Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Things I Have Learned......

We are almost officially true Texans now. We went down and got our car tags...both of them. For some reason Texas requires you to have a tag on the front and the back of your vehicle. The last step is to get our DL changed over to Texas. I told Toby I was going to hang our AL tag in our house so we would always know where our roots came from.:-)

I'm a true witness that everything you hear and read may, or may not be true. Before we moved here we had heard "stories" of the cost of living and taxes in Austin. This is what we have learned. The housing in the city of Austin is slightly higher than in Mobile....but the city has WAY more to offer also, which offsets the increase.

The reason we opted to buy outside Austin city limits is because you could get a lot bigger house for alot less money and still have the benefits of living in Austin. It was worth driving 10 miles into the city to us.

What we payed for our house we could have bought for the same amount in Mobile and be living with a bunch of ghettos.

Also, we were in the DMV for a max of 15 min and the place was packed full. I couldn't believe it! The efficiency of the place was unbelievable. I will refrain from giving my personal opinion of why the DMV doesn't flow well in Mobile.

We also discovered that we have an initial "start up cost" at the DMV here, but from here on out we will be paying no more for our tag than we did in Mobile.

It all goes to show me that you really don't know a place until you live there and experience it. The only thing I have seen us spend more money on is gas. With Austin being so large you can travel from one end of the city to the other and waste a tank of gas!

And, the people in Austin really do drive like maniacs! There is no way I could describe it in words. I never really worried about a seatbelt before (except for ticket purposes) but here it is like a life support system. There are no old people on the roads and I know why.

Mobile was much more laid back and slow moving than Austin.....I wish I knew where these people were going in such a reckless hurry.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Day in the Park

With all the stress of moving and relocating for the past couple of months, Toby has managed to get a bad cold virus. With Toby being sick and not feeling well, we have not been able to do much sightseeing. The good news is, the weather finally warmed up a little here in Austin so Summer and I have been able to venture our new neighborhood a little bit.

The other day Toby said, "I feel like this is somebody else's house it's so nice". I agree totally. People walk around the neigborhood walking their dogs and strolling their babies. Kids play in their yards and don't roam the streets unattended. There is no drug dealings on the corner and noone roaming the streets for no apparent reason other than to "mark their territory".

Since Toby was still feeling under the weather today, Summer and I decided to take a trip to the local park. It's not even a mile from the house, so it's very convenient for us. It was sunny and very warm today, so I took my camera for some photos. The park is very, very large. Here are several that will give you an idea of what the area is like.

And before I moved to Texas, I thought Prickly Pears were something you only found being sold in the Walmart garden section. These things grow everywhere around here. They are like weeds here.

Anyway, I know I haven't posted any of the pics of the inside of the house, but I can't seem to manage to get any pics that show the actual inside of the house...they only seem to be showing my furniture, and that's not a pretty picture!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Finally Unpacked After a Week

I can't believe it has taken me a week to unpack, but finally it's done! Well, except for some knick knack stuff and pictures and wall hangings. I am definitely going to take some time out to rest before I start tackling that chore though.

So.....until I get the inside of the house looking up to par, here are some photos of the outside of the house.

This photo actually does not capture how pretty the skyline to the right of the photo is at night. You can actually see the city lights in the distance at night from our backyard.

Our home.

The weather here has been severely cold. We haven't even been able to get out and enjoy the yard or the neighborhood. There is a park/splash pad and pool about a mile down the street that I can't wait to utilize. It's the same park that we went to on Christmas Day.

Next week when Toby is off, I am going to get some pics of the surrounding area and the park. It is so peaceful and quite out here. It's almost lonely.....no traffic noise, no loud radios, no loud ghettos. Only the cows, horses, and the hawks and crows.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

We're Finally Home!

O.k, so we are finally in our new home and somewhat unpacked! The past week has been very exhausting mentally and physically. Without going into the many details, I will tell you there was almost a disaster at the closing table thanks to one Federal Credit Union in Mobile. Seems that the credit union that was holding ALL of our money decided that they did not want to sign a release of OUR money over to the share branch credit union here in Texas. This of course was for our protection! All this is happening 30 min. before the closing at 1:00. After bank and western union hopping for several hours we finally closed at 6:00 p.m. Again, thank God for our realtor, Ginny, who's strong personality took over when Toby and I were about to fall apart, and pulled us through.

Needless to say, we have found a local credit union.

Anyway, just in time for unloading the storage unit and loading the truck, then taking the truck to the house and unloading it again, the weather had turned to sub-zero temps. It was freezing and windy on top of it....then it rained freezing rain. Ugggg.. how awful. At least I can say that we were moving around enough to generate a little body heat. It's still freezing here though. Yuck!

About the house. I love more and more as each day goes on. It is so quite out here. No noisy neighbors or road traffic noise. It's so weird to be so close to a large city, but yet feel like your in the country. You can even stand out in our back yard and see the city (we haven't figured out which one yet) in the distance. It so pretty at night to look out and see the lights of a city and not hear the noise from it.

The house is a two-story and I have gotten enough excercise for 10 people the past couple of days.

I love it here in Texas. After being here for a little over a month, I am still loving to ride around and sightsee. There is SO much to look at. Because of the hills out here, you can always see long distances.

As soon as we are totally unpacked and settled in more, I will post some pics. I almost hate to post pics because I know they could never capture in a picture what it's like here or what the "feel" of the house is....but I will do my best.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Night Before the Beginning

Well we close on our house at 1:00 tomorrow. It has been a long 4 months between selling our old house, moving to a different state and buying a new home. Even though I would do it again, moving out of state is not an easy task....thank goodness it was a couple of years in the making or I don't think we could have pulled this off financially or otherwise.

I found it a little ironic the way we found a brand new house for a brand new beginning. We had a dream and we created the way for it and now we are finally seeing the fruit. This is really a beautiful and progressive city and we are enjoying being a part of it, and are grateful that we can be a part of it.

It's also has been an enlightening experience to see how little that we actually, as a human species, need to survive and be happy. It became a realization to me today when we took a trip to the storage unit to drop some stuff off. I looked in there and saw all of my belongings and realized how many of our material things we had done without. After we first left for Austin I didn't pack but a weeks worth of clothing, and Summer's schoolwork for a week. Little did I know this is what I would live on for a month. A month doesn't sound like a long time, but let me tell you it is!

On another note, I made the decision to find our big dog a home. Hopefully, she found a home anyway. It's a rather bittersweet thing. I miss her, but yet I am glad to be rid of the burden of her.

Well, I am very tired tonight and we have a very long day ahead of us tomorrow with loading and unloading a storage unit, and closing on the house.

I may not be online for a while so tally ho for now. I'll update A.S.A.P

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Just A Few More Days!

The last couple of days have been the usual of watching T.V, playing video games, and surfing the net. I know that probably sounds like a vacation to most folks, and at first it was pretty cool. But it's way past being cool now, the vacation has been over as far as I'm concerned. For the past couple of weeks it's been just plain monotonous!

Yesterday Summer and I did venture out for a walk. We started out just walking around the complex. After Summer's urgings, we decided to walk farther. It is really true that Austin is a very walkable city. We discovered that there are actually sidewalks along the whole "beltline", which made walking along busy streets very easy. If I had realized this a month ago, we would have had a few more breaks in our day. Figures I would discover this a week before we move out of here.

Toby was off today so we had a field trip to the Lady Bird Wildflower Center. I'm sure in the spring it is a beautiful place, but even though it was a cool place, there were no wildflowers blooming. Luckily there was no admission in Jan. due to the place looking "dead". It still entertained us for a couple of hours.

I thought it was funny. There were some hiking trails there and right before one of the trails there was a warning sign. It told of the bobcats and mountain lions that have been spotted out there. Here were the rules if they were spotted:

1. Don't crouch down or runaway.
2. Throw rocks at them, wave your arms at them, or be loud.
3. If being attacked, fight back.

Needless to say, this deterred us from walking that particular trail. We took the alternate trail, but we (mainly Summmer and Toby) were still on the lookout for large mammals.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Waiting Game

The torture is relentless while waiting on this house to close. It seems like the closer we get to closing the longer time drags. I keep having these nightmarish thoughts of something horribly unforeseen happening at the closing table and us being stuck in this stinkin motel room with the stinking dog even longer. I feel like I have been in jail and I am waiting on my release.

Speaking of the dog, her days are numbered. I have never been a fan of this particular dog anyway, but because I got her for Summer when she was a year old to be the family dog I have always felt obligated to keep her. Well, obligations have been blown out the window.

It takes living inside of a cubicle with an outside animal to bring someone to these conclusions. She constantly wants outside just to run around and sniff, we can't leave her in the room anymore when we go somewhere because she destroys the room. This leaves her stinking ass riding around with us in the car all day. I know your thinking "Well just give her a bath so she doesn't smell so bad" That is a job that is better left to a professional. She hates a bath, therefore fights it...and she is very strong. I wouldn't have anywhere to bath her but in the motel bathroom..yuck! And, she has very thick fur which is hard to clean and she's black, which means she already has a strong odor anyway.

I guess I am just venting about the dog because if it weren't for worrying about what to do with her everyday this room would not be quite so bad. Another thing that has her days numbered is I'm worried about what my newly laid sod will look like after a 70lb dog has been running all over it. AND, the backyard slightly slopes down into the greenbelt so the privacy fence has enough of a gap in it that she would constantly dig and get out to the cows, armadillos, oppossums and whatever other creature might be looming out there. She would drive us crazy insane there!

Enough about the dog, even though there is plenty more that I won't bore you with. I have been a total slack mom too. When we first arrived in Austin, I tried to keep up with Summer's schoolwork in the usual way. After a while all the unorganization and lack of a routine everything has just come to a standstill. For the past month Summer has become a cartoon and video game addict. I really hate it but at this point I feel powerless to erect any sort of schedule. Most of her school stuff in in storage so the most school we get in is reading on the road.....road signs, menus, signs in parks, etc.

Well, the only consolation is to know that things could always be worse. At least we do have a place to stay, we have enough money to live on, and we are all still healthy and most of the time, happy. AND, Toby and I have been married for 8 years today. Happy Anniversary to us!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

On Our Way!

After a long drawn out process we finally signed our paperwork for our loan on our house today. I'll leave out the sordid details of the delay, and just say that it's very hard to get a loan for a house these days....especially when you have had a job in a new city and state for only 3 weeks!

We will do a "walk through" tomorrow. Since it is a new home, I'm sure there will be some things that need to be "tweaked". We really are getting a very good deal on this house. It is a brand new 3 bedroom 3 bath house, fully equipped with all appliances, privacy fence, and a 2 car garage. It's a closeout for the end of the year so we are getting it for about 15,000 less than what other people have paid for this same house in the same neighborhood.

I really loved and chose this particular house because it backs up to the greenbelt (grassland) so there will never be any neighbors behind us.....plus there is a historical gravesite behind us. Hmmmmm.....wonder what kind of interesting things we're going to see floating around at night!

I'm sure that when I get into it I will feel that I have died and gone to heaven after experiencing this motel room for the past month.

It looks like we will be closing on or around the 15th of Jan.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Our First Tattoo Convention

For those not familiar as to what a tattoo convention is, it's where many tattooist, some famous, some not, get together and sell tattoos, advertise, etc. There is really not much for someone like me to do there but to stare. And the only other reason I would say that you needed to be there is if you were getting a tattoo or working there...or if you are another tattooist.

I really wanted to get a pic of lizard guy. He has been on Ripley's Believe it or Not. Toby kept telling me to ask if I could get a pic of him, but the guy just didn't seem very approachable to me. Maybe because he had lizard skin all over his body???

Anyway, they had a tattoo contest there too. Hopefully this pic is not too dark and you can tell what some of the contestants looked like. Summer looks like she was enjoying the show.

It really wasn't all that miserable considering the alternative was to sit in the motel room all day long. While we were downtown we also did some more sightseeing. Every time I go down there I see new things to do.

This was a park along side Town Lake....that wasn't infested with transients.

Check out this woman doing Yoga at the end of the pier.

Summer with the stupid dog that now has to go everywhere with us because she destroys the motel room while we're away. We let her out of the car for a little while to pee . She is really a big PIA and if there was some way I could get rid of her without Summer knowing I had anything to do with it, I would.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Some Things Are Better Left Unoticed

Although I love my new home, there are a couple of things that I don't embrace.

I still really HATE the way the people drive around here. It's very fast paced and seems as though everyone drives with a lead foot. They don't really drive recklessly...just very fast. I still have not driven yet. I am a very pokey and a careful kind of a driver....like an old lady. Speaking of old people, now I know why I haven't seen many. They would never survive on these city streets! I'm sure that most of the old people must live on the outskirts of Austin. Smart move old folks. :-)

Since the weather had warmed up yesterday, we took a stroll downtown. Austin's downtown is a lot bigger than Mobile's, but not as charming. Mobile's downtown seems more personal and inviting. It would take weeks to see and do all the things that Austin's downtown has to offer.

Anyway, as we walked around we found this really cool park downtown. It's called Waterloo Park. By the looks of it I thought I had found paradise on earth. It seems though that someone already owned the park....homeless people. I can't believe that a park that cool would be allowed to be inhabited by numerous amounts of transients. They even have all their belongings stored there...blankets, boxes to lay on, etc. It's not like they don't have a very large Salvation Army and homeless shelter down there to house and feed them. Anyway, if you can look past all the urine odor and people laying all over the benches it was pretty cool.

There are also peddlers on most corners of the downtown area. I don't believe these people are homeless I just think there are a few people in Austin that make their living collecting on people's generosity.

Today we met up with Ginny at the same bar/restaurant playplace for lunch. After further studying the place it's even nicer than what I thought. There's a few restaurants that back up to this huge playground. So no matter where you eat/drink there is a playground to entertain your kids.....what an invention!

We have began to mold to the motel and "accept what you cannot change". We are still anticipating that wonderful day when we close on our house and have a real home.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Reasons to Love Austin

The first and foremost is that they have a homeschool convention here! I have always wanted to attend one of these curriculum fairs but there were never any close enough to me to warrant attending.

Hmmmm......how do I say this in a nice way? Well, in public play places the kids don't run you over or "take over" and trash the place so that no one else gets to enjoy it either. Don't get me wrong, there are demon children everywhere, but they are kept to a minimum here.

There is not near as much trash thrown all over the roads/highways. And the fast food restaurants aren't scary to eat in.

The weather is much like Mobile's but with one difference. There isn't as much humidity in the air which leads to super dry skin and fly away hair. I don't really like this aspect right now, but I have the feeling once the weather warms up this will be a plus.

The men around here don't leer at you here like they do back home either. They are very polite and they don't stare and act like dogs in heat.

The people around here seem to be very intellectual and educated. They have a plan of action and strive for more...but yet they know how to enjoy life too. They are also very health and environmentally conscious too. There are a lot of places to walk, bike and do outdoor things around here, which is probably why you don't see the obesity problem here that you do back home. I'll have no excuse for my gut living here.

Although most of our stay here has been bliss, (except for the motel room) the hispanic influence is strong here and if Toby and I don't take up a spanish course we will continue to look like idiots. Even when they do speak english, it is so broken that we both have a problem comprehending.

I'm hoping that Summer will make a little latino friend and learn some spanish along the way. Being young, I'm sure she will pick it up quickly.

Oh, and the worst thing of all. They don't have a Books-a-million!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Our First Social Activity

We got a call from our realtor this morning asking if we wanted to get together for a beer later on. I guess by now Ginny is no longer just our realtor, but she and her husband Mike have become our friends.

The place we met them was so cool. When we lived in Mobile, I always said Mobile needed a place like this. Anyway, it's like a bar/restaurant with the back of the restaurant being nothing but window that looked out into this huge playground for kids. What better idea than to be able to relax and socialize and have your kids occupied at the same time. Summer found a playmate and had a blast in the playground while we got smashed (just kidding ;-) )

Afterwards Ginny and Mike invited us back to their place for a nice homemade meal. It's been a while since we have had good home cooking so it tasted WONDERFUL. We Chatted for a couple of hours then headed back to our cubicle.

We will be closing on our house in a couple of weeks. So close, but yet so far away.