Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Natural

The Natural, by Bernard Malamud, 1952 (231 pages)

Considering that I'm such a big fan of baseball, I can't believe that I had never read this book! (And I've still never seen the movie.) As the back of my copy says, "The Natural, Bernard Malamud's first novel, is also the first -- and some would say still the best -- literary novel written about baseball.

I really enjoyed this book. It was quite different from everything else I've been reading lately! It tells the story of Roy Hobbs, a man with incredible baseball talent who is actually a rookie in the Majors at the age of 35 (due to an "accident" earlier in his life). It's interesting to see how the other players, the coach, and even the fans respond to him...first being skeptical, then being accepting, and then practically worshipping him.

I liked all of the "baseball" elements that were included in this book. I do think that someone who's not a big baseball fan could read this book and enjoy it just for the story; however, I think that having some understanding of the significance of the baseball jargon definitely helps to appreciate the actual writing style. I like the quote (again, on the back of my copy) by Alfred Kazin: "[Malamud] has really raised the whole passion and craziness and fanaticism of baseball as a popular spectacle to its ordained place in mythology."

Especially if you're a fan of baseball, I definitely recommend this book!
Total number of books read in 2009: 36
Total number of pages read in 2009: 12683

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Painting the Master

After painting the guest room/office, we decided to start in on the Master bedroom. The Master is at the front of the house, so it gets good light in the morning. The walls in here were actually two different colors, although the blue was so pale that it didn't look much different than the white(ish) color that the other walls were painted. (Side the closet, we could see other colors that had been painted in the Master at some point. Prior to the pale blue, this room was a light green. Before that...HOT pink.)

Before painting:

The Master doesn't technically have its own bathroom. However, it does have a "dressing area." It's this little vanity and another closet, and this area connects to the main bathroom on the floor. (Note: we discovered on Sunday that the door from the Master to the bathroom doesn't really close entirely. It'll pop open at any given moment. Something else to be fixed.)
For most of the Master bedroom, I used the roller while Shawn did the detail work at the ceiling, floor, corners, and trim.
This little vanity area was kind of a pain to paint...trying to get around those mirrors and lights.
This is the first coat in the Master bedroom. It will definitely need a second coat because there are too many areas where the light color underneath is showing through. This paint is a bit different than we were expecting. In this picture, it looks fairly light. In person (and in certain light), it actually looks quite bold. At twilight on Sunday, this paint looked downright purple!
My hunch is that it'll look better after a second coat, and I think that it'll be toned down a bit when we put our furniture in here. We have a dark wood dresser, and our bedding is black with a white geometric pattern. And worst case scenario? We'll live with it for awhile and eventually paint it again.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Starting the Makeover!

After getting our keys to the new house last Tuesday, Shawn and I have been trying to juggle our jobs and doing what needs to be done in the house. We've known all along that we'd like to do quite a bit of painting in the house, and it just made sense to us that we should attempt to do as much of it as possible before we actually move in. Empty rooms = easier painting!

Since neither of us has done much painting in awhile, we decided that the first room we painted should be one that wouldn't be a big deal if we messed it up a bit. So...exhibit A. This is the bedroom that I'm guessing used to be a nursery for twins. We've decided to make it our office/guest room. A few days ago, it was a bright, cheery yellow.

With vinyl words attached to the wall. I'm guessing they were over cribs...they just seem to be that height. The other set said, "I'm a princess with an attitude!" Cutesy, no? But not really what we had in mind for our office. I figured I could peel them off...they're basically stickers. I thought my fingernails would do the trick, and a putty knife would be a good backup (with spackle, if necessary).

Fortunately, a friend on facebook had a brilliant suggestion. A hairdryer!! After about 60 seconds of hot air blasting onto the letters...

...the letters basically peeled right off! The backs of the letter actually remained rather sticky, so I'm thinking if I'd really wanted to salvage them, I probably could've. I didn't. :)

Once the words were off the walls, I started washing down the walls with TSP. Shawn taped around all the trim, and then we dove in to the painting. I have to admit that it was a little nerve wracking to put the roller to the wall the first time.

We switched off some for this room, but I think Shawn was pretty handy with the paintbrush, taking care of the trim. We got the first coat done on this room on Saturday night, and we did a second coat on Sunday. (We'll admit that we're a bit annoyed by the fact that we needed two coats, considering that we bought the expensive paint based on the recommendation of the paint guy at Lowe's who told us that it would eliminate the need for primer and also would most likely cover just fine in one coat.)
Oh, just to clarify...before we did the second coat, Shawn's friend David showed us how to get the blinds off the window, so yes...those did come down. :) We haven't painted the trim yet (that'll probably be Tuesday evening), so I'll post official "after" pics of the room when that's done.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Getting Started! was a full day! Shawn, of course, had to go to work all day, but my plan was to head over to the house for a little bit. Before driving over, I stopped by our storage closet and put a few boxes in the car to be taken to the house. One really nice thing about living in this condo is that we were able to leave a pretty good amount of our stuff in plastic Rubbermaid boxes in storage, so we don't have to repack all of that!

Once I got to the house, I unloaded the car and then started taking pictures. I was thinking of them as "before" shots of the house, so I tried to get fairly detailed. I'll probably try to put them all in an online album pretty soon so I can share them all on here without overwhelming the blog. I don't think it's really sunk that the place is ours, even though I let myself in and I was there alone today for the first time. Maybe once the furniture's in....

I also took the opportunity to put the sample paint up on the walls. We're going to kind of "wing it" in a couple of the rooms (that we don't care so much about getting just the "right" shade), but we had picked out two colors for the living room and two colors for the master bedroom. My plan was to get the samples up today so that we can see them dry tomorrow and make a decision. Hopefully we'll get lots of painting done this weekend!

These are two options for the living room:

And these are two options for the master bedroom:

In non-house news, my job has just exploded this week! My boss called me on Monday to ask if I'd be willing to take on a new course that already had 77+ students in it. I agreed to do it! The course was transferred Monday night, so I started digging into it a bit yesterday. It wasn't until today, though, that I really began to see the mess I've inherited. I won't bore you with all the details, but the previous teacher of this course (and actually, I got another section of the same basic course I've been teaching, too) did some STRANGE things with this class! There are exams worth zero points. There are discussion board assignments that aren't actually graded. And I realized tonight that there are assignments that have been submitted in the wrong places and given completely incorrect grades. This should be fun. :-) But it's more than doubled my student load in the last few days...which means more pay, of course! I'm not sure the timing is the greatest (getting so many extra students the same day we close on the house), but it'll all work out!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

We're Homeowners!!

It's official...we're homeowners! A week after our scheduled closing date, we finally closed on our house! The seller (the foreclosure bank) submitted their signed paperwork this morning, so the funds were able to be transferred. The deed was recorded in our name this afternoon...and we own a house!

After Shawn got off work, we borrowed a friend's SUV and went to buy a washer and dryer from a couple off of Craigslist (who actually moved here from Denver about 2 years ago!). We could only fit one appliance in the SUV, so we left with the dryer. We'll go back for the washer on Thursday. Then we met our realtor for dinner, where she treated us to wonderful steaks and gave us our keys! (And an amazingly generous housewarming gift...a Lowe's gift card!)

Then we headed to the house. Here it is! (Shawn's bent over behind the huge group of weeds, tying his shoe.)

This is Shawn, trying to see the keys in the dark:

Here we are, about to unlock our front door for the first time! (Sorry about the creepy face I'm making...I was trying to avoid going blind from the flash at 9:00 at night.) I unlocked the door, and we opened it together. Then Shawn picked me up and carried me over the threshold (awwwwww......). was a fireman's carry. :-)

After we ran a few "victory laps" (and put the new dryer into the garage and took our friend's car back to him), we hung out for a little while on our new deck! We enjoyed a glass of wine, and we looked at the stars. We can actually see the stars from our new deck!! No more light pollution from Walmart and I-5! Yay! Shawn was ready to sleep out here. I made him go back to the apartment where our bed is located. :-) (Although I did mention that I wouldn't wholeheartedly object to sleeping on the deck on long as he inflates the air mattress for me first.)

And's a little message about what we hope we'll be doing in our new house! (Yes, I do plan on keeping the previous owners' vinyl letters that are on the dining room wall, above the French doors leading onto the deck.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

House/Weekend Update

As I'm writing this, it's Sunday evening. Still no house. On Thursday, we received confirmation from the Escrow company that the seller had finally received the information from the HOA that they had been waiting on. However, we also learned that it would probably take two more days for the seller to sign their paperwork...and they don't count weekends. So chances are, the paperwork won't be signed until sometime on Monday, meaning that we'll quite possibly get the money transferred and the deed recorded on Tuesday. Or maybe Wednesday. We should get the keys to the house the same day that the deed is recorded.

Our plans for this weekend had been to paint. And paint. And paint some more. Obviously, we can't paint a house we don't own. We did still buy some painting supplies last week (brushes, rollers, paint trays, tape, paint samples) so that we'll be ready to go as soon as we get keys. We've been "window" shopping for appliances this week. I actually found a laundry set on Craigslist this weekend that we're going to check out on Tuesday. We also think we've picked out the fridge.

While we were at Lowe's checking on appliance (and lawn mower) prices, we went over to the lighting area. The previous owners of our house took the entryway chandelier, so I've been trying to get an idea of prices for a new one. We saw one chandelier at Lowe's that we liked, and I noticed it was marked down to $44 from $88. Thinking that was a great deal (and cheaper than what I'd been finding), we decided to go ahead and buy it. We didn't want to come back later and find out it had been sold out. However, when we went through the checkout line, the chandelier rang up at a different price...only $22! So after tax, our brand new chandelier cost us a whopping $24. Here's a pic of the box:
I didn't even notice at first that the chandelier is actually's pretty light colored. Maybe someday down the road I'll refinish it to make it silver.

Last night, we went over to our friends' house. It was nice to hang out with our group of friends from church, playing games, chatting, and eating some yummy food. :) This particular couple who was hosting us all has recently purchased their home and already done a lot of renovation. When we left last night, they let us borrow their ladder and drop cloths for painting. So nice of them!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Snorkeling in Maui

Shawn and I really enjoyed snorkeling when we were on our honeymoon in Jamaica, so we knew that it was something we wanted to do in Maui. Truth be told, Shawn probably would've preferred to go scuba diving (he's PADI certified), but I'm kind of afraid of the ocean. That's not true...I'm afraid of the large creatures with sharp teeth that swim in the ocean. I've finally learned over the last couple years that I do okay in the water as long as there are other people around and the water is super clear.

So on Thursday of our vacation week, we got up before sunrise and went to the Maui Dive Shop to check in for our 3-hour snorkel trip. (And yes, there was at least one joke cracked about it being a 3-hour boat tour.) We were fitted for flippers and snorkel masks, and then we headed to the boat ramp. We first headed out to the Molokini Crater. It's the place to snorkel in Maui because it's actually a marine-life reserve. We could see it from our condo, and we took this picture from the boat that morning.
I took my time getting into the water because, frankly, I was nervous. There were quite a few other boats there at the same time, but that actually made me feel much safer. If I weren't nervous about the water, I probably would've been annoyed by the number of people was not uncommon to bump into people while swimming. Here's proof that I was snorkeling!
There were some amazing things to see at the crater! There was lots of coral, of course, and things like urchins and sponges. But the fish were so cool! Many of them were types of fish that we've seen at the Seattle Aquarium, and I wasn't really expecting to see them in Hawaii. (Not sure why I was surprised.) We saw unicorn fish, box fish, puffer fish...and all sorts of fish whose names I don't know. I thought this one below was an Angel fish, but I think it's technically a type of trigger fish. Are they the same thing?
Like I said above, Shawn's a certified scuba diver, so unlike me, he's perfectly comfortable in the deep waters. So a number of times, he chose to dive down to get a closer look at the creatures. Don't worry...he remembered to hold his breath below water and blow the water out of his snorkel when he got back to the surface. :)
I think that the absolute coolest thing we saw at the crater was a Moray Eel! We actually both saw it when it was swimming from one hiding spot to the next, and I think that was the first time I'd ever seen an eel actually swimming. So cool. He blends in really well to his surroundings, but he is in the picture below. He's almost in the middle of the picture, to the right of the skinny black fish. He was hanging out under the coral with his mouth open. I'll admit...his mouth open made him look pretty scary to me, and I thought he was taking a defensive stance (and I was happy to swim away). I found out later that a Moray Eel has to have its mouth open to breathe.
After spending an hour at the Molokini Crater, we got back on the boat and headed over to another dive site closer to the shore of Maui. It's an area that's commonly referred to (around Maui) as Turtle Town. So I'm sure you can guess that this is an area where it's pretty easy to find sea turtles. I'll be the time we got here, I wasn't feeling well. Combination of being on a boat, bobbing around in the ocean, and swallowing my fair share of sea water was not making my tummy happy, so I had a hard time concentrating on my snorkeling. But I did see a Spotted Eagle Ray (really cool, especially since it was skimming the bottom and I was floating on the top). And we saw a turtle pretty close up! Shawn was actually trying to take a picture of a box fish when this guy came out of the cave in the coral to go get air. Such a beautiful creature!
It was such an awesome experience, and I'm really glad that we decided to spend the money on it. And honestly, it wasn't all that expensive. We could've spent more money for a longer trip, but really, our 3 hour trip was perfect for us. If you find yourselves in Maui, go snorkeling at Molokini! And we loved going with the Maui Dive Shop. :)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

So Close...Yet So Far

Today is September 15th...Closing Day!! Shawn and I have been getting really excited for this, especially over the last few days. We've been looking at appliance prices and picking out paint colors. We've been making extensive to-do lists and trying to prioritize those. Last night, around 9:00, we looked at the time and made the comment, "By this time tomorrow, we should be homeowners!" We were actually up past midnight, and shortly after 12:00, I said to Shawn, "We're becoming homeowners today!"

I think I jinxed us.

We had been told that the funds should transfer before 11:00am. Once the funds transferred to the Escrow company, the process would begin to get the deed recorded. We were estimating that it would be between 4 and 5pm when our realtor would get the call saying that our deed was recorded and she would legally be allowed to give us the keys. She was planning to take us out to dinner to celebrate, and then we were going to head on over and bask in the glory of our new home.

Change of plans.

Our realtor called me just after noon. She had just been informed that we wouldn't be closing today. Apparently, the seller (which is the bank who owns the foreclosure) needs some information from the HOA before they can sign their documents. However, they haven't been able to get in touch with the HOA, and therefore, they haven't signed their documents. Therefore...we don't get our keys. No closing.

What's especially bizarre is that nobody knew they hadn't signed. Our lender attempted to wire the funds this morning, and the escrow company essentially sent it back, saying, "Sorry, the seller hasn't signed. We can't take the money." Once that happened, our loan officer called our realtor to let her know. Our realtor called the listing agent to ask what was up, and even the listing agent didn't know about it! I'm not sure how that happens.'s frustrating. At this point, we have no idea how long this will be delayed. They could sign and we could close tomorrow, or it could be another week. We're definitely keeping our fingers crossed for getting the keys sometime before the weekend! There's just a lot of stuff we want to do before the official move, and this weekend is really the only big chunk of free time we'll have between now and the end of our apartment lease. So here's hoping I have good news to share soon!

Mark Twain in Hawaii

Mark Twain in Hawaii: Roughing It In the Sandwich Islands, by Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1990? (85 pages)

When we were in Maui, I walked across the street to Whalers General Store one afternoon to pick up a 6-pack of Diet Coke. While I was there, I wandered through the "tourist trap" souvenir section, just to see what they had. I was intrigued by their little rack of books, and I saw this one. For $5.95, I figured it was worth picking up.

In 1866, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was sent to the Hawaiian Islands as a correspondent for the Sacramento Union newspaper. He spent about four months there, and in that time, he wrote 25 articles for the paper and took many personal notes. In 1872, he wrote this personal narrative using much of the information from those articles and notes. (*Note...this book was actually written in 1872, but the publishing date in my book is 1990. I think that's just that specific edition, with the foreword and the extra drawings and photos added in the back.)

It was a very quick read, and it definitely includes some of the Twain humor that I've grown to love. In places, he's very sarcastic and satirical. I've read a couple reviews of this book that say that Twain is being racist, but frankly, for the most part, I think those people are missing the satire. (Imagine that...people misunderstanding Twain!) I really liked the sections where he's describing his visits to the volcanoes, and he also describes a quick visit to Maui and Haleakala (which we saw on our last day there).

It wasn't a thrilling read, but it was very interesting to see the perspective of an American visiting the kingdom of Hawaii long before it became a state. If you can find this book, it's worth a quick read!
Total number of books read in 2009: 35
Total number of pages read in 2009: 12452

Monday, September 14, 2009

West Maui and Lahaina

On our second day in Maui, Shawn's super awesome camera died! This is the camera that we used on our honeymoon in Jamaica, and it's also been taken on every vacation in the last two years, as well as countless hiking, biking, and snowshoeing trips. It's supposed to be waterproof, shockproof, and freezeproof. We didn't have a single bit of trouble until we were in Maui, and then all of a sudden, it decided it didn't want to be waterproof anymore.

Fortunately, the memory card still worked just fine, and we discovered that the Walmart on the island carried the current version of the same camera. So on Wednesday of our trip, we drove up to Kahului to buy a new camera. It was obviously an unexpected expense, but there was no way I was going to go with no pictures for the rest of our trip!

Our plan for Wednesday had been to visit the town of Lahaina. According to, when Kamehameha I conquered the island of Maui in 1794, he made the town of Lahaina the capital of the kingdom. It was the capital of Hawaii until 1840, when Honolulu became the capital. Since we needed to start our day in Kahului, Shawn and I decided to drive around the western part of the island. According to our map, there was a road that would go all the way around, and we figured it would be scenic.

It was definitely was also a bit scary! The road around the west side of Maui has stretches that are not paved, and large portions of the road are so narrow that there is no center line painted...the road is technically too narrow for two complete lanes. The road hugs the sides of hills/mountains, and like many mountain roads, the outside lane of the road ends in a drop-off. There were some places on the road that had fences...although we did notice a few "car-sized" holes in these fences! There were long stretches of road that didn't have any kind of fence or guardrail at all. Oh, and did I mention that the road was very curvy? Plenty of places where you really had no idea if there might be a car coming around the bend towards you...that you wouldn't really have room to pass. But was pretty!

This picture was taken just outside the town of Kahakuloa. The only thing I could see in the town was a house or two, and a guy selling fresh pineapple from a roadside stand. We both regret not stopping to buy some pineapple.

We stopped at one place where Shawn had read about some tidepools. We walked down a fairly well-established trail that went right past a big sign saying not to go any further because it was dangerous. That, of course, made me nervous, but we took a picture and kept on walking. :) Really, it was perfectly safe. This was the first view we saw of the waves crashing on the lava rocks.
We did eventually make our way down to the tide pools. Unlike the tidepools that I've been to, which are created by water left in pools when the tide goes out, these tidepools were basically made by waves crashing over the lava rocks...and these are the pools that are left behind. I stayed out of reach of the sea spray...Shawn climbed down to the pools. He took this picture of me from the pool area (I'm wearing an orange tank top...see me?). Although it was interesting to see how the pools had been formed, Shawn said there really wasn't much life in the pools that he could see. Basically just some small fish and some crabs.
After the tide pools, we did stop at one or two other scenic overlooks, but the drive was taking longer than we had imagined, and we did eventually want to make it to Lahaina.

Once we got to Lahaina, it was late enough that our only real stop was for dinner. We stopped at an excellent restaurant called the Aloha Mixed Plate. You can read the story of the restaurant here. The menu was pretty traditional, with most of the items being Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, or Filipino. We both got "mixed plate" meals, which were really good! And yes, I even tried Poi. (I'm not really a fan.) In addition to the great food, we loved our dining experience. This picture below is the closest this restaurant gets to "indoor" seating.
And the restaurant is right next to Lahaina Harbor, so this was our view during dinner:
I'm not sure if you can really see it from the picture, but the sun is setting over the island of Lana'i. After dinner, we drove back to the it turned out to be a pretty full day!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Doughnuts on Saturday Morning!

Shawn got up about 30 minutes before me today. When I came out of the bedroom, I couldn't find my husband! Turns out, he'd gone down to Mill Creek to get me a doughnut! (Granted, this was partially because he finished the cereal, meaning that there was nothing left in the apartment for me for breakfast...but still.)

There's this relatively new place that I've been wanting to try, called Frost Doughnuts, and I was telling Shawn the other day that I've heard they have an interesting flavor. Smoky Maple Bacon Bars. Now I'll be honest...I really like maple doughnuts. And bacon is pretty high on my list of all-time favorite foods. But something about putting bacon ON a doughnut made me a little nervous. So although I was thrilled that Shawn was sweet enough to go get me a doughnut for breakfast on a Saturday morning, I wasn't convinced that I was going to like this:
But I have to was pretty darn good! The bacon flavor did a good job of cutting through the sticky sweetness of the maple cream. I'm just glad that there was no filling inside the doughnut...that would've been too much. The texture threw me off a little, because you got the slight crispiness of bacon along with the chewiness of the doughnut and the creaminess of the maple. So if you find yourself in Mill Creek, it's worth a stop at Frost Doughnuts to try this or one of their other creative recipes!

Friday, September 11, 2009

First Days in Maui

I realized that I never got around to blogging about our Colorado vacation, and I want to make sure the same thing doesn't happen with the Maui trip! So I'm going to do my best to buckle down and write some posts. Part of my delay has been pictures....we currently have approximately 1,363 photos on the memory card. That's a lot of pictures to go through when I'm trying to pick which ones I should post on here!

So...let's begin. Shawn and I flew to Maui last Monday. We had a direct flight from Seattle to Maui, which was great! They even fed us lunch on the plane, which is practically unheard of these days. We stayed in a beachfront condo in Kihei, which is a town on the south side of Maui. See? Right there. The airport is in Kahului, on the north side, but it's really only about a 15 minute drive to Kihei from there.
Once we arrived in Kihei, we decided just to relax for the rest of the day. I don't even think we went swimming that day! We just got ourselves settled in and went out for dinner. Right across the street from our condo was a restaurant called Moose McGillicuddy's. I wouldn't exactly say that it was "traditional" Hawaiian fare, and yet they definitely had some things on the menu that you probably won't find around here. I'm embarrassed to say how many times we walked over there for food in the week we were in let's just say that I even had the opportunity to try quite a few things from the menu (like Kalua pig, and chicken breaded in coconut and macadamia nut).

On Tuesday, we also just stayed around the condo. This was our first big beach time, and it was wonderful. Shawn figured out that there's pretty decent snorkeling right off the beach, so he spent quite a bit of time doing that (while I hung out in the sun, reading and relaxing).

I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to stay in a beachfront condo! If you ever have the chance, you need to do it. It was nice to have beach access by just taking an elevator downstairs and walking around the pool area. It was also really great to be able to just hang out on our balcony and have perfect views of the ocean and the sunsets, and to hear the waves crashing anytime of day (or night!).

Here are some pictures from those first two days!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

So Much Going On!

Whew...we've had a lot going on lately! Maui was awesome. Obviously, we paid for the condo and the plane tickets, but once we got there, we were pretty much operating on a budget. Other than food and gas, the only thing we spent money on was a snorkel trip, and even that was pretty inexpensive. So all that's even better that Shawn and I agree that we don't feel at all like we missed out on anything! We spent lots of time on the beach and in the ocean, and we saw oodles of amazing scenery. And the best part, of course, was that we were able to spend an entire week together, just relaxing and enjoying each other's company. I'll try to do a few posts within the next week or so that'll give more specifics about the things we saw and did...and I'll include pictures, of course!

Our flight left Hawaii at 10:00pm on Monday night, and we arrived in Seattle at 6:30 Tuesday morning. Once we got home, poor Shawn had to get changed and go to work...and I took a nap. :) Shawn knew he'd have lots of work to do once his vacation was over, and that's already proving true. I did a little bit of work in Hawaii (with my online teaching), but I really only needed to put in about an hour a day, if that. But when I checked my email on Tuesday afternoon, I discovered that I had been given four more sections and 17 additional students! That may not sound like a lot, but that more than doubled the number of students I had, and there's a lot to do up front when students are enrolled in the class. But between yesterday and today, I feel like I've gotten myself much more organized, and I think I'm making things easier on myself from here on out. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

Oh yeah, we had one other major thing happen today. We signed all of our closing paperwork for the house! We've known for awhile that we have a closing date of September 15th, so we were a little surprised when someone called late last week to set up an appointment to sign all the paperwork. Both Shawn and I had it in our heads that we would sign all our paperwork and pay the rest of our down payment on the same day as closing. I've seen it on HGTV...everyone sitting at one big table, signing documents, and at the end of it, the keys are handed to the new homeowners. But apparently, that's not the way things are done, at least not in Washington. A notary came to our apartment this afternoon, and our loan officer was nice enough to come, too, to help explain things to us. Shawn and I spent two hours signing our lives away, and at the end of it.....well, nothing really happened. It was rather anticlimactic. But we've been told that we've done everything we need to do, and the only thing left is for the deed to be transferred and for our realtor to hand us our keys! That will still happen on the official closing Tuesday.

Like I said....we've had a lot going on this week! It's a good life. :-)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Let Them Eat Cake

Let Them Eat Cake by Sandra Byrd, 2007 (310 pages)

This was a cute book. I picked it up at the library because I wanted something light to read on the beach, and this was a good pick for that.

This is the story of Lexi, a girl who has somewhat recently graduated from college and is trying to find her place in the world. I'd be willing to bet that most of us can relate to at least some element of what she's going through....trying to find a job that she enjoys and that doesn't make her choice of major seem like a waste, trying to find a place to live that she can afford on a meager income, trying to find a guy, trying to figure out how to relate to her parents now that she's an adult.

It is Christian fiction, which I could tell by reading the back of the book. There were times when I felt like it was "hit-you-over-the-head Christian," but most of the time it wasn't too bad...just a bit cheesy in parts. But the Christian messages in the book are good...focus on finding God and other things will fall into place. Not every church is perfect for every person, but that's okay. Trust that God has a plan for your life...even if you have no clue what that plan is.

If nothing else, this book reminded me of all the things I have in my life that God has blessed me with and that I'm so grateful for! I've definitely not always understood God's timing, but Shawn and I agree that in our lives, God's timing has always been best. :)
Total number of books read in 2009: 34
Total number of pages read in 2009: 12367

Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, 1937 (105 pages)

Believe it or not, I had never read this book until a few days ago. Yes, I have a degree in Literature, and yes, I've taught American Lit for a number of years. But this is just one of those books that I've never been required to read, and I never had a huge desire to try it. However, for the online English class that I'm teaching this semester, this book is required reading for the I figured I'd better read it, too!

I think this book is similar to many "classics" of American Literature in that it's not the most exciting thing to read. However, I like the characters that Steinbeck uses, and I think that he touched on a lot important themes. If you're not familiar with the book or the movie, it's the story of two men, George and Lennie. We never really find out their relationship, although we do know that George promised someone that he would look out for Lennie.

It's such a short book that there's not a lot to say about the plot without giving important things away. But I think that also makes it even more impressive that Steinbeck packed a lot of things into his novella. He shows the reader the prejudices that are in our society and how those play out in the social hierarchy.

Total number of books read in 2009: 33
Total number of pages read in 2009: 12057

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, 2009 (285 pg.)

I've lived in Seattle for almost a year now, and it was interesting to learn about what the Japanese people in the Seattle area went through during World War II. In this book, the timeline goes back and forth between 1986 and 1942.

Generally speaking, I liked the book. I liked the historical detail that the author included, and I liked the overall themes of the story. The author touched on racial prejudice and stereotypes, the effects of war on people, love, friendship, and family.

I have one major complaint, though. At times, it seemed like the author himself forgot that the "modern time" in the book was supposed to be 1986...not 2009. For example, on the first page of the book, we learn that the wife of the main character, Henry, has recently died. On the next page, the author tells us that Henry's son is dealing with his grief by participating in online support groups. Really? In 1986? Um...I don't think so. But the more annoying error comes a paragraph or two later. Henry mentions that his wife has been buried in Lake View Cemetery, not far from the graves of Bruce Lee and his son, Brandon Lee. Okay...Lake View Cemetery is a well-known cemetery in the Seattle area where many of the founding families of Seattle are buried. Yes, Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee are buried there. But Brandon Lee wasn't buried there in 1986...he didn't die until 1993!

These mistakes in detail do make me question the accuracy of the author's historical details that he includes. I can't help but wonder what other things he got wrong if he was incorrect in something as relatively silly as the death of Brandon Lee.
Total number of books read in 2009: 32
Total number of pages read in 2009: 11952

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We're in Maui!

We left on Monday morning for Hawaii! We arrived in Maui around 1:45, local time, and it was around 3:00 (I think) when we checked in to our condo. We walked on the beach and got some dinner before crashing pretty early Monday night. On Tuesday, we spent the entire morning/early afternoon on the beach. Then we did a little grocery shopping and got a late lunch/early dinner. It was great watching the sun set over Lanai from our balcony!

Unfortunately, Shawn's waterproof camera is apparently not so waterproof after all. It seems to be dead. We are not happy. We'll be heading out for the day in a few minutes, and our first stop will be someplace to buy a replacement camera. Fortunately, the memory card still seems to be good, so I'll leave you with a few pictures from yesterday at the beach in front of our condo.