Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Resolutions

Alright, here I go...

1) Learn to knit.
2) Write 100 paper letters to various people in my life, telling them something I really like about them.
3) Pay more attention to the communities in which I live and work — notice details and changes.
4) Actively promote and advance my friends — connect them with people, ideas, and opportunities.
5) Renovate the new house we just bought (this is kind of a no-brainer, since the city has a timeline on it and since my MIL is moving up to move into it in 6 months)

and two continued from last year:

6) Exercise more, eat better.
7) Have (at least) one friend/couple/whatever that we don't see enough over for dinner a month. (I may even throw in the challenge to cooke something from my friend Robin's cookbook for that meal!)

Two I would like but are harder to measure:

8) Be more creative — make more things. Maybe quantify by "Make one new thing a month."
9) Make our home a more comfortable, relaxing place to be.

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Ok, off in the rain/snow/sleet to a NYE party in NE Minneapolis. Excited to go, but dreading the weather and keeping Beatrix up — but we bought a big cake to bring, so we have to go!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Falling Into Place - Part 2


Ok, there was one thing I didn't mention in my post yesterday because I didn't want to jinx anything for the closing today...

...we bought another house!

It all started in the fall, when I was trying to demonstrate to someone what good deals there were in foreclosures in Saint Paul right now. I went to Edina Realty's website, and there was a house, tucked just behind the state capitol, and looking in pretty good shape, for $7,500.

A few days later, on the way to visit my mom's grave, I convinced Patrick to drive past it. We were pretty impressed by the neighborhood — it's charming, close by, and within walking distance to the new light rail. It's in an area I really had not paid much attention to before, kind of where Frogtown and the North End meet. We called our long-suffering realtor, who took us through it and was also pretty impressed (though he reports his colleagues asked "Where do you find these people?" "Well, the last house I showed them was $750,000...")

The house needed electrical work and plumbing, but was generally sound. We brought another long-suffering contractor friend through it, and he was also impressed.

So we placed an offer, which was accepted.

Except that the house was a Category 2 Registered property with the City of Saint Paul, which meant that the sellers (Freddie Mac, since it was obviously a foreclosure) had to get a Code Compliance report done. We insisted, and they eventually rejected our offer. Then we placed another offer, offering to pay for the code compliance report ourselves (we legally could not order one, since we were not the owners), and were again rejected. The house was supposedly "under offer" and went off the market. (In the meantime we went on a little "tour of foreclosures," and there is still a lot out there).

Then, in November, the house popped up again (for even less!), and this time, the listing agent had actually convinced the sellers to do a code compliance report. We placed an offer contingent on that report, and spent several nail-biting days waiting for the report. Finally, just after Thanksgiving it all came through — the work to be done was not too onerous, and we were cleared to go ahead. We still had some hurdles to clear with the city, but we made it through those.

So today, we closed on our $7,200 house!

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(What are we going to do with it? Well, fix it up, and then my mother-in-law will live there when she moves up here this summer. There are two more parents after that, so you never know, we may be looking for more place...)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Falling Into Place

A few weeks back my Facebook statuses got everyone all excited because I posted about "things falling into place." No, we didn't buy the house we were lusting after on Summit, basically because we already love the two houses we already have and are having a hard time choosing between them! But a lot of other things have been coming together:

- I picked up two more ongoing clients, which I am really excited about.
- ALL THREE organizational development proposals to MRAC that I was on board for got funded — add those to my standing clients and to several other projects, and I will be a busy girl!
- Meanwhile, Patrick is on course with his next book, and was selected to chair a major conference.
- We were able to rent out the Summit house to a very charming gentleman for the Christmas holidays, and thanks to the Blessings, purchased some great cork flooring to redo the sunroom.
- Our daycare schedule changed, and while it originally looked like it would be a major issue, has turned out to give Beatrix more school time, equal time with Alex, and less cost! (plus maybe even some date nights for us).
- Patrick worked hard to get some new shelving up in the basement, so we are on our way to organization.
- I got a great deal on some more pilates passes at the Sweatshop, so will be able to continue!

(oh, and when I originally posted that it looked like I would be able to FINALLY attend Books and Bars — that feel through, but at least Rebecca and I had a great evening at WA Frost lounge last night!)

Stay tuned for more good news...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Year's Resolutions for 2011

Huh, looking back I realize I really LIKE my resolutions from last year...

1. House: 3 big projects
- finish cleaning and organizing basement - well, we're maybe halfway there...
- finish bedroom - finished and wonderful!
- repaint the exterior and re-do the front porch - done, and we love it!

2. Friends
- Have one friend/couple that we don't ordinarily see over for dinner a month - hands down my/our most successful 2011 resolution. Lots of fun and great to reconnect with people (and connect them with others).

3. Health
- Start exercising more and eating more healthily — MIL's stroke was a big wake-up call for this. - mixed, I do now attend pilates 1x a week and work out on the exercise bike, but not enough

4. Technology
- Some year-end notice for my strange little blog made me realize I need to be more intentional about it. - mixed, there's more to do but I feel pretty good about it.
- Tech in general — I'm tired of Patrick, the techie, having control of All Things Technical in our house. I need to better understand this, and set up my own systems. mixed - made some strides, but more to go.

5. Work
- I've got a lot of clients right now, but I need to take things to the next level with pay and happiness. - VERY successful! Yay!

6. De-access
- Sell off some of the things we are no longer using (anyone want to by a nice, low-miles Audi sedan? I'll drive it to you...). mixed, definitely more to do
- Get rid of some of the smaller stuff — clothes, housewares, etc. I know I will never do enough of this to make my husband happy (after all, he's the "Minimal Mac" guy and would be happier if we lived in 300 square feet with just an Eames chair), but it's creating a happy medium) - much better about this!

All in all, I feel pretty successful. Plus I did indeed ditch the double-space after a period habit!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Out of the Mouths...

This morning, as we went to school, Beatrix and I were talking about how nice Daddy was. She then ruminated that "I'm not always very nice to daddy," and when I asked her how replied "I kick him, I tell him the sun [her morning nightlight] is on when it's not..."

We then discussed all the people she was nice to, Daddy and Mommy and Clara and Grandma Tisch ... "And Grandma Mary Lou. Remember when we thought that Grandma Mary Lou was dead but she's not? That was funny." So then we had the whole dead discussion again — happy Monday before Christmas...

When I picked her up tonight, she was having trouble finding her various mittens. We found one, in a bag that suspiciously held one of her teacher gifts she was giving out today — travel mugs filled with chocolate candies. Only this one had a mug — and a lot of candy wrappers. When pressed on this, Beatrix concocted an elaborate story about how Teacher Kelli didn't like chocolate or peanut butter and didn't want the gift. We then had a lesson-filled evening of refilling the mug from Beatrix's candy stash and declining a trip to Santa after Beatrix blithely mentioned that she just wouldn't tell Santa about he incident (cue rendition of "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," after which Beatrix reasoned we did not live in a town, so we were ok.

I hope Santa isn't watching.....

(this was, somewhat, all made up for as described in a text from Clara today — several androgynous punk youth crossed the street in front of their car and Beatrix remarked "I just saw the Beatles!")

Monday, December 5, 2011

Occupying-ing

We're in the process of switching, from Big Bank (US Bank) to small bank (Anchor). The move was actually not politically instigated — it was because of other issues — but it correlates nicely with the Occupy Your Bank Account movement, and falls within the reasons.

I have a small trust, left to me by my mother, which I will not be able to access for some time. The trust was put in the control of US Bank, where it had been invested since my mother inherited it.

When it was first transferred, there were a number of issues, many of which I blamed on the law firm that handled my mother's will (and they were certainly far from blameless.) But, over the years, there have been any number of slip-ups by USB. i would not hear from them for ages — and then would call with a question, only to find that my trust manager had apparently disappeared into thin air. They would take me out to lunch, assuring me I was in the top 1% of their clientele, and then not return my calls. Then they would hold large meetings, where several men in suits would file through, only to have each of those men speak to Patrick and not to me. They would sell stock and securities without asking. My "private banking" status seemed to come with no recognizable perks. And then I found out that, for all of this, their fees were much higher than comparable management.

So I transferred the trust, and am closing the bank accounts. I did write my new trust advisor to let him know, before the transfer papers arrived, and heard absolutely nothing back. So apparently I am not so valuable to them as they expressed.

My new bank, on the other hand, experienced a hiccup late Friday night. My banker emailed me back about it, form her smart phone, while driving with her husband do Menomonie in a blizzard yesterday, to assure me it will be alright.

That's why I like small local businesses.

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(in an aside to that, I purchased several gifts in small local places tonight and feel rally good about them all!)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Things My Mom DID Do

A few weeks back, I posted a sad post about things my mom missed out on. Tonight, I am thinking about all the things she DID do, which are many!

- She loved traveling and travelled to hundreds of places, all around the world (many of which we went to together). She took me on my first trip, driving to New Orleans, when I was not even 4. We stayed at the Olivier House, ate at fancy restaurants, and walked down Bourbon Street where I looked through the doors at the "fancy ladies."
- Among those trips, she went through the Panama Canal, stayed in Morocco when the king was visiting, went to her favorite places like Hawaii and Thailand numerous times, brought babies back from Korea, kissed the Blarney Stone one Christmas, went on her own to Brazil (in the early 1970s!), swam with the dolphins, and climbed through rice paddies in the Philippines.
- As well as trips with me, she went on several trips with friends, experiencing exotic places and the fun of just hanging out.
- She went to Amelia Island, Florida every March, where she rented a beach house on North Fletcher Road and enjoyed the ocean all day.
- She worked a career she loved at Children's Home Society for many years, and then went on to found several small businesses, including a Halloween shop and clothing trunk shows before they were common.
- She bought her house on Summit with my dad in 1965 for $20,000, restored it, added on to it, built a swimming pool which she used every day, and loved all of it.
- She held notoriously boozy holiday parties with eminently 50s appetizers (rumaki and crab toast, anyone?).
- She loved Christmas, decorated to excess and baked 15+ kinds of Christmas cookies, plus lefse and quick breads.
- She read voraciously, crafted when she thought she *should,* and knitted haphazardly. She played a mean game of bridge.
- Although we did not go to many arts events when I was younger, when I got older and started to work in theatre she started attending a lot and loved it. She liked to go to small local theatres and the occasional big extravaganza like "Riverdance" or West End shows in London.
- She got to see me graduate 3 times. She was so happy I married Patrick. She was proud of Max and Miles, and of her whole family and all her friends.