Miles and Milestones

Our lives are full of milestones and mine is really no more special or better than others. But my husband and I have reached major ones and we decided that we needed to celebrate by putting on the miles.

We all hit milestones in our lives, we learn how to walk and talk, go to kindergarten, learn to read, graduate high school, go off to college marry, have kids, and watch them go through the  same milestones. But this year is special and frankly hard to wrap my mind around. Not only did my husband, best friend, partner in everything and I celebrate 38 years of marriage (wow almost 40), we celebrate BIG birthdays. Lee turned 65 at the end of May and I’ll be 60 next week. Holy cow! Where did the time go? Except for really bad knees and the grey hair I cover up, I’d never know I’m 60, unless I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Of course, if I say so myself, I really don’t look 60.

Since, with a summer birthday, I’m one of the younger ones from my high school graduating class, I’ve been watching others celebrate their 60th on Facebook and thinking, “wow, look how old they are”, but wait a minute, so am I. So what does turning 60 mean to me? First of all, when I look at my family’s lifelines, it means I could potentially live another 25-30 years. So maybe, I am not so old after all. But you never know what will happen tomorrow. So my plan is to start having more fun and enjoy the miles I’ve yet to travel. My husband and I started celebrating our big birthday year by getting in the car, traveling over 1300 miles, and checking some items off our ( well mostly his) bucket list.

We planned a trip to Colorado Springs and Santa Fe, New Mexico. We put in a lot of windshield time and are still happily married. Our trip was full of awe and wonder. This was actually our second time we driving out west as Lee dropped me off in Tempe, AZ. for my senior year in college. We camped in a pup tent on our way out but don’t remember being as enamored with the scenery as we were this time. Most likely the difference in age and maturity makes a difference as the first time our love was newer, we were heartbroken at being separated, and our eyes were mostly on each other . Now in our mature years with a deeper love for each other, we took joy in sharing the beauty of the world together.

We drove to the top of Pike’s Peak with our hearts beating so loudly we could almost hear each other’s. I thought I’d lose Lee right there and wondered how I would ever be able to drive down the mountain myself. We visited charming Manitou Springs, people watched, picnicked by a fresh mountain creek, and enjoyed the best iced coffee and raw cacao candy. We dined in Old Colorado Springs with some cousins and checked out the local shops. We visited the Garden of the God’s and ogled the natural geological sculptures. We then traveled to Santa Fe, where we visited galleries, met the nicest people, ate the locals’ favorite spots, went hiking through cliff dwellings, and visited some turquoise mining towns. Our days were filled from 8 am to 8 pm, when we would finally collapse at our adobe VRBO and watch the beautiful sunsets and twinkling stars over the clear mountain skies.

My husband always wanted to go white river rafting in the west so I agreed even though I was sure I would die of a heart attack. ( I admit, I am not the bravest person in the world.)  Obviously I survived or I wouldn’t be writing this  long blog. It was AWESOME!! The spectacular scenery along the Rio Grande enthralled us as did the quickly flowing river full of rapids and boulders. The guide and our fellow rafting partners made the trip even more enjoyable as they assured me I wouldn’t fall out. Again, I survived.  We hit a Class III rapid and I slid slightly into the raft off the side. As I tried to right myself we hit a huge boulder on my side and I went over. I couldn’t grab onto the rope on our raft and went right by them. I tried to grab the next raft but missed that too. I still held onto my paddle for dear life and tried to hook it onto the paddle of the guy trying to rescue me since I couldn’t reach his paddle with my arm. That didn’t work and eventually they got close enough that I could grab his paddle and he pulled me into the raft. Once in the raft, I raised my paddle and yelled with elation “Happy Birthday to me.” I celebrated another milestone and lived to tell the story which was caught on a Go-Pro by my rescuer. The whole rescue was merely a matter of a few minutes.

I don’t feel that turning 60 made me wise or privileged, except for the senior discounts I now receive. Age made me more mellow and I don’t sweat the small stuff. I find that each beautiful sunrise and sunset add joy to my day as do the flowers in my yard and others, my dog greeting me at the door, my husband selflessly doing me favors, and the sound of the children playing. I look forward to more fun and traveling miles with Lee as we explore our world, near and far. Oh, and apparently age gives me the right to babble.

Enjoy a few of our pictures.

Honoring the Red, White, and Blue

 

DiemThe 4th of July is upon us and we all look forward to celebrating with family and friends. Unfortunately today, we seem to have lost sight of honoring the red, white, and blue.

The 4th of July is all about BIG sales, hot dogs and hamburgers on the barbecue, circus peanuts, boating, neighborhood parties, and fantastic firework displays. Lest we forgot, the 4th of July is also about celebrating our independence. On July 4th,1776 13 colonies claimed their independence from England, eventually forming the United States. Believe it or not, fireworks were originally part of the first Independence Day celebration which took place on July 4th, 1777, mandated by John Adams. The 4th became a federal holiday in 1941, celebrating the birth of American Independence. John Adams, as one of the originators of the Declaration of Independence, envisioned celebrating with,”Pomp & Parade… Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires, And Illuminations from one end of this continent to the other.”  

We are not so far off in our celebrations but I urge you to take a moment to reflect on the origins of our July 4th celebrations, bless our country, and pass down the story to your children and grandchildren. 

Happy 4th of July to you and your family

.God Bless America

Simple Things

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The old saying, ” Home is where the heart is,” rings true for myself and others who’ve experienced moving; especially numerous times. No matter where we live, we put down out roots, literally by either planting a tree, bushes, flowers, or volunteering within the community.

Moving and changing communities makes it difficult to form new relationships, especially as an older couple without children. That is why it is so important to take a few moments each day to take joy in the simple things. Take time to play tourist in your new community and share your finds with the natives. And don’t be afraid to ask about their favorite spots.  I’ve learned that long time members of a community often become so complacent that they overlook the little things their community has to offer.

Today, I’m keeping this post short but wanted to share a few pictures of the “simple things” that add joy to my daily living. It seems lately, that no matter where I live, I have native visitors. Living in Appleton, I love to walk along Apple Creek listening to the birds during the day, the frogs at night, and watching the carp as they mate. I also take great pleasure in the flowers and plants that we have so lovingly planted to beautify our yard. I hope that you also find pleasure in my simple joy.

YOUR HOME ON STAGE

“Setting the Stage for your Next Move” As a Realtor® in Madison, that was my slogan. As a Realtor® and professional Stager®, I feel it is very apropos. When you are getting ready to move, you want to make your home look like it is on the stage in a beauty pageant. Think about when you go shopping, the neat store with a beautiful display draws you in vs the store with items strewn about.  Of course, you do not want to overdo your decorating but rather have everything clean, repaired, touched and freshened up.

I was going to write an article about getting your home ready but then this one titled       8 Tips for Adding Curb Appeal and Value to Your Home popped into my mailbox. Thus, I thought, why write a new article when someone has done it for me? I encourage you to read this article and contact me if you have any questions.

I also recommend adding a nice outdoor seating area that says welcome to our house. It makes people feel very comfortable.

If you or anyone you know is thinking of selling your home, please give me a call and we can discuss listing and staging your home so you can maximize on it’s potential and sell for more money. I’ve plenty of more tricks to welcome your home’s new owners.

 

Life and the Staycation in the Little “Apple”

 

We don’t live in the big city, not even close to the “Big Apple”. But  living and doing a staycation in our “Little Apple” otherwise known as Appleton, WI has many benefits that residents and visitors of the bigger city can’t even realize.

First of all, we don’t really have traffic, just traffic lights. When I lived here previously, 441 was just being completed. We didn’t get to enjoy the benefits of bypassing the city traffic. Although, I find 441 a great benefit when I am in a hurry, I use the city streets when I desire a leisurely drive. Besides little traffic, Appleton and the surrounding Fox Cities have much to offer whether you are a nature buff, a cultural buff, or both. I personally am excited for the Heid Music Summer Concert Series to start again June 1. I love warm summer evenings listening to free local musicians while people watching. Of course we are excited to partake in the Mile of Music once again to hear new evolving groups. The Trout Museum has a revolving door of different exhibits and I just noticed a pop up art gallery on College Avenue.  There are history museums such as the Hearthstone Historical House Museum, gardens, and children’s museums to visit. And everyone needs to learn about two of our most famous past residents; Harry Houdini and Edna Ferber.  Did you know that Appleton was once part of the Underground Railroad?

The Fox Valley has many parks to visit and trails that take hikers walking around the Fox River. Families can partake in activities at most of the parks such as  Gordon Bubolz Nature Center, Thousand Islands, and Plamann Park. Check their schedules to learn more. What is your favorite park in our community?

I could continue on about the reasons to live and take a staycation in the Fox Valley but I don’t really need to reinvent the wheel, so I am providing a link to the 14 Best Things to Do in Appleton, WI. If your favorite thing is not on the list, please feel free to add it.

5 Tips for Newlyweds Buying your 1st House

5 Tips for Newlyweds Buying your 1st House

5 Tips for Newlyweds Buying your 1st House

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Life is exciting, you’ve just tied the knot and now are combining households. You need to decide what to keep, what to throw away, and how and where you want to live. These 5 tips will guide you through the home buying process.

  1. Be Realistic-  You aren’t moving into your parents’ home that they saved a lifetime to buy or build. You are moving into your 1st starter home. Prioritize your needs and wants.  Make a list with must haves and likes, the areas you like, size of home you need now combined with room to grow for potential children.  
  2. S-CocktailChecklistYour Credit Report- When you marry, your credit reports also join together. Make sure you both check your credit reports, have an open discussion, and work together to fix any blemishes before you start house hunting. Work with your creditors to raise your credit score. Planning for the future? There are 7 simple ways to raise your credit score.
  3. Shop your Lender- Do your research with different mortgage companies, banks, and credit unions. Ask about rates, 1st time homebuyers tax credits, incentives, and closing costs. Check the lenders reviews and sit down with them for a face to face meeting. This is a big step and you want to know with whom you are working and how the loan program works. Be wary of internet based lenders with possible hidden fees. Before you start looking for your first home, get pre-approved. A pre-approval lets you know how much home you can afford and allows you to lock in the lowest interest rate.
  4. 4. Don’t tie the knot and then plan to swing the hammer. In other words, don’t buy a complete “fixer-upper”. Fixing a house together puts a strain on both your marriage and finances. The only reality on HGTV are the surprises that homeowners face when remodeling and fixing up a house. HGTV never tells you how and where the homeowners come up with all the extra money to remedy the surprises. A “fixer upper” is costly and can deplete both your finances and energy when you should be focusing on building a life together. Homeowners need to budget for taxes, insurance, maintenance, and the occasional emergency such as the water heater or furnace failing.
  5. Hire a Real Estate Agent- Homebuyers need professional guidance when making big decisions. Emotions and excitement may get in the way blinding you to possible downfalls in different homes and neighborhoods. A professional real estate agent that works with first time Buyers will guide you as they would their children, helping you buy the best home for your money while negotiating the best dollar amount for your purchase.

The Packing Party

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The title, “The Packing Party ” seems fitting for this blog because it is relative when moving from one home to another. But, the Packing Party that I joined a few weeks ago has nothing to do with real estate. It is all about babies. Who doesn’t love a baby? They ask for so little, food, love, warmth, and a dry clean diaper. But some mothers need to choose between food and a diaper. Can you imagine?

I was honored to be able to participate in a Packing Party for Jake’s Diapers, a non profit whose mission is simply to provide the basic need of cloth diapers to babies, children, and adults in extreme poverty whose caregivers have to choose between food & diapers. Sounds rather simple but is so complicated. Jake’s Diapers has provided over thirty thousand diapers to 16 impoverished countries and to parents locally in need. The story of how everything falls into place and the partnerships that the founders of Jake’s Diapers have made to reach mothers and families in need is remarkable.

Many of the recipients of the diapers are orphanages in places such as Haiti and Peru. These organizations struggle daily to provide food and other basic needs for the babies. Jake’s Diapers only sends 2 dozen cloth diapers to each baby. It doesn’t sound like many but these  mothers are used to washing and greatly appreciate what they receive. The gift of diapers actually cuts down on the spreading of disease.

Jake’s Diapers partners with several businesses to provide for the transport and donation of diapers, diaper bags (in which to pack the diapers), and the adjustable rubber pants that grow from newborn to toddler size. Nicki’s Diapers of Madison, WI strongly supports the cause and provides huge donations. Johnson and Johnson also donates and supports Jake’s Diapers. The military also gets involved by transporting and dropping off the diapers.

How can you help? Jake’s Diapers needs cloth diapers. Have your children outgrown their cloth diapers?  Visit their Website to see how you can donate diapers. Monetary donations and your time are welcomed.

I personally never really thought about babies needing diapers. Of course, I knew there were starving babies all over this world but didn’t consciously think about the diaper need. I admire the founders of Jake’s Diapers for seeing a need and establishing a non profit to help diaper the babies. It touched my heart that even for a couple of hours, I could be part of something that provides basic needs both locally and internationally.