Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Three Years in Midland

Brendan and I moved to Midland three years ago today.
I remember the actual moving day extremely well: We moved here on a Friday. My dad drove our U-haul, I drove my car, and Brendan drove his car. I was mad we took a wrong turn and added another hour and a half to our drive. We met a team of our new co-worker's church friends that evening, and they helped us unload everything into our third floor walk up apartment. I remember the co-worker asking us if we collected little tables (we don't, we just happened to have about twenty between the two of us). I remember ordering awful pizza for everyone afterwards. I remember going to HEB (grocery store) that night for beer and finding it overwhelmingly large. I thought to myself, we will avoid this place at all costs! I remember freaking out that we were actually going to live here, and I remember Brendan telling me to chill out. Honestly, that day wasn't the best day, but the days since have surprised me in so many ways...

First of all, I'm surprised we're still in the same apartment! When we moved here, I think we both saw the apartment as temporary, however, we knew nothing about the Midland housing market and how it was about to change. We also didn't realize we'd end up loving the apartment. Though there are a few things that discourage me about living here, and though I keep saying I'm "so ready for the house to be built," I can promise that I will bawl when it's actually time to move. We just signed a lease to stay here through February 2015, meaning by the time we move, we'll have lived in this apartment for three and a half years. We've experienced so many wonderful things here, it would be nostalgia overload to even go into. This is the first place we lived together, and it has been a comfortable place to live.

Second surprise? Remember the awful pizza from moving day? That place is actually decent. It turns out, we just ordered the wrong thing. Is it on par with pizza from New York or Austin? No. But once I gave it another chance (after a couple of years here), it wasn't so bad. Sometimes I pick up pizza there for dinner. Never say never!

Speaking of, that HEB is now my go to place for groceries. I even go there on a weekend afternoon. Heck, I've been in there on Superbowl Sunday. I'm no longer overwhelmed. I have that place memorized!

And while I may have doubted we could "actually live here" on moving day, we do. And you know what? I've found a lot to like. I love my job, my friends, my yoga class, the drive-in, the farmer's market, and exploring nearby areas. I've found a nail salon, my favorite lunch and dinner spots, a place to get wine, and a cleaning service that makes my life much happier. We've joined Midland Community Theater and Museum of the Southwest, and those places have added entertainment and social events to our calendar. Like all places, there is actually more to do and be involved with than we really have time for. I'm always hearing about cool things (wine club, outdoor club, etc.) that I'd love to join if only there were more hours in my week. While we don't envision ourselves staying here forever, one thing that Midland (and Lake Charles) has taught me is that I can be happy wherever I am, as long as I have good friends. I've also learned that there is more to a place than meets the eye and to reserve my judgement in the future. Plus, just because something is different than what you are used to, it isn't necessarily a negative thing. Different experiences can be good!

Here's to the places that you end up by chance and to making a home where you land. Thanks for a good three years Midland!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

99 Days of Summer

Today is our 99th and final day of summer. While writing that makes me sad, I'm also really thankful for this time that we've been given together. I feel like we made the most of each and every day. Enjoy my completely out of order (to mimic the state of my brain) photographic ode to summer vacation 2014. We lived it, we loved it, we'll miss it!

I hope everyone has a great Sunday. I'll be busy getting my act together and telling myself tomorrow's 7:00am wake up "won't be so bad." I'm looking forward to being in the classroom again, but next week is all about meetings.

Here's to wonderful memories to look back on!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Building a House, Month 3 & 4 or, The Waiting Game

When we last left off in the building a house posts, I was eating really good pizza and our lot looked like this:

Lot on May 31st
In other words, nothing had happened yet (our lot is literally the dirt, not the homes in the background), and unfortunately, nothing would happen until the city of Midland approved our plans. Given that the city is in a boom (everyone is building), Brendan and I braced ourselves for the wait to take awhile. Luckily, we were pretty distracted while traveling Europe, and we didn't have much time to think about it.

On July 13th, we heard from the builders:

"We received your permit back from the city.  That means we are free to start construction on your lot.  So soon we should start the boards for slab and rough plumbing." 

On August 2nd, our realtor sent us this photo: 

Lot on August 2nd 
This is the beginning of framing for foundation (again, our home is the dirt, not the home in the background, which, by the way, was nothing but framed in the May 31st picture above. The house you can see shows the back of that house...in other words, our backyard and their backyard will be separated by an alley).  

On August 12th, the lot was finally ready for the slab to be poured: 

August 12

August 12
Once the concrete foundation is down, we are looking at 150 days (or 5 months) until completion. While we're still on track for a January closing, if any part of the process is delayed (which is bound to happen), it could be later. We're okay with that, and we realize the process is really out of our control. (Side note: isn't that blue sky beautiful?) 

In other news, we are back in Midland and enjoying the last week of summer vacation. We had a great time with my family in Austin, but unfortunately, we didn't really take pictures.

The highlights were seeing family, seeing Port Authority at Hyde Park Theatre and drinks with friends after, playing Ticket to Ride with family, LOTS of good meals out, and best of all...

Celebrating the engagement of these two lovebirds:

That's right, my little cousin Amanda is engaged to Matt! I found out in Berlin via Facetime, and tears of happiness were shed! The two have been dating a little over seven years, so Matt is already part of the family. They are a wonderful pair, and we couldn't be happier to have another family wedding to look forward to (this one in fall of 2015). We went on a double date to sushi restaurant Musashino to celebrate. It was honestly some of the best sushi I've had in Austin. I LOVED it and highly recommend it. But also, it was just really special to talk wedding with Amanda, who is as close to a "little sister" as I've ever had. We have SO MANY hilarious memories, and I look forward to building many new ones that now include Brendan and Matt :)

Lola and Zoe are extremely happy to be home in Midland, and Brendan and I are enjoying getting back into our normal routine. It felt GREAT to cook our own dinners again. I even went back to yoga class, which was awesome, but so, so hard after being out of class for three months! We've had lots of laundry, unpacking, and organization to do, but we're taking it all in stride. We're back to work on Monday, so we're trying to treasure the last days of what has been a great summer vacation.

Here's to "home," both our current one, and the one that is just a pile of dirt right now!

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Sorry to leave the blog world hanging. We've been enjoying time with our family. 

On July 30th, we made it to Newark and Brendan's dad picked us up at the airport to bring us to CT. It was the longest travel day ever and it was so good to be home! 

We spent 3 nights in CT, mostly catching up with the grandparents but also enjoying a sailing adventure that left me hanging on for dear life! 

On Saturday, we enjoyed beautiful quilts and seeing family at grandma Nancy's quilt show, and then we left for Maine! 

Our 5 nights in Maine were perfect! So many good times with family: fishing, swimming, kayaking, cooking, s'mores, blueberry picking, and game playing were amoung the highlights! 

I caught 2 large mouth bass this year (don't worry, I put them back!) and Brendan caught 4 or 5. I find fishing pretty addicting. 

I love our Maine schedule. It was relaxing and the perfect way to recover from our high intensity Europe travels. It was nice to have such quality times with family. Brendan's mom even helped perfect my pancake making skills. I'm a pro now! We had really great weather too. 

We left Maine and returned to Austin (it took 3 flights and 11 hours) for a few days with my family before heading home. A post on that later, but I will say Lola and Zoe are happy we're back!

Here's to our great memories made in Connecticut and Maine this summer! We had a blast and so enjoyed our "vacation from our vacation."
<3 S&B 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Berlin for the Win

Our trip is coming to a close. We've had a few fun but hot days here in Berlin, and I will miss it. 
On the first day, we all saw two museums. One with ancient ruins from babylon and one with ancient Egyption artifacts. They literally rebuilt parts of these cities in the museum. It was amazing. 
I also had some mixed feelings like maybe this stuff should be in it's original geographic location, but apparently they did get permits for the expeditions, so...another discussion. 
We had really really good pizza for dinner. We tried to catch a concert outside, but it rained. Brendan and I ended up locating an amazing bad instead. A father and son own the bar, and the son was born 6 weeks after me in East Berlin. He was 3 years old when the wall fell, so we talked with him about what he remembers. 
Day two:
Brendan and I went to the zoo. They have so many animals there and some that I've never seen.

For dinner we found the best sushi, and for dessert, we had sorbet.

Today, our last day, Brendan and I visited the Berlin Wall memorial. I have been very obsessed with seeing this since visiting the war memorial museum in Caen. I have so many thoughts on the Berlin Wall...you don't have time for them all probably because you have to go eat dinner or something. That's okay, we can talk about it soon. Basically, this wall was a bad thing, and we are smiling because it is gone (except this part, which they left on purpose). 

Above view demonstrates how wide the "death strip" was. Over 1,000 people died trying to cross, many of them were children or teenagers. 

Some things that surprised me:
Germans are really pretty open to discussing their personal experiences from this point in history. Local people join tourists at the memorial (of course, they come for a different reason-to remember lost loved ones). A quote (paraphrased) I heard today from a west Berliner "we would hear about how many people had been shot in the east and then we would hear the weather. Everyone felt this was a crime against humanity, but we had to live with it. Everyone lived with it" 
You really can't see anything over the wall, unless you can climb to an observation deck.
It was really thick and there were multiple walls/barbed wire in between the walls. 
Seriously: it surprises me that it happened and that it was there for so long. It was a really bad idea. It makes me wonder what current world situations everyone will later regret. Hmmm. 
It was all a lot to think about, so I went and ate a 20 dollar salad at a vegan place. It was the best salad of my life.  
Then, the three of us consumed this cheese plate: 

It was the best end to the best trip. 
I'll still be thinking about all that I've learned--about history, this world, and my place in it (hint: I'm not that important, but it's okay) for as long as I live. I want to read up on many topics explored, and one day, I hope to come back to Europe. But if that day takes a long time, I'll have to hold on to the memory of being in my late twenties in Europe and pretending to be in my early twenties in Europe (to get the student discount) and how it felt. 
It felt amazing--the world was ours. It also felt confusing--there were a lot of subway closures and we don't read other languages. It felt scary. It felt exhilarating. Sometimes it was tiring, sometimes too hot, too cold, or too rainy: 

It made me appreciate home more (didn't expect that, but my love for my own country grew). It made me realize that most people don't dislike Americans (that's just a myth). In fact, most people were really really nice, Like absurdly friendly and going out of their way to help us find our way or communicate. I will be more aware of helping visitors now. 
I'm glad to be going home because it's where I'm from...but I'm sure everyone feels that way. But I'll miss it here. 
I do miss my family, free bathrooms, and free ketchup though. 
If you've read all this, you've done more reading than me this summer. I couldn't really focus on any novel. But using my time to blog was useful for helping me to remember...but now, I must use my time to pack (and get approximentally 4 hours of sleep!) The voyage continues in the AM. Wish us luck!!
<3 S&B 
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