Dec 31, 2009

Bring On 2010

I really love the Windows Live Writer that lets me blog with super easy formatting. One day I’ll really figure out the photo inclusion function. I mean Blogger is one of the biggest blogging platforms and Windows is king so the two are bound to start working together better one day. However, that is just a sidebar. What I really want to share are my new year’s resolutions.
  1. Team Black will eat at a new restaurant every week. They may not always be fancy restaurants but we really enjoy eating out and I really enjoy trying new places. We already have a few picked out – Gumbo’s for Valentine’s Day and the Salt Lick for my birthday. Along with our new restaurant trying, I’m going to attempt to blog a review each week. I’m not sure if it could ever happen but I would really love to be a restaurant critic or travel writer. This will be my not so silent attempt to get started.
  2. I will use my reusable grocery bags. Instead of just leaving them in the car when I go to HEB, I'll use 'em. I will, I will, I will.
  3. Team Black will pick up their own crap. We both have bad habits of leaving cups, clothes, etc all over the house. In 2010 we will not do it (as much). PROMISE!
  4. I will go to the gym 4 times per week. I decided to remove the old “to lose 10 pounds” resolution and focus more on working out than weight. I may attempt to eat healthier but I’m not going to beat myself up over it. Now if I happen to shed 5 pounds of belly blubber before bikini season, well…no objections.
Besides eating out with me and picking up his crap, Ross’ new year’s resolution is to be working full-time as a firefighter. I have full faith. In fact, I think he’ll have that by June. As part of the efforts, he’s going to start on his driver’s certification and has revamped his work out regiment.

I’m thinking 2010 might be a good year for Team Black. Happy New Year!

Dec 29, 2009

Even more loving

I’ve had my fancy laptop for 5 days now and I think I love it a little more each day. Last night I started working, like really working, on our wedding album and the laptop speed rocked. There’s a lot of BIG graphics involved in the book so to slow down the computer would be expected. But not this bad boy. It worked like a champ.

And besides being super fun for wedding photo related things, it is super fast for working from home. I downloaded all my remote access stuff and can access my office computer at the speed of light now. Get how good this is – I just cleaned out all the emails I’ve received over the holidays. Do you have any idea how much more awesome that will make Monday!? And I’ve done lots of work on eNews and made some Web updates. Seriously, that will make Monday so much easier.

The only thing I’m struggling with is the Live Writer program for blogging. I love it as an editor, its so easy. But I can’t get images to publish. If you’ve used it and have any ideas, please share.

Ross really did a good job with this gift. Talk about bells and whistles. WOW.

Dec 25, 2009

My Hubby Loves Me

And he got me a sweet new laptop for Christmas. It’s got blogging software that I am trying out for the first time and I think I might really like it.

Dec 18, 2009

Quite the event

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
And I actually don't mean the wedding, I mean my boy Charlie Gibson leaving ABC News. Farewell Charlie!

Dec 15, 2009

I won't believe you

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
If you say you are sick of wedding pictures as the visual for all my blog entries. Here's the rundown of the week.

1. Kevin passed all his classes this semester and was so jazzed he texted me about it. Maybe he had a really hard one?
2. My (step) sister-in-law is preggers! She's due in June with her third baby. Gonna be an auntie again! Hurray!
3. We had our Christmas party and despite my best attempts to take photos, I am my mother's child. I put the camera in the middle of the counter before the party so I would have easy access, yet failed entirely. However it was an excellent party. I was a very busy hostess and we had a very full house.
4. Lexi was the belle of the ball at the Christmas party.
5. Speaking of Lexi, she continues to sleep in the bed with us. Between us. By our heads. Under the covers. Yes, it does in fact just continue to get more ridiculous.
6. Lexi also got into a fight with large pink blow-up flamingo. (And currently Ross and she are wrestling. I have paws in my face as I type).
7. Ross is very cute. I'm glad I married him. He does however want to know why I chose a wedding photo without either of us in it. I was told that was "weak."
8. I'm launching a new Girl Scout Web site this week. I mean same address, in case you forgot, but totally redesigned. AWESOME.
9. I'm spending Christmas Eve Day with Brittany and her fam. Hurray for second families!
10. Ross really wants me to watch NCIS with him now so I must run.


Dec 7, 2009

Hot Mamas

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
Don't we have hot mamas? One of the things l like best about this photo is they are both wearing THEIR color. I think everything these two hot ladies own is in these respective colors. So them.

Dec 6, 2009


Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
I have 1411 wedding photos. So here's another one to share with you.

Dec 2, 2009

I'm gonna be an auntie

No Kevin did not get some girl preggers and no Megan is not preggers. But guess who is? Age!

And now that its been announced on Facebook I no longer have to keep it a secret. Woohoo!

She and Joe will be wonderful parents. As long as I've known them the idea of babies sooner rather than later has been there so I know they are ready. And they just bought the house which means there is even room for the little baby. I haven't talked to her since she got a for real due date but her GP guestimated around 4th of July. I vote we get an Independence Day baby. Then the kid could have fireworks on its birthday forever. If that's not cool, I don't know what is.

I'll be Auntie Cheryl. It will be great. I'll be the super cool aunt (I hope) who lives faraway and just shows up once a year to spoil it rotten. I'll be like Santa in the summer...because goodness knows the winter is too cold of a time to go visit.

And when I go to visit, I'll show this picture: Mama shakin' her groove thing (with another man at that. naughty girl).

Nov 30, 2009

Selling Stuff

Need stuff? We got it. Desk, dresser, couch, lamp and TV. I don't think many people in the greater Austin area that might be actually able to buy these goodies read this blog but on the off chance, I'm telling ya. I've got stuff to sell and its all on

And here's another wedding photo because...well because wedding photos are fun. Do I really need another or better reason? Nah.

Nov 27, 2009

Sweet Pup @ New House

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
We're all moved in! Sure a couple boxes still need to be unpacked but all the things we need to live are here, at the new Pflugerville house.

By the way, I never thought I would live in a town with such a ridiculous name. Do you know that the newspaper here is the Pflag? People have stickers on their cars that say "Pf" like that's cool.

Silly name with a silent P or not, I do really like my new little house, its wood floors, red kitchen, new furniture, big yard, garden tub with jets, matchy-matchy guest bath...

Nov 16, 2009

Wedding Pic But Not a Wedding Blog

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
Because while the wedding was AMAZING, I've already told you about it. But can there be too many wedding pics? No, no there can't be. What else is going on you ask? Well, let me tell you.

1. I was worried my computer had quit recognizing its own battery but thankfully I think I'm wrong. It's now showing 1% of charge. I'll take it.
2. The kitchen is red! I have 2 coats on about half the kitchen and sometime this week will be finishing it up. It looks HOT.
3. We're moving on Saturday! We have a lot of furniture being delivered and we still need to pack...basically we're avoiding it like the plague.
4. I am attending parts of this Web summit this week and am learning some cool things. My Web provider for work doesn't know it yet, but I'm about to start demanding that they step it up. I want cooler Web things and I want them bad.
5. This is one of my favorite wedding photos and I wanted to share it with you.

Nov 11, 2009

Because Everyone Likes a Honeymoon Photo

Honeymoon 012
Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.

And because I hadn't shared one on the old blog yet. Here you go, a honeymoon photo. Little did we know when taking this photo, that our night at the Atlantis Casino would beef up our wallets a smidge. Way to go Ross on the three-card poker table!

Nov 10, 2009

New Floors!

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
15200 Katie's Corner Lane got new floors! Here they are in progress but as of yesterday afternoon when Ross put up the baseboards, they are done. Woohoo! All the bedrooms are painted as well and we're moving on to the soon-to-be red kitchen.

This weekend we're buying all our new furniture and next weekend, moving in. Pretty soon Team Black will be in its new home. Hurray!

PS Wedding photos are starting to pour in. Stay tuned to see them!

Nov 2, 2009

Ross & Cheryl Black have arrived

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.

You may have noticed, friend, there has been a lag in the blogging. But I think you will forgive me; I was off getting hitched.

It's super helpful to have an amazing photographer friend (ahem, KBR) who can shoot you an amazing photo a week before your regular photographer can get you the whole slew of them.

I know I just got married and I ought to give a good long blog about it, but folks, I'm just tired. I've been in my nightgown since 3 p.m.!

So I'll tell you this: it was perfect. We both showed up, as did the minister (thank goodness), and we both looked HOT. Our families were beaming and our friends boogied all night long. The BBQ was delish and the margaritas plentiful. The tablecloths knocked my invisible socks right off. I suggest everyone have orange pintuck tablecloths. The flowers, bouquets and centerpieces alike, were outstanding. The DJ came alive and the party was hoppin'. We hit the town after the fact and actually closed the bar down. Greeting us in our room was a bottle of champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. We stayed up til 4 a.m. reliving the perfectness.

Then a week in the Bahamas (photos to come, I promise) and we're back with the puppy in our apartment looking at each other saying "ya know, we're moving soon. Maybe that means we don't need to clean..."

And ya know what, I don't think we're going to clean. Mr. & Mrs. Black do not want to spoil a perfect wedding/honeymoon by cleaning, no way Jose. Just sitting back and soaking it all in.

Oct 16, 2009

New House for the Little Family

new yard!!
Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
And here they are playing in the new yard at the new house! The little family! It's the best!

We're officially homeowners in the good city of Pflugerville. It was a long road but we came out on the other side. Woohoo!

Oct 14, 2009

You voted against what!?

I don't normally get my news from The Daily Show on Comedy Central though I'll admit it does frequently make this political junkie giggle before going to sleep. Well today with house and mass email stress via the Girl Scouts, I didn't catch Charlie Gibson at 5:30 p.m. CST like usual. Sad, I know. So Jon Stewart and The Daily Show was my primary news source for Wednesday, October 14, 2009.

And on that "news source" I learned about the most frightening vote from Congress I have ever heard of. So frightening, I'm going to tell you about it but I'm going to suggest you are seated before you read the rest of this. And if you are a Republican or live in a Republican state, I'm going to suggest you start perfecting the fine art of being embarrassed for someone else.

Minnesota's Al Franken proposed a bill to make the government quit hiring military contractors who prohibit their employees to report on-the-job rapes. Woohoo Franken! A little surprised (ok a lot surprised) that companies can decide a federal law and violation of human rights doesn't apply to them but in some ways, maybe that's neither here nor there. What is here and there though is that THIRTY REPUBLICAN SENATORS VOTED AGAINST THE ANTI-RAPE BILL. 

How do you vote against an anti-rape bill? How do you say rape is a terrible crime that is both illegal and inhumane but yet allow companies, in fact companies that you Senator hire, to have a "mums the word" policy on it? You force these women into hush-hush situations and that's OK!? Do you even have a mother? Would you ask your mother to keep such a crime a secret?

A senator from Alabama said he voted against it because the government shouldn't be interfering in private company contracts, even if they do prohibit the report of a violent, invasive crime and therefore render the victim truly helpless and give a get-outta-jail-free card to the rapist. Point 1 - um, yeah you should. Even from a purely legal standpoint, its the law and laws are only as good as their enforcement. What good are laws against rape if the crime can't be reported and thus not punished? Point 2 - private company contracts aside, this bill was just saying that the government shouldn't hire companies with these practices. You are part of the hiring body and therefore you can hire at your discretion. So why are you hiring companies with such horrendous policies? Point 3 - The US government can tell other countries what form of government they should have, tell me to pay income tax and potentially require health insurance but it can't require itself to only hire ethical companies? Bull crap.

I'd like to note that while I am generally really proud to be from the great state of Texas where we play some of the best football, make AMAZING salsa and are home to George Strait, I am not standing as tall today. My own Senator, John Cronyn, voted against this bill. John, you are an embarrassment to the state of Texas, the US government and yourself; I'm glad I did not vote for you and I hope your press people read this and shudder a little about it. To the other John, McCain that is, I had a lot more respect for you pre-this-vote. I thought you could have been a decent president and in many ways was pretty bummed that we didn't see eye-to-eye on more. This however has destroyed much of my faith in you. I'm glad I didn't vote for you and I'm glad I'm not from Arizona (however as noted above, Texas apparently isn't much better though I assume Hutchinson voted with Franken since she's not on the vote-against list and 98 senators voted...).

To all 30 of you schmucks, which is as vulgar as I'll get because my mother reads this and it feeds into my Facebook so potentially Girl Scout volunteers also read this, I'm sure you have a tough, thick political skin and hear about the opposition to your politics daily. This though was infringing upon the Hippocratic oath and as the leaders of millions, you should have to abide by this just as doctors do. I truly hope that at some point in your lives you look back on this and think "that was truly a stupid, hurtful, unethical and embarrassing vote. If given the chance, I would change my actions."

Hmmph. And THAT folks, is EXACTLY how I feel about all this.

Oct 6, 2009

GS Love

I have been in a crazy world of Girl Scouting for the past week or so. I've had some really exciting, motivating conversations with co-workers and I am just pumped. There's a lot of thinking out loud happening so details are vague, but let me tell you, the fusion of these things could be great. We're asking lots of questions. How do we retain middle school and high school girls? How do we adjust to the fact that more moms work than stay home (and our volunteer model is more stay-at-home mom friendly, a predicament)? How do we create a truly compelling Web presence? How do we streamline paperwork? What is the music that we just need to face?

I've got ideas. Loads of them. And people are asking.

They say that younger generations need to be heard. Teenagers, college students, young professionals, just need to be heard. I can't say I'm an exception to the rule. I like being heard, especially when I'm passionate about an idea that I know can help us serve more girls. I like being asked and I love being heard.

Oct 2, 2009


Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
I found out today that all my best delta friends are coming to the wedding in 3 weeks! Nothing, I tell you NOTHING, can damper the level of excitement I am feeling right now.


Sep 29, 2009

Gotta love that Girl Scout blog

Yesterday GSCTX and I launched our first council blog. Woohoo! 36 hours or so into it and we're getting lots of positive feedback. We have a few Google followers; I'm learning how to add more share options; there are fascinating guest bloggers lined up; and we're set to participate in Blog Action Day on October 15. (Be sure to read that one; it should be from one of our 2008 all Girl Scout robotics teams.)

My current gig at GSCTX involves a lot of details. In my previous gig there were more big projects and I could walk away at the end of a day more often with a sense of big accomplishment. This job just isn't that kinda job...mostly. Today has been one of those big accomplishment type days. The blog went live yesterday, I got our Facebook feed up and running today, finished tomorrow's blog post (definitely read that one too) and nailed down some other details. It feels GOOD!

And I'll admit I'm a little bit of a work-aholic but I am so enjoying working late tonight. I know, I'm a freak. But the wedding is so close now that if it hasn't happened yet, well, its probably just not happening. The house is sorting itself out slowly but surely. We've insured the heck out of it, that's for sure. But with all those things starting to have a life of their own, my world is free for a flurry of communications again and I LIKE IT. I'm thoroughly enjoying discovery and trial & error. My brain feels like a sponge for information and goodness, its about time.

See when I said I was looking forward to working 50 hour weeks again, I wasn't kidding. I thrive off this stuff (no matter how freakish that makes me).

Sep 27, 2009

Happy Birthday Nancy

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
Today is Nancy's birthday and since I know you are staring at this photo thinking "what the HELL is that?" I'll just tell you. It's a giant rib at the BBQ place we went for dinner. Now get your mind outta the gutter, gosh.

Today also marks the beginning of days that "were supposed to be the wedding." I'm pretty sure every Sunday from now til the wedding fits into this category. 28 more days!

Sep 17, 2009


I went to today to do wedding stuff and their counter at the top of the page said "Welcome Back Cheryl & Ross! 38 days til your wedding!"

I promptly smacked my own face and screamed like McCaulay Culkin in Home Alone. I am getting married in 38 days! That's less than 40. That's less days than Lent. That's less than my grading periods in elementary school were! That's only 5 more weekends to finish planning this thing!

I then IMed Brittany and Anna to tell them it was only 38 days. Texted AJ, Val, Megan and Melissa to relay the same message. Screamed a little more. Told Lexi all about it. Told Twitter and Facebook all about it. And oh yeah, texted Ross. (I figure he's mildly aware given that he's the other person in this thing.)

This whole wedding thing has been kinda stressful but today excitement hit hardcore. Don't get me wrong, I've always been excited to marry Ross but my excitement toward the actual event, the wedding itself, has waned. And really is that a shocker? As you figure out the logistics of cups, flower transportation, rain plans, RSVPs and guest hotels, is it any wonder that I person might get bogged down in details instead of caught up in the heady excitement? No, no wonder at all.

But excitement is back! It's fall outside and we're getting married in 38 days! When I open my living room windows it FEELS like the season I planned our wedding for. I could put on my wedding dress, hang out outside and not melt. I'm having two bridal showers this weekend, picking up my dress and really just being very bridal.

Pretty soon I'm going to take my wedding band to the jeweler for a final check and then in something between 37 and 39 days Ross will put that beautiful diamond detailed ring on my finger. My best friend will stand next to me as the ring leader of five identically clad hotties and silently say "Yup! I approve!" Ross and I will walk down the aisle to some Scottish song he'll pick out because I don't know two things about bagpipes or Scottish music. We'll be introduced for the first time as Mr. & Mrs. Black. And we'll two-step through our first dance. Rick will give some toast that will have me on the verge of cringing but with any luck won't actually push me to a real cringe. Kevin will sport a top hat...after the ceremony and formal photos. Mom will rock the place in her hot mother of the bride outfit (just you wait). Dad will be debonair in his new stylish suit as we dance to the Beatles. And my sorority sisters and I will sing Journey at the top of our lungs, while dancing and sipping the beverages of our choice. And after celebrating into the wee hours of the night with our wonderful, amazing, super fantastic guests, Mr. Black and I will crash on a comfy bed in an undisclosed hotel location.

It will be the happiest day of my life and all y'all will be there.

Sep 11, 2009

It's really fall

I just noticed that the days are getting shorter. It's dark when I leave in the morning now.

And as if that wasn't weird enough, it's raining in Austin! It must be the apocalypse.

PS It can rain for the next 40 days but starting October 23, I'm gonna need 3 days of sunshine. Thanks.

Sep 7, 2009

48 days & counting

Here's to hoping that in 48 days I'll be a married homeowner. We're down to the nitty gritty on the wedding and have placed an offer on yet another house.

The wedding plans are down to dress fittings, RSVPs (ahem, if you haven't RSVPed, you totally should b/c its way fun to get RSVPs), bridal showers and vendor confirmations. However each day that it gets a little closer I get a little more anxious. I hope I'm not a basket case by the week of!

The house we've put an offer on is 3 bed 2 bath in a really nice new-ish Pflugerville neighborhood. The neighborhood is one of my favorite factors. The current owner hasn't done much in the way of decor or upgrades so its kinda plain jane now but I think it has a lot of potential. With a little paint, fun light fixtures and maybe some new floors one day, it can really be OUR home. And I'm at the end of my househunting rope so I hope it comes through.

Now 2 points of commentary on current events.
  1. Colt McCoy, QB for UT, was just on the news commenting on a teammates injury. He texted the guy that he was praying for him. All about prayer and good thoughts, but how sad is it that now we can just text each other and that's perfectly acceptable? What happened to a good old fashioned phone call or God forbid, a visit? Sigh, at least he didn't Facebook the guy with his prayers.
  2. What's so wrong with the President encouraging kids to finish school and reach for the stars? There are two districts in Austin not showing tomorrow's speech. Democrat or Republican he's our president and encouraging kids to get an education. Goodness, kids have so many bad influences that it amazes me we are debating a GOOD influence/message in their lives.

Sep 2, 2009

My new mission

As if having a job, puppy, hubby, wedding and buying a home weren't enough. I needed a new mission. This is my personal social media mission.

Today I read a Boston Globe article about the new "dorm" at BU, Student Village 2. Student Village, or StuV as those in the know say, opened while I was at BU and it is a pretty dang sweet residence. But BU, being the good steward of funds that they are, has gone and upped the annie with StuV2. I now am fully confident that I know where my thousands and thousands of dollars in tuition money went - to a 26 story high rise luxury college residence along the Charles River.

Ooo do you hear a tinge of jealousy in my voice? OK sure, maybe you do. But dang it, every month I make a payment toward my BU education/the fancy dorm and all I want is to stay one night in that super fancy residence hall that I helped pay for. Is that too much to ask?

So my new mission is to lobby the heck outta BU til they cave and say "fine Cheryl! Damn girl! Quit hounding us on Twitter/Facebook /Blogger! You and Ross can stay one stinking night in this dorm!"

If BU will succomb then I will be forever sold on the power of social media and might even become a BU donor one that other students can have swanky residence halls and laugh at the kids like me who stayed in the BU ghetto on Ashford Street. Until the swanky residence hall kids realize that despite paying $13K for 9 months of housing, they still have to swipe an ID card to get into their own residence, can't have overnight guests and sleep on twin size beds. Then who will be laughing huh.

PS Poor Ross probably won't even be laughing then since he doesn't know the horror of the BU guest policy and actually just sees the loan payment bill every month...yeah BU, I'm gonna need that free night to appease my soon-to-be-husband. Thanks much.

Aug 30, 2009

Waiting Game

This weekend we're having some estimates done at the Framingham house. We can't do anything, make any decisions or anything else until we have these estimates. Needless to say I am very anxious. We don't want to take on a house that requires more work than we can afford of course. But I do really like the lay out and location of this house. I'm willing the work to be minimal and the seller to be willing to cover it. Either way we'll know by Friday what the story is.

And if it doesn't work out? Hitting the pavement to find one more house and hope its the one. Between the option money and the inspection I think we can only afford to go as far as we have once more. I'm very thankful that we set a goal of finding something pre-wedding as now we do have post wedding time for a cushion.

Ross is at the firehouse today so I may try to do some wedding things. I'm down to the details and ready to knock them out. The next 8 weeks are filling up quick and even though its a decent amount of time, I'm thinking I should buckle down when I can. Next weekend is Labor Day...and if the house doesn't work out, a weekend of house hunting. The weekend after that I'm in San Angelo for work and the weekend after that is my bridal shower hosted by Nancy's friends. September 26 I have a bachelorette party to go to and then we're into October! We have weddings on October 10 and 16 then ours on the 25th. See, it may be 8 weeks but its 8 very busy weeks. Yeah, I should probably knock some of it out today while Ross is gone...

Aug 26, 2009

Framingham Circle

We put in an offer on another house and after a couple days of negotiations, we agreed to terms with the seller. Woohoo! We wrote a couple big checks and now that baby on Framingham Circle is off the market and ours for the taking.

Today we had our home inspection. I don't know why I didn't anticipate this just being a bad meeting by definition. You go to meet with this guy whose only job is to tell you everything wrong with your future home. How could that go well? I suppose it could have been worse but the house has some issues we're not wild about. We have a little more investigating to do before we're able to decide what our next step is. We're perfectly fine putting some money and time into basic repairs but we need to make sure these are basic repairs that are in our price range. Cross your fingers.

I'm excited to buy a house but I'm understanding more by the day why this is cited as one of the most stressful decisions ever. Whew.

Aug 22, 2009

Mas Casas

More househunting. The sellers of the Merseyside house never could come to an agreement with us. They wanted an earlier closing but we won't have the loan sooner so no dice there.

Today we hit the pavement again. We found one that we're putting an offer on and another that is our back up plan. Househunting is exhausting. After looking at 8 houses today, I'm totally fine staying in my apartment in my bathrobe for the rest of the day/night. I'm worn out!

Aug 15, 2009

Cross Your Fingers

We got up this morning and went househunting. We liked the first one, were very disappointed in the second, giggled at the third a little and fell in LOVE with the fourth. We've put in an offer and should know by lunch tomorrow if the seller is going to take it. I expect they will since we are offering asking price - in our minds, a very fair price.

As you can see from the picture, its no mansion. It is, however, a new home (built in 2004) that needs no work prior to move in and is still under the builders warranty. It was fully refloored this year with wood laminate in the living room, carpet in the bedrooms and tile in the kitchen. The kitchen is BIG and allows for plenty of work space. The master suite comes with a garden tub and is big enough that we can actually get a bedroom set. The spare bedrooms and bathroom are all spacious and even painted nice colors. We're excited!

Since we don't need to do any upgrades to move in, we're already dreaming of things like expanding the stone patio in the backyard, adding in pretty light fixtures, purchasing an energy efficient refrigerator. Maybe I'll plant a tree in the front yard. We can own a home, not be broke AND add some swell little extras to it. Woohoo!
Cross your fingers; we should know tomorrow if we got the house or not.

Aug 11, 2009

Househunting Day 1

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
This photo has nothing to do with the blog entry. But its a fun photo that I haven't shared yet. So now its shared.

Summary of househunting day 1

House 1: Very awkward because homeowners were there and teenage boys asleep in one of the bedrooms. Not in awful shape but just really not for us either.

House 2: Super funky fun floor plan and beautiful. Great landscaping. Real hardwood floors and a stone fireplace. Unfortunately its the top of our price range AND the living room is small. Not optimal for big comfy couches.

House 3: The pits. They are dreaming if they think they'll get their asking price. I took one look in the bedrooms and told Ross no way in hell. He had the same feeling after poking around the backyard.

House 4: Cookie cutter home but had nice size rooms and a great master bathroom. Unfortunately its a short sale which is complicated and not ideal for people who actually need to move in by a certain date. So we'll pass.

We're going to go again next week and hopefully now that we know a little better what we want, we'll find something good.


Aug 10, 2009

I got nothin'

Amanda Renaud!
Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
I tried and tried to think of a witty blog title, but alas, I got nothin'.

I stole this photo from the Shutterfly album my college friends created for Boo and Joe's wedding. I have a few photos from the bachelorette party and wedding set up but my camera has died and I need to upload from the memory card. A lunch break activity sometime this week. But even if I am a schmuck and don't have many photos from my friend's wedding, I can still share this lovely one with you.

This weekend was Ross' bachelor party/Mom's birthday. Ross and the boys went to Port Aransas and from all accounts had an outstanding time. There are definitely parts he doesn't remember but I take that as a sign of a good, solid, successful bachelor party. I went to Houston to celebrate Mom's birthday and we ate lots of delicious food and drank some yummy wine. I hope she had a good birthday; I think she's a special lady and should only have good birthdays.

Tonight Ross is at the firehouse tonight doing a half shift. Lexi and I are just chillin'. It's nearly our bedtime so soon we'll be cuddled up asleep.

But tomorrow we are scheduled to go househunting. I'm still waiting to confirm an exact time and meeting location with our realtor but if all goes well, we should be househunting tomorrow evening. Wish us luck! Cross all your fingers and toes!

Aug 4, 2009

My Friend Has a New Name

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
It's Renaud, pronounced Reno, like the biggest little city.

This picture is from her last night as Booden. One beautiful wedding day later she got a new name, a husband and in-laws. It was a wonderful wedding and party, so much so that three days later I'm still worn out so this is all you are getting. Suffice it to say, Age was a beautiful bride and I don't think I've ever seen such an excited groom as Joe.

And when I got back my soon to be hubby had left me a clean home with flowers and mushy card. I love him and I'm gonna go spend some QT with him right now. Ciao.

Jul 22, 2009

In fact you haven't met anything cuter...ever

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
She is absolutely the cutest thing in the world and that is why I take a million photos of her. Lexi and I, the dynamic duo, are about to head out and pick up my Dad. He's in town and is coming over for dinner and puppy greetings. It will be the first time Lexi and Dad have met. Woohoo! It's like a family reunion!

Jul 21, 2009

I swear we aren't smuggling babies

Yesterday Ross and I meant with a mortgage lender at Bank of America. IT. WAS. FRUSTRATING.

As Ross put it, a colonoscopy would have been less painful.

It started off like a doctor's appointment...waiting. Even though we had an appointment time. Do they do this because they can? There wasn't anyone else there; I didn't feel like all of Ausitn was out to get a loan. Sigh, but finally we were in the lender's office.

I had two folders full of financial paperwork. And apparently I still didn't have what we needed. In fairness, I was told to bring two years of our W-2's and could not find Ross' 2007 W-2's so I knew that one was off. But everything else that I was told to bring, I had. However there were things we needed that I was not told about and that was killer. I could have brought them; I have them. I have statements from my retirement plan, if only I was told I needed them. I can print bank statements, no problem. I must have looked as frustrated as I felt because at one point when the lender walked out of the room, Ross made a point to calm me down. (Did practically throwing my pen on the table when asked for yet ANOTHER document I wasn't told to bring give it away?)

However, when it was all said and done, it wasn't my paperwork issues that are holding us back. Here's the scoop - I have bukus of college loans. My mom is co-signed on the big ones with Sallie Mae and I pay those religiously each month. My federal student loans have only my name but my parents out of the kindness of their hearts pay them. But since my parents have no responsibility to those loans, their payments can't help my debt-income ratio. And since I make all the payments on the loans they do have responsibility for, that also can't help my debt-income ratio. Sad huh? I'm 110% grateful that Mom and Dad pay those federal loans, I just wish the bank would be half as appreciative as I am. And because of my crummy debt-income ratio, I can't be preapproved by myself (which was an idea we were toying with since we didn't know if we could get Ross' 2007 W-2's). So that's issue number one.

Issue number two - Ross has been depositing cash tips into our bank account. We can't have any cash deposits into our bank account that aren't documented someplace. This is to keep baby smugglers from buying homes. But we aren't baby smugglers! So because of the cash deposits, the bank won't take into consideration money in our checking account...which is basically half of what we have. And it even makes our savings account questionable because we transfer money from the "sketch-tastic" checking to our savings. We have to have 60 days of no undocumented cash deposits which also means any cash wedding gifts we can't deposit without a cumbersome gift form being submitted. We have 52 days left of "cleaning" our bank accounts.

As we got to the end of this meeting, we felt pretty darn beaten down. How frustrating to KNOW we can afford a house but for our bank not to believe us. And why weren't these things, like the cash deposits, told to us before? Why isn't that common knowledge? When we set up this appointment, why weren't we provided with more complete information? Perhaps all that would have been too easy?

The good news is Grama actually has Ross' W-2's in the Ross file she's kept all his life. So we'll be able to collect those and get him on the loan too. With his income added to mine, our debt-income ratio is fine and won't hold us back. We also have time to do 52 more days of bank account cleaning and still reach out closing goal. Also the lender said that while we can't count the income from two part-tme jobs (sucks) we can submit paperwork from Sam Bass Fire Dept. to help show how we're a young couple with goals and that Ross' time in school is paying off.

Anyways, I think its all going to be OK, but folks, I'll let you know, if you are looking to buy a house, get ready for these loan meetings. Maybe you should ask if a root canal would be an acceptable trade off...

Jul 16, 2009


I've been in a crabby, unpleasant funk since I got back to the office on Tuesday. (Really makes you want to keep reading doesn't it?)

Ross is on his way home and we're going to counseling tonight. I'd like to be in a happy frame of mind for the evening, as well as in general. So here is my list of everything that ROCKS right now (and consider me constantly knocking on a very large piece of wood).
  • We're healthy. No unusual prescriptions needed, no dietary issues, just healthy.
  • Busy at the office means job security. I might be swamped but it definitely means my position is useful and has ample work to go with it. In a shaky economy, job security is a pretty sweet deal. I think I definitely have that.
  • Ross is beginning his firefighting career. And since he's beginning it as a part-timer, I get to gradually adapt to the new schedule. He's happy about the new job; I'm happy about the new job. Our bank account is happy about the new job.
  • We won't be rushed through tonight's dinner. The crockpot wasn't totally plugged in so dinner isn't ready yet but at least we can take our time and eat after counseling instead of stuffing our faces in 5 minutes before.
  • Doing a little work on my Boston vacation means more PTO for house hunting. And with Ross' new firefighting schedule, my ability to take PTO will be imperative. Whew! Glad I can!
  • Lexi gets cuter by the day. I'm not really sure how but she does.
  • This margarita I'm drinking is delicious.
  • Nikki is not going to Galveston tomorrow which means Pool Fridays are back! We'll sit by the pool, sip frozen beverages and debate husbands, work and the meaning of life.
  • My wedding dress has four inches of wiggle room built into it. I really hope I don't need a full four inches but I am glad I don't need to starve myself for the next three months. I can enjoy all the delicious Boston food and pre-wedding parties and so long as I maintain my current weight, life is good.
  • My mom has a beautiful outfit for my wedding. She's going to look great.
  • The house I am lusting after is still on the market. YES!
  • With Ross' new firefighting gig and the $8k tax credit, we might be able to pay of my car and his loans even sooner. Woohoo!
  • Jess is taking me to Cape Cod while I'm in MA.
  • On the same note, I leave for MA in 8 days. WOOHOO!
  • Kevin is living in a house for the next semester and we can play musical puppies when Lexi and I go to Houston in August to shop for Grandma's dress to the wedding. Which means Kevin gets to remember puppy responsibilities first hand.
AND ROSS IS HOME! I'm happier.

Jul 15, 2009

They call me the fireman, that's my name

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.

He's been hired part time by the Sam Bass Fire Department where he's been volunteering.

In dirty details he's on their paid reserve list meaning he's picking up shifts when full-time guys need days off. From the response of the fire house this is many more days than not. And he has Saturdays free which is about to make him a very popular man.

We're both super excited that he's "livin' the dream." He feels good; I feel good. It's a feel good kinda day.


Jul 13, 2009

July Showers

July showers bring lovely wedding flowers...and gifts!

This past weekend Brenda and Bryanna hosted my bridal shower. It was fantastic! They decorated with orange Japanese lanterns, made finger foods, planned fun games and invited all my favorite family. They did a great job and were the perfect friends/family to hostess.

Some of the super wonderful gifts we received included champagne toasting flutes, wedding scrapbook, stemless wine glasses, Partini, digital video camera, fancy schmancy sheets, everything we ever needed for the guest bathroom, beautiful mother-of-pearl serving tray and a full set of silicon bakeware.

I'm back in Austin now and juggling laundry, grocery shopping, mortgage pre approval, thank you notes, etc so I've got to run. But here's a photo Bry took of Melissa and me at the shower.

Jul 7, 2009

Best Girl Scout Thing EVER

Besides cookies. I know you love cookies. Probably Thin Mints, possibly Caramel Delights.

But besides cookies, what is your absolute favorite thing about Girl Scouts?

Mine was summer camp. Holy cow, summer sleepaway camp was the coolest. I got to go really far away from Mom and Dad, ride horses, learn sign language and make lots of noise at the dinner table. Can't say I was real into the swim lessons...I never could learn how to dive. I hung out in level 3 for all 5 summers I think. And anyways I always took a buddy which made it even better. Oh and I got mail from Mom, Dad and Grandma. Yeah, camp basically rocked.

Then when I was a little older and cheerleading replaced Girl Scout camp and nerd camp replaced cheerleading, I was totally ready to be out on my own. No worries. I could pack a suitcase and learned how to wash clothes in the sink when you were down to your last pair of shorts. I could take on the world with just a cabin and a buddy. Sweet.

Now as a Girl Scout staff person, its that independent living I promote. And its great. But I'll be honest, when I was a kid, it totally wasn't about learning to take care of myself. It was about running away to camp with my BFF of the year and playing all day with no parents to tell me to clean my room. (Somehow chores were way more fun when a spunky college girl named "Tigger" was telling you to do them and you got to do them with your BFF.)

I remember Girl Scouts being all about FUN. Riding in town parades, first campouts in the backyard, field trips to the beauty parlour, growing crystals in baby food jars. FUN and FRIENDS. And I still kinda stay in touch with a few of those girls (thank you Facebook). They were definitely among my closest friends through high school. Lisa Smith and I went to high school dances in the same group; Nicole Stallings and I visted each other at our part time jobs and her mom made my prom jewelry. Renee Howard and I went to high school football games together and I think she dated one of my friends.

But I digress. Back to what is Girl Scouts about. Girl Scouts is also about teaching girls whatever skills they need to succeed and making sure they have fun doing it. Back when the org was founded that might have been baking and sewing. Now it's public speaking and computer literacy. It's all about helping girls be the best they can be and often that means building self esteem and confidence so girls have the guts to say no to drugs, teenage sex and other potentially destructive behaviors. In a word: leadership.

So here's the dilly of a pickle: Girl Scouts is about leadership, fun and friends too. All these things are critical to the success of the organization and girls...who after all, are our entire mission and reason for being at Girl Scouts. But how do we convey these things all at once?

Leadership is serious and evokes images of Hillary Clinton, Queen Elizabeth and Michelle Obama (yes, I am clearly a polisci nerd). For some it brings to mind feminist which seems to have a dirty, negative connotation. Even if by feminist all you mean is independent capable gal, somehow it connotates a man-hating, anti-baking, bra-burning hippie. And for an organization best know for sweet cookie sales, that hippie image doesn't really vibe. But for corporate big-wigs who see chick leaders as the next generation of their CEOs and VPs, leadership sounds awesome. And they will donate to awesome, which as the Girl Scouts, is what we're counting on. So yeah, leadership is tricky.

Fun is, well, fun. Water guns, barbies, playing make-believe, singing along with Miley Cyrus, horseback riding. Jamming as many girls as there are seatbelts into a mini-van and driving to the nearest theme park for a day of roller coasters, sunburns and ice cream. Girls love it. Awesome; we want to give them what they love. But we have to find educational value in it; we're not just a party planning organization. Fortunately finding the education is easier than you might think. Troop leaders help girls set goals to go to the theme park, earn the money to pay their admission, plan the trip and pack a first aid kit to stuff under the passenger seat in the mini-van. It's kinda hard though to present yourself as a serious, relevant and necessary organization when your bottomline is fun. So back to leadership we go when we're talking to donors.

Friends...honestly, maybe not the most difficult of messages. Business tycoons call it networking; girls call it BFFs. Either way, the general appreciate for interpersonal relationships is there. Whew, at least one of these is easy.

Many paragraphs of rambling later I pose these questions: How does Girl Scouts effectively show both its BEST THINGS EVER: fun and leadership? How do we attract girls, parents and donors with one Web site? Potentially one newsletter?

If you are a comm person you are probably screaming "You have to target your audiences! Fun smiley pictures on pink backgrounds for girls and clean corporate leader-y images for donors! Come on Cheryl!!" And I totally hear ya. But I don't have the funds for two sets of materials so too bad so sad. That's life. It's called a "nonprofit" for a reason and we've got to get creative to get the most bang for our buck on every marketing material we make.

And finally, I don't want you to finish reading this post and think I must totally hate my job because I just rambled about the challenge of it for a full entry. Freak that I am, in some ways, this is exactly what I like about my job. Maybe I'll be the genius who will figure it out. And if I'm not and someone else is, God willing, I will be lucky enough to learn how they did it. I'll be a better comm person for it and Girl Scouts will help even more girls learn how fun it is to be (secretly) taught leadership skills under the HOT HOT HOT Texas sun of a spunky, funky, wicked-cool Girl Scout camp.

And I hope they all move past level 3 of swimming lessons. I hear diving isn't nearly as scary as I think it is...

Jul 4, 2009

Oprah says

tug o war
Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
Oprah and her guest moms on Friday said that its hard to "do it all." The moms all confessed to being unhappy when they tried to be the perfect mom, wife and career woman.

So I've decided if I have to give something up when I have kids, its gonna be housework. I can't exactly pay someone to have my job; I don't want to pay someone to raise my kids and I'd prefer to keep my (soon-to-be) husband. Housework though - sweeping, laundry, cleaning toilets - I can totally live without those things.

Yeah, I won't do it all. I'll let someone else do the chores.

Jun 28, 2009

Hunting & Nesting

We're getting really excited to buy our house. Friday night we had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and chatted all about our new house. We've not started actually going and looking at houses yet but each day it becomes a little more real that we're going to buy something this year. And with every paycheck we feel more secure in our decision. It's so exciting!

Our friend Kandi recommended a real estate agency to me this weekend and I've been playing on their Web site all afternoon. It's a very user friendly site and I'm finding tons of houses that I love. This particular agency, Zip Realty, offers a cash back rebate when you purchase through them. I have to say, I'm pretty into that idea.

In addition to looking at actual houses, I am looking at all the new house things we want. Mom reminds me that its OK and probably smart not to do it all at once. And I know that. But we've not decided what we're going to do first so I'm just looking at it all. Paint colors, living room sets, bedroom sets, guest bedroom bedding, refrigerators, rugs, EVERYTHING. Mom just told me that we can have the daybed from my room at their house which means suddenly we have guest room furniture. Woohoo! The guestroom will double as my office so I get to decorate however I want. It will definitely be a warm color but whether its orange, red or pink is TBD. I had been thinking bright tangerine walls but it might be hard to find bedding and furniture to compliment that well. Perhaps a girly pink and do the whole shabby chic thing. I dunno...what do you think?

We're both really excited for the new house and I know our biggest challenge is going to be keeping our excitement in check. We have to remember that not every decoration or piece of furniture needs to happen at once.

And for your viewing pleasure, here's the outside of one of the houses we've looked at online.

Jun 25, 2009

Buy In?

Last week I went to a board primer to help me be a better YNPN board member. During this primer the idea of mandatory board donations came up. This isn't uncommon at all, in fact it's very common. You might even go as far as to call it a best practice. For some nonprofits it might mean just that a board member is required to donate something but for a lot of boards, there's a minimum donation and it's often pretty high (at least by my standards).

I recently heard of a local nonprofit with a $5K minimum donation. On the one hand this means they can count on at least X every year depending on their number of board members. This particular group has more than 50 board members so off the bat, they start with $250K in board donations each year. Hefty sum. You know that's great for their fund development people and makes program planning a bit less stressful.

But if you have 50 board members, are they all active? No way. For many its probably a social status marker, a resume item to show their commitment to the community. But if you make a $5K contribution, attend quarterly board meetings and one gala, is that really enough to give you the prestigious status of board member? Isn't that really being a glorified donor (not to shortchange donors in anyway, they are the lifeblood of many nonprofits and greatly appreciated)? Can't we praise and thank these individuals for being donors?

I guess this is where the crux of the discussion comes for me. While I appreciate the security of board donations, especially significant ones, I'm not sure that I want board members who just give. On the same token, I don't want to turn away a passionate, educated, motivated potential board member because their pockets aren't deep enough. For all the leadership a good board member is supposed to provide their nonprofit, I think we should be placing a higher premium on service.

At GSCTX we have an amazing board chair, Linda. I love Linda. She's great. She is a professional volunteer, in fact, she retired from being an elementary school principal in order to be our professional volunteer board chair. She's amazing. I honestly don't know if we have a minimum board donation but I'm inclined to guess that either we don't or it's low as I've never heard of it. So regardless of if Linda gives huge sums to the council, I'm really pleased she goes to bat for us every day in her community and at the office. She attends (and therefore pays to attend) many if not all of our fundraisers and is an excellent representation of the cool, confident woman we hope all Girl Scouts aspire to be. And best of all, she is truly passionate about empowering girls to be successful women.

In short, my two cents is I want board members who are ready to work and are interested in the cause. If they can make hefty donations to the organization, all the better. If they cannot, I hope and expect they will go into the community to aggresively raise funds. But above all, I want passion, involvement and dedication.

What do you think? Can you get board members who both donate heavily and work hard? Which is the ideal? Is reality different than the ideal? Will some boards always be purchased resume builders? What's the bigger business need for a nonprofit? Do the connections, prestige and funds that come with a wildly successful businessman (woman) equal or exceed the hours of a passionate board member lobbying in the community? Really, which is better for a nonprofit? Maybe I'm being idealistic; maybe big names with large donations are the most beneficial and that's why the trend exists. What do you think?

PS I'd like to note that this opinion is subject to change as I climb the nonprofit ladder and develop a better understanding of funding and politics. Of course, it might also not change but either way, that is to remain seen in years to come.

Jun 23, 2009

Are you going to work?

That's the question my pastor asked me today. As in..

Pastor: I meant to ask, will you work once your married? (dead serious)
Me: (looking to Ross for a clue) Yes.
Pastor: Where?
Me:...Same place I work now (very my employment supposed to change. crap is that like changing my name but nobody told me?)
Pastor:...which would be...
Me: Oh, Girl Scouts; communications.

I found this line of questioning to be baffling. Was I going to work? Would it make any sense at all to quit working just because I was married? TODAY?! In the 21st century? Now if the question had been "will you work once you have kids" then yeah that's a more reasonable question. But I was just floored by this idea that because I transition from a Ms. to a Mrs. that I might quit working.

Rest assured Girl Scouts, I'm not going anywhere. I will keep working and taking full advantage of my many vacation days. I'll be working once I'm Mrs. Black, once I'm Mommy and maybe even for a couple years once I'm Grandmommy. This gal is a working girl!

(And my honey, he's a working man. And Lexi, well she's just cute.)

Jun 21, 2009

Happy Dad's Day

I'm not in Houston with my old man but from my couch here in Austin let me tell you why Dad is A-OK by me.
  • He got me hooked on baseball hardcore when I was a kid. The other day I told Ross I used to not throw like a girl so much and he asked why I never played softball. The reason I never played softball is Dad let me play baseball with him and Kevin. When he told me I should start practicing with a softball so I could play I was peeved. Why did I have to use some special ball while Kevin got to use a baseball?! Besides, the softball was too big and I couldn't catch it well, my little hand wouldn't go around it. Even in elementary school, I had a wild feminist streak. Long story short I never played softball but Dad let me keep playing baseball with him and Kevin and started a long tradition of baseball fanaticism. In fact, I'm watching the Red Sox right now...
  • I got Friday surprises. Every Friday when I was a kid Dad brought home Friday surprises for me and Kevin. Most weeks it was something small like a bouncey ball or a candy bar. But two Fridays go down in the Friday hall of fame. 1) When he brought home a fort to build in our backyard and 2) When he brought home Boopie, the Lowe family mutt.
  • He paid me for my grades. I think this kinda irked Mom because she felt (and maybe rightfully) that we were expected to do well in school and didn't need pay. But I say you are expected to do well at your job too and you still get paid for that. Either way Dad told us that school was our job and if we did well, we'd make a little money. And did the man ever have a system. We got our report cards and sat down with him to figure out our pay. $2 for an A, $1 for a B, nada for a C, owed him for a D and no money at all if you got an F. AND then half of that money went into our college savings and the other half was our play money. Lessons learned from this genius act on Dad's part include 1) work hard and it pays off, literally, 2) you are expected to go to college and we're saving for it now and 3) you have responsibilities just like Mom and Dad, even if you are a kiddo.
  • Dad let me steal his Beatles 1 CD for years. I'm not even sure if he knows he let me steal it but I did and he never complained. I rocked out to Yellow Submarine and Eight Days a Week all through high school. I wish I knew where that CD was now...
  • And then he picked "All You Need Is Love" by the Beatles for our father-daughter dance at the wedding this year. Now tell me that's not perfect. I dare you. And speaking of father-daughter dances, my Dad always took me to the Girl Scout father-daughter dance. I wish I hadn't grown out of those so early.
  • Dad went back to school and got his degree. I can't even tell you how proud I was of him when he went back to school in 2001. It had been a few years...decades since he had gone to class but he decided it was time to go back. And he did it, with honors nonetheless.
  • We played hookey on Christmas Eve to go to a Texans game. It was totally unfair that he and I weren't at home to help Mom get ready for the big family Christmas dinner but it was a ton of fun to play hookey and run off to the Texans game with Dad and Uncle Bob.
  • He's always made sure a hurricane didn't sweep me up. I might have thought he was crazy sometimes but the fact remains, a number of tropical storms and hurricanes have hit little Seabrook and every member of my family remained dry and not swept away.
  • Finally, Dad and Mom set a pretty good example for me as to what a functioning marriage and family should look like. I find that the longer Ross and I live together and work out kinks, the more I appreciate it this. Dad's always treated Mom well and that's a great example for both Kevin and me as to how a successful romantic relationship goes. However my parents aren't perfect, thank goodness, and it makes me know its OK that Ross and I aren't perfect either. It's OK if we disagree every once in a while so long as we're both committed to figuring it out. People have quirks and we have to embrace them. I'm glad Dad and Mom are good eggs and that was the example I learned from. I think Ross appreciates it too (because ultimately it means I'm not too crazy and that has to be good for him).
Happy Dad's Day!

Jun 15, 2009

ROWE, ROT, Puppies, etc

new 006.jpg
Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
Ready for the laundry list? Here it goes.

Today I read about ROWE or Results-Only Work Environment. They do it out at the San Gorgonio Girl Scout Council under the leadership of youngest Girl Scout CEO ever, Jessica Lawrence. In a nutshell, Jessica told her staff that she knows just because they are in the office at their desk doesn't mean they are being productive and just because they are at home/Starbucks/where ever doesn't mean they can't be productive. So work when you want, where you want so long as you get the job done. And so they adopted ROWE, making them the first non-profit in the country to do such. I think its pretty cool though I will admit for a type A-er like me, I'm not sure if I could go quite that far. But I like seeing someone do it and prove that it works because hopefully even if many CEOs won't go to that extreme, some ROWE-ish tendencies can be adopted across the board. A friend's ex had an office policy that you be in 10a-3p every day and otherwise work from home, early in the morning, late at night, whatever. But you were there 10a-3p and were available for some face time should anyone need it. Even that sounds pretty reasonable and flexible to me. And that was a government job! Fortunately my department at GSCTX embraces flexibility. It's pretty awesome that Lexi is a legit reason to work from home now and then. Rock on Jessica Lawrence and ROWE.

ROT is the Republic of Texas rally which made Ross one very busy bartender this past week. Love those bikers.

Puppies is really just the one and only Lexi the amazing pointer pup. And here she is with her graduation cap falling off her cute little head. Ain't she sweet?

Etc is...

  • Hiring Nichole to be the day-of wedding coordinator which essentially means she makes sure we all walk down the right aisle and that the right people are waiting at the alter. And that Mom gets to enjoy the ceremony. Woohoo!
  • Going to DQ tonight because I was totally sucked in by the Chocolate Brownie Batter Blizzard commercial I saw yesterday.
  • Still feeling confident in our ability to buy a house this year and having two top of the list favs picked out.
  • Having my bridal shower in a little less than a month and being very excited for it. Ross and I added home things like a grill and lawnmower to our wedding registry in prep for the new house.
  • Taking the pup on a walk in prep of DQ...

Jun 11, 2009

My New Gig

Today I officially started my new job as GSCTX's Online Community Specialist. I'm in charge of EVERYTHING Web related, including and any participation we have in blogs, on Facebook, with Twitter, etc. I'm really excited because after two years as the PR Specialist, I was getting into a bit of a rut. I need an outlet for creativity and given that we don't have a social media plan, I get to be as creative as I want in creating one. I like the change, challenge and opportunity presented by this new gig. Woohoo!

So now I'm organizing my RSS feeds, updating Facebook, getting active on Twitter, etc. All for work. Sweet.

Jun 9, 2009

The Great Wedding Rush

First, Lexi graduated puppy school last Wednesday! Woohoo! The picture has nothing to do with anything else I want to write about but its a really cute pic and I haven't shared it yet. So consider it shared now. K, moving on from Lexi (gasp!).

Now that we've decided to buy a house this year, we're trying to get the wedding all planned by the end of next month. Ambitious feat but very necessary.

Tonight we met with our potential DJ. He seems like a really good guy. He's super mellow which is very different than most the personalities I work with regularly. I guess for that reason he struck me a bit as uninterested at first but Ross pointed out that not everyone is a retired cheerleader and student council member. AND given that said DJ just called me to give me one more small detail that he forgot (and that saves me money) I feel like he's probably just mellow, not uninterested. And maybe on a wedding day, it will be good to have a pivotal player who isn't high strung. Goodness knows Mom, me, Nancy and probably even Ross will be running on enough adrenaline to power the US Army. I think that little follow up phone call may have just scored him a gig.

Other wedding things are going well. We had our first session of premarital counseling last week and have another next Tuesday. Our minister (Reverend technically I it the same thing?) is a nice guy who 'fessed up to not being overly religious in his 20s. It made me feel less guilty about my very sparse church attendance. The homework is pretty interesting too. We have to read three chapters in a book and being the overachiever I am, I've done it. They actually made me giggle a little at times and at other times I all but said out loud "OH YES THAT'S US." Talk about hitting the nail on the head! The chapters talked a lot about the habits of men that drive women crazy and vice versa. But also the value of being different and complementing each other. It's nice to be reminded that even if a habit drives me crazy, it probably provides balance to my life.

Other than that, all we do is talk about the house we're going to buy. We've found two cute ones (online searching) in South Round Rock that we really like. One is my fav, one is his but we both like both. Currently we are in charge of reminding each other not to get too excited because we're not quite ready to move. We would need either house to stay on the market a few more months before we could make an offer. But the good news is this all means there are houses in our price range in the part of town we want to be in. Woohoo!

Jun 5, 2009

Thank You Pres. Obama

On Monday Ross and I figured out something that a lot of people already knew - that $8K first time homebuyer's stimulus is a CREDIT not a deduction.

By Tuesday night we decided we should buy a house. Now we are up to our ears in new lease terms, tax credits (woohoo!), savings plans, MCC, mortgage lenders and rush-wedding-planning. I won't bore you with the details, mostly because its already making my head spin, but I think with a little help of Pres. Obama and Uncle Sam, we can buy a house this year. So here's our new goal: homeownership November 2009.

May 31, 2009

Jess & Rob sittin in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
No this pic is not of Jess and Rob (its of Jess and Cat) but this weekend Jess and Rob got engaged! Woohoo! I've been asking Jess for probably a year what the hell is the hold up. No more hold up. Way to go Rob. I'll give the nutshell version - he proposed at her place after seeing Dave Matthews Band at Fenway. Perfect. And he called her dad the day before to ask for the blessing. Even more perfect.

I really don't have much else to say besides "Woohoo!" I love Jess and I love Rob and I am so happy for them. They are going to be a super cute married couple.

May 28, 2009

Circle Searching

A few weeks ago Ross came home and told me about GAGLE - Gab and Give, Let's Eat! It's a women's giving circle based around dinner parties and check writing. I'm not sure what talk radio show he was listening to that he heard about this. Believe it or not, women's charity is not nearly as popular a topic on his radio as baseball or football. Go figure.

We got to chatting about giving circles and he says to me "I wouldn't mind being part of one...I'd write the check and you could go do the social part. I'll come to like the end of year party." Now not to say my honey isn't charitable but I've never heard him suggest we write checks to people. I'm the bleeding heart. He's more of a "you should pull yourself up by your bootstraps but if your home burns down, I'll pull you out" kinda guy.

As a side note, as I read The Daily Beast today, I realized this is pretty normal. We've talked about it at the office before but men and women have different motivations to give. Women want relationships and communtiy health. Men want to be the best. So is it surprising that I am the bleeding heart and Ross is more action baseed? Probably not.

Anyways, so Ross said that once the Team Black cause is met (ie we buy a house and fill it with a little bit of new furniture) a giving circle could be part of world. Well this thrilled me. I love the idea. I love the charity, community and common demoninator implied in it. It's really all the things I would look for in a church but without the personal conflict (for me) about faith. SWEET.

I looked online today for Austin giving circles. There's Impact Austin but its all gals. I found a statewide circle but its all for the arts. I have nothing against the arts but I'm personally more into education and health.

So how does a young couple who wants to be simultaneously charitable and social do this? Do I need to start a giving circle? I could do that but the last thing I tried to start, a book club, quickly turned into a very flexible wine club. Is Austin's cuture right for a giving circle? I'm inclined to say yes but maybe not. Maybe we should join the United Way's Young Leader's Society but then its UWCA deciding where the money goes. I mostly think UWCA does a pretty good job but I would like to be involved in the process. That's part of the appeal of a giving circle.

We're not quite ready to be notably charitable. Not to sound greedy or selfish, but for the moment, time is the only thing we can give in hefty contributions. Between YNPN and the Sam Bass volunteer fire department, we're doing about all we can do. We've got a few years for Austin to develop an appealing giving circle or network. Maybe the I live here, I give here campaign can get something going. Or a new branch of the United Way or the Austin Community Foundation. Whoever does it, I hope it happens and we can jump on board.

Otherwise I may have to do it myself.

May 25, 2009

Personal Social Media Plan

I realize that just because GSCTX is about to have a social media plan - woohoo! - I as an individual do not also need one. But I would also like if in at least one of the...counting...1, 2...5,6, if in at least one of the six social media tools I use, I could do something more useful for the world than get on soapboxes about the top 10% law or share my excitement for my honeymoon. Something more productive and helpful than telling you how cute my wedding shoes are.

Don't expect this blog to be that thing though. No, I think I am going to focus my Twitterings on sharing useful, inspiring information with others. I'm sure not every tweet will make the world a better place but if more do than not, that's a good thing.

And in a digression, I was chatting with Mom weeks, maybe months ago, about what is it that I am most passionate about. Brittany for example knows its heart health. As I thought about tweeting to make the world a better place I was reminded of my personal mission statement which entirely revolved around the health of my family and community. Maybe whereas Brittany might one day tweet or blog all about heart health, maybe I should just be tweeting about a billion ways to make my family and my community healthier and happier. Whether the tweet is about ways to reduce breast cancer risk or creating awareness of online predators, maybe its just all about sharing what I learn and employ to make my life better with others so their lives can be better too.

I get that "making the world a better place" is a pretty broad and ambitious mission for any organization or person. However when I think about it, I think that might be mine. I don't mean to say "well I'm this wonderful and ambitious person who is going to cure everything from over-priced shoes to genocide through social media." I guess I mean that I can't pick just one narrow focused mission. I can't dedicate myself just to one thing. There's too much else that needs help!

Now maybe you are thinking "oh H-E-double hockey sticks, she's jumping ship on the Girl Scouts" but no, I'm certainly not. I may want to make every part of the world better but honestly, I can only have one job at a time. And Girl Scouts is good because its all about helping millions of girls go out and do good things. Millions of girls, plus all their parents, plus all the grown-up Girl Scouts is a pretty hefty chunk of people. If you are trying to help other people live better lives and help their communities grow, starting with the Girl Scouts ain't half bad. And, as a bonus, its a "teach a man how to fish" type of organization which is what I love. I understand that some basic needs just need to be handed out sometimes but for me, teaching someone how to balance their checkbook, use Microsoft Word, read a book, speak in an interview, say no to drugs, set a goal, cook a healthy meal, all these things and more prevent that person from needing charity and hand-outs later in life. That's what Girl Scouts and many other organizations do and holy cow, it feels good.

Anyway, I guess this all stemmed from thinking "I can't twitter about just Girl Scouts. Too many other things need to be out there too!" and from loving the passion and holistic approach of organizations like We Are One Central Texas, the United Way and YNPN. Organizations that say "lots of things need to happen and we're here to make them happen." I hope I can help make all those things happen a little bit faster by doing some do-gooder tweeting.

May 21, 2009

Woman v. Red

This week I've had dinner with my in-laws, chaired an event and worked a benefit night. But what story am I going to share with you via blog? My battle with the big red stain. Because let's face it, beating a big red stain, sometimes, that's just life.

I came home from work today to this. Actually it was worse than this because this is on round two of carpet foam cleaners. What happened, I can only assume, is that this red drink was left on the coffee table and Lexi knocked it over. And holy cow did it leave a BIG RED STAIN on my white (beige, whatever) carpet.

Folks, I carpet cleaned, I bleached (watered down but nonetheless) and then I googled. It took two hours of various trials but toward the end I found: the red stain remover from God. It must be from Him because that is how well it worked.

Next time you have to fight a big dirty red nasty stain, here's what you do. Mix 2 cups of hot water with 2 teaspoons of dish soap. Pour it on the stain to saturate it. Then get a white towel and put it in hot water. Wring out the excess water, fold it and put it on your big red stain. Next get your iron and put it on a steam setting. Place the iron on top of your towel (and therefore big red stain) and let it sit for 2 minutes. Check it occasionally. The heat and hot soapy water should case the red to be soaked up into your white towel. Keep rinsing the towel and repeating til you are pleased with the results. Then use some clean water on it (soaking up any left over sugar so it doesn't attract dirt and turn the spot into a big gray stain). They WHALAH (sp?)! You will have beat the stain as I did.

That spot is now actually closer to white than the rest of my carpet. Hopefully when the whole thing gets cleaned next month it will even out.

OK that's the end of being lame and discussing carpet stains. But the point is - I WON!

May 18, 2009

The Bachelorette Blog

I started with a couple comments on Twitter but it just wasn't sufficient. Besides, what if reporters start following me on Twitter and realize how mildly in love with reality romance I am? That can't be good for my career.

That said, here's the play by play of the Bachelorette... (btw Mom if we just lived in the same town I would have someone to share my guilty love with and I wouldn't have to subject all these smart, nice people to such trash, but alas you don't and I need a commentary outlet.)

Starter Scenes
Jill lose weight? She looks hot. Good for her. Still though one bikini scene would have been enough. You don't need to sell America on this girl. We already love her!

The Guys
  • First handful of guys - seems to be LA/NYC or bust. need some variety
  • Texans - how stereotypical! An oil man from Houston (really Tiki Island which is closer to home than Houston probably) and a musician from Austin. But so far they are my favorite, from my two hometowns
  • Billbro - what the hell man? dude anyone who renames himself Billbro...
  • Another Texan - and I liked him before I knew he was Texan! Hottie pilot!...Oh wow, yeah if I was not marrying Ross, this guy would be who I'd call. HELLO JAKE!
The Clothes
  • Do you think if I promised not to fall in love, Ross would let me go on the Bachelorette just to collect the sweet clothes?And how many people does it take to make someone look that nice on TV? Could I get them for my 5 a.m. TV interviews during cookie season?
  • Jake will be remembered for his tie if nothing else. Way to go out on a limb.
  • Another Texan! And a bartender. As Ross knows, I love a bartender but especially if they are also firefighters.Oh and this is the clothes subtitle...yeah, he wore some.
  • That is a hot cowboy hat. I wish he were a Texan. I should ask Ross to wear his cowboy hat more.
  • I LOVE that they gave the Brit captions ("to wear," keeping with our clothes theme). As if he doesn't speak English. GREAT.
The Bachelorette Blog is now giving way to dessert... but holy cow I am excited for this season of the Bachelorette! My DVR is set and ready to go!

May 16, 2009

Where's the Ross?

Originally uploaded by cheryl_lynn425.
Oh, he's in Dallas. Ross, Rick and Ryan (no actually we don't have friends whose names start with a letter other than R, funny you should ask) are all in Dallas for a buddy's birthday. Will there be mayhem? Yes. Will they party like college kids? Yes. Will Ross have bruises from paintball? Yes. Are Sus and I upset about being abandoned with the dogs? No. In fact, I might go out on a limb and say we're pleased about it.

As you know I like Ross, quite a bit even. And I like Rick and Ryan. I even like the birthday boy, Aaron, and most their other Dallas friends. But there is little if any reason that the wives need to be around for those shenanigans. We can't keep up no matter how hard we try.

So til tomorrow night, its just us girls. Me and Lex during the day and Kandi, Sus and I tonight for Kandi's birthday. I'm in to co-ed groups but sometimes a weekend with the girls is A-OK.

May 14, 2009

My Mission

When I went to DC I met Rosetta Thurman, a rockstar nonprofiteer who not only rocks at her own job but is sought out as a resource for young nonprofiteers nationwide. ROCKSTAR. Since then I've been following her on Twitter which has led me to a variety of her online genius-sharing forums. Today she tweeted a blog list she created about advancing your nonprofit career in 44 different ways. Number 13 rocked - Create a personal mission statement.

So guess what this blog will do...begin the personal mission statement!

First here's a tid bit from Rosetta about writing a personal mission statement

I have been developing my personal mission statement for almost a year now. It’s been a truly rewarding process to write and revisit my goals and values for my life and compare them to how I actually balance my priorities. There’s something really powerful and empowering about being able to say YES or NO to opportunities that come into your life based on how you want to live out your personal values. Dumb Little Man has a great definition of what a personal mission statement is:
Your personal mission statement should be a concise representation of what’s most important to you, what you desire to focus on, what you want to achieve, and, ultimately, who you want to become. In its purest form, it’s an approach to your life, one that allows you to identify a focus of energy, creativity, and vision in living a life in support of your inner-most beliefs and values. Also remember that your mission will change over time as you and your life change.

You can get the full scoop on her blog. I'm going to follow her steps for drafting and you lucky reader will be privvy to it all.

First, Rosetta says to make a list of your values, those things that mean a lot to you
  • Ross
  • My family
  • Lexi
  • The health and happiness of the aforementioned people (yes Lexi is a people)
  • Making the world a better place
  • Teaching my kids to make the world a better place
  • Empowering people to help themselves
  • Harnessing my strengths - writing, talking and connecting - to achieve great things
  • Inspiring others to use their strengths to make the world a better place
  • Being an integral part of my community
  • Tactful honesty
  • Meeting personal challenges and coming out on top
  • Taking care of myself and the people around me
Second, what are your goals? How do you want to be remembered?
  • Good wife and mother
  • Inspiring
  • Kind-hearted
  • Ambitious and successful - I'll be honest, I want to be a nonprofit CEO or ED
  • Debt-free
  • Giving
  • Mover-n-shaker for the greater good
Third, write the mission statement. Whew, OK here we go.. draft 1

I am committed to my family and my community. I value the health and happiness of both and strive to use my communication and relationship-building skills to empower them to reach their goals, build a happy future and identify and give back to their passion.
I don't think that sounds half-bad. It's the last clause that is most mission statement-y to me. It's very results oriented but I think the first parts are still needed. It's my mission statement afterall. I can decide what's needed.

May 12, 2009

Working Girl, Wife, Mom and/or Me

Yesterday Haila and I had a conversation about how much time each element of your life is allocated and how that changes. Even now, when I'm not quite a wife and the closest thing I have to a child is an adorable puppy, I'm already feeling the tug-o-war of time. Would a 25 hour day change it? Probably not. It would just be another hour to split.

I don't mean to be a negative Nellie. That's not the goal here at all. In fact its just a reflection on the many directions and commitments in life once you reach "a certain age."

And a more interesting thing is when I started this post it was titled "Working Girl, Wife and/or Mom" but after about two sentences I realized I wasn't in any of those things. Yes, those are all things I am or aspire to be but they are all focused on serving or caring for someone else. Where was the me time even just in the blog title? So as an after thought I added myself to the list. Is that foreshadowing for life you think?

Anyways, Haila was saying that in the pre-Kass world, she was satisfied being the job, the working girl. But post-Kass, no way Jose. She's a mom first. On that same note, I'm comfortable, even happy, to put my career very close to the top for the time being. Climb that ladder and get someplace comfy that I can hang out at for the baby making years. But is the job really that important? Should the job ever come before the honey and the puppy, or in the case of later in life, the babies?

Joel's asked me before "If you had 1 week to live, what would you do? Would you come to work?" and of course the answer is NO. At most I might call the office and let them know it was time to look for additional help because I was checking out. That's assuming I thought about it. Honestly, I would probably pack up Ross and Lexi (knock Ross out with some powerful pain killers so that I could drag him onto a plane) and fly to paradise.

And when I do die, hopefully much longer than a week from now, will anyone say "Wow, she was a rockstar at social media and press releases" ? Christ, I hope not. Unless I invent something as world-altering as the Internet, what will hopefully be said about me will relate to the way I was a friend, wife, mother, daughter and granddaughter. If the blog or press releases get mentioned, all the better but God help me if they are the focus. That said, the most energy in my life should go to family and friends.

I know you say "duh" here; I say "duh" here. But I would be lying if I said it was always that easy. Nothing against the 1950s housewife, but that's not my goal. I want to have it all: my own identity, a hubby, kiddos, puppies and a career. So how to divvy it up?

Long story short, I sorta forgot the point I was going to drive home, and rest assured, many ramblings ago I was going to drive it home hardcore. However I guess you could say its that because I am a woman, because I am Type A, because I am anal retentive (thanks Melissa for defining that for me), I'm already, before becoming a wife or mother, feeling the inevitable tug-o-war on my time. And every time I feel it, even the slightest, it makes me admire my own mother that much more. When I was in high school, she balanced being herself, a wife, a mother, a career woman and a student. And ya know what, as her child I never felt neglected. In fact even if I didn't realize it then, her ambition and drive was building my expectations for myself. If she can do it all, I can too. I know her education took a temporary backseat so she could have babies, but she still earned her master's degree before I graduated high school. I'm sure her career also slowed at points because of a need to do things for us kiddos. I think ultimately she's OK with it; at least I've never heard her complain.

So maybe the take away point is way to go Mom. Way to rock at life, when I was a kiddo and now that I am a grown-up-ish person.

If you made it this far, you just read a serious stream of conciousness. You deserve a cookie.