Blog Archives for category Raves & Praise

It was all I could do to not buy it all. 

I missed this last year so when I saw it today at Target I had to buy some, even though the last thing I need to be doing before we move is buying more stuff.

 

Phew! Our house hunting saga is over!

I thought I had posted about this but looking back, I apparently didn’t.

About two weeks ago, our agent just sent us an unlisted listing—a client of hers who she happened to be sitting with. It looked really good…not perfect but good. A four bedroom/three bath, 3-car garage, ranch. Pets okay. Finished basement. On a dead end street. With a yard. In the approximate area we want. And he would hold it for us. And they’re military. And did I mention it had a THREE-CAR GARAGE? And it was a RANCH??!?!

But he wanted to start the rent at $2400 (already over budget) and raise it the next two years. We tried to tell ourselves the money would be fine. BECAUSE IT’S A RANCH WITH A 3-CAR GARAGE AND FINISHED BASEMENT.

We got more pictures that night (of course, her text came in at 11pm our time so there was no going to bed then) and our agent said she’d ask about the rent. But the more we looked at it and talked about it, it seemed really good. So of course we thought there has to be a catch because the odds of something good just dropping into our laps like this is not what happens to us. So we rushed to get a friend in to check out the house and take pics for us (our agent couldn’t be the one to do that because of stupid real estate rules so we HAD to have someone else do it). And there were some strange things about it, but overall they were all workable because DID I MENTION IT WAS A 3-CAR GARAGE RANCH?!?!

Well, it turns out the whole thing was a debacle and a big fat fail. I can’t even tell you all the details because I think I’m blocking it from my brain, but basically, they were total turds and apparently the wife didn’t know the husband was planning on renting it? Or they were just casually thinking of renting it when our situation popped up so they tried to make it work but it didn’t (we think they were going to move to something cheaper while trying to make money on us so they didn’t have anywhere planned to go). So when we ended up being serious and asking about a few minor things (an above-stove microwave instead of the countertop one, a garage door opener for the third garage, leaving the carpet they wanted to replace but replacing the kitchen linoleum instead) they freaked out and said they weren’t going to rent. GRRR. I’m sure that saved us from future nightmares (because OMG there was some freaky stuff in that house, but not freaky enough to overlook it being a ranch with a 3-car garage). So needless to say we were really bummed.

We knew we had house hunting time scheduled, but we were still getting paranoid about getting something decent because houses are literally only on the market for HOURS, maybe a few days at most. And rentals that take pets are, of course, rare. So we knew we may have to act quickly if something we really liked came up.

So, fast forward two weeks and we happen upon a listing in Zillow that is nowhere else. Long story short, it was somehow mislabeled as an apartment instead of a house and we still aren’t quite sure how we ran across it. Call our agent, get some details, get more pics, yada yada, looks great, but we have to rush because two other people are set to see it later that week so if we want it we have to MOVE. So we beg our lovely local friend Scott to give us a Facetime walkthrough…which he graciously did…and we really liked it. So rush rush rush to arrange everything, deal with the owner (through our agent) who is not using an agent himself so that’s SO MUCH FUN (not)…and a bunch of real estate drama later we have a house! YIKES! We will still go up later this month to actually see it in person (though it’s ours at this point regardless) and register the kids for school and all that fun stuff but we can breathe a sigh of relief now…

Google earth shots—look at that yard! And how flat it is! HEAVEN!!!!

The neighbor’s fence. We will have two sides of a fence. :lol:

    

This is a living area/dining room. If our table fits nicely in the eat-in kitchen this will all be living space. I’m also thinking this is where my new tall Christmas tree will be going… ;)

        

Not quite the kitchen I was hoping for, though it is nice and I do like the wraparound counter and we will hopefully have room for at least two barstools and this will be the first time ever we’ve had a backsplash!

    Another living space—not quite sure how the TV will work because we won’t be putting it there.

Look at all the natural light! And it looks out onto the back yard!

The guest room! We thought it was the master but during the walk-through we learned otherwise.  

When we were watching the walk-through, Katie was sitting with us and when they got to the pink bedroom she exclaimed “That’s my room!!” There are four bedrooms (all upstairs). The basement has an office (or room without a closet), a HUGE storage room and separate utility room, and a decent sized finished area with room for a play area…and a pool table (!!) and big pool hall light that are staying. (I am sure we will end up using it, but Tom is already planning on building a cover for it to make me a craft table or something.) There was also a swing hanging from the ceiling, so Katie was VERY excited about that. Tom told her it would be going with them, but I said we could surely put one up now that we know where it can go! I don’t think there will be room for the bounce house, but at this house we can use it IN THE YARD!

So overall we’re happy. It’s a big house (2700sf) on a flat street with sidewalks and we have a long flat driveway. We have a big front yard, side yard, and back yard (Tom is already thinking about what mower he’s going to upgrade to since our little electric one won’t cut it—pun not intended but it was too good to edit out). We are under two miles from both the Primary (PK/K) and Elementary (1-3) schools and just under three miles from the Intermediate school (4-5). The schools will take some getting used to as they are HUGE! The PK/K alone is about 700 students (about the size of Owen’s entire elementary PK-5) and the Elementary is about 1700! YIKES. One small thing I’m bummed about is that Owen and Katie will never attend the same school—she will be in K when he’s in 3rd and then she will move to that building for 1st but he will be in the next building! GRRR! I guess that’s a small thing in the grand scheme of things, but right now I just envision it being an annoyance. Oh well, it will all be a new adventure for sure!

Partisan Pig Feast + More!

A Tivo-peep/Michigan friend, Therese, was in town for a conference, so we threw together a last-minute dinner downtown at The Partisan (I was thrilled to go there because that’s a dinner we recently missed when Tom had to be in Chicago for work).

The menu changes daily (and I forgot to take a picture of it—I’m slacking in my old age) so I checked their website hoping for tonight’s selection…but it wasn’t meant to be. That said, most of the items were still listed. I’m fairly sure you will be able to tell which descriptions are from the actual menu I found. (I also didn’t take pictures of the dishes like I normally would—so all the food pictures below (minus one) are all from TCF peep friend Jonathon.) As is usual practice, we all ordered a bunch of stuff then shared everything.

Three of us ordered this (which means everyone got to try it all). Unfortunately, none of the courses were listed so I’m going by memory:

– Lamb Koobideh Kebab, Doner Spice, Sumac Onions, Coriander Yogurt, Mint

– Beef Fat Fries, Roasted Garlic, Rosemary, Ranch Aioli
– “Head shoulders knees and toes” taquitos (Pig Feast course #1)

– Seared Scallops, & Morcilla [blood] Sausage, Adobo Cream, Lardo, Agave (ordered off menu but it was also Pig Feast course #3 so we had double portions!)
– Dan Dan Noodles with Beef Cheek

– Prosciutto and asparagus (Pig Feast course #2)

– Pasta with pig face ragout (Pig Feast course #4)

– Pork tenderloin with fava beans, polenta, and arugula (Pig Feast course #5)

It was at this point that Tom said “Well, I think that’s it!” And then the waiter brought out two more dishes! :)

– Rotissi-fried Chicken, Honey Hot Sauce

– Chocolate Cake Donut Holes, Chocolate Pudding, Chocolate Crunch Pearls

And the only food pic I took myself—my share of the dessert plate:

Goodbye selfie:

Where are my iFly pictures and videos?! (Part 2)

This is a combined post with four days of waiting and replies.

April 10—4:34pm

The next day they replied that they had found them and emailed them all to me free of charge. Except they were all of Katie! (Looking on the bright side, I now had like eight free photos of Katie instead of paying $5 a piece.) Soooo I emailed back and asked about them again, saying I hated to be such a pain about this but this was my bucket list experience and I had really wanted the photo. They replied with links to pictures…but they were the same photos of Katie they had already sent! So I fired off another email thanking them for all the pictures but explaining AGAIN that they were not pictures of ME.

April 12—1:51pm

Two days go by with no response so I email them again, casually asking if there was any update. 

April 14—12:54pm

TWO DAYS LATER I get an email apologizing for the delayed response (she had been off work) and saying “Unfortunately I was unable to find your photos, but we would be happy to send you a voucher for you to come back and fly for free so that we may find your photos.”

April 14—2:05pm

I receive the email voucher for two free flights.

And then I proceeded to write this strongly-worded feedback for their survey—which I also emailed to their corporate office.

Our instructor was awesome and we all had an amazing time and I was thrilled to check something off my bucket list. I do, however, have two HUGE suggestions (I will also be writing corporate as I believe it would be beneficial company-wide).

One, kids under a certain age should be required to do a practice run on the bench in the classroom to get the feel of it. While there isn’t much to remember, even I (as a 42yo) kind of forgot everything the first moment I stepped into the chamber. So you can imagine what happens to an 8yo and 4yo! They did well and had fun, but my son had spaghetti legs one whole flight and the instructor spent an inordinate amount of time wrangling him. I think had he practiced on the table first, he may have had a better idea on what to do.

Two, guests with long hair should be strongly recommended or even required to have their hair braided, in a cap, or at the very least tucked up inside their helmet. You could even provide a cap (like you provide earplugs). I have long hair (to the middle of my back). I did ask the best way to deal with it and was briefly told a braid or a low ponytail. So I opted for the easy solution of a low ponytail. BIG MISTAKE. I didn’t realize until after we were done that my hair was a huge knotted mess. When I tried to deal with it the following morning, it was a nightmare trying to get 8″ of thick hair untangled. Granted I should have thought more about it and realized that wind was obviously going to mess up my hair and taken my own precautions—but with the excitement of the day and having asked and received a quick answer, I thought I’d be okay. I literally spent HOURS painstakingly trying to comb out all the mats and knots with a head full of conditioner, leave-in conditioner, detangling spray, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.—anything to help the process along. And eventually just gave up and used brute force and pulled out a ton of hair. This was a very disappointing end to an awesome experience which I believe could all have been easily prevented with a simple cap, helmet tuck, or requirement to braid.

Lastly, we had an issue with our videos and photos that we’re still trying to work out. We were a family of four and when we went to check out our media, my name was listed but the media was of my daughter (whose name wasn’t listed). A call to your staff had them researching the footage and I did eventually get my videos, but am still waiting to see if they can find my photos. I know mistakes happen but I have to say it was upsetting to realize I initially didn’t have any videos or pictures of my bucket list experience. I will say, though, that dealing with your staff regarding this has ended up better than I’d expected—emails were answered quickly and my issues thus far were solved efficiently. I am hoping to resolve the photo issue quickly as well. (I am wondering if there isn’t some way to scan your wrist band before each time you step in the chamber, which would trigger the recording with your name. It would seem you have some similar type system since the videos were mostly attached to the correct person…but then I’m not sure how my flights were all missing.)

All that said, I will say that overall we were very happy with our experience…and we will be back. But I would strongly suggest adding both the child-practice sessions and the long-hair issue to your pre-flight information and lessons.

Thank you!!

So, while there were some bad parts (the hair thing and the missing media thing), overall I would still recommend it…plus I get two extra flights during which my hair will be tucked so far up in my helmet it won’t budge. And I will have Tom taking pictures and videos the whole time.

Where are my iFly pictures and videos?! (Part 1)

April 9—5:26pm

So we get home and I pretty much went straight to the computer to check out our photos and videos. If you recall, our iFly tickets each came with a free video and then Tom and I added on the High Flyer experience which came with a photo. So I login to get our videos and pictures…and guess what? There are exactly ZERO of either for me. Everyone else has a video (or two). Everyone else has a bunch of pics (Katie and Owen each had like 15). I HAD ZERO OF EITHER. The way their site is set you click on your location > date > flight time > name to see your associated media. Except Katie’s name wasn’t listed and my name showed all of Katie’s photos and videos! I flew right before her so had no idea how they could possibly have skipped me…twice? Including a high fly experience AND a double-length flight?!

I called them immediately and told them what was going on and they said they’d have to look into it and call me back. It didn’t sound terribly promising. They did call back within about 15 minutes to ask what color shoes I was wearing—I’m assuming so they could scrutinize the video feed and try and find my media. So I was a bit upset…but in a holding pattern hoping they would come through.

And what really gets me is that I didn’t take (or have Tom take) one single picture or video with my phone!! Why not you ask? Because I was thinking I didn’t want to keep it in my pocket while I was flying…but DUH I could have easily handed it off to Tom because we obviously weren’t flying at the same time. I was so pissed at myself about that for quite some time.

April 9—8:32pm

When we hadn’t heard anything back from them, Tom called to see what was going on. They assured him they were taking care of it.

April 9—11:24pm

I checked my email before bed and discovered they had sent the download links for two videos (so I actually got a free video!) but…they didn’t send any pics (!!) so I had to email them back about that. And after watching the videos…it’s two snippets from one flight and not a video from both flights! (Believe me, I’m very happy to have gotten the videos at all, but I am still very much hoping there’s a picture or two since they are much clearer than the video.)

Purple pearls!

After all these years I finally have the perfect outfit to wear with my Grandma Smith’s purple pearls. She loved her costume jewelry…

   

  

When you find a paper from HS and you’re Facebook friends with the teacher.

What a perfect night…

The weather was so awesome that we ate dinner outside and then just hung out. Tom rarely posts on Facebook so you know something was seriously good if he does…

Had a great Spring day. Took the kids out Pokémon hunting in the morning. Wood working followed by little league practice (pitching to an awesome group of kids), grilling flank steak and drinking really good beer on the deck and watching my wonderful kids play together and read bed time stories.

Truly I do not know if life can get any better. Life is great!

Owen was reading to us (getting his daily reading homework done!) and then it got dark so he was reading by iPhone light. The two books he picked to read to Katie were Hooray for Diffendoofer Day (Seuss) and The History of the American Flag. :)

Goofing around together:

 

My friends made me happy cry!

I was hosting an online Facebook party for this cool new lipstick and had included people from all times of my life…and the consultant was posting fun games for them to earn raffle entries. This one she did was so sweet and the responses made me happy cry. :) I’m posting it so I can look back on it when I’m having a bad day. 

  

Boosterthon Fun Run Success, Year 2

Owen’s school participated in the Boosterthon Fun Run again this year and once again Owen ran all 35 possible laps! The weather was unseasonably cold (with the first snow day and two 2-hour delays this very week!) so the run had to move inside. They turned it into a “glow run” which was cool…but made for a horrible time taking pictures.

But first, as we were waiting to enter the gym (each grade level ran at a different time), Owen came by doing his weekly chore: delivering lunch boxes to the cafeteria! As soon as he saw me, he hid behind the door (as seen in the second photo). What a stink!

Each classroom was announced and took a lap around the course and then lined up.

Staff ready to mark each lap!

Katie ready to make some noise and cheer!

The boys’ cheering section.

Getting ready to run!

This year they just got a sticker on their shirt instead of writing on the shirt itself. Owen actually ran more than the 35 laps, but a lot of kids did—the laps were much shorter this year because it was just one loop around the gym.

Overall, Owen earned $266.50 for technology for his school!! YAY OWEN!

A dangerous dessert combo.

Leftover birthday cake frosting plus amazing cookies…

Our view for the next week. 

Thanks to Gramma Jean and Grandpa David…a wonderful week in Fort Walton Beach!

 

HOLY $H!TBALL$ this product is amazing!!

Ladies, listen up. I’ve discovered a game changer if you straighten your hair—you have GOT to check out the Dafni. I got mine on QVC because at the time it was cheaper than Amazon, but less than a week later Amazon now has it cheaper. This cut my straightening time from 45 minutes (including blow drying with a round brush and then ironing) to 10 minutes (15 tops). I can’t gush about this thing enough: DAFNI The Original Hair Straightening Ceramic Brush.

This result took me TEN minutes:

My review can be found here but here it is. (Sidenote: I learned you can’t say HOLY $H!TBALL$ in a review. LOL)

I have long naturally wavy hair that takes me, on average, 35-40 minutes to blow dry straight and then another 15 minutes or so to touch up with a steam iron (actually a Maxius Maxiglide MX-597 One Step Hair Straightening Iron with Steam Burst Technology). But I am always on the lookout for a revolutionary hair straightener and I’ve tried a bunch of them. I’ve actually been using the Maxiglide for 10+ years because it was so awesome–until now, I would have said it was revolutionary. But this? The Dafni? HOLY SMOKES. This might just be the best money I’ve EVER spent!

I went into the first use with some trepidation as products like these generally have big claims and then generally don’t come through. But what you see in my photos literally took 10 minutes. TEN MINUTES! I then spent another five going over some sections a few more times and trying to get the ends better, but still…15 minutes?! FIFTEEN MINUTES?! ABSOLUTELY AMAZING.

Is it perfect? No. Obviously your hairdresser doing a salon blow-out will get it smoother and it will look better, but for an average person doing this at home? Yes. You can recreate your own efforts in a fraction of the time. My after photo with the Dafni is what my hair looks like after I blow it dry with a round brush for 40 minutes!

Also, my arms aren’t tired from holding a blow-drier and/or iron for 40 minutes and I’m not sweating from blowing hot air at my head for 40 minutes. I used to seriously plan ahead when I was going to dry/straighten my hair because it does take so long, but now? I can pretty much do it whenever I have a spare 15 minutes! The longest part of the process for me today was waiting for my hair to dry because I wanted to do it naturally but that’s no big deal because I do that some days anyway.

I am just completely blown away. My first thought once I finished in ten minutes was HOLY COW. This might be the best money I’ve ever spent on a hair product–kicking the Maxiglide to second place.

I get nothing for referrals—I just love this product!

Owen’s Special Letter

The second day of Owen’s “Me Museum” week was a sealed letter written by someone else about his special qualities. This is the letter I wrote.

Owen has many special qualities and continues to amaze us with his abilities.

Owen didn’t really start talking until age 3, but once he did, he never stopped! We were worried about him learning how to read, when one day he came home from Pre-K and just picked up a book and started reading it to me! He still impresses me with all the words he knows!

He got his first Lego mini-figure at age 3 and has never looked back. He can follow directions on sets above his age level and then tears them apart and builds his own super cool creations. He is our own Master Builder.

Owen has always been super nice and polite and makes friends very easily. Friends, family, teachers, and even strangers comment on how sweet and polite he is.

He is the best big brother to his little sister—he plays with her, gives her piggy-back rides, reads her books, helps get her breakfast, and makes her laugh.

He is very loving with all of our pets. He takes good care of our dog and gives cuddles to the cats.

Owen is good at swimming, baseball, and soccer. He is a Shark 2—the highest level of swimming (and I know he could beat me in a race). He always gives 100% at every lesson, practice, or game. During his first soccer season, his coach gave him the “most improved player” award.

Owen is a great kid and we couldn’t be prouder to have him as our son.

Love,
Mom

My shopping score of the week!

Only $3.49 for Børn lined boots at Ross! Even if she only wears them for the rest of this season, it’s still worth it!

  

That’s what friends are for.

After a long crazy day I decided it was time for this:

I also happened to be missing a friend of mine in the neighborhood so I texted her and told her I was on my way to her house and I wanted her to come out for a brief Pokémon walk with me. She met me on the street, decided she wanted some margarita, too (yes, I had brought it with me), so we stopped back our house and got her a cup…and since it was cold and we needed to hold our phones for Pokémon, this was her life hack: wear your coat backwards so you can put your drink (with straw!) in the hood! BRILLIANT!

We ended up walking a bit farther than we’d planned…and my phone died because of the cold…but it was a good night (and this is what the end of it looked like). Good times.

Look what our video camera caught last night?!

We moved the video camera in the living room to hopefully catch something…and we did! The kids LOVED it! SANTA’S BUTT!! :lol:

I have TSA Pre-check!

So, I had kept checking and checking and checking every few hours because I really wanted to get pre-check for my flight home if at all possible—and I did finally get it Friday afternoon!!! So, with all my worries about it, there were literally (LITERALLY) zero people in EITHER of the security lines this morning. I got through in about 12 seconds. Well, make that 23 seconds—I forgot my phone in my pocket so that took an extra bit.

So I’m not sure if that is considered a rave…or a fail? :lol:

This is how I like to shop at Marshall’s.

I needed a few new cardigan sweaters…and since I recently passed up a $70 Lularoe version, I figured it was okay to get FIVE for about the same price as one. Right? :)

Owen might be on a swim team!

Before Owen’s lesson, his instructor came and told us he was going to be testing Owen to see how he’d do on a swim team. He’s trying to get a local team together and he thought Owen was ready. As far as Owen knew, he was just practicing. :)

After, the instructor told us he thought he was definitely ready…so he’ll let us know if and when he gets a team together. (They have a team right now but it’s 30-45 minutes away from home so we’re not about to do that.)

We told Owen the news on the way home and his was his reaction: