Mel and I were watching a movie on Lifetime tonight. Each time the movie returned from the commercial break, there was a message at the bottom of the screen that said "YOUR WATCHING..." I could not believe that whoever creates their graphics can not use correct grammar! I realize that English can be a difficult language, but is it really that difficult to use the correct word?


Upgrading the Computer

Over the past year, our home computer has been performing slower and slower. I have tried a few remedies to fix this performance issue with the machine. I tried removing a lot of software from the machine, I added an external hard drive to free up hard drive space, and I cleaned the computer's registry. All of these seemed to result in minor improvements in the speed of the computer. Well yesterday I finally ordered some additional memory for the computer. It arrived today, and once I got it installed, the computer has begun performing much, much better! Applications are no longer crashing left and right, and I can switch from one application to another without having to wait minutes for the other application's window to become active. Now my computer has 2.5 gigabytes of RAM instead of just 512 megabytes. I really wish I would have done this months ago as it has been very frustrating at times waiting for the computer to respond to an input.


Offer Accepted, Almost

The bank which owns the house in Cottage Grove, Minnesota, that Mel and I want to buy accepted our purchase offer for the most part. They did change two very minor issues in the agreement, but they weren't anything that will keep us from buying the property. So assuming that the financing works out, and I have no reason to doubt it will, especially considering that we have been pre-approved, and if the inspection of the property checks out alright, we will be the owners of a house in the Twin Cities by the end of June! Now, we just need to get a buyer for our house in Cedar Rapids. Our Realtor is having an open house this Sunday, so maybe that will generate some interest.


Another Weekend in the Twin Cities

As my wife started her new job in Saint Paul last Monday, she has been living in the Twin Cities with at my sister's condo. Being without her for the entire week was difficult, not only did I miss her, but it was also a lot more difficult to take care of Emma on my own. So, Friday after I got home from work, Emma and I got in the car and drove four and a half hours to Woodbury, Minnesota, to see Mel. Of course, the trip took an hour or so longer than that. First of all, I had to make a few stops in Waterloo to deliver PartyLite candles to some people who came to Mel's PartyLite candle party a couple of weeks earlier, and Emma and I had to have dinner. After leaving Waterloo, we drove for about forty five minutes before Emma started whining. So after an additional forty five minutes of driving, we stopped in Clear Lake where I changed Emma into her pajamas and let her walk around the Shell gas station for fifteen minutes or so. She was not happy when I put her back into the car, but she soon fell asleep.

Besides seeing Mel and my sister this holiday weekend, my mother was also at my sister's condo because all of the family was gathering in the area to go through my grandmother's belongings which had been stored at my aunt and uncle's house up there since my grandmother passed away last fall. My aunts and uncles, and my mother, had already divided up a considerable amount of her belongings before I arrived. On Saturday though, everyone had the opportunity to pick out some of my grandmother's jewelry. Then, all the grandchildren, including me, got to pick things from what was left over. We drew cards to determine the order in which we would pick. The whole process seemed a bit strange. My grandmother's belongings were spread out on tables throughout the house. It kind of felt a bit like a garage sale the way everything was laid out. Mel and I picked out a bowl and some pots and pans. We also got a stool and a couple other small things. After we were all done, the entire family went to the Green Mill in Hastings for dinner. It was nice to all get to eat together.

On Sunday, Mel, Emma, and I went to Roseville to do some shopping. Mel needed some new clothes for her new job. In all of her previous jobs, she didn't need any special clothes as she usually had to change into some type of lab clothing at work, but at her new job, she needs to dress in business casual clothing, so she needed to expand her wardrobe. I also got a couple of things.

After shopping, we met with our Realtor to look at a few houses, two of which Mel had seen with him earlier in the week. The house that Mel really wanted had sold between Wednesday and Sunday, so that one was out. However, our Realtor told us that had probably would have discouraged us from buying it. We did find another house that we liked though. It is smaller than our current house on the main floor, but to get something the same size or larger would be a lot more expensive. The last house we looked at on Sunday had a few minor issues. Mainly it needs a good thorough cleaning and some fresh paint, but it really wasn't in that bad of condition, so we decided to make an offer to purchase the house. We are really hoping that the bank which owns the house, as it is a foreclosure, will accept our offer as is. We hope to hear back by Wednesday from it.

Monday after lunch, Emma and I got back into the car to drive back to Cedar Rapids. The trip took a lot longer than it would have had I been driving alone. Emma was getting cranky being cooped up in the car for so long, so we stopped in Albert Lea, the Iowa welcome center near Northwood, and Clear Lake, each of which is about fifteen minutes from the previous location. After stopping at the Casey's General store in Clear Lake, Emma finally fell asleep for a nap. She stayed asleep until we got to Cedar Falls. The rest of the drive wasn't too bad, although Emma was getting a bit impatient with being stuck in her car seat by the time we reached the exit for Urbana, about half an hour from home. Once we did get home, she had a great time running around the house. She did have a had time getting to sleep though last night, but she was sleeping shortly after nine, about an hour and half after her bedtime. Next weekend, since we do not have any house hunting tasks to complete, Mel is driving to Cedar Rapids instead of us travelling to the Twin Cities. That should make the weekend a lot easier on Emma. I really can not wait until we get relocated to the Twin Cities permanently!


Neighborhood Crime

I like to think that our house in Cedar Rapids is a nice, quiet, and safe neighborhood, even though we are just a block and a half away from Mount Vernon Road, a major route of travel on the southeast side of town. Despite my feeling about the neighborhood, there has been some crime nearby on Mount Vernon Road since we have lived here. There have been two or three robberies of the banks or credit unions on the corner near our house. And now, the Mr. Movies that is just on the other side of Mount Vernon Road from us was robbed at gunpoint! Now don't anyone start accusing me of committing this robbery, not that anyone would seriously do so. I have an alibi for the time of the robbery as I was on the phone with a friend. Anyway, I still feel that this is a nice neighborhood.


Emma and Daddy

Mel started her new job yesterday, and we haven't found a house in the Twin Cities yet, so for now, she is staying with my sister and Emma and I are at our house in Cedar Rapids. Taking care of Emma on my own is a bit difficult, but I think we will manage. We did look at some houses this past weekend and have a couple of possibilities, one in Newport and the other in Saint Paul Park, but we want to look a bit more to find the right house for us.

As far as getting out house sold, so far things are going well. We signed all the paperwork on Friday. This afternoon there was one showing and there are two more scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. I am really optimistic about getting the house sold, but we still haven't found one to buy yet. Fortunately, a lot of the houses we are looking at in Minnesota are vacant, so I am guessing that the possession date could be a bit more flexible.


New Carpet

This afternoon, carpet installers finished the installation of new carpet in our living room, dining room, and basement. The carpet in these rooms was seventeen years old, and it showed its age. Our Realtor suggested having it replaced to help with the sale of our house. She thought that it would improve the look of the house inside, and she was right. Our carpet looks so nice now. It's too bad we didn't replace it three years ago when we moved in. Of course, it wouldn't look so nice today if we had replaced it three years ago. I really hope that it does help to get the house sold quickly.

I've also finished with painting the remodeled bathroom. There are a couple other minor cosmetic things that I can do to improve the appearance of the house. Tomorrow I will be calling the Realtor though to let her know that we are ready to sell!


Looking at Houses & Dinner

Mel and I looked at four houses today with our Realtor. We had a list of six that we wanted to look at, but one of them had an offer pending, as well as mold in it, and another one in South Saint Paul that was unavailable to show today. We were a bit disappointed, because we really wanted to see the house in South Saint Paul. The four houses we did look at today all had some major issues. The carpet in the first house we looked at was soaked with water. The walls in the basement had mold coming through them! Our Realtor felt that the house was looked like it could possibly be condemned.

The second house we looked at, one in Richfield, was in the middle of a renovation, so we would have had to complete that. The layout in the basement was very odd, and it needed a lot of repairs. We looked at a second house in Richfield that started out to look promising, but none of the bedrooms were big enough for our king-sized water bed, plus this one also had an oddly configured basement.

We finished our tour of homes this afternoon with a house in Bloomington. From the description we saw prior to viewing the house, it sounded pretty promising. The description said that it needed some cosmetic fixes. I expected that it needed painting and maybe some carpet cleaning or replacement, but I was underestimating the amount of repairs the house would need. The carpets were all pretty disgusting, so they would all have had to go. The counter top in the kitchen was awful, and a lot of the windows were in terrible condition. One of the windows in the upper floor had a T-shirt jammed between the outer and inner panes to keep air from passing through.

None of the houses we saw today was the house for us, but now our Realtor has something to work with in regards to what we are looking for. This evening though, Mel and I were talking with my sister, and we decided that we would expand our home search to consider town homes as well. We figure that we can maybe get something that is in better condition for the money we can afford if we look at town homes as well. In fact, we saw a lot of promising properties online tonight.

Now for dinner, last night we were disappointed by that fact that the Woodbury Don Pablo's restaurant was closed. So tonight, we drove to Roseville to eat at Don Pablo's there. The food was good, but the service left some to be desired. We waited a long time for some extra chips, and for a drink refill. We think the server was probably just too busy with too many tables to attend to, and he was quite apologetic, but nonetheless, the service could have been better. That will not dissuade us from returning to that Don Pablo's though.


Trip to Minnesota

Yesterday afternoon, Mel, Emma, and I all got into the truck and hit the road for a trip to Minnesota. Mel starts her new job in Mendota Heights in a couple of weeks and needed to come up to complete some paperwork. Since she had to drive up anyway, I suggested that we all go so we could begin searching for a house. So, while Mel was working on her paperwork, Emma and I met with a Realtor in the area to begin discussing what we would need in a house. Hopefully tomorrow we get a chance to look at some of the properties we identified today.

I spend much of the rest of the day at my sister's condo in Woodbury. She was hosting a garage sale today for the orchestra in which she plays. They had a lot of stuff to sell, and it seemed pretty busy for much of the day. She even made a sale a good hour and a half before she officially opened!

This evening, we all headed to the Don Pablo's restaurant in Woodbury for dinner. My sister really wanted to go there while we were in town, and we though it would be a great place to go, so we drove there. Unfortunately, when we got to the restaurant, we learned that the Don Pablo's location in Woodbury had closed! Because of that, we had to continue driving to find somewhere else to eat. We ended up going to Plaza Garibaldi‎, a Mexican restaurant in Oakdale instead.

When we got out of the truck in the parking lot at Plaza Garibaldi, we heads a hissing sound. Upon further examination, we discovered that One of the tires of the truck had a nail stuck in it, and that the tire was quickly losing air! After getting seated in the restaurant, I called a towing service to come out to change the tire. I have previously changed tires on cars, but never on a pickup truck. Anyway, I was very glad I called someone as the tow truck driver had a heck of a time getting the lug nuts off. He indicated that they had been over torqued the last time they were put on. We eventually got the tire replaced with the spare though, and were able to head back to my sister's condo for the evening.


Playhouse Disney

The past week, Emma and I have begun watching some children's TV programming on the Disney Channel after Mel goes to work and before I take Emma to daycare. I have to say that I have become a fan of Higglytown Heroes, which airs at 6:30 a.m. central time. In case you are not familiar with the show, it is about four preschoolers and their squirrel friend. They usually end up in a situation in which they need help, and along comes a person from the town, the "hero," to help. They always sing the same song, with some lyrics adapted for the specific hero. This weekend, I had that damn song stuck in my head for at least a day and a half.

Anyway, I don't let Emma watch too much TV. Usually it isn't more than fifteen or twenty minutes. That's about the longest she will sit and watch TV. I usually sit her down to watch the TV so I can get a few minutes to relax in the morning, or when I need to get a couple little tasks done.

Besides Higglytown Heroes, Emma also like to watch Little Einsteins. I also enjoy watching that. On the weekend we also watch The Wiggles and Sesame Street sometimes. Emma especially likes to watch the "Elmo's World" segment on Sesame Street. She gets really excited when she hears that theme song, and she pays attention for most of the "Elmo's World" segment. These shows can be fun to watch for me as well.

Fixing Up the House

Me have begun packing up some of our belongings and sprucing up the house a bit in preparation for showing it to be sold. Tonight we planted a few hostas and some geraniums in the flowerbed by the front door. Tomorrow night I am going to work on painting the bathroom and touching up some other areas in the house with paint. If this all helps the house to sell quickly, it will be well worth the effort.


The Bathroom Remodel Is Done!

The drywall guy finally finished with the remodeling of our bathroom today. All that is left is for me to paint the walls and install new towel bars. And, the remodeling has been completed just in time as this past Monday, Mel was offered a job in Saint Paul, Minnesota. So, by the end of next week, or the start of the week after that, our house will be on the market. We spoke with a Realtor in town this week, and she is fairly optimistic about the prospect of getting our house sold quickly and at a fair price. Apparently there are not a lot of houses available around the same price as we should be able to get for ours.

Next Friday we are going to be heading up to the Twin Cities because Mel has paperwork to complete for her new job. That afternoon, we are going to meet with a Realtor up there. We hope we can find something acceptable that we can afford pretty quickly as Mel's first day of work at her new job is on May 19. We realize that we will not be in a house by that day, so Mel will be staying with my sister who lives up there for a week or so. We think we should have pretty good luck with finding a house in the Twin Cities that is not too far away from where Mel will be working. We have checked out some websites looking for houses, and because of the housing crisis, there appear to be some houses that have either been foreclosed on or with impending foreclosures which may allow us to get a bargain price on a really nice house.

While Mel will be starting a new job, I am going to be continuing to work in my current job. My employer is fairly open about having experienced employees work from home. In fact, I have been working from home once a week since last fall. So once we get moved to Minnesota, I will be working full-time from my home office. It will be a different experience from working in the office with others, but most of the team for the project I work on primarily are located in Austin, Texas, so the fact that I am in the Twin Cities instead of Iowa City will not change much in my interaction with them.