Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Random Year End Wrap Up

So, this is going to be quite an eclectic, scatter brained blog. I have so much to tell and so many cool things going on! I also have a rant building up that I just can't avoid!!!

Plarn--so today I met the mom of the person renting our other house. She was quite a unique lady!! She introduced me to a wonderful product she calls Plarn. Basically, she takes plastic bags (like grocery store bags) and cuts them into strips. She then weaves things out of them. She gave me a little mat of the stuff that she says is great for scrubbing pots and pans. she then showed me a picture of a KING SIZE bedspread she made out of the Plarn. She also had a purse made out of it and two huge laundry bags. I told her she needed to set up an ebay store and she said that she only gives it away. It was so cool. She had a little beret that she made for her granddaughter. She uses different colored bags to make patterns and everything. I was very impressed.

New House--Well, we moved. We are in the house and are in the middle of making several fairly lengthy renovations. First up is the kitchen--we are totally re-doing it. Cabinets, flooring, appliances, countertops, the works. Its pretty exciting but stressful at the same time. One of our first big "oh NOs" happened yesterday morning when Cindy woke up to find no water in the house. We assumed something froze so I spent the next few hours trying to figure out what froze. Finally Dad came over and discovered the water line running into the house was only about an inch under dirt right where it comes in. Totally unacceptable!! I foamed in the hole and covered it with about a foot or more of straw until I can get more dirt on it.

Gutter Helmets--here is a tip for you homeowners--don't get gutter helmets. I don't know all the brand names and such but basically I am talking about the little caps that are placed over the top of the gutters in order to keep leaves out of the gutter. The screens are a little better, but not much. The house we just bought has these caps on them. In a light rain they work great. In a heavy downpour, the rain just washes right over them. This has caused the dirt around our house to settle and wash away and almost all of the foundation is exposed. This also allows water to settle against the blocks (and slowly creep into the basement--not good!).

Success--2010 was a very good year for me business-wise. I started selling real estate in September of 2009. I sold one house in 2009. I sold 15 in 2010. I more than replaced my teaching salary in my very first year. Additionally, I had fun doing it! I got to help people with a very daunting task and I got to know some really awesome people in a way that would definitely not happen if I was still teaching. It was not all perfect, there were some downs. But the ups FAR outweighed the downs. Funny how God does that isn't it. He took what appeared to be a very bad thing (the first time I got fired, ever in my entire life) and gave me the drive and path to make a career for myself.
Bigfoot--so Santa got Jonas one of the coolest toys ever made. You probably saw it at Target in the little plastic box. It is Bigfoot. Bigfoot does flips, throws tantrums, sleeps, excercises, plays ball, cuts the cheese, and all manner of other stuff. So far, my dad and Derek Hickerson have enjoyed it more than Jonas. In fact, Jonas is actually scared of the thing. He will not touch it if it is turned on.

Taxes--Ok, my last random point. The smartest thing the US government ever did was to have employers take income tax directly from employee checks. This process almost completely detaches emotion from the taxpayer. In fact, most Americans are so detached that they are HAPPY when they get a return. In other words, because the system is so complicated, you were not able to calculate exactly what you owe and thus you paid too much to the government (AKA lent them money interest free) and the government is going to give it back to you and you will be grateful for it. I am learning a valuable lesson in my new adventures of self-employment. You really don't know how painful it is to pay income taxes until you are self employed. I had a cashiers check made today for my quarterly filing. I actually felt physical pain because of it. I understand that I have to pay my share and that I benefit from living here. I am ok with paying a reasonable tax. I am NOT ok with so much of the frivolous and wasteful spending of the money that I (very painfully) sent in. I never felt this strongly about it when the money was never in my possession to begin with. Now that I see my bank balance decrease by 4 figures (and I know it is much higher for some) once a quarter, I can actually feel the pain. Very strange indeed. Very much an eye opener!!