Monday, August 1, 2011


We are officially residents of Austin, TX!   (Or ATX as the cool kids and hipster bloggers say.)  The movers arrived at our new home a week ago today and the past week can best be described at boxes, boxes, boxes!  (With a side of taking and picking up Claire from week-long Camp Travis, which was planned long before our move.)

We are in Cedar Park which is about 15 miles north of Austin and west-northwest of Round Rock.  It is hilly and less developed than Austin with a great (Leander) school district.  Our neighborhood is a planned community, much like our neighborhood in Houston, but not quite as big.  It's adjacent to a city park, Brushy Creek, where there is a creek that is actually more river than creek, even in this Texas drought summer.  There are trails, pavilions and a splash pad for kids, but the best part is there is a kayak and canoe rental place to explore the creek.  We are excited for that outing!

Jack started back at work last week and is excited to be with the rest of the staff and in a more productive environment than our house.  And with the house being about 90-95% set up and out of boxes, we are all feeling a bit back to normal.  On tap this week is registering Claire and Anna for their schools, taking Claire for a sports physical so she can tryout for her school's volleyball team the first week of school, and hanging out with Meghan's bff, Natalie!!!  Natalie is on the road to Austin as I type this and we are all excited to welcome her to our new place.  (Natalie is also going to UT and will be moving to the campus here in about 3 weeks, so this will be her 2nd home when she wants to get away for a home-cooked meal or free laundry!)

We miss all our friends and neighbors in Houston, but it is really nice to be on the other side of this move....finally.  We are excited to explore this new city and experience some new things.  School is making the girls a little nervous (and I certainly can understand that having moved cross-country when I was in 6th grade), but they are acting like champs and embracing it with smiles and mild trepidation.  (Taking Meghan to UNT, 3 hours north of Austin, in a short 3 weeks is a whole other post!)

Here are some pictures of our past week. 

 Meghan in her near-empty Houston room.
 Anna checks out the moving van as the boxes are ready to load up.
Our garage filled with boxes and containers.
 We loaded up two of these trucks with our belongings.
 Meghan made this sign for our garage to hang the week before we moved.
 Our "home" while waiting for the movers was the Cedar Park Candlewood Suites.  All 5 of us plus the dog and 3 cats were in this room for three days.  Here is Jack on the recliner while watching "Say Yes to the Dress" on TLC.  (4 girls overrule 1 guy when voting on what to watch on the only tv...sorry Jack.) 
 Here is the motley crew now, including Lucy, our fat cat.
 Here is Jack trying to do some work in the kitchenette area.
 Jack and me in our new kitchen. 
Boxes everywhere.

I'll post some more pictures of the house in a few days.  We love it!  It is quite different from our old house and we are enjoying some unique things about it. Okay, it's time for me to get rid of that other 10% of boxes around here!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A change is (FINALLY) a comin'

Apologies for the lack of posting this past month.  It has been a weird summer and I didn't really know how or what to post on this little o' blog of mine.  The best way to describe June in one word was stagnant.  Our house sat on the market for most of the month with countless showings and no interest.  I had hoped to be knee deep in boxes right after Meghan's graduation on June 4th, but instead we did little but keep the house in pristine condition and on alert for the next last-minute house showing.  Finally, we received an offer at the end of the month.  It was not an easy one though.  Initially we turned it down because the sellers had some weird conditions, such as a 3 week option period, where they could back out within 21 days for any reason at all.  Unheard of in residential real estate where the option period is usually 7 days....just enough time to get the house inspected and uncover any problems.  A week later though, we were renegotiating the deal with much better terms.  SOLD! 

If June was stagnant, than July could only be it's polar opposite: frenetic!  We traveled to Austin and toured 10 homes on a Saturday.  Of the 10, only one fit the bill for us and we quickly placed an offer on the house after returning to Houston that weekend.  We countered a few times, only to have the owners actually have a change of heart and actually withdraw their house from the market!  This, with 3 1/2 weeks until we closed on our Houston home and were essentially homeless.  When our realtor gave us the news, I panicked.  Distraught is putting it mildly.  I went into our bathroom, shut the door, and sobbed for a good 20 minutes.  Nothing else we had seen that weekend even came close to what we wanted,  and I was starting to think maybe we would have to rent something just to get the girls into a school district by mid-August.  But a couple new homes came on the market and we headed back to Austin the following weekend to search again.  The first house we saw, I had completely dismissed online.  It looked nice, but had no dining room.  We never use our dining room, but we do have nice furniture for it, and I do like the option of having that room.  It had very ornate vanities in the bathroom that weren't quite my style either, though the claw foot tub was nice, admittedly.   We went to see it though because the upstairs had everything the girls wanted: a media room (in addition to a gameroom) and two full bathrooms upstairs, including a private one in one of the bedrooms.  As we sat outside looking at the nice, but unassuming exterior, Meghan asked "Why are we even wasting our time on this house?"  My first thought after entering was, very small entry and yep, no dining room.  But then we walked further in and I realized I was walking on dark, wide-planked hardwood floors.  I noticed the HUGE granite island in the kitchen with gorgeous cabinets; the sink, granite, and cabinets in the laundry room;  the built-ins in the study, with granite counters.  I spent so much time downstairs looking at all the extras that the girls had seen the whole house and were shouting for me to come see the upstairs.

It was in a word: AWESOME.  A wet bar off the gameroom with sink, wine refrigerator and hardwood floors,  a big gameroom and an even bigger media room with projection screen theater.  The 3 upstairs bedrooms were also big and Claire had already claimed the one with the private bath (being the oldest full-time kid at home, she got first pick.)  The back yard had a covered patio (and by covered, I mean cedar-planked) and a huge backyard that backed up to greenbelt.  Nothing behind us except live oak trees as far as the eye could see.  The girls and Jack were sold, but ever the realist, I wanted to see the other houses on our list.  By the time we had driven to the next house, our realtor had called the agent on that house and found out there were two other interested parties.  Well, we spent our time at this next house writing up a contract on the one we had just toured!  We offered more than the asking price, determined not to let this one get away from us.  Long story short, we found out that afternoon the house was ours!

It has been a whirlwind since.  We are closing on both our Houston home and our new Austin home this Friday in Houston.  Movers come tomorrow and Thursday to pack us up and load us out.  After closing on Friday, we will say our last good-bye to Houston, our home for 12 years, and head west to Austin.  I will have lots more updates and pictures when we get moved in.   In the meantime,  here is a link to our new home.  It is even nicer than the pictures, and we are very excited to call it home. 

Wish us luck!  See you all on the other side!! 

Friday, June 10, 2011

We need our summer song!

Help!  It's June 10th already and we don't have a summer song yet at the McAfee house!  If you don't know what I am talking about, go here.  It should be a song that's current because we listen to the radio a lot, both at home and in the car.  When it comes on, we shout "summer song!" and blast it.

Meghan and Claire were kinda feeling Edge of Glory.  Honestly though, I am completely over Gaga.  She is so overplayed on the radio and her new stuff is just eh for me.  They weren't entirely over the top about the song either, so it's a NO.

Anna and I, on the other hand, like Bruno Mars' Lazy Song (excepting the one lyric about sex that makes me cringe.)  Love the music......very beachy/summery.  And if you can't be lazy in the summer, when can you be?  Meghan and Claire are just eh on that one though.  And we have to all agree on this song.   It's no fun if summer song comes on the radio and a couple of us are "great....summer song.....okay."  See what I mean?

The one song we all love is Adele's Rolling in the Deep.  Love that girl.  Love her cd.  Love, love, love.  But, it's already being played to death on the radio.  And a heartbreak song isn't exactly summery, even if musically, the song kicks you-know-what.  My favorite to blast in the car currently though.

So anyone have any other suggestions?  This one is kind of important because I am sure it will be the song that we identify with our move to Austin this summer.  IF we move to Austin this summer.  This house selling's going to fray my very last nerve.  But, that is a subject for another post!  Right now I just want to picture my summer song blasting while I float in the pool with an iced tea in hand.  Ahhh.....that's better.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Birthuation Festivities!

Not only did Meghan graduate from high school this past Saturday, she did so on her 18th birthday!  It was a fantastic day filled lots of smiles and happiness, and maybe just a couple tears.  It is so cliche to say, but where did all the years go?  Meghan is 18 now!  She will be off to college in just a few short months.  I can barely wrap my brain around it just yet.

My parents came to visit and watch their first grandchild walk across the stage in her cap and gown.  Graduation was held not at her school, but downtown at Reliant Stadium, where the Houston Texans play football!   We had lunch afterwards with Meghan's best friend, Natalie, and her family at Hillstone, which was new to us.  Very good!  Then to cap off the day, we had a small gathering of good friends to celebrate the gradu-birthday.  Meghan was so happy all day! It was a very joyous occasion.

Here are pics from the day:

 To celebrate Meghan's birthday, I created a candy table instead of having a birthday cake.  We had ordered a sheet cake for her graduation and we certainly did not need two cakes.  And Meghan LOVES candy.  We had been viewing different candy tables on Pinterest for a long time, and I knew she would love to wake up to one on her birthday.  She was thrilled!

 Claire and Meg on the drive down to Reliant Stadium.
 We've arrived! 
 Klein ISD graduates all four high schools here on the same day.  Klein Oak's ceremony was 12 noon.
 Anna, Meg, and Claire
 The processional....Meghan is between the two people in the foreground.
 The entire graduating class of 2011....888 kids!
 Throwing the caps in celebration.
 Meghan walking out.....the short one.  :)
 Meghan and best friend, Natalie. 
 The girls.  Can't believe our oldest is a high school graduate!
 Family photo!
 Meghan and Natalie at lunch afterwards.  So happy!!!  Meghan celebrated with a filet mignon.  :)
 Back home again after lunch.  I had to get a picture of Meg in front of her candy table. 
 Her birthday gift was a birthstone ring from James Avery to replace her class ring that she probably won't wear much longer.
 And her graduation gift from us was a Vera Bradley laptop backpack with some "how to survive freshman year" books.  We also snuck a check in one of the pockets hoping she won't have to call home and beg for money right away.  :)
 Cake time at the little party we held for the girls.  Yes, we served the infamous Costco cake!

Meghan and her friend, Jace.  They have been buddies since they were 1st grade and kindergarten students.  Now Jace is a high school senior!

It was a fantastic day!  Big smiles and lots of laughter and high fives!  I didn't get too emotional, but I was bursting with pride.  And now I am really excited for Meghan to go to the University of North Texas and begin the next chapter of her life.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Moving to Austin

So, the move.  We are headed to Austin, TX where Jack's job has relocated.  This all actually started last summer when Jack told me it was a possibility that the company he works for would be moving from Houston to Austin.  The idea was exciting because Austin is a pretty cool city.  It's younger, hipper, and smaller than Houston.  It is home to University of Texas, giving downtown a college feel with funky shops, fun places to eat and a vibrant nightlife with lots of live music.  It's also a much more "outdoor" city with two big lakes and lots of parks and trails.  On paper, everything about this move from Houston was YES, YES, YES.  But the reality is that we have two kids that are going to have to attend new schools and make new friends.  (Meghan will be college bound to UNT so she is not affected so much.)  The cost of housing is a lot more in Austin than Houston as well.  Our realtor told us it's generally $50k more for equivalent housing!  Crazy!  And, while Houston the city has never held that much appeal to me, the people here are A+.  I have made wonderful friends that I am going to have a hard time leaving behind.

However, even with those issues, we have been pretty excited and open to this move. The kids have been great....a little hesitant and sad to leave friends, but excited about the possibilities ahead.  So while Jack's office did indeed relocate this past March, we put our house on the market and prepared to move once the school year finished.  (Jack is working from home with occasional trips to Austin until the big move.)

I wish I could say that we are knee deep in packing boxes with Meghan's graduation just a week away!  Unfortunately though, that's not the case.  Our house is STILL for sale.  It's been over 10 weeks now.  We have had lots of showings (I think today marks 33 or 34) but not a single offer yet.  The market is really picky.  Our house is showing very well, but we have a small yard that is entirely pool.  There is no grass in the back at all, and well, that has been an issue...more so than Jack and I ever thought it would be.  Our pool has all the bells and whistles and our landscaping is very nice.  But, we've learned that people want grass....if even just a small amount for dogs, kids, whatever.  So we dropped our price last week to entice someone to live without the grass, but we are still waiting.  We haven't even begun looking in earnest for a home in Austin because we need to get this one sold first.  (Seriously, how do people swing two mortgages anyways???  I mean, how do you even get qualified for two mortgages in this age where banks have really tightened their belts.  Unless these people just have the cash, in which case, how on earth do you have that much cash???  Really.)

So, here we sit wishing we were preparing for graduation AND the move at the same time.  We would like to get over to Austin as soon as possible this summer so the girls can settle in a bit and get used to their new home and neighborhood before school begins in August.  At this rate, it won't be in June.  Big sigh.  I'm trying to be patient, repeating the mantra that everything happens when it should.  If I am being truthful though, I am anxious to get this move done.  In the moving words of the Black Eyed Peas, LET'S GET THIS PARTY STARTED, okay???

Sunday, May 22, 2011

My little corner of life: post rapture

Well, I'm still here.  Are you?  If this rapture really happened, you all have been as bad as me apparently.

 So how to spend the first post rapture day?  Well, I have updated this neglected blog and am going to make an attempt to post more often.  It's not like there has been a lack of activity to blog about.  Did I mention we're moving to Austin?  Meghan is graduating from high school?  We survived not one, but two proms?  It's high time I start documenting some of these big events & life changes.

There will be more to come!