Friday, December 23, 2005

Recent viewings

We've been watching movies again lately, and I realized that I have gotten out of the habit of posting about them. Sorry! The newest one is of course King Kong, which was very enjoyable, but still depressing. I was a little disappointed in Peter Jackson's directing -- he seemed to shoot it like it was another 3-part epic, but it's not. The special effects were very good however. I rate it a 6 overall. Not long before that, we finally watched The Notebook. This I also rate a 6, because although many scenes were enjoyable I found the story kind of predictable. The characters did not really draw me in to feel connected. Also, we saw Crash recently. Justin put it best -- it was an attempt to remake Magnolia that falls short. This one also gets a 6. Again, there were some scenes that I particularly enjoyed. But the various connecting stories don't really take you anywhere and you don't feel like there has been any arc in the end. Lastly, we've starting watching the TV series "Alias". We're in the middle of season 1 and enjoying it so far. It is so much better when you can sit down and watch all the episodes without commercials and waiting a week inbetween. So what if we have to start watching 4 or 5 years later?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Yes, the long-awaited "moved-in" pictures are here! You can see the dining room set up, with our temporary plant stands (they are actually speaker stands), and a couple pictures on the wall. We still like the modularity of the lifetime tables, because when we aren't planning to have people over we can move them around and create more open space here. Also, I think we are going to leave the windows pretty much bare, as we love the view too much to cover it up! We may just add a little bit of color with some simple drapes to go on the sides, but it will be some time before we'll have money for that anyway. Posted by Picasa

This is the great room, which I now call the library. Our old bookcase wouldn't fit next to the fireplace, but luckily these intermetro shelves did go in just perfectly! This is the first Christmas tree we have put up in many years, and I can't even remember actually hanging stockings in the past. Posted by Picasa

And what do we like best? Times like this, with the tree lights on and the sun setting through all the awesome windows. Posted by Picasa

Here is a better view of that sunset from out on the deck. As you can probably guess, we are really excited about being able to actually use the deck once the weather gets warm! Posted by Picasa

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Silent Nights

Yes things are settling down as far as the house goes. Of course, now the rest of life has decided to pick up the slack and keep us busy. The holidays are a big part of that -- we still have one gift left to get to finish our shopping. Sooner or later I really will post some more pictures of the inside of the house with all our stuff in it. One of the things that Justin and I are enjoying most is the awesome view out of the library and dining rooms. Kansas Sunsets help keep each evening memorable. On those few nights that we are actually together at the right time, it's even romantic.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The first snow in our new house and it's a doozy!! Justin will be able to stay in shape just shoveling all that driveway. Posted by Picasa

Here is a shot of our huge back yard from our awesome deck. You can see that there was quite a lot of accummulation and low winds by the height of the snow that stayed on the small deck rail. Yes, it does look pretty... but man is it cold!! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Still getting homey

Bit by bit, we are getting more and more settled into the house. Last week we put up a new Christmas tree. We haven't decorated one in years, and it even though it is 9' tall, it looks kind of dwarfed in our library. Last night we hung up all our movie posters, which definitely gives the walls a "lived-in" feel. Being able to see familiar pictures about is also helping me to think of this as "my" house. There is still a part of me that can't really believe it... but I'm getting there. To celebrate this effort, we decided to watch one of the movies that is depicted on our posters. We chose Fight Club, which I enjoyed a little bit more this time around yet I'm sticking to my rating of 7. Yes, I have found the CF card reader but haven't had a chance to transfer the pictures over yet. I want to take some new ones with the posters and the Christmas tree up, so I'll get you all up to date soon.

Monday, November 14, 2005

A house slowly becomes a Home

Yes, we made it! We are moved in and now unpacking and arranging all our junk. Despite having to escrow for the sod, the lawn is now in and everything is working fine. We just got the washing machine lines fixed today (don't ask). Anyway, I took some new pictures with the grass and the new trees, but now I can't seem to find the CF card reader, so you'll have to wait to see them. I've been sleeping here for... what is it?... four nights so far, and I'm still in shock. I guess I have been subconsciously guarding myself against a disaster, so I haven't really embraced the concept. Now we are actually living in this *amazing* house and it feels like a dream. Probably once all the boxes are unpacked and all the junk is put away, it'll finally become a true home. Anyway, for the snail-mail folks out there, our new address is:

6020 Alden St.
Shawnee, KS 66216

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Some more sobering news

We found out during lunch today that Justin's grandmother passed away early yesterday morning. She had been struggling with cancer for awhile and had declined rapidly since his grandfather died last year. It was a little sooner than expected, but still peaceful. We will be attending her funeral on Wednesday.

Cruise in Review

Let me preface the following summary by saying that after our experience, Justin and I have decided that we will not ever cruise on Carnival again. I was worried about the ship not being quite big enough, but even the space they did have was used more for things Justin and I aren't interested in -- namely, lots of bars and a big casino. Furthermore, we probably won't fly to Orlando again if we can avoid it. I hadn't really considered the Disney factor ahead of time, but a couple of plane flights full of screaming children will make me more cautious in the future. We did enjoy ourselves overall, and after everything (stress and house included), I am very glad we went. Day 0 We started out with a long, cramped bus ride from the airport to bay. The weather was pretty grey and windy, which didn't seem to bode well either. After standing in many long lines, we finally made it on the ship and had our first of many buffet meals. (Note: Be sure to fast for a few days before going on a cruise because you will more than make up for it while on board.) We walked around and explored the ship most of the afternoon and met my parents in the fancy dining room for dinner. Travel is hard work, so we bascially crashed that night. Here is a picture I took from our room balcony, looking out to Port Canaveral. You can see in the background, another cruise ship -- of course, of the Disney line.  Posted by Picasa

Day 1 The weather was not so great this day, and the waves were still pretty rocky. Thus, I wasn't terribly surprised when after scooting around Nassau for an hour, our port there was cancelled. Apparently, the cold front was enough to prevent the port authorities from being able to escort the cruise ship into harbor safely. Carnival credited us $25 per person for missing the port, and instead tried to fill the day with their "fun" activies. Justin and I did our usual walking around on deck, reading, and homework. We worked out in the gym that evening and watched Fantasic Four in our room. Here is a photograph of our room with the first of our towel animals (a dog, I think). Posted by Picasa

Day 2 Happy Holloween!! This was a busy day on board, actually. We took the morning slow; I did some reading while Justin went to a Home Theatre seminar. After lunch, there was an ice sculpture demonstration. Although I missed most of the work, I saw the end result of a witch on a broom -- very cool. Then we hung out by the pool for a bit until my brother and my dad finished with their ping-pong contest. After losing out, they rewarded themselves by going down the waterslide. We played a little shuffleboard, which was pretty funny in the high wind. Then we watched the boys try to play some basketball before the freethrow contest. After dinner, Justin and I walked around on deck. Then he worked on some homework while I played cards with the rest of the family. Here is a rare shot I got of my dad with the ball amongst the other basketball players. Posted by Picasa

We saw the best sunset of the cruise this night. Posted by Picasa

Day 2 continued Of course being Halloween, many people brought costumes. We were playing cards during the parade around the ship, so I didn't see many then, but we did attend the costume contest later that night. Unfortunately, they had the stage lights turned down to make it seem more "spooky" or something, so none of the pictures I took look very good. It wasn't such a terrible loss though since I didn't see many really cool costumes. Here is one of the better shots during the contest, to give you an idea. Posted by Picasa

Day 3 A day at Saint Thomas -- where they have the BOB!! Our excursion wasn't until noon, so we decided we'd try to walk downtown first. On our way there, we were rained on a little, and realized that downtown was too far to make it there and back before lunch. Anyway, we did enjoy the BOB experience just as much this time as we did two years ago. I also took a lot more time to snorkel and spotted a big sea turtle as well as some sword-nose fish. We got back to the boat and showered, and then took a Skyride excursion up to Paradise Point. We were hoping for a great view as well as a beautiful sunset, but the clouds blocked most of the sun's color. At least the view was pretty wonderful. My brother took this picture of us at Paradise Point, overlooking the bay. Posted by Picasa

Day 4 This day we docked at Saint Maartin, in Phillipsburg (I think), which is on the Dutch side. We didn't have any excursions planned so the idea was just to walk around along the beach. Of course, being the early risers that we are, we were one of the few people off the boat around 7:00am. Thus, all the street hagglers were free to harass us with their excellent shopping opportunities, or taxi rides, or beach chairs, or jet skis. Despite the interference, we did walk all the way up and down the beach and I took a few pictures. But I wasn't enjoying the surf so much, because I didn't have a swimsuit on. So we went back to the boat, napped, ate lunch, changed, and then came back to the beach. This time, with more people out, it was easier to avoid the hagglers. We played around in the water for over an hour, then walked back to boat and showered for dinner. I played cards with my family while Justin worked on homework before bed. Here is a shot I took while on the beach of Justin looking off to the ships. The one on the right is actually the Royal Carribean Explorer of the Seas, which is the ship we were on two years ago. Next to it on the left (cut in half in this picture), is our current ship, the Carnival Glory. Posted by Picasa

Day 5 More fun at sea. Actually, more reading, relaxing, napping, doing homework, attending seminars, and just plain doing nothing. While Justin attended a Home Theatre conference in the morning, I did a little bit of shopping on board. After lunch, we went to a surround sound music demo, which was pretty good except that I had a seat right next to a speaker so my "surround" was weighted heavily to one corner. We then went and watched the cruise director put on a newlywed game, which was pretty funny. We walked around deck a lot and tried to take some pictures of the sunset -- the clouds just weren't cooperating. After dinner we watched 'Mr. & Mrs. Smith', which got cut off about 10 minutes before the end. It only proves to me how little Carnival seems to care about quality. Here is a fairly good shot that Justin took of me in front of the sunset that night. Posted by Picasa

Day 6 Yet another "fun" day at sea, according to Carnival. Actually, I did enjoy this relaxing day before the end of the cruise. I basically laid around a did a lot of reading, while Justin attended some more Home Theatre seminars. After lunch, I joined Justin for the panel discussion about Blue-ray versus HD DVD formats, which turned out be very informative. (I am hoping that HD DVD wins out, even if it has fewer Hollywood studios behind it.) Then the family played another round of Progressive and I won!! After a quick dinner, Justin and I attended the Home Theatre end party and auction for the Elf Foundation (they put theatres in children's wings of hospitals). We watched $45,500 of stuff get bid on, most of which was more than $1,000 a piece. It was a very interesting experience. Finally, we packed to get ready for the big day of travel coming up. Here is a picture of the family playing cards. Posted by Picasa
Day 7 I finally had breakfast in the sit-down dining room on the last morning, since they started serving at a reasonable hour (6:30am). The eggs benedict was awesome. After that we basically started the debarkation, which is waiting in a bunch of lines. Then we waited for our bus to the airport. Then we waited to get on the plane. Then we flew. Then we picked up luggage and drove home. And then we changed to go look at the status of the house. The deck and driveway were finished, but still no sod. We feel comfortable with closing tomorrow. I should be able to post more pictures once we actually start moving. Whew! I think that's enough for now

Friday, October 28, 2005

The skin of my teeth

Well, we haven't broken free of the curse yet. At the walk-through yesterday there was yet another surprise overage that increased the house price by another percent. No amount of discussion with the builder has helped him understand our budget/planning process. Basically, it appears the entire construction industry is set up to screw the buyer at the last minute. And right now, with a building boom going on, they get away with it even more. We have considered cancelling the cruise. Actually, we have considered this several times, but I never really took it seriously until yesterday. There are still a lot of last-minute things that need to be done on the house, and I believe that our scheduled closing is in jeopardy. But the truth is, we don't really have any control over these last items, so staying will probably not make a difference. I have my suitcase 90% packed and am currently planning on flying out tomorrow. Who knows what may happen between now and 5am tomorrow?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Coming to a head

It is now less than 48 hours until we leave for our cruise. It is also a little less than 9 hours from our first walk-through with the builder at our house. I was hoping for this to be a "real" walk-through, but that isn't possible because we still don't have electricity, a drive-way, a deck, or many other small things. We have yet to figure out how to fit in another review before closing on Monday 11/7 after the cruise, but that hasn't been officially scheduled yet either. Anyway, I packed two more boxes last night and threw a couple of items into a suitcase. Not nearly enough for moving or cruising, but a start nonetheless. All I need now is to be laid off again and I'll have my stress quota filled for the next decade!

Monday, October 24, 2005

A moment of respect

Late last week the father of my sister's boyfriend passed away. Although I didn't know him personally, I know that this loss was pretty sudden and so the impact on everyone in that family will be great. My condolences go to all of them, especially Eric and Sandra. We are all wishing you the best during this difficult event. We will miss you on the cruise next week, but understand that you will need the time for healing. Know that you are in our hearts and minds.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

As promised (though a little late as usual), here are a couple of pictures with color! We went with a strong green on all the walls -- it's not as dark as it appears in this poor photo. You can also see the tile is a light, marble-ish tan that covers the entire floor of the kitchen, dining room and hallways. Posted by Picasa

In the great room, the fireplace tile is up, but not yet grouted. There will be carpet where that open spot on the floor is. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 13, 2005

A date has been set!

Closing is scheduled to happen on 11/7 -- right when we get back from our cruise. Back when we signed a contract last December, I joked that we'd be signing the papers for the house and then have to rush off to the airport to go on our vacation. Not quite as I predicted oh so long ago, but everything is coming together all at the same time. Oh well, at least the long saga will soon be over. Justin has ordered a POD that should be delivered as I am writing this. We will start to pack it up and then have it moved probably the day after closing. In what little free time I have now, I'll be helping him fill it up. It's going to be interesting since I can't take any additional time off from work. Also, I should be putting up some new pictures soon -- ones with color on the walls. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


After sending out an email to notify everyone of the latest pictures of the house, one of my friends asked me the simple question, "Can I get an RSS feed of your blog?" This is one of the reasons I am really enjoying -- the answer was easy! It's already enabled and I didn't even realize it. For those of you that know what I'm talking about, use the following URL: I have also added this link to the side-bar. Technology is cool!

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Here is some viewable progress to look at on the house!!

They have started preparing the outside for all the stucco. Justin hopes to use the scaffolding to trim the trees some more. Posted by Picasa

This picture is taken from inside the kitchen, behind the island. Sorry about the bad focus. At least you can tell we went with very simplistic trim. I am really happy with the way the fireplace turned out.  Posted by Picasa

This is a view from the front door, across the library and into the dining room. The quality of this picture is a little better so you might be able to tell that the corners are rounded. Posted by Picasa

And here's one of my favorite parts -- the kitchen. The cabinets haven't been finished yet, but you can sort of see the simple, "Mission style" faces. I can't wait to see them next to our stainless steel appliances! Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 12, 2005

Still breathing

Yes, the house is progressing. No, I'm sorry there aren't new pictures -- the changes are harder to see now, since they are working more on the "little details". I will definitely put some up after the painting is done. Yes, Justin is still in school, and I am still at US Central. No, nothing exciting has been happening. Thanks for checking in. Only 47 days left before cruising!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Non-visual Update

Things are moving along with the house, but not worth pictures at this point. Just the plumbing and electrical mostly. According to the builder, they should start putting in insulation by the end of this week, and after that the dry-wallers will come in. Right now, Justin and I are finalizing our choices for tile, carpet, colors, etc. This is the fun part, but it is also time consuming. I'll be glad when we've settled with our picks and then can just wait. Otherwise, our lives are pretty quiet. I am still trying to adjust to the chaos that is my new job. It is slowly moving in the right direction there, in large part due to the fact that I now have the most seniority on my team. By December when my contract is up, I will be able to tell if they have the capability to be a place I want to stay at for the long term. Justin is starting school again in a couple weeks. He wants to finish up an electronics program at the community college but the interest is fairly low, so there is a chance some of the classes will be cancelled. Other than that, we are excitedly awaiting the cruise! Only 80 more days!

Sunday, July 31, 2005

You can start to see what the house will really look like inside now. Here is a shot of the great room taken while standing in the kitchen. Posted by Picasa

And this one is sort of the reverse -- standing in the hallway near the great room, looking out to the kitchen/dining room. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Slow progress is being made on the house. The framers should finally be done tomorrow, and the roofers can begin putting down the actual roofing tile. At least it looks like a house from all angles now! Posted by Picasa

Here is a picture of the back, where eventually a deck will be. This is taken from about the middle of the backyard -- which is huge. Posted by Picasa