, I believe) right next to the FUMC. We found a spot in the residential area behind the great buildings and casually strolled around admiring the fine architecture.

Please click the photo to enlarge and read this brief history on the First United Methodist Church of Georgetown.The stained glass windows that surrounded all four walls of the sanctuary were brilliant! The late morning sun made the images glow which, coupled with the fine, dark wood lining the high, arched ceilings created a reverent yet celebratory atmosphere. I found it interesting that most of the windows were dedicated in memoriam to past administrators, teachers and members of the congregation.

The 11 o'clock service was noted as being traditional and it lived up to it's word. All hymns; not one worship song or chorus. Frankly it was refreshing. The congregation was mainly elderly, made up of many folks from Georgetown's retirement community, Sun City, and the Wesleyan Retirement Home across the street. Georgetown has at least 4 retirement homes that we've seen (excluding Sun City) and I must say it's a fine place to settle down for one's last years.

We met Ruth and Mary, roommates at the Wesleyan home, Pearl, Betty from Sun City and Bonnie (the young one of the bunch) who lives in our new neighborhood. Having sat in their regular section of the pews they gave us the warmest of welcomes and we immediately felt as if we had several new adopted grandmothers.

The service was wonderful and the church felt like it could easily be a new home for us until the sermon. A lively and funny fellow, the pastor told a rambling story that only partly connected with the scripture he had chosen. Though he had a charming personality, his age and apparent lack of preparation took a major toll on the sermon, leaving us disenchanted with the formerly ideal church package.

Well, on to an new one next week! We may try the Presbyterian Church in historic downtown or hop across the street to St. John's.
Next stop was the only coffee shop in the vicinity, Cianfrani's. You'd think for a college town they'd have a plethora of caffeine refueling posts for students to study or go for that first, casual "date," but no. Just one.

The long, open rectangular space had walls lined with colorful original paintings. The prices (none under $1200) seemed a bit outrageous for the casual coffee shop patron, but they certainly brightened the place up.

Similar to the other day's experience with Laurie's Too Cafe, we found a large space being used as best as the owners could figure out, though having the industrial sized roasters and grinders as well as other coffee supplies totally visible in the back was very poor taste. The drone of the machines blocked out all normal leveled conversation so we could hear the folks behind us shouting as they attempted to continue their chat.
Why not try brunch at The County Seat? It is ideally located on the corner just down from Cianfrani's, decorated tastefully (the best interior of a food service joint we'd seen yet) and folks were streaming in.

Seated in the upper level -a gallery, you might say- we had a perfect view of the food coming out of the kitchen to see what dishes they served. We became increasingly unimpressed and ended sorely disappointed.
First our waitress brought us the wrong order. Then she brought us the right order but with our over medium eggs completely undercooked -back to the kitchen again. Finally our order came back. They had re fried our eggs to a plastic consistency that vaguely resembled a form of egg product but was nothing close to eggs over medium or hard. Our waitress refilled our water once and never asked how our meal was or how we were doing. Now, this may not seem too much of an offence to you and you may feel I'm over reacting, but hear me out. We shared one order -one plate of food. We didn't ask for anything special or different -just the standard breakfast meal with our choice of eggs and meat. There were more servers on hand than we'd seen in any restaurants we recently dined at, which would make you think we'd at least get taken care of in a proper manner. When we ordered our eggs I asked our waitress if overhard meant completely cook through -totally solid yolks- to which she said yes. I expressed a wish that there was a happy medium between over medium and over hard. Our eggs came back over easy and returned obliterated after asking for them to be more solidly cooked. The pancakes were worse than IHOP's or Denny's and we were given a small plastic cup of syrup, hardly enough for a decent portion. Knowing that my cooking -and food service- far out ranks The County Seat we have absolutely no desire to ever dine there again.

The day was beautiful and though we had a string of disappointments we were determined to keep enjoying ourselves. Time to find Lake Georgetown. Not having looked at a map we drove for quite awhile on an open country road, turned around and tried another route. Finally we found it.
Due to the major rainfall this summer Lake Georgetown's level was well above normal. Trees and brush that had skirted it's shores lay submerged beneath it's gently lapping waves. Honestly, it was pretty unattractive, especially compared to what we'd been used to with Alaska's pristine beauty and countless bodies of water. But it would do. Next time we'll find the park on the other side of the lake with more facilities and where the bike trail begins. Though it wasn't ideal, I won't complain that we live so near a lake and close to such a beautiful river.

So Sunday didn't show us the best of our new town, but we still absolutely adore it. It was wonderful trying out our first church, tasting more of the cuisine and seeing the sites on a lovely, sunny day. After meeting some of the sweet gals from the retirement home I've decided Wilder and I will try to make regular visits when he's old enough. Obviously now is too early, but give us a few months and we'll have oodles of great aunts and great uncles!

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Taste of Georgetown

This morning we went for a spot of exercise at San Gabriel Park in Georgetown. The 9 mile bike and walking path is made of a fine rock and sand mixture which doesn't get muddy after the rain. Brian and I went separate directions, exploring our new park for our 45 minutes of cardio.
The San Gabriel River and all the lush vegetation surrounding it makes one of the most peaceful and rejuvenating walking tracks I have ever been on. Cruising by multiple play areas, ball fields, public facilities, and even a frisbee golf course, I imagined Wilder running freely and us playing games as a family on all the park had to offer. Seemingly endless acres of manicured lawn dotted with full trees for shady picnics sprawled out in every direction. Geese and ducks lined the river, huddled in groups and bravely waddled up to me when I moved towards them. Brian agreed, next time we come we'll bring a loaf of bread and make friends.
After our trip to the park we had an early lunch at Laurie's Too, a quaint little tea room in Georgetown's historic district near the college. I had been looking at local dining options the day before when I ran across this cafe. The menu sounded yummy and the cafe description charming.
We were warming greeted by the grandma-like waitresses who never let our glasses of iced tea run half empty. The food was not quite up to the level the prices were and the decor was somewhat lacking, though it was evident that they tried to furnish the large space as best and economical as possible. Groups of elderly ladies and their friends trickled in to enjoy the cafe-style lunches. The main selling point was the flawless and genial service, which we greatly enjoyed.
Georgetown has a rich history since 1848. Its downtown area is the oldest main street with original buildings in the state of Texas, having avoided fires and natural disasters.

As you can see, Georgetown was named after its great benefactor, George Washington Glasscock who donated 173 acres to the town, which has now grown for miles in all directions. It also has the oldest University in Texas, Southwestern University, which ranks in the top 10 private schools in the nation.I was delighted to learn that Georgetown is the Red Poppy Capital of Texas. I adore red poppies! I will have to look up with the Poppy Festival is -I believe it's in the spring- and we'll definitely take part, though I've never been a huge fan of community celebrations and big to-dos. (It's in April, just found it.)

The three square blocks of the historic district surrounds the City Hall. Small businesses, artsy shops, salons and restaurants as well as half a dozen antique stores occupy the beautiful old buildings.
After wandering in several Brian finally said to save something to look at for later -we'd have plenty of time to gaze in all the stores in the coming years and if we kept up today's snails pace we'd never get home. Well, more to enjoy later!
The Palace Theater has an eclectic season, recently closing it's run of "Steel Magnolias" and soon opening "Lend Me A Tenor." Following in the fall they are putting on a play re-enacting the first Ku Klux Klan trial in the U.S. which was held in this county in 1926. Complete with its own local chocolate and confection factory! This is definitely the place for me!

The section we explored today is only a fraction of what Georgetown has to offer. I gathered many ideas of things to do with visitors who stay with us -so many fun places to peek in, to walk around, things to taste and enjoy! We'll share more as we get to know this wonderful town better. So many exciting things to come!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

News Flash!

Our offer on the house was accepted outright! Brian and I were researching refrigerators at Lowes when we got the call. To celebrate we spent nearly 2 more hours cruising the aisle checking out paint chips, flooring options, fixtures, front doors and dreaming of all the things we could eventually do to our new home.

We are gathering all the loan paperwork today so we can hopefully close in 30 days or sooner -sooner would be very nice since our belongings from Alaska should arrive in two weeks. We'll continue to keep you updated as the process continues and fun stories come along.

We drove through historic Georgetown yesterday and through the San Gabriel Park -it was breathtaking! The pictures online from Georgetown's website do not do it justice. The buildings are preciously old, filled with boutiques, coffee shops, restaurants, and art galleries galore. San Gabriel Park has 9 miles of lighted bike/walking trails that follow along the beautiful river in which you can wade and splash in to your hearts content. Sturdy, new playgrounds abound as do picnic sights, shaded manicured lawns, ball fields, a rodeo arena, and several recreation centers. It's a dream come true in every imaginable way. I anticipate us being a very happy family here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Househunting: We Waste NO Time

Yesterday rejuvenated us, laying by the pool and visiting with the Pattons. *Sigh* It's wonderful to finally be here in Austin. But today was all business and we wasted no time.
Last night Brian and I narrowed down our online home search to two main neighborhoods in Georgetown: Churchill Farms and Stonehedge. Finding at least 10 homes within our price range and parameters we thought today would be filled up looking in these neighborhoods.

Brian randomly found a realtor through an online search -Doug Hogan with Century 21- in Georgetown and we gave him a call. He made himself completely available and met us at the office in an hour. With 11 properties printed out (which I actually thought wasn't enough to spend much time looking at -boy, was I wrong) we headed for the neighborhoods. Since Churchill Farms and Stonehedge are basically conjoined we simply meandered through an area of 1 square mile.

The first house was a foreclosure and it showed. On our grading system we gave it a D+ and quickly moved on. Even for a low grade, the outside and surrounding houses were twice as nice as anything we could get for the same price in Anchorage.

The second house ended up to be our absolute favorite. Instead of boring you with a breakdown of every home we saw I'll just give you the juicy details of the one we fell in love with.

The backyard is skinny in the middle but very spacious on both sides with plenty of land to landscape , add a deck or playset -maybe all three! The length is perfect for throwing frisbee for Savannah and Smoke will love running in circles on the side yards. It's completely fenced with some beautiful flowering plants spilling over from the neighbor's behind us.The oak cabinets are in fabulous shape -kiddy locks installed on the bottom ones! New Corian counter tops, nice appliances, wonderfully shelved and spacious pantry and a window over the sink that overlooks the right side of the backyard.
This picture doesn't do the entry justice -well, neither do the other photos. The entry is spacious, has a great built in alcove perfect for some artsy-fartsy display or a place to pile the mail, and a deep closet (where I'll store the Christmas decorations!)
The living room's double stacked windows fill the whole house with light. It's absolutely gorgeous! Lots of space and a built in entertainment area for our TV and music system. Plus it's wired for surround sound. All we have to do is mount our speakers and plug them into the existing system!
This is the formal dining room, just off the entry at the front of the house. We'll actually use it as a Donavan Covey room -or just my little sitting room. I may someday (soon, I hope) teach my own etiquette classes and this is the perfect set up. No one has to traipse through the house and it's close to the kitchen for easy access to tea and coffee for visitors.

Another HUGE plus is there is a mother-in-law suite downstairs off the living room. Now we can have guests stay without bothering them or visa versa. No walking through the house in bath towels creating embarrassing situations.

Upstairs is a huge master bedroom with a lovely walk in closet -that even has a window! We'll finally be able to see our clothes. The bathrooms are wonderful -simple but clean and quality. Wilder's room is right across from a good size laundry room and an open area that is PERFECT for a playroom. Wilder and his friends will be able to play upstairs while we have grown up talk with the adults in the living room below. We'll be able to keep tabs on everyone and still have some separation.

The home is in a small cul de sac where Wilder can safely ride his tricycle around without me worrying. We are two blocks from the neighborhood playground, sand volleyball and beautiful private pool. It's fabulous!

A home like this would cost 3xs the price in Alaska and 30xs the price in L.A. -the two other places we were considering. I never dreamed our first home would be something like this.

We're putting an offer on it tomorrow morning. We'll keep you posted...hopefully we'll be spending the rest of the day celebrating and perusing home style magazines.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Day 12: Amarillo to Austin -We Made It!

In Amarillo we ate breakfast at a deluxe truck stop featuring a slew of restaurants, deciding on Buck Horn with it's grandiose buffet. The number of ball caps and pot bellies was astounding -as was the herd of semis parked outside.
Heading Southeast we passed -you guessed it!- more fields...
...and more po-dunk towns, though their dilapidated state was rather charming in a sad sort of way.
We secured a wonderful, albeit short, visit with Brian's brother Barry and his lovely girlfriend Christine. They were in between a wedding and it's reception nearby and the timing worked out perfectly.
Pulling off the I-35 and into a Starbucks on the corner we drove up as they were walking in. A huge, frozen mocha latte later we left them to their joyous festivities and we headed for...
Cracker Barrel!! It's my Disneyland away from Disneyland. We ate lunch then wandered around the country store, tempted to buy tons of things we didn't need. Brian almost broke his rule of buying things for Wilder before he is born to get a complete cowboy outfit and a Longhorn's jersey, but he used his self control. I am amazed I didn't walk out with a bag full of goodies. I'm doing good!
Here's Fort Worth! This is about when all the trees started reappearing -a wonderful scenic transition.
Yeah, it's a crappy picture, but it's a "sign" -get it! I have my own town named after me! I was meant to live in central Texas. (Note: I'm being facetious.)
Betty knew we were coming and she baked a cake! A TEXAS shaped cake at that, celebrating our big move, end of the journey and arrival home. Let me tell you, Texas is delicious -especially covered in chocolate.
The family: Brian, Barry, Betty and Brooke.

We are SO glad to be done driving and finally here. I have to say today's journey came with a flood of mixed emotions. I have been trying to leave Alaska for the past five years and today I finally have. I know our journey began 12 days ago but as we drove the area that I will soon become intimately connected with as we settle and begin a family, a mix of sadness and excitement, with a touch of apprehension swirled within. Texas isn't completely foreign to me; I've visited Austin with Brian twice before and simply adored it. I imagine it is a similar feeling a child has when transferring schools in the middle of the year. Will I make new friends, will I like this area, will I do well in establishing myself here and finding my niche? There are so many thrilling and frightening things in beginning life in a new area. Thankfully the "thrilling" feelings outweigh the "frightening" and I am tickled pink to be here with Brian's fabulous family!

Tomorrow is a designated "Pool Day" -we're wearing our swimsuits from sun up to sun down, looking at houses online, spending time with family, and enjoying not being in a car. The end of the journey doesn't mean the end of the blog posts, so stay tuned! I can't wait to share our house hunting experiences with you -there are more corny stories and photos to come! Thanks for coming along for the ride.


Related Posts with Thumbnails