Discouraging

If you look up synonyms for discouraging in the thesaurus, is the first one “house hunting”?  If not, it really should be.  This process is beyond the most depressing, daunting, disheartening experience ever.  We’ve been on the hunt for our first home together since the beginning of October and have since found one house that we (both) wanted to put an offer on.

Unfortunately, last week, the owners declined our offer for a second time.  I wasn’t too discouraged at that time. For some reason, it wasn’t real until we had to start looking again. I really didn’t think it would be that hard to find a three bedroom, 1.5 bath (at least) house with a decent sized yard (we’re hoping for a half an acre, but we’re not picky as long as there is some usable space) and a 2 car garage, but it has proved to be very challenging.  The other day we sent our realtor 10 houses that we wanted to see on Sunday.  Upon meeting her at one of the houses, she informed us that 3 of them were already contingent, 1 needed a code that the realtor didn’t send her and one she still needed to contact.  As we looked around in the house (with a hell of a lot of negatives), she called the final one, only to inform us that an offer accepted the night before.  The other 3 houses we got to look at that day were just as disappointing as the first one.  One with mold in the basement, one with propane heating and cooking, well water and septic (which were the only negatives other than the fact that it was slightly above our price range), and one that I loved on the inside but hated the location.

We must keep looking but I find it so hard to keep moving on when the process has been nothing but impossible so far.  I am trying not to lose any hope.  I know God has plans for us and I trust them beyond doubt, but it is so hard to see beyond what is happening now.  There’s a house out there for us and I know it will be the perfect house for us.   I know we’ll be able to find the home that bring our first child home to and hopefully raise our children in.

 

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Out with the Old…

…and in with the new.  This past week has been ridiculously crazy and I am so exhausted that I’m not sure I’ll be able to stay up much longer to tell you all about it.  Monday morning I arrived at work with one mission: move in to my new room.  My room was ready to go and I was ready to take it on.  I moved almost everything out of my old room and around the corner to my new room, creating a mountain of a mess for myself to eventually clean up.

Box after box and pile after pile, I moved myself to a beautiful new room with freshly painted walls, built in cabinets, and a desk big enough for me to keep everything at my fingertips.  It is perfect, with one small problem… I have way too much crap to fit in the room comfortably!  I have started getting rid of stuff as I go through each box and believe it or not, the worst part is the paper.  I have so much paper!  Copies of worksheets, galore.  I just want to have the time to go through it all.  I have set small goals for myself to accomplish over the last few months of school and I’m hoping that having a student teacher this semester will help me to be able to spend some time re-organizing my work life.

The first picture below is my old room and the last 3 are my new one (with lots and lots and lots of junk piled up!)

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‘Til the Season Comes Round Again

‘Til the Season Comes Round Again has always been one of my favorite Christmas songs.  I love the version by Kenny Rogers.  I feel like this season came and went by faster than any other holiday season in the past.  Today, Chris and I took down all of our Christmas decorations and it was bittersweet as I felt like I just put them up 2 weeks ago.  The tree had seen it’s last day and it was telling us it was time to go (see picture below).  So as we packed up our boxes and got our house back to “normal” again, I couldn’t help but think about how much things have changed for Chris and I over the holidays and how much they are going to change in the future.  No, we aren’t traveling from place to place with a child (or two) in tow, but we are juggling multiple families.  We have been lucky that it just works out for us (at least it has so far) even though it is a really busy time.

Traditions are wonderful but they unfortunately have to change, too.  My family has been dealing with changing traditions for years and it has been difficult at times to even get our whole family together for more than 2 hours at a time during the holidays.  The good thing is, that traditions change, but not completely.  It’s almost like the evolve into something that works for everyone.  My family has a tradition that the angel does not go on the Christmas tree until everyone is present.  This year, it was late Christmas day before she even made it to the top, but it occurred and she was there, just maybe not in the same manor as it once was.

This season is more about being with family and friends rather than the time that it occurs; whether it be 2 days before Christmas or 3 days after.  You just have to live in the moment and enjoy every second with those special people in your life.  Be thankful you have that time and the people to spend it with.  So for now, let’s cherish what we have and thank God for every moment He has given or will give us.  Even though the holidays are over, His blessings continue on each and every day.

 

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Pittsburgh

For all of my life I’ve had a love for Pittsburgh.  This city is absolutely breathtaking.  Except for this morning.

Since today was the big football game between the Steelers and Raven’s, Chris and I had decided a few days ago that I would take him to work in the morning.  This way I could pick him up and we could head right to his grandmother’s to watch the game.

During the school year, I am up and watching the news every morning while I get ready to help avoid any accidents, weather changes or any other freak occurrences that might end up delaying my arrival at work.  When I’m not working, the only way I know about the news is if I happen to read something on Facebook through WPXI’s page.  And that is exactly how I found out about this morning’s freezing rain; in the car, while looking through the recent posts on Facebook, already half way to Shadyside.  The roads weren’t horrible until we hit Shadyside.  We arrived at the hospital safely and my husband begged me to stay and not drive back home.  I was determined to get back to the house and get back in my warm bed, so I trekked on.  I made it all the way to the West View exit in about a half hour. I took my time and prayed the entire way.  I called Chris as I got off the exit to tell him I had made it.  I jinxed myself.

My entire trip from the moment I got off the exit until I got back to our house was 20 minutes of sliding my way down the icy glazed roads a few yards at a time (it usually takes me 3 minutes).  Definitely not my idea of a fun time.  As I pulled into the driveway, thanking God for getting me home safely without a scratch on my car, I noticed all of the neighbors standing outside.  They preceded to tell me that a car had just slid down the road and hit 3 cars parked on the side and just kept on moving.  Everyone was checking the damage on their cars and trying to collect as much information on the vehicle that hit them as possible.  Sadly, I was not much help.  While we were all talking, we noticed more cars trying to make it down the hill.  3 cars slid down the hill so fast that it looked as if they were flying.

As we are all standing there, a small little car (I really have no clue what make or model), started making it’s way down the hill and we all said (pretty much) in unison, “Here we go, again”.  The car started to slide and then came to a complete, sideways, stop.  A few moments later, another car came down the same hill toward the sideways stopped car.  Feeling the pressure, this car decided to let go of it’s breaks and “slowly drift” down the road. That “slow drift” didn’t last long and as we watched the car slide, we knew this one wasn’t going to be so lucky.  All of my neighbors were running back to their porches as the car slid into the van parked at the top of the street, setting it into gear and sending it flying through 2 yards and then smack up against the corner of the next house.  Luckily, no one was hurt.  My neighbors checked on the girl in the car and she was fine, just shell-shocked.  The police arrived and I heard the fire engines and at the point, I decided it was time to head back inside to try and get some rest. It was only 8:45 in the morning and I had been up since 6:00.  I still don’t know what happened after that.  The roads were fine later when I left to go to lunch with my best friend and my goddaughter; however, the van was still sitting against the side of the house until much later that afternoon.

If you look closely in this picture you can see the taillights of the car that slid (right behind the telephone pool on the left side of the picture).  The van used to be parked right where that car is now.  The next picture is a close up of where the van was at the end of this fiasco.

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All I have to say is that I am lucky to have made it home safely without a scratch on myself or my car.  It truly was a miracle.  I will admit without any shame that the entire trip I prayed.  I would ask God to get me safely to a certain point ahead of me and when He got me there, I thanked Him.  I repeated this process the entire way home.  When I arrived home safely, all I could do was praise Him.  He works in mysterious ways.  He is amazing.

So back to my reasoning on why I love this city.  I’ve always been a Penguins fan and a Steelers fan, even though I lived right outside of Baltimore for almost 7 years (we moved there when I was 5).  Hockey has been and always will be my favorite sport.  Tonight though, the main focus was on the Steelers.  It was a tough game to watch and even a tougher game to lose.  Losing to the Ravens has always been especially hard for me.  Partially because my Facebook News feed gets flooded with Ravens fans who are bashing the Steelers, but mainly just because I don’t like the Ravens.  A hatred between Baltimore teams and Pittsburgh teams has always been in my blood, but I will always bleed black and gold.  So even though tonight’s outcome was not the one we were all hoping for, I’m privileged to come from a city with such a great love for sports and with such wonderful fans that (mostly) support their teams through the ups and downs (bandwagon fans are realllllllly annoying).

I could sit here for days listing the reasons why I love this city:  I was born here, my family lives here, I love the sports teams, I had my first apartment here, first job here, bought my first car here, met my husband here, and the list goes on and on and on.  Sure I love to travel, but there is nothing that can replace the feeling you get when you arrive home to this beautiful (most of the time) city.

I can’t wait to raise my children here, someday. No, not yet! For now, Chris and I are enjoying being aunt and uncle to 4 nieces, 1 nephew, 1 fake-nephew, and 1 goddaughter (pictured below wearing the glasses from the Mr. Potato Head set I got her).

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What’s on the Menu?

Before the wedding and even more-so before the engagement, believe it or not, I was a healthy eating fanatic and working out at least 2-3 times a week.  I joined Weight Watchers and lost almost 30 lbs in less than a year. Actually, the day before we left for our cross-country trip (June 2013), I had met my goal weight of 138.

I am not proud of what has happened since we returned from that trip and I can’t even say I’ve tried my hardest to turn it around.  The most effort I put forth was in the 3 months prior to the wedding due to the fact that I needed my dress to fit.  I saw a personal trainer at my gym and did my best to calculate my points just so I could look my best on my wedding day.  The wedding dress fit perfectly that day but like I envisioned myself doing, I indulged immensely on our honeymoon and when we got back, I didn’t stop.

Things have only gotten worse.  I hate getting dressed in the morning and sadly, very little of my clothing fits me.  I live in yoga pants, sweat pants, and leggings as much as humanly possible.  This is not me.

This is a part of marriage not very many people talk about.  Think about it.  You’ve met that special person.  He loves you, unconditionally.  He says you look beautiful all the time, no matter what.  My husband is wonderful at making me feel good about myself.  The wedding comes and goes and you no longer feel the need to watch every bite that goes into your mouth.  This may not be true for everyone, but I’ll tell you, I was in heaven that I could eat Oreo’s and drink non-diet soda (Costa Rican Coca-Cola is pretty much the most amazing soda ever – which luckily has deterred me from drinking it here).  I even ate two double cheeseburgers from McDonald’s on my wedding night.  I look back at that moment with pure delight and shame at the same time.

One thing my husband is also wonderful at is pushing me to do things that I might not have the motivation to do.  He has always told me that he loves how determined I am.  So today, I am determined to turn over a new leaf.  None of those fad diets, just eating right and doing research to find out what is best for my body.  I may even see a nutritionist.  Don’t get me wrong, the Weight Watchers program is amazing and it gave me some excellent tools and a lot of strategies that I will carry with me on this journey.  This time, it’s all me.  I am responsible for myself and it’s time to change for the good, not for the time being.

Today’s projects were all about helping me (and us) on this journey.

For Christmas, my family has gone to DIY gifts.  This year, Chris and I made everyone Menu Boards.  Selfishly, we made ourselves one, too!  I had been researching these for a long time and after talking to one of my co-workers, I have finally organized this in a way that I think will be beneficial for our family (Thanks, Becky!).

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The menu board has a clothes pin under each day of the week and this is where I will place the index card with the meal. I am only using this to plan for dinners.  This way, whoever gets home first, whether it’s me or Chris, that person can start dinner.  My index cards are color coded, as is my closet.  I’m a little OCD… but just a little!  Yellow is for seafood, green is for vegetarian meals (anything that does not have meat or seafood), purple is for side dishes, blue is for crock pot meals and soups and red is for meats (beef, pork, chicken, etc.).

On each card, I have the name of the meal on the front.  On the back, I have listed on the top line where the recipe is located (what recipe book and what page in the book).  I then have the ingredients listed with their amounts.  On the crock pot meals, I have the the cook time listed for a quick reference.  The only thing I do not have yet are just plain white cards.  There will only be 2.  One will say “leftovers” and the other will say “Dinner Out”.

The reasons I don’t just write the whole recipe on the index card: 1) too time consuming; 2) the index card is too small; 3) I want to reuse these, not have to make new ones after they get gunk all over them.

The plan is to use these cards (with the ingredients on the back) to make a grocery list.  While making this list, I check to see what ingredients we already have and what we will need to get.  (This part specifically came from my co-worker, Becky, so I will not take credit for it).  She told me that this not only has saved her time, but also money, as she is not buying things that go to waste or that she doesn’t need.

If the recipe is one that I found online, which there are a lot of them thanks to Skinnytaste.com and Hungry Girl, I have organized them in the binder to the left.  This is eventually going to be our all encompassing organizational binder as I plan to put a budget sheet at the front of the binder. I found tabs that happen to correspond pretty well with the colors of the index cards and I labeled each tab accordingly.  The recipes that I found online have been printed and organized under their section.  On the card, it says “see binder”.

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Behind all of these is a large 3-whole punched pouch which I have not yet designated it’s use, but behind that I am keeping all miscellaneous recipes.  Chris and I love to host get-together’s and I have collected a large amount of appetizer and dessert recipes that are Weight Watchers friendly.  So that these are left floating around in space, I have designated their spot behind the 3-whole punched pouch (for now).

Also included in the binder is the Velcro pocket pouch like you can see above.  In the one pocket, I am keeping receipts for bigger purchases (things over 100$ that have the possibility of being returned – not groceries).  In the other pocket (not shown here), I am now keeping receipts for our tax deductions (anything I buy for work or Chris buys for work).

Last, but not least, in this binder is a calendar (1$ at the Dollar Tree).  On this calendar, I plan to write the meals that we have picked for the week.  I may even go as far as planning out the month.  This way, I can also write if we have any plans for dinner elsewhere so I know not to plan for that day.

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The white binder in the picture has nothing to do with my weight loss goals, but it is something that will be very beneficial to us in the months to come.  This binder contains all the information we have obtained so far on the house we recently put an offer on.  It used to have information on all different houses we were looking at, but it now only contains this one.  (Here’s to hoping they accept our offer!)

I posted the picture below almost 2 years ago.  This is my motivation.  This is where I want to be again.

Dinner tonight?  Oven Baked Chicken Fajitas! They were delicious!  I used 100 calorie whole wheat tortillas and I limited myself to one.  A dab of light sour cream and a very small amount of shredded fat free cheddar cheese.  The best part?  There are left overs! The worst part?  I burned my finder on the oven rack!  Ouch!

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Happy Weekend everyone! And, Go Steelers!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ringing in a New Year

Change.  It is the only constant thing in life. François de la Rochefoucauld was a French author who lived in the 1600’s and over 400 years later, his words still ring loud and clear, especially in my every day life.  

This last year brought on one of the biggest changes I will ever experience in my life.  For the past 29 years, I was a Wagner. I have always had a sense that my surname was a strong, respectful last name.  I never met my grandfather, the giver of this name to me, but his wife, my grandmother, fulfilled every aspect of what I believe a Wagner to be.  Caring, independent, sensitive and most of all, stubborn (in a good way; most of the time).  

On August 2, 2014, I gave that name away in order to begin a new family, a new life, with the man God has placed on this earth for me.  On that day, I became Mrs. Lauren Boyle.  Going from German to Irish wasn’t as hard as I thought, and the name is starting to sound more natural each and every day.   I have started to introduce myself as Lauren Boyle and even more so, I have started to answer to “Mrs. Boyle” when I’m at work.

Becoming a Boyle isn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  It never crossed my mind that simply by changing my last name, I would be changing my whole world as I knew it.  Boyle’s are hard workers, adventurous, dedicated and once again, stubborn (in a good way; some of the time).  After dating my now husband for 3 years before we were married, I have learned that becoming a Boyle means adventure is inevitable; hence our engagement on the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, CA.  I’ve also learned that with hard work comes dedication.  My husband pours his heart and soul into everything he does.  He does his research before he makes a big purchase, which is why I know he’s the right man for me.  I know he wouldn’t have gotten down on one knee if he wasn’t 100% committed to becoming my other half, my partner in this life, for the rest of our lives.

With this new year upon us, and 5 months already passed, I am pledging a new dedication to carry on even the smallest bit of the Wagner with me through this journey.  I am passionate about writing. I have stacks of journals from my childhood piled in my nightstand that I don’t dare throw away.  It wasn’t excellent writing; in fact, more than 3/4 of it should probably never be read by another person, but it was me.

So now, I welcome you into my life as I balance these two wonderful surnames into one, taking the good with the bad and counting each day as a blessing.   With the passing of each day, I not only vow to write about the ups and downs of my journey of becoming a wife, I also vow to share a picture of something that has occurred that day.

Today, in our brief time together after Chris got home from work, we started a new tradition.  It’s one I have seen all over social media and one I believe is going to be very helpful in our quest to become more positively thinking people over the next year. *Side note – we have a lot of New Years Resolutions… one is bound to stick, right?

Today we began our blessings jar.  I’m not too sure how keen Chris was on the idea of me letting the world (or a very, very minuscule part of it) know that he will be doing this with me, but I guess that’s part of becoming a husband, especially a husband to me.  We will not tell each other what we are writing, we will not peek into the jar before December 31, 2015 and we will be positive.  Those are the only rules and I think when the day comes to read them, we will laugh, we will cry and we will rejoice in the many blessings God has given us over the course of the year.IMG_20150101_223709_903

Happy New Year Everyone.  May it be blessed with love, joy and hope in everything that you do.