Monday, February 28, 2011

Saturdays when we are not house-hunting:)

We've almost graduated to doing somewhat normal Saturday things. Our kids are long overdue for some things like learning to ride a bike. We got new tubes for the little kids. The big boys got bikes for Christmas. Matt sold my bike in the interim homelessness so it won't be a complete family affair but it's ok because Alena and Sam won't be sailing along for a while. We "rode" along the canal to the park and back.

Matt does NOT like helpers but Brig is an awefully cute helper. He helps make the job very long and arduous. Take a bolt off, immediately loose said bolt. I get a bit of satisfaction when Matt gets a taste of what every minute of my day is like (except that he's not around for me to say "Matt! Come get Brigham.").
Alena needed lots of snack breaks.

An of course, there had to be a snake in the canal. Matt had to show off the snake and Brigham's heart was broken because not only did mom NOT take him down into the canal, dad did not let him have the snake to play with.

Poor, poor Briggy.

Last weekend we got to enjoy the NASA Space Center. President's Day deal-buy one ticket get the next for a Quarter. SWEET!
We didn't get very many pictures. We should've taken a picture of our yummy lunch too. We recommend a great pizza place called Pomodoros very near the Space Center if you aren't having lunch with an astronaut which also sounds like fun.
My dear sweet daughter has a VERY naughty habit of dashing off even after she's told that "No. She may not go back into the playplace again." We had quite a lost child scare. She ran off (intentionally) no less than 3 times before we packed her into the car crying and called it a day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

30 minute meals

So my sister Ashley has begun a very helpful blog I would like to recommend. She is an epicurean follower of Jamie Oliver.
Her blog (oh my goodness, I just figured out how to do that. woohoo!!) My Jamie Oliver Experiment is FAB.
The video of him she posted on salads(I'll figure that one out one of these days:)) is really amazing. He does brilliant things with salad!
Check it out-be inspired-eat healthier-and do it in LESS TIME!!!!!!!!
She puts lots of helpful info in there-keeping it real.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


George Washington, Chopin,
Lord Baden Powell,
Steve Irwin,

Dr. J,

Agent Matthew Stecher Esq.(who turned 37 today),
AND last and very least at 7lbs 13oz is . . . Christopher Jack Sarlo, my GREAT nephew:)
Christopher, you have a lot to live up to!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

House Hunting {Part 2}

I Have Learned. . .
Check the school district FIRST.
We evidently didn't look into that enough. We decided against the house we put on offer on after discussing the area with the local ward. Turns out it's not up to snuff. I had a feeling. That also nixes that beautiful custom kitchen house from the other post.

Photos can be incredibly deceiving.
The other house I posted was JUNK. 4 dogs lived there. I would still swear by cigarette smoke though I was the only one who smelled it. The floors were done badly and on and on.
I have no house-hunting sense AT ALL.
We spent the ENTIRE day looking at houses today with all 5 kids in tow. The kids were marvelous but I'm . . . I need to be sent to bed.
Here are the 4 we chose to see with a realtor.
1. This is Matt's choice. It's a foreclosure with what he feels is great investment opportunity. The realtor is supportive and agrees with him but says there will be investors and our likely hood of actually getting the house is slim. It needs all new flooring(except the kitchen) and a few other minor things and the pool needs to be drained and cleaned. We like it that it's a fenced off pool and there's still a yard. The neighborhood is really uppity so the investment part of it is great. I'll spare you my opinion for the moment.

2. Another good investment has random updates that didn't include the kitchen. Has a whole apt above the garage that's marvelous. If we got this one anyone who visited me would be VERY fortunate. However there are some serious power lines behind it.
3. This is an absolutely beautiful house. Wouldn't need much if anything. Backyard was smallish if I'm remembering properly. I love the game room which has doors. Well, I'd probably paint some but that doesn't even really count. It's in a wonderful neighborhood. I believe it's on a golf course. It's terrific. It's also, apparently suddenly under contract. Not so much in the investment arena either.
4. And the ONLY house that I've really fallen for. I have REALLY unusual taste in houses which is not good for resale. This is old, not a great kitchen(although they did say they'd put in granite for the buyer to replace the hideous green) It's so efficient. Ok, here I go. Nobody get offended I know I'm very unusual. I don't like vaulted ceilings pretty much for the reasons Carissa mentioned before. I really don't. I get so sick of the same old floor plan. I don't get the purpose of a front yard. This house has a stone-walled courtyard in the front. So romantic and friendly. So private and perfect. The house itself is open and odd. Admittedly odd in so many ways. It's small. But the backyard has two wonderful Southern Magnolias to be climbed and it looks out onto the golf course. For a family with little kids the pool is very safe. I can send a child into the backyard and not worry about them getting into the pool. Anyway. I'm almost embarrassed that I wouldn't want these grand cloned houses. I think I belong to another planet:) I threw our realtor for a loop that this was the only house I was interested in. Probably a horrible investment. Nobody but me would buy it:)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

First Bust

K, now that my blog is private, I would like to record the first night of the rest of Matt's career.

Matt signed up for a bust that they needed agents to participate in. I was excited for him. Later I found out that it was scheduled to take place through the night. Mmm. "Ok, still excited for you."

He didn't have to go into work until 4pm that day-cool. We spent the day looking at houses.

5-6pm I could no longer communicate with him.

7:30pm kids in bed and I'm feeling pretty good to have some time to myself again.(I LOVE co-habitating but I became pretty accustomed to having a LOT of time to myself. I've always enjoyed the amazing amount of productiveness that I can reach alone)

I finished organizing the closet and the medicines, toiletries and first-aid supplies that have been packed on at least 4 seperate occasions while listening to 'Atlas Shrugged'.

11pm went to bed after I finally got a text from Matt saying he hoped to be home around 1-2am. Gave myself a pep-talk "Amber, you will NOT wake up worried, he'll definitely be later than he thinks, he always is. . ."

2am ZING! wide awake, Matt's not here. "Go back to sleep, go back to sleep . . ."
2:30am still awake. Recieve text "have to wait for ... to take subjects then I'll be home." me-"go to sleep."
3am dozing off. "MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM" It's Brigham. bottle, owl blanket. Back to bed.
3:30am last time I remember the clock
6am ZING! No matt. "Go back to sleeep" oh,there's a text from Matt hopinghe'll be leaving at 6:30am.
7am "DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAD" Brig. I wasn't sleeping anyway.
7:30am text from Matt "waiting for one subject's interview to finish" Eli's making pancakes. I'm stumbling around getting people dressed etc
8:27am text from Matt "just now leaving."
Fed him, put him to bed. He was awake around 2pm.

We went looking at houses that afternoon. Matt says
"I'm going to go out for SWAT . . ."

My thoughts:
1) I like an 8-5ish job but the occasional off-schedule is fun.
2)I'm HORRIBLE at sitting home and wondering if my husband is getting shot at or even just wondering what he's seeing and how it's all going.
3)When I'm up all night wondering if he's getting shot at, when do I make up for that loss of sleep?
4) Am I going to get used to this? I know that other people do. I guess it will be good for me, help me let go? Perhaps it will prepare me for having teen-agers?
5)I am happy, that he is happy.

Our tiny attempts at Valentine's Day were, for the most part, prompted by Alena. She's in love with the holiday. She loves hearts, pink and red, making cards for people, showing love, and eating treats. She would've done more really but it was just lucky for us I could find paper to make Valentine's cards:)
My personal favorite Valentine this year came from Luke. See the red paper with the very modern 'MOM' on it. Luke made it. I'll be sad to retire that one in March.

The Four Seasons

I really don't know who said Houston doesn't have four seasons, they most certainly do.
Well, winter is more of an event that occurs in January sometime from what I understand.
Then summer 1 comes when that's over.
Next is HELL but I haven't quite figured out when that starts-in July from what I can tell.

And then there's summer 2. Ah you say, but how is that different from summer 1? well. Those bravest of diciduous trees loose their leaves during summer 2 and during summer 1, they get them back.

And there you have it, 4-seasons.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A few new things

I learned a couple of things tonight.

1. If you're from north of I-10 you're a Yankee. Mmmm.

2. There is another restaurant besides the incredible 'Alicia's' around the corner from my house that I will be craving. sigh. It is Redfish Seafood and Sushi grill and their shrimp tempura is unforgettable. I can't wait to go back.

3. Um, hard to remember because I can only seem to think about that food. Oh yes. Babysitters who are old enough to drive, love to babysit, go by the store to pick out a new craft to bring, get excited about my children knowing the word 'decoupage' and are disappointed that so many of them were asleep are well worth $10/hr.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Endlessly House-hunting

Please offer Advice and feedback!!!!!!!
So we're here. We're house-hunting practically full-time, or so it feels. We actually put a bid on a short sale and I wanted to post some pictures but it has been taken off the MLS. I guess while they consider our offer???? The decisions are really tough though. Here are the requirements I'm sure about:
must have great kitchen
must have at least 4 bedrooms
must have big yard
must be good quality-no laminate cabinets etc
must not need too much work
must be open from the kitchen to the breakfast area and "den"
must have good resale potential

Then what I must decide because I can't seem to find "it all"
pool or no pool
backyard neighbors or not(which I don't want but which are very common)
green space or no
efficiency(no vaulted ceilings)
proximaty to matt's work

are a couple that we're looking at. The first one we're going to see for the second time Saturday. The kitchen is a dream It's a bit tight upstairs. Backyard is nice with a tall fence to blockout neighbors.
We haven't seen the second one but it's 2 blks or so from the church:) AND, the yard's a dream for Houston. Can't wait to see it.
I wish I could post the other one. It's gorgeous. About four min away from the Crystal Point house, don't know about the area though. Only time will tell:0

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Battle of the Boxes!

It was looking like I would loose. Boxes had a whole new ally-paper. The movers loaded those boxes with paper. Brown was all I could see. Then a light at the end of the tunnel appeared-the trash guys! As you can see from the picture, it's still going to be a close call but since they come not just once, but twice/week-I think I'll come out on top eventually.
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Farewell New Jersey

I've said good-bye to New Jersey many times before. Somehow we've always ended up back here. I don't think that will be the case this time.
Here are some things that I'm really going to miss.
Matt's family.

The Jersey Shore--Avalon to be specific.

The farm.

The pick-your-own-produce part of the Garden State.

The proximity to cultural and historical sites that cannot be equaled anywhere in the US.

Well-balanced seasons
(usually well-balanced)