Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hello Seattle

What? You thought we had disappeared 2 years ago??? Well call off the search party...we are alive and well!

So, I'm not the best at keeping up with our blog...who knew? But I believe in the grace to change, so I am making it a priority to do so :)

LOTS and LOTS of changes since I last posted on Ryan's 25th birthday. Ryan is now 27, of course, and has so much more to show for those last two years! More so then me, I guess...I just seem to get older, doing the same old thing!

We finished up Ryan's degree at BYU-Idaho, and were lucky to have his mom and both of my parents come out for graduation in April 2011. Technically, he didn't fully complete his degree until July because he had to complete a 3 month internship before they would give it to him, but he was able to walk in April. At BYU-Idaho, during commencement, they tell you not to shout out to your loved ones, but wait for everyone to walk across the stage, and then cheer at the end. I was SOOOO disappointed with this announcement, since I've been dreaming of this day to cheer on my hubby for 3 years, ever since we went to my bro-in-law's graduation (Matthew) back in AZ and got to cheer for him. I envisioned the day of watching Ryan get his degree, and I whispered to Ryan that I couldn't wait until that was him, and how proud I would be, and surely tear-filled! So when they said we couldn't cheer, I was pretty upset, to put it lightly. But as students started walking up to get their diploma's, every once in a while you would hear a proud wife yell really loud for her husband. At that point, I didn't care anymore. I saw Ryan whispering to his friends seated next to him, with a big grin on his face, and I KNEW he was telling them that he figured one of us (either his mom or I) would be yelling for him. I couldn't let him down after I knew he told them that :) So I asked my mother-in-law and parents if they would disown me if I broke the rules and cheered, and with both of their go-ahead nods, I was DOING it, dang it! As soon as they called his name, I let out a HUGE,"WOOOOO Ryan!!!!". He stopped on stage, turned back towards us, and grinned. I knew I had just made his night :) We enjoyed our weekend with our parents, and celebrating. My parents stayed around for a week to visit us, which we loved, but Ryan's mom had to get back to work, so she made it a brief visit, which we were glad she could come out.

A week after graduation was over, Ryan and I also got the gift from my bro-in-law to use his flight miles and come out to visit my sister and her family, in which I hadn't seen in over 2 years, since they moved to North Carolina! Kids grow rapidly, and I was anxious to see my 4 nephews. We stayed for a week, and even spent the night with them in an awesome beach front hotel in Myrtle Beach, SC. We went to the Carowinds Amusement Park one day, but made it a brief visit when some of the rides made some of us sick, and Ryan had the unfortunate experience of splitting his shorts down his back pocket :) Embarrassing for him, but a saving grace for the rest of us to have a reason to leave after we didn't feel so well. We stopped and got some fireworks in SC, and put on a show in the cul-de-sac that night. We took a small hike/walk on Sunday after church, saw Rio in the theater, and I had lots and LOTS of Chick-fil-A :) It was a fun trip, and good for Ryan and I to get away. And, as expected, my nephews WERE huge. Man! Miss them all so much.

Ryan got an internship as a Business Analyst with a Rexburg company, Avercast, that specializes in supply chain management software. He had some great ideas there that the company was really interested in, and that helped shape out his resume. They wanted him to continue on with them, but due to some questionable stability with my own job at the time (we were worried they were going to close down the Rexburg office...turns out, they were just getting bought out), we wouldn't be able to survive on the low hourly pay they were offering him, and also I saw how unhappy and miserable Ryan was on a daily basis there because work came in waves for him. He needs to be busy, and feel utilized to stay happy and fulfilled. This wasn't what he ultimately wanted as a career, so we started looking elsewhere.

Thankfully, we heard back immediately from Safeco Insurance in Seattle, Washington, on a Product Analyst position we had applied for. It was a bit of an interviewing process (phone interview with the recruiter, phone interview with the hiring manager, then them flying him out to Seattle to have a face-to-face interview with 4 managers) but after a month, they finally extended him the position! Lots of people applied for it, so it was a huge compliment to Ryan and his skills that they wanted him to work for them. We were excited because Ryan had been saying for the year prior to this that he thought he wanted to move to Seattle. He had never even VISITED Seattle before...he just felt right about it for some unknown reason at the time. He did visit Seattle in March as an intern expedition with BYU-I, and that just solidified his desire to move there. He loved the people, and felt like he would fit in culturally, with their quirky attitudes, and low-key lifestyles. Ryan accepted the job with Safeco, making a great starting salary for a kid right out of college--and giving me the ability to stop working--and we were set on moving to Seattle! Another compliment to him was he was called back by Farmer's Insurance in Woodland Hills, CA for a Product Analyst position, but we had already accepted the Safeco job. How likely is it for a new college grad to get called back by TWO companies that quickly? We were certainly blessed, and Ryan is very talented :)

We came out the end of August to apartment hunt, and found the perfect place for us on our second appointment. It's such a QUIET complex, with beautiful landscaping, and right on a main road. The thing that sealed the deal for us was that there is a bus stop RIGHT in front of our complex, with a straight shot to downtown (no transferring buses, and he gets there in about 25 minutes) in front of Ryan's work! Ryan was going to have to take the bus because parking in downtown is at least $10 a day. We felt great about the apartment, got approved to move in, and decided we would come out Sept. 9th. Quick turn around to pack up our house back in Rexburg and move out!

Both Ryan's mom and my dad flew out to Rexburg, ID to drive with us in our cars and U-Haul in the trek to Seattle. Everything went smoothly on the drive, and we were excited to be in our new apartment. My dad had to make it an EXTREMELY quick trip (flying home the next morning), so we were grateful for his generosity to spend so much money on a trip where he did nothing but WORK and DRIVE. Ryan's mom also had to get back to work, so she made it a quick weekend trip...and again, so grateful she took the time/money to come out to help us.

We did some furniture shopping at Ashley Furniture and got us a new dining room table, bed frame and dresser, computer table, entertainment center, and couches. We had a hard time with the couch thing because of the way our entry to our apartment is laid out. There is an overhang outside our door, with a wall, so you have to stand the couch up on it's side and push it in. Well, the couch we wanted was too tall to fit under the overhang (didn't find out until it was trying to be delivered!), so we had to settle on getting the love seat and a chair & 1/2 with ottoman. Didn't get a couch to sit on until about a month of being here :) I greatly enjoyed receiving those items, FOR SURE!

We love our new apartment, love the complex, and think we will stay here for several years. We feel very safe and undisturbed here, and love the feel of our apartment/home. I have to say, I'm quite proud of my decorating skills, and how it looks on the inside. :)
Ryan picked out the cream place mats for the table...I think they go GREAT with the color of our table!

These are pictures of the view out front and out back of our apartment.

We absolutely L O V E Seattle/Washington. SO pretty out here, with the green trees, water, and mountains! The beauty and splendor of Washington makes up for any grey days out here. On top of that, when the sun DOES come out, there is no better sight, and it makes us more active to get out and enjoy the weather.

As for Ryan's job...he loves it! He was on cloud 9 for the first several weeks working there. He has a desk at work that raises up and down with the push of a button, instead of having to adjust your chair up and down. He felt cool about that. He is loving learning about the insurance industry, and they all seem to love him. We were given tickets to their box seats with the Seattle Mariners, and I was able to meet one of the managers that interviewed Ryan during the hiring process. He told me he had great expectations for Ryan, and that he was even going to borrow Ryan from his manager to work on a project for HIM. That was nice to hear coming from a higher-up. I was proud of Ryan for making a great impression. The box seats were AMAZING! The Mariners lost, but the game/experience was fun.

Ryan has his ups and downs with the learning curve, and him expecting too much out of himself when he is starting out in a brand new industry to him, doing things he's never done before, as this is his first professional career. He always wants to look and do his best in front of management (which I can appreciate), but has a hard time being patient with himself while learning. He's working hard on "being kind" to himself (as I tell him to do each morning as he goes out the door :) He forgets all the good he's done, and focuses on the times he struggles.

Some good things he's accomplished so far are: a project that he helped work on with someone else got impressive reviews by upper management; during a public speaking seminar that he had to take at work, one of the SVP's was in the audience, which made Ryan REALLY nervous...he came home that night fretting all about it...then the next morning his boss sent him an email saying that the SVP stopped by his desk and told him what a great job Ryan did on his speech; he got chosen to work on another special project for a different manager that he doesn't even report too; and he just recently got asked to take on a project from his boss to make sure the company's system gets corrected because Ryan and his mentor found some incorrect calculations on people's policies (the system wasn't able to calculate correctly for policies over a certain dollar amount in one of his states). He's excited to work on that project. He's finally enjoying LEARNING and taking these opportunities to grow. I'm proud of him. I love hearing about what he learns each day, and how much knowledge he is gaining about the insurance industry and how it works. There is LOTS of upward mobility in his company, so we both plan on staying here for a good long while. He loves the culture and the people, and getting to work on the 31st floor of a high-rise building in downtown, overlooking the Puget Sound!

(Ryan's building is in the very center of the picture below...the square brown building in the back center, nicknamed "The Box the Space Needle Came In" since it is in the shape of a tall box :)

As for me, when we came out here, I was able to keep my job and work online from home. However, our company got bought out in October, and the new company wasn't so thrilled about the telecommuting idea, so I was let go. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do at that point (go to school, find another full-time job, stay at home, or heavily pursue fertility treatments), but was just grateful that we had planned ahead before moving out, and made sure all of our bills would fit under Ryan's income only, just in case this experimental scenario didn't work out for me. So when I lost my job, we both were able to not worry over the money aspect of it. That was a blessing, for sure.

I have sent out a few resume's, and search job listings almost every day just to see what is out there, but am not looking actively. I really felt like (and still do) that my place needs to be at home for now, helping Ryan get off to work in the mornings. He has a hard time waking up, so we've gotten in to a routine where I wake up first, go make him a hot breakfast, deliver it to him in bed (LUCKY!), pack him a lunch, iron him a shirt and then lay out his clothes on his bed for him to change in to, get him his IPod or Galaxy Tablet ready to take with him on the bus, and get him out the door by 8:00 a.m.! It's worked well for him :) I've been blessed with a husband that wants me to do whatever I feel happy with. Being home has given me the opportunity to keep up on the house work (a FIRST for me since being married and working full time), run errands, grocery shop, and make dinner in the evenings instead of eating out. It's been good for us, and I actually enjoy it.

However, when we were at a church linger-longer (dinner after church) last week, upon hearing that I was just a stay-at-home wife, a young mom at our table, that is new to our ward as well, mentioned they were looking for someone to be paid to watch their 3 year old daughter part-time during the week while she and her husband worked. They have a CUTE little girl, and we had a fun time with her this last Friday and Saturday. She's full of energy, very smart, and imaginative! She loves being chased and tickled, and galloping like a horse! Her favorite thing to do at my house so far is to play a Dora the Explorer memory game and play with a hot wheels stunt track that Ryan's mom had sent to Ryan as a joke birthday present, where we make the car fly through a ring of fire (and sometimes shoot it out and up into either the toy box or at Ryan's leg :) tee hee). She's adorable, and we love having a kid in our house and hearing the cute things she says. Now a saying Ryan and I have back and forth in our house with each other is, "YOU have to WAIT!". HA. She would have me get the car all wound up and set in the launcher for her, ready to go, then told me,"You have to say 'On your mark, get set, go, then tell me 'YOU have to WAIT!'". When I would start counting "On your mark" she would hit the switch and send the car flying, then want me to tickle her tummy and say,"YOU have to WAIT!". So cute!!! hahaha. We did this over and over again! We took her on a walk, looking to see if we had a playground (never found one) and she decided to chase a squirrel up a tree. HA! It made us laugh, but sent me chasing her cause I was scared the squirrel was going to be rabid with my luck, and jump down and attack her as she stood and giggled at it under the tree! HAHA! I have a fear of animals attacking, ok???!! Don't even ask about my fear with hummingbirds...just cover your eyes when they are around, that's all I'm sayin'! Anyways, it looks like this is going to become my permanent gig for now, which I am happy about! They are a cute family, getting through school, which we've been and done before! Happy to help them out.

I can hardly resist the cute dishes I bought for her to know I need a kid of my own when THIS sight below makes my ENTIRE YEAR! So cute...

I still have school on my radar, and am hoping to be able to go back to school next year after I've established residency here. In the meantime, a friend out here mentioned looking into testing out of some of the gen-ed's this year while I wait, so I'm looking into that! Want to go back to school to get my Psychology degree!

I took the plunge and sold my Ford Escape! Since Ryan takes the bus to work, we NEVER touched one of the cars. It would just sit in it's parking space that we had to pay extra for in our complex. Since the transit system is pretty good out here, we decided to sell my car, use the money to pay off a credit card (woohoo), and save money on gas (the hills out here are HORRIBLE on my Ford's gas mileage), parking, and registration (which was due this month!). I was sad to sell all of the "memories" in that car, but really, you can't sell memories, so I got over myself and am doing just fine without it! Now "my" car is Ryan's Toyota Corolla, which does GREAT on gas. I'm the primary driver whenever we go anywhere out here in Washington :) Pay back for all the years Ryan was.

Ryan had his birthday in November, and I made plans for his birthday, only to find his car with a flat tire that morning (he knew it was getting low, but kept putting off getting it fixed), and my car with the brake light on. The idea of driving my car in the hills here with a brake light on did not thrill me (turned out to be running low on brake fluid, which I figured out by getting online), so I decided on getting Ryan's tire fixed. After a consultation phone call home to my Dad, I was able to change Ryan's flat tire (only took an hour....) and get it over to the tire shop. They found a small nail in it, patched it up for free, and sent me on my way!

I picked Ryan up from work then headed over to Fry's Electronic to pick up parts to a new gaming computer that he wanted to build, then went to dinner at our favorite pizza place in Renton (The Rock). We came home, and I surprised him with two new pairs of jeans that he needed (they have jean Friday at work, and Ryan didn't have any) and a copy of Twilight done by Rifftrax, where the guys from Mystery Science Theater make fun of the movie. It's his favorite Rifftrax, and one of my co-workers from Rexburg burned a copy and mailed it to me for free. So nice. We watched the movie, and ate his favorite cake that I baked for him (rainbow chip). I surprised him that weekend with a tour on Bainbridge Island, just north of Seattle. You take the ferry out to the island, which Ryan LOVED, and were met up with the tour guides. We enjoyed seeing more of the area, and learning about Chief Seattle, and just being out with other people! There was a great view of Mt. Rainier that day! My favorite part: the sea lions. Ryan's favorite part: being captain of a small electric boat during part of the tour.

Thanksgiving was just small but perfect here in our little apartment. I made mashed potatoes (with cream cheese as the secret ingredient...Ryan said it was the best mashed potatoes he's ever had!) with gravy, green bean casserole, steak (per Ryan's request), yams with marshmallows, and a pumpkin pie. Ryan was so loving that day, and kept telling me all day how much he loved me. It was nice. He loved the dinner, and said it was perfect. I appreciated him making me feel good, and I enjoy being able to do nice things like this for him.Ryan finished buying his parts for his computer, and spent Thanksgiving putting it together, and playing with his friends online. The graphics are SO much better, and the speed is SO much faster then our old computer. Ryan is a happy camper these days now that he has it! He's been wanting a new computer for over a year now.

We love our church out here in Seattle, and feel the most welcomed and at home that we've ever felt since being married and going to church (even more so then when we lived in Arizona!). I think it's because there are so few members out here that it's easier to make friends because there aren't a bunch of cliques already with neighbors. That, or the people out here are just so easy-going that it's easy to make friends :) We both look forward to Sundays and going to church, and I've been able to go out with a few women and make new friends! We both got new callings in our church, and I now teach the 12-13 year old boys and girls Sunday School class (love them!) and Ryan is in scouting (a foreign concept to him, so it's met with trepidation, as Ryan was never a scout) and also a substitute teacher for the men in Elder's Quorum (which Ryan loves).

I was also lucky enough to have a close friend from junior-high/high school (Sarah Herrera) live out here as well with her husband and kids, so I've gotten to see her a few times, which is fun.

Ryan's mom is coming out for Christmas, so we plan on seeing some more fun things with her while she's here, like the Space Needle, some Christmas lights (one house out here in West Seattle does the whole Christmas lights timed to music thing), Pike's Place, etc. Should be fun! No snow out here yet, and I'm ok with that :) But it IS chilling up!

That's about the latest and greatest for us out here in our new life in West Seattle! We love it, and plan to make it "HOME" for the rest of our lives, if we have anything to say about it ;)

Ryan took today off of work and made secret "plans" for us today, so I'll keep you posted on what adventures we head off to today...