Ups and Downs
So my stress level is a roller-coaster right now. Yesterday I got a call that one of my employees, who is a contractor, got a contract extension, which is a Good Thing. Today, he blew up and said he was packing his things because his rate was unchanged (and therefore too low). I've been on and off the phone with him and my manager, who has been on and off the phone with her superiors and his superiors, trying to get things worked out. It's on, it's off. It's a total mess.

Pile all this on after a long weekend with a lot of visitors, and I feel like I already need a vacation. What a disaster.

Oh yeah, and we didn't get the house, so that whole thing is totally up in the air as well.

No blogging for a while for me.

 Oh when the boys come marching in.

So, the guys are due to land today at 2:45, then the mayhem begins. Maybe by then we'll know whether or not we got the house, maybe not - but it should definitely be sometime today.

Wish me luck! As soon as they get here, we're going to have to go shopping (grocery and booze and meat) and I'll start the brisket tonight so it's ready by tomorrow for dinner.

This is going to be insane. It's probably a good thing Dana is leaving town tomorrow morning!

Labels: , , ,

 Hail to to the King! (See what I'm talking about)
This one is so good, I have it as the Featured Video and as a post unto itself. Thanks, Bugs.

 Upgraded blog. Upgraded home?
So today I updated our blog to the NEW IMPROVED Blogger. It retained our old template (so far - let us know if you see anything funky) but doesn't really include any of the new features that I'm aware of..

But the only reason I'm up writing this is because I'm not really tired. Dana and I were both pretty wired this afternoon, as we spent the morning looking at a house (well, two, but the second was only really for comparison as it is already under contract) and trying to figure out whether or not to bid on it.

The thing is, we really want to live in what they refer to as "Old Town", and last year only 24 single-family homes were sold in old town - and the average closing price was a good amount of money more than we were willing to spend.

So we found this one (a new listing last week) and decided to check it out, and by the end of the day put in a bid. It's definitely a "fixer-upper", but on a good lot in a great neighborhood. We're excited, and should hear back about our bid tomorrow by noon.

In other news, I'm still pretty exhausted from this weekend - on Sunday I spent about four or five hours cutting firewood and then hiked down a mountain with a pack full of dirty clothes and garbage - after spending the previous day snowshoeing UP the mountain twice, both times with a full pack. We had drinks and food for the three of us while we were there, and also brought along stuff for the girls, who are headed up this weekend.

Add to all this other stuff the fact that the boys are coming this weekend (Thursday, to be precise) and work is exploding (really, it's nonsense, but it's out of my hands and yet my responsibility - one of the troubles of being a Team Lead, I suppose), and the stress level is pretty high.

But we're both excited about the house. We watched the DIY Network for about an hour and a half tonight and decided that we might be able to bargain with Wes and Ron (both of whom are extraordinarily handy) to help us fix up the house (which is pictured above, thanks to Google Maps). Ron will be easy to buy off with beer (he already offered that as a barter), and Wes would certainly work for beer, but I think if we offered him new tools as a trade we might get the work done more quickly. And of course, since he'd only live a block away from us in this new place, they'd be easy to borrow if I ever needed them again.

But this all assumes we'll be able to come to terms with the seller. Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Labels: , , ,

 Empty House

Originally uploaded by Dana Fitz.
So Mark left early this morning with Ron and Wes to go and dig out the cabin for our girls trip next weekend. It's quiet without him around! I'm trying to decide how I want to spend my weekend. I just went out riding yesterday, it was fun but really icy. The forecast is talking possible snow this evening and through the night, so I think I'll just head up tomorrow. I was also contemplating a run. I signed up for the Half-Marathon here in June, and really should start putting a training schedule together. Why the half and not the full? Because hopefully I'll be running with a Little Fitz, and the full marathon may not be so conducive to say, a comfortable internal environment. So the half it is.

This is the book I've been reading lately (thanks Jim!). Fascinating. I think what I enjoy about it so much is that it takes a very mundane, math-ridden specialty, and applies to real life situations. He's coming up with value sets when I'm struggling at times to see how numeric values are even applicable. I love it. I hated econ in high school, never took it in college, but this book is a great read.

Not much else going on around here---we're starting to gear up for all the boys coming next week, and have an appointment to check out a house in town with the realtor on Monday. We were supposed to be looking at 3 houses, but we got the call on Friday that 2 of the houses just went under contract that day. Gross. We were dropping the gear off at Ron and Lisa's last night for the guys' trip today, and after one look at the house on the Internets, Ron just kept insisting we have to buy it. I can't disagree with him. It's small and ugly, but we can afford it, it's on a nice piece of land in town, and there's a lot we could do with it. We'll keep you updated.

OK, I'm going to curl up and read some more before heading out on my run. Have a great weekend!

 751: shuffle, coffee, work
So, Dana and I were at the bookstore the other day (I was working, she was reading) and we picked up some of the coffee whose label you see on the right. The funny thing is, I first saw it there a couple months ago and it took me a minute to remember where I saw it - at a coffee shop in Homer, Alaska, about five years ago (six? seven? my memory is going with age). Jeez, it could have been closer to nine years ago. I'm getting old. Anyway, the coffee is really good. If you ever see it, it works as advertised. Two cups and I don't even WANT any more.

Also, this is post 751 to our blog. Dana was given the opportunity to make our three-quarters-of-a-thousandth post. Hurray for her.

Also also, Blogger keeps bugging me to update to the new version, so if the blog gets effed up in the near future, it's because I've finally relented.

And one more thing: D and I have been aggressively paying down our credit card debt ever since she started getting paid a real salary, so we're actively trying to get rid of cards we no longer use or need. In doing so, she realized that with one card she had "Rewards points" that afforded us the opportunity to cash in for a free iPod Shuffle, which we received yesterday. Yes, we both have iPods already, but they're both HDD-based and really suck for working out (not to mention the battery lives are not what they used to be). We recently re-discovered how nice it is to ride (aka: snowboard) with music, and there couldn't be a better solution than the shuffle. So, we used the extra points she had left over to get an Amazon gift certificate, which I used to help buy a shuffle for myself. Now we can hit the slopes in style. Together! With our own music!

Also: I'm still really busy with work. In the next two weeks I should find out if I'm going to be REALLY REALLY REALLY busy or just remain really busy. Hopefully the latter.


Originally uploaded by Dana Fitz.
So I found this story pretty interesting, somewhat because it was SO easy to change my last name after marrying Mark, but also because, of all states, NORTH DAKOTA is on the list of, dare I say, "enlightened" states that makes it just as easy for a man to change his name to his wife's surname.

And you'll notice, South Dakota is most definitely not enlightened. Suckaz.

This is the picture I got when googling "surname" in Google Images. For those of you who know Rowdy, it's his ancestral crest.

Mark and I are contemplating changing our surname to Surname. Cause that's funny.

How awesome is 24? I heart Jack Bauer.

Mark's beef brisket with homemade BBQ sauce is crazy awesome.

I don't have to work tomorrow.

That's all.

 Slow cookin' foo
So, I've finally taken the time to use the slow cooker I got for XMas (thanks, hon!), and so far I've used it three times since opening it less than a week ago.

But today, I think, may be the best yet. The slow cooker itself came with a cookbook, and D got me a good one to go along with it as well. Yesterday I made a great bolognese, which I admit I was a bit skeptical of but turned out awesome (and we have 2.5 quarts of it left - these recipes are enormous), and earlier in the week I was lazy (hey, I can't spend all morning prepping dinner on work days, OK?) and made a slow-cooker-meal-in-a-bag that was so-so (but made the house smell like Thanksgiving, which was nice).

Anyway, today I think will be my crowning achievement thus far - I'm making BBQ brisket in the slow cooker. To go along with it, I made some homemade BBQ sauce, which I must say tastes freaking awesome. I was really skeptical of it, but it tastes so good I'm no longer worried. The brisket cooks (in beer and onions, after marinating overnight in other goodness) in the slow-cooker for 8 hours, then goes in the fridge to marinate in its juices again, then is sliced and put in the oven (smothered in the homemade BBQ sauce). It's not even 10am, and I'm ready for dinner (sadly, it's not ready for me yet).


I went on a great ass-kicking snowshoe yesterday (knee-deep snow is both fun and exhausting to snowshoe through). D and I were going to press glass (ie: get in line for the gondola before the mountain was open) to take advantage of a little snow we got Friday night, but she got a call in the middle of the night and had to go to the hospital instead, so I went snowshoeing because I (a) needed exercise and (b) needed to get out of the house.

So, that's it. Since the brisket recipe says it serves 12 (shoot, I just remembered I have to make the coleslaw), we were thinking about inviting some folks over for dinner tonight, but since it's a new recipe I'm still not sure if that'll happen yet.

Extra bonus: I have tomorrow off, but I've been really stressing about work lately (a bunch of stuff out of my control, some stuff within my control), so I might go riding to burn some of it off. Also, if the brisket is as good as I'm hoping, I might have to burn some of that off as well.

 Ah, I love this town.

From this morning's police blotter:
12:20 a.m. Two men reportedly were making slurs at Texans and kicking at them at a bar in the 1800 block of Ski Time Square. Police said the fight was broken up but that another group of men was trying to provoke a second fight. All the men were gone when officers arrived.

People here just don't like Texans. I think it's because there are more direct flights here from Texas than anywhere else (that is not scientific, it's a guesstimate based on what I know of the flights here and people I've talked to). Anyway, got a "kick" out of that news story.

In other news, the talk with our mortgage guy yesterday told us pretty much what we expected as far as what we can afford house-wise, which was reassuring if a bit disappointing - there are a limited number of houses in our price range, and they disappear quickly, so we'll have to act fast if and when we find "the right one". We're ideally looking for something in a great location that's a little run down (but that we can live in for a couple years as-is) so that once we build some equity/save some money after purchase we can put some money into fixing it up. We'll see how it goes. There are a couple places out there now that look promising, but we're months away from beginning our search in earnest, so we've got time.

Back to work for me. That is all.

 This will look familiar to Fas

So I got an XBox 360 for Christmas, and I've been enjoying it a ton. One of the things I like best about it is the ability to download demos for games (holy cow, is that a nice feature. How did we live without this?). Dana can check out FIFA before making me buy it and realizing she doesn't like it, I can download old arcade games (SmashTV, anyone?) and play with those, it's a great feature.

But one thing I have gotten unexpectedly addicted to is the free game available for download called Hexic. It's basically a puzzle game (think: Tetris), but I'm totally addicted. Quite fun, it is.

Anyway, just wanted to share.

Also, Gears of War is freaking awesome. I can't wait until the day (way off in the future, I'm afraid) we have an HDTV so I can really see the full potential of the system.

In other news, Dana and I will be taking some time to talk to a mortgage guy on Wednesday. We're not about to buy anything, but want to have a clearer picture of where we currently stand and how things look for us in the near future with regard to buying a house. Between that and all the talk of babies recently, one might get confused and think I'm actually growing up. But one should remember that the mortgage and baby talk is an addendum to a post about videogames, and that should clear things up nicely.

 Quick update
Fas was in for the last four or five days so no updates as most of our time was spent on the mountain or recovering from being on the mountain. We had a great time.

Work is going to really nail me this month, so I'll need to use the blog as a venting space some more. Lucky readers you are. Lucky, I tell you.

Hopefully I can temper all the work I have to do with a little fun. I hope to use the slow cooker I got for christmas to try out some new recipes and am already looking forward to the end of the month when all the boys are coming in. I only hope I can get some time off work while everyone's here.

 Mr. Creosote. Or, how much we ate over the holidays.
See the video at right which I picked to go along with this post.

I'm swamped at work, so will keep this short. I imagine we'll be updating bits-and-pieces of what happened over the holidays over the coming days.

Here is my attempt to estimate what we (D & I and our families) ate from the time my parents got here through last night.

Drinks at home (not including drinks at restaurants, etc):
> 2 cases of wine
2 bottles scotch
1 bottle brandy
1/2 bottle gin
1/2 bottle vodka
~3 cases of beer
1 bottle Bailey's

(meals - if booze included, then dinner out)
5-course meal with different wine matched with each course (among the best dinners ever consumed in the history of man)
5 pizzas
backcountry provisions - 2 sandwiches
10 lobsters
a ton of cookies
~2 doz shrimp
4 salmon
12 scallops
1 duck
4 quail
4 kobe beef filets
1 lb cashews
1 chicken
lots of salads
4lbs beef tenderloin
5 lbs potatoes
2 doz eggs
2 lbs bacon
~4 loaves of bread
many cheeseburgers/pub food galore
meat pie
1/2 tray lasagna
1 gingerbread house (mostly destroyed by Robosapien, video forthcoming)
2 tins peppermint bark
1 tin peanut brittle

D, families: what am I forgetting?

 So tired

Originally uploaded by Dana Fitz.
So Mark and I finally rolled back into town tonight after being in Fargo for the last 4 days or so. We had a great time with my parents, and also got a chance to see Missy and DJ and play with their daughter, who just turned one a couple weeks ago. Highlights of the trip have to include the fatherly outing with my dad and Mark to go play Blackjack at the Expressway Inn (nothing but class....and I won 20 dollars), sleeping in, and eating awesome food. The days flew by. And, being as we were in the Big City (meaning, Fargo has a Best Buy) we bought a bunch of extra toys for the Xbox Scott and Lauren gave us for Xmas. Bring on the zombies!

All in all, had a great holiday season--Mark's family was here for almost a week, and we all had a great time, and celebrating New Year's with my family wrapped everything up perfectly. Unfortunately, when Mark and I got to the airport in Fargo this morning, around 6 am to catch our 7 am flight to Minneapolis, we found out that our flight had been delayed until 10:45. Not so good when there is only one flight per day from Minneapolis to Hayden. Good thing the computer had automatically rebooked us on the 8:15 flight, so we still made it back home close to expected. Fas was supposed to be flying in right after us, but he ended up being delayed for a few hours, so Mark and I went into Hayden to the HiWay Bar and Grill for some lunch and beers. Not a bad place, except for the fact that we ended up watching the Badgers win the Capital One Bowl. Boo.

Finally picked up Matt, and since then we've been sitting on our arses watching football and playing video games. I started falling asleep in front of the tv at 7:30 (Mark and I only got about 3-4 hours of sleep last night) so I've been trying to pick up the house some more. Since we only had about an 18 hour time span between when Mark's family left and then Mark and left for Fargo, we pretty much just had time to pay bills, wash dishes, take down the tree, and pack.

I think I'm rambling too much. Time for a nightcap and then bed. Happy New Year!