Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Kai-lon cake

Ok... so I had a cake project for a birthday party this weekend.. I have been working on it for awhile. I finally finished it at 1am this morning (and they just came to pick it up at about 11:30). Here are some pictures.. I can definitely say it was a pain in the rear, but looks pretty good.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Wonderful Husband

Ok, so I normally hate it when people post these types of blogs.. but I am going to HA! .. :)

I have seriously the best husband in the world... let me explain. So this last weekend, I had to work... which is awful. However, the worst part about that is it gave me very little time to do anything around the house (as I had to do it after church on Sunday). I also had to make pieces for this cake that is due this weekend.

Anyway, so I had written out a list of everything I needed to get done. It went something like this: 1) laundry, 2) tidy house, 3) make cake figures, 4) seal grout, 5) clean guest room.

The most important thing on this list was the cake figures. Therefore, right after church, I got to work on them. Boy did I work.., and work.. and work.. and work. I had to redo them a few times because the stuff I got to make them wasn't working out. I basically was at my wits end (not to mention the inability to make these characters perfect was taking a shot at my self esteem). Either way, about 1/3 of my way through this project which was failing miserably... I realized I needed cornstarch. In my frenzy, I yelled to Ivan to go get some (and I am pretty sure I didn't even say please)... I know what a bad wife I am :(. Anyway... did manage to get ONE other thing PARTIALLY done on my list... I threw the darks into the washer (though I never did take them out of the washer).

Now.. as I was frantically doing all of this.. Ivan was doing things around the house... At some point during the day probably around 5pm.. I was walking into our bathroom fully frustrated.. and I saw a sign on the door saying "Stop, don't step on the grout". I knew what this meant!!! Ivan had sealed the grout!!!... I didn't even know that! wow, was I impressed. Of course, that didn't keep me from my bad mood ...  Now, I basically worked on these stupid characters until 9:30 at night (at that point it was time to hit the sack)... but I really wanted to take a bath first (my own personal stress relief)... as I started to walk towards the bathroom, this is what I noticed, folded laundry on the couch, the laundry that was in the washer was on the drying rack, and as I walked into the bathroom.. i saw a bathtub filled with BUBBLES (we did NOT have bubble bath).... Ivan basically had purchased 2 different bubble baths when he went to the store to get the corn starch.. what a sweet man! and he had poured a bath for me!!! and he did the laundry!!! and he sealed the grout!!! and he made the bed!!! and he vacuumed the entire house!!! Now....I have to say.. he is truly the sweetest husband.. what more could I ask for! :)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Do I "love" it?

For awhile now, I have been trying to determine what I want to do in my life. I know that sounds like something a elementary school kid would say, like "when I grow up...". However, it has been a constant struggle for me between what I "like" to do, and what I am "good at". It is very difficult for me to sometiems make a distinction because of my "go for the gold" type-A personality. For example, I went to school originally to go into finance and MIS (management information systems). However, I ended up switching to accounting because I realized (through my first accounting class) that I was "good" in accounting. To be truthful, there were some classes that challenged me but I ended up pulling out with an "A" in all of them. Now, during college this made me feel like... well.. "I liked accounting". But did I? That is where the distinction between what I was "good at" and what I "liked" got blurry. I liked being "the best", I liked feeling like I knew what was going on in my classes, and I "liked" seeing 100% written as a test grade. However, I don't know if I ever really "liked" accounting. Now this is not a new realization for me, but more of a reminder of my previous realization.

Ok, so you may or may not know this about me... but I really like to watch abc family TV series....I know I know.. its sad (really it is!). Yesterday I was watching the latest episode of "Make it or Break it" (a series about elite gymnasts). In the show, there is a gymnast who suffered a huge injury to her back, and finally had a surgery to allow her to compete again. However, since she was out of the game for so long, her "puberty" caught up with her, meaning she started to fill out and grew a few inches. As most of you probably know, intense sports played at a young age can stunt your growth for a time. Anyway, so she had to completely re-examiner her approach to gymnastics. Instead of being a power gymist she would have to be an artist one. Anyway, she is sitting on the steps crying because this means almost re-learning everything, and her coach says to her "Do you love gymnastics for the sport? or do you love it because you are good at it?" I can't remember her answer, but I thought about that question. If I don't love accounting for accounting, and I only love it because I am "good at it", then what do I "love"? So I came up with three things...

1) Cake decorating
2) Singing -Country music of course!
3) Reading the Bible, writing, and researching (I will explain further below)

So, when I started pursuing all three of these things, I kind of felt overwhelmed. I did a little bit of research into the country music world. I have a "few" connections, but to be truthful, it would be a lot of work for probably nothing. It is really difficult to break into that business if you don't do your own song writing. Since, record labels don't accept unsolicited demos anymore, that is out as well. Anyway, I decided that though I love to sing and have been told that I have a talent... I will no longer pursue this. I will continue to sing for fun, but I am not going to have this dream of being a country star. Now, I may try out for Simon Cowell's new show just for fun. However, I am not willing to put in the work and money that it will take for me to pursue this dream. Ok, one down, two to go.

Cake decorating- yes I love this. I am actually making a cake for someone next weekend. I looked into what it would take for me to have a cake business here in Houston. The research was tough and I would definitely have to call the business bureau to determine specifics. However, there are few things I would have to do, 1) register a name, 2) probably have someone come into my kitchen and inspect it etc, 3) get a tax id etc. There are a lot of things that really go into all of this. Now, I probably will do it maybe sometime in the future (we will see). However, right now, this is on the backburner and I will continue to make cakes for fun. On a side note, cakes take a lot of upfront investment and they take a lot of time, so I wouldn't be able to work anymore outside of cakes and I just can't afford that right now.

Bible Study-Ok, this may not make sense to any of you, but for a long time I really have wanted to write. Now, don't judge my writing by my blog (since I do NOT proof these haha.. at all!). More specifically, I have wanted to write Christian literature. A few years ago when I was in college, I went through a specific bible study and I basically wrote about it. I took one thing that seems interesting, referenced other verses and basically made a mini-bible study out of it (on my old blog-which was deleted long ago). I really enjoyed that and I enjoyed hearing the responses from people who got something out of it. Either way, I really want to do that again. Recently, I have had two people in my life ask me questions related to specific verses, or bible studies in general. I found so much joy in researching their question, and writing back the answer. I just love doing this. Right now I am doing a Ruth study and I find it hard to stop at one lesson (though I have to work so I don't have time to do more than one). However, I always want to do more... that is what I WANT to do. I love reading Bible studies writen by others, and I love writing my own small studies, and I love researching different verses (including the greek and hebrew). My biggest issue is survival right now. Since, I can't make a living out of this right now...(and maybe not ever), it just has to sit there, in the background of my mind.

However, on a positive note, I have two things which I know I love. Now, if I could find a way to turn them into things I can do which will help provide for my family as well... that would be a bonus. For now... it is all accounting. :)


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Grass is Always Greener...

You have all heard that saying "the grass is always greener on the other side". Well.... I think I have truly lived out that saying in my life. I think that when I came to Texas... I felt like this was the "greenest of green grass". Now, I don't know. Now of course... I can definitely say.. that it is greener than Maryland in terms of cost of living. I mean,  Ivan and I would have had to wait a long time to buy a house in Maryland, and we have one here in Texas. However, there are just a few things that are not "greener". For one, I really liked my clients in DC. Now, auditing is a pain... it really is (I mean even ask people who audit...other than me). It is a constant learning curve, with many busy seasons. However, when you are on a client that you "know", it is a lot easier. I "knew" my clients in DC. I was comfortable with auditing them. I also had only ONE busy season. To some extent, I have FOUR here in Houston... since I have quarterly reviews and a year end audit!! Ok, so that is number one (can you tell I am writing this blog during one of those busy times..?). Second, friends are hard to find. Now, don't get me wrong, I didn't have  many friends in Maryland either, so maybe the grass is just "equal". I just feel like in Maryland we were just starting to make more friends before we moved. This is kind of the point I want to stick on for the rest of the blog.... so here we go.

There are some sad realizations that I have come across in the different places I have lived. I find that it is much hard to connect with other Christians... especially at church.  I feel like I am always fighting to be a part of the "inner" group. That is really tough for me since I am an introvert (until I get comfortable etc)... so I normally just give up. I can say that I really haven't made a good friendship with anyone here in Houston yet (now I have only lived here for a few months). You would just think that through church, I would have made one friend. I would say I have definitely made acquaintances... which is great... but I kind of  distinguish acquaintances from friends in this way. Other than the church activities, do you get together? Like, for example.... if I go to church or sunday school and talk to people... that is great. But are those people really my friends? Probably not. Now, if I get together with those people outside of church service, sunday school, or bible study or something like that.. then yes. Like, Ivan and I really miss two friends that we had in Maryland... They were another married couple who we went to lunch with frequently after church. I also often went to lunch during my lunch break with the wife in DC.. which was so great! (I figured I wouldn't mention their names since this is a public blog). We have not really found that relationship here. To be truthful, I figured it would be "more welcoming" here in Texas than in Maryland, but I find that it is either the same or slightly worse.

Now... ALL OF THAT SAID... This is not to say that people have not been friendly to us here. That is not what I am saying at all. I am just saying that normally...we have no one to hang out with or do things outside of our work or church. That can just be pretty depressing... it becomes the same old thing every day.. work, eat, sleep.... work, eat, sleep... with never a "going out with friends" dropped into the mix. Hopefully this is one of those things that if we just "give it time" it will all work out. It is just really tough for the moment... because I feel like everyone else already has their friends with no room for anyone else. This may not be a problem for an extrovert... who sees any person as an opportunity for a friend... and a group of people as an opportunity for a lot of friends... but for an introvert.. this is terrifying.

I am just hoping over time... the grass will get greener over here. I am just hoping it won't take two years like it did in Maryland.  Ya ya..  I know.. another depressing blog...


Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Man's Steps are Directed by the Lord

Ok, so I was doing my Ruth Bible study today.. and I was asked to read these few verses.

Proverbs 20:24
"A man's steps are directed by the LORD.
How then can anyone understand his own way?"

Proverbs: 21:30-31
"There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan
that can succeed against the LORD. The horse is made ready for the day of battle,
but victory rests with the LORD."

Jeremiah 10:23
"I know, O LORD, that a man's life is not his own;
it is not for man to direct his steps."

I can't really express how much these verses meant to me, especially after the last couple of hours. I just found out (well I guess "found out" is not the proper term), or maybe more like "realized" that the next few weeks are going to be awful at work. I am not used to quarter reviews in audit because I have mainly done federal audits (and we only have a year end). Anyway, this is going to be highly stressful for me 1) Because almost everyone is new to the audit, 2) I have a huge learning curve I am still trying to leap, 3) We just got a tone of new software that we are all trying to figure out, and 4) We have a little over a week.

So what does this mean? It means overtime and lots of it. It means that I will be eating at work and possibly working on Saturdays. This causes a problem for me since I have to make a cake for someone by the 31st and I need my Saturdays for that (and I actually need a Friday as well). I also have a friend coming on the 31st and so I will get to spend very little time with him. This is all just overwhelming for me because I am not used to working late hours out of busy season times. This isn't even busy season and we are working late hours. My question is "how will I survive?" and "will I have enough time to get everything done?". Ivan is fine with the late hours, and he doesn't care. It is just really hard on me. There isn't much I can do but just deal with it. These verses however, do give me some hope. They help just to remind me that God is in control, not me, not Ivan, not KPMG, not Lockheed, not anyone. God is in control of our lives, and He guides them. I am just in constant prayer that God will continue to guide us and give me happiness and contentment in the situation in which He has placed me right now. It is very difficult for me because I am not content and I just pray that He will give me that. I can tell you that if it doesn't come from God, it isn't coming! I am just praying that the Lord will also just show us some home and give us some direction. I feel like I am just sitting still.. like there is no movement and I have no clue what God wants for us next. It becomes very easy to feel like God has forgotten us, and that we will be in this same situation forever. However, I have to rest in these verses and know that God has plans for us.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Just a General Update

So, here are some general updates on whats going on over here at the Portugal house. The last few weeks have been fun but exhausting and hectic. My family came to visit for two weeks (this included my parents and my sister and her husband). They came first for the fourth of July weekend, and then came back for my birthday weekend.

Ivan made some major accomplishments at work, although I will not even attempt to explain what it was. However, according to him it was a big deal and his team really recognized his work. This makes me happy because I feel like he has been discouraged in his work lately. I think this was definitely a boost in confidence. We are hoping that he gets the promotion that he has worked so hard in these past two years.

I also got a promotion which was effective July 1st. I am now a senior associate for KPMG. However, I can definitely say that I don't feel like a senior associate. Being at the Houston KPMG office has been a huge struggle for me. Everything works differently and the audits are all new to me. I am so used to the federal audit environment. I am slowly but surely learning everything all over again (or so it feels like). It is an awful feeling when I come into work and I feel incompetent compared to when I was in DC. Either way, I am struggling through it, and trying to make the best of it. Hopefully I will "catch up" to everyone else who has been doing commercial auditing for the past two years.

There are no new updates on the house other than that we got new bedroom furniture. I will post pictures eventually. Right now the room is just not clean so I don't really want to take the pictures. The air conditioner is still not fixed. We even went to our neighbors home to see what her humidity was. Our temp was 73 degrees and humidity was 57%, and we went to her house and her temp was 77 degrees and 47% humidity! Are you kidding me!!? Seriously, this humidity thing is a problem and I am getting sick of dealing with it. The AC guys keep saying nothing is wrong, but I hate waking up feeling like I slept in the rainforest! We called and emailed the builder to try to get this thing going again but have yet to hear back. I am hoping we don't have to take a more serious plan of action. However, we have so much documentation of the temperatures/humidity and documentation of what "normal" Houston inside humidity levels are supposed to be. I am just hoping it gets fixed. I would really like to feel comfortable in my house.

Oh, and as a side note to all of this. I have decided to get off of facebook until August 1st. My mom did it for awhile, and though I commend her for why she did it, I don't have the same reasons. I don't really spend tons of time on facebook. It is not like I am "addicted" to it. To be truthful, I probably get on and browse my mini-feed once or twice a day. The problem for me is that it causes me to feel jealous. I see my friends who are no longer working and just being stay at home moms, or are buying a bigger house, or are making leaps in their careers, or are getting higher levels of education... etc.. and I become discontent with my life. This has always been a bit of a problem for me but I think facebook as elevated it to a new level. It is like an easy way to compare yourself to others which is NOT what Christ wanted. I feel like facebook makes it very easy to swing from jealous to prideful. Let me explain. You see someone's status "Just bought a new home...5,000 square feet ! Oh ya and my husband just found out he is of royal blood and is now the King of Frutalia" (Ok I am totally making these up .. duh.. but you are getting the point). So you start to think "wow.. she really has it made.. what am I doing in my life? Why don't I have those things? what is wrong with me?" and you start to get jealous. Then 5 minutes later, another friend posts her wedding pictures and you are hoping that this won't be another thing you fall short in. So you look through the pictures and you think "oh.. my wedding was so much prettier.. my dress was better.. oh look at that and that and that.. ya mine was better" (Again these are all exaggerated examples).. but here comes the pride. Now you aren't jealous because you think "I am better" or "I had a better thing" or "I have more"...etc. Now maybe not everyone experiences this with facebook.. but I can say I do and I know other people who have as well. I think it is a very innocent technology which can have detrimental consequences if we don't guard our hearts.

Anyway, this blog has gone long enough..sorry for the intensity at the end..  I have to get going on work stuff.. later


Friday, July 9, 2010

My day... and so it begins.

Well today is the day.... the day I turn my favorite number "24". I can say that today has started off well.. not the best. I had to get up at 6am to go to work...(yes I am working on my birthday). I had to go because thanks to the CPA, I still have negative PTO (personal time off hours). Therefore, according to colleagues in the Houston office, I would have to get all these special approvals to go "more negative". Therefore, I just am biting the bullet and working.

Second thing that has gone wrong today, I found out that we got the quote from the plumber yesterday. We are trying to get the plumber to plumb for this water softener we bought (and seriously need because the hard water is ruining stuff).The problem is that he wants to charge us $3,000 or $1,500 (if we buy the parts)...and we ALREADY have the dang softener. Now, normally one would think "just go find another plumber". The problem with that idea is that our house plumbing is under a 2 year warranty and I worry about voiding it. I just don't think Ivan and I can afford $1,500 + price of product. Oh and btw, the guy also has to make a few holes in the sheetrock/drywall so we would have to pay to get that fixed as well. My day just keeps getting better.

Thirdly, we have been having this CONSTANT air conditioning problem in our house. The humidity fluctuates between 50% and 63%. The AC guy has been over at the house like 5 times and there is "nothing" wrong according to him. So one day we tested the humidity at our house 60% and then took our humidity tester to the model home (same exact lay out) and it was 50% there. Like what is  UP WITH THAT!... so the AC guy came again and we closed off the "fresh air" vent.. hoping that would solve it. Nope... I woke up to day with 57% staring me in the face on the little tester thing on the counter. So, now we have to call the builder AGAIN. I don't know what anyone is going to do as it seems that they have checked everything.

At this point I am just frustrated because I am stuck with this house that, though gorgeous.... feels like I am in the middle of the everglades!!! and of course (back to point one), I can't do much but wait since I am at work today!

Now.. I have tried to encourage myself at work.. and tried to be positive so I hung up some verses. First, I hung up Psalms 91:1-16. Then I hung up Colossians 3:22-24 which to me is very positive and to some extent helps me get through the work day.

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but in sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving"

I have wanted to get involved with ministry in some way for so long. Whether it would be just volunteering at the church, working at the church, starting a Bible study, writing a Bible study etc... but I can't do that right now because of just financial situations (which of course the plumber's bill is making worse! erg). But, I have to remember that where I am working right now... is part of God's will for me... and I need to work at it with a positive outlook as it is for Him.

We are studying Ruth in summer Bible study...and there were some verses that meant so much to me, especially because I am not in the "mom" stage of my life yet. Ruth 2:5-7 says " Boaz asked the foreman of his harvesters, 'Whose young woman is that?' the foreman replied, 'She is the Moabitess who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said "Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters" She went into the fiel and has worked steadily from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter'".

Ruth was in one of the most hostile situations she could be in... she was in Bethlehem, with Israelites. Moabites were enemies of Israelites and not only was she there living with them, but she was also a widow! Yet, she worked so hard... and I don't hear one complaint from her in the whole book of Ruth. Oh how I wish I could be that strong!

Anyway... enough of my rant. It is time to get to work.. and finish this day out!


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Texas House... Part 1

Ok, so I finally decided to post some pictures of the house. Please note that I will post MORE pictures as soon as the office and my bedroom are finally organized. Also, as with any house.. it is a work in progress so I will continue to post pictures of new things that are added (or painted) etc. Anyway.. here we go....

This is the dining room... this is my parents' dining room furniture that is really pretty and is a great placeholder until we can afford some of our own stuff.

Now the dining room has a matching room right next to it.. and it has a bunch of junk in it right now (mainly artwork that is either waiting to be hung or waiting to be put on a bookcase. I probably will post a picture of it in a later blog.

This to the right is the kitchen, eating, and family room area. This sofa will eventually move into the living room.. AGAIN when we have money to buy another sofa.. :) (hopefully one with a sleeper so all our family can enjoy the "awesomeness" of sleeping on a thin mattress covering metal bars... :)

Here is the eating area.. which we never eat at .. but it is there to look pretty :) isnt it pretty?

More of the kitchen and our AWESOME Texas bar stools.. yeehaw!

And... believe it or not.. I just accidentally deleted all the other pictures I had posted in this blog.. and though.. I can re-upload them, I am not at the particular computer that holds those photos.. so.. until next time... hopefully this will at least tide those over who have been begging for pictures..