Wednesday, December 31, 2014

15 for '15: The Annual To Do List

1.  Continue to work on my weight and fitness.  Maintain to the point of still being able to fit into my current wardrobe.  Get a new FitBit watch!

2.  Only shop for quality wardrobe pieces that will hold up over time.  Go one month without shopping for myself.

3.  Host Owen's 2nd Birthday party and see if we can top his 1st!

4. Add at least one new tradition to our Christmas traditions list (currently we're at:  J&A cookie decorating, Highland Park lights and Chuy's night, downtown Neiman's Santa and tree lighting, Christmas Eve family service and tamale party).  I'm thinking I'd like to host or plan an ornament exchange, book exchange or cookie exchange?

5.  Figure out Owen's MDO situation for the fall and adjust my work schedule accordingly.  Stay balanced!

6.  Do at least one yoga workshop.

7.  Attend at least 2 classes that are not my own yoga classes per month.  Preferably with a friend!

8.  Ride in at least one organized bike ride.  (Germanfest?)

9.  Run a half marathon in under 2 hours.

10.  Volunteer for VBS.

11.  Run a 5K in under 26:30.

12.  Continue to write Owen's monthly update letters for 2014.

13.  Travel more! Plan our five year anniversary trip.

14.  Read 20 books.  Turn off my phone at 9:00 every night and read before bed.

15.  Find at least 3 additional target neighborhoods.  Start researching schools for Owen and step out of my comfort zone to look at private schools.

2014 To Do List Revisited

1.  Get back to pre-baby weight and more importantly pre-baby body self-image.  I'd like to be able to wear the things in my closet.  I never did get back to pre-baby weight.  I hovered most of the year at least 3-10 lbs heavier, but I did lose a lot of weight after getting the FitBit and this is the first year that I don't feel utterly disgusting going into January 1st.  I definitely improved my self-image, which is worth way more than any number on the scale or achieving the ridiculous one that I saw the day I found out I was pregnant.  I can wear everything in my closet and not only can I wear each piece, I feel GOOD in each piece.  This was a MAJOR MAJOR HUGE MAJOR win for me this year.  The number on the scale can just suck it. 

2.  Only shop for and buy quality pieces for my wardrobe.  I did this too!  I returned basically every poor choice that I bought from Old Navy online.  My strategy has been either lululemon, Gap, Banana, anthro or Nordstrom (Rack or regular).  It's working out very well for me.  At least, I hope so! I take a lot of things back and I have really no regrets about things I bought this year. 

3.  Throw a super fun first birthday party for Owen.  DID IT!  We had a great party! 

4.  Continue our family Christmas traditions that we started this year.  We had a great holiday and it was perfect for our future as a family of three.  I am owning this to do list so far! We even made some new traditions (downtown Neiman's Santa and the KWP Tree Lighting).  Our tamale party was better than ever.  I can say, hands down, this was my most favorite Christmas.  I had no disappointment and felt only satisfaction when taking all the decorations down.

5.  Get my own cycle class.  Ruh roh.  This never happened but I'm ok with that.  My teaching schedule evolved and I had no idea I'd be rocking a part-time schedule at lulu again when I wrote this list.

6.  Enroll Owen in Mother's Day Out for the fall and along with that, teach at another gym/studio that is out of my comfort zone.  (This might end up being #5 as well!)  This partially happened!  Owen started MDO in September, this has been nothing but awesome.  I did audition for Core Power Yoga, which I think satisfies the "out of my comfort zone" requirement.  I had never auditioned before.  As previously stated, things evolved somewhat and I'm totally happy with where I ended up.

7.  Attend at least 2 classes that are not my own yoga classes per month.  This is, sadly, a big challenge right now.  I am not sure I got there but I did come very close.  Having free yoga from lulu was an amazing help in this department.  I will be keeping this on the 2015 list. 

8. Ride in at least one organized bike ride.  Um... I can't remember if I rode my bike in 2014.  Oops. 

9.  Run a half marathon in under 2 hours.  2:00:23 I will get those 23 seconds off my time in 2015.

10.  Find a place to volunteer and/or get more involved with our church.  I might have overdid this a bit this year.  I ended up taking on the VP Charity role for my moms club and doing quite a bit with church.  I plan to do VBS again this summer, it was a fabulous way to get involved and know the older kids at our church.

11.  Continue to be involved with my mom's group and Owen's playgroup. (This turned out to be one of the best things I put on my list last year!)  See previous item.  CHECK.

12.  Continue to write Owen's monthly update letters for 2014.  Haaa. Nope. Sorry I'm not sorry. 

13.  Travel more.  Make Vegas happen.  Take Owen to Boston.  Go on a trip that is just me (maybe DC or San Diego?).  Better plan for our 4th anniversary weekend.  Partially completed!  I went to San Francisco, Florida, New Orleans and YES! VEGAS HAPPENED.  We did a repeat of our first anniversary in Houston/Galveston this year and it was delightful.  Travel is never not going to be on a to do list for me. 

14. Read 10 books.  Turn off my phone at 9:00 every night and read before bed.  I probably did the book thing? I'm planning to actually keep track of what I'm reading in 2015.  I probably already have 10 books on my library request list that are coming soon so this should be easy to repeat.  I do need to revisit the 9:00 phone thing although deleting the twitter and facebook apps from my phone made a big difference in my phone usage.  Having a declining iPhone 5 with terrible battery life and no storage for yoga music might have been a factor here. Heh.

Monday, December 22, 2014

First Day of "School"

Dear Owen,

After 16 months spent together almost 100% of the time, you started Mother's Day Out today.  You've been watched by other people since you were 10 weeks old and I went back to teaching but I felt like a routine would be better for you as you are getting older.  I've been having mixed feelings about the whole thing.  I know it will be awesome for you (and me! I get to go back to work part-time!), but I'm used to being in the same building as you and at an arm's reach if you need me.  I know you'll be fine but it's always bittersweet watching you grow up and become your own person.  Good luck buddy and have fun!

Christmas 2014

Dear Owen,

Spending the Christmas season with a 1.5 year old has far exceeded my expectations.  It's been mostly delightful, you are very excited by lights and trees.  We decorated ours while you were sleeping and when you woke up, all you could say was "WOW. WOW."  We have a very strictly enforced rule in the Bernardi house where no one touches the tree, including Mommy and Daddy.  You've done really well with it and we've only caught you trying to touch it or the ornaments a couple of times.

You have an Advent calendar that you love to do each night.  It has velcro ornaments that go on a tree and you help to place them, which is why most of the ornaments are on the bottom half of the tree.  We have been reading Christmas stories and THE Christmas story before bed.  We also lit the Advent candle at church together as a family with Mimzy.

We went to the tree lighting downtown at Klyde Warren Park.  They had a fabulous big band and you loved running around and playing on the lawn while they played music.  I think you might have been too little to really understand the tree lighting so we'll try again next year.  You also will probably get more out of the drive through the lights of Highland Park next year when you aren't rear facing in your car seat.

We missed Daddy's company Christmas party this year, which is where we normally take you to see Santa Claus so we made the big visit at the Neiman Marcus downtown.  This might have to become a new tradition before the Klyde Warren tree lighting because we had a great time.  Well, Dad and I had a great time.  You did not enjoy Santa.  You call him "Dee-ta" and as soon as you saw him and I started to get you out of your stroller, you started growling.  The photographer warned me to just put you down and walk away quickly and he'd try to snap some pictures quickly.  This is what we ended up with:

As you can see, you were not happy about the situation.  We put the picture up on our fridge at home and we had been looking at it almost daily and talking about Santa (Dee-ta).  I thought you might be getting over your issue with the man in red until we went to dinner at Chuy's after HP lights.  They had a big inflatable Santa in the lobby and you and I were looking at him while Daddy was getting the car from the valet.  I told you that you could hug him, to which you replied with a curt, NO. Then I said, "It's ok, you can just touch him if you want to." and again I got a big fat NO.  You were facing Santa with your back toward me and I said to turn around and I'd pick you up and that was when you melted down.  It was basically the same as the Neiman's Santa experience so I grabbed you and we made a quick exit to find Dad.

The next day we were at home and you got a choo-choo train cookie to eat after dinner.  I started telling you that we'd be leaving out cookies for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve and that you have a special placemat for him.  It was then that I started to fully grasp that you understand a lot of what we are saying these days, even if you can't articulate it.  Our conversation went like this:

Me: We'll be leaving out cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve! You even have a special placemat for them.
You: Dan-ta?
Me: Yes! He comes to our house.
You (looks at front door, starts to almost cry): Dan-ta?
Me: It's ok! He comes while you sleep and leaves presents! Presents in boxes! (You are in to boxes these days.)
You (tries not to cry)

So, you understand me! This is both exciting and scary! But Bud, Santa is your friend! It's gonna be ok! I'm assuming we'll try again next year.

For Christmas, you got a bunch of great stuff from everyone!  You got a bounce house for outside and a great play kitchen for your playroom.  You love playing with everything and we had huge bags of toys to go to charity after we organized your playroom.  Our house was full of people.  Papa was here for a week, Uncle Preston for five days, Gram for two days and Grandpa River (Bop-A-Boo) and Grandma Bean brought your great-grandfather with them when they flew up.  We had a great tamale party at the house on Christmas Eve and you and your buddy Lilah broke in the bounce house an had a grand ole time.  On Christmas Day, you ate your fill of Daddy's BBQ brisket and my mac-n-cheese for your Christmas dinner.  We saw the Nativity pageant at church and I'm thinking you might be old enough to participate next year!

Hopefully next year will be as good as this year, we were very lucky to have such a great Christmas 2014.


Friday, August 22, 2014

15 months

Dear Owen,

You turned 15 months old last week.  I can't believe how quickly the time is flying.  You started walking in earnest right around your birthday.  We took you for your one year well check the next day and you started taking big steps all over the exam room, walking from chairs to your dad and I and back again.  You never looked back after that, and now at 15 months, you are running all over the place.  We moved last month and now you have a dedicated playroom area in our living room and you love to run from one end of the house to the other (approximately a thousand times a day).  You are, as always, full of energy and life.

You are really good at smiling and waving and you make friends just about everywhere you go.  Your face is always animated and you will always tell people "bye-bye" when we're leaving.  Sometimes we prompt you, but more often than not lately you will just say goodbye without us telling you to.

You love the dogs and it's no surprise that you are trying to learn their names.  You call Milo "Mimo", which is probably my most favorite of all of your words.  I think you mostly say "ba-daw" for Higgins, which I think is because I usually call him the big doggie.  At least I hope it is you imitating me saying big doggie instead of bad dog.

You say "mama" and "dada" all of the time and you've even said a clear "Daddy" a couple of times.  You call your Mimzy "NahNah", which I think is hilarious.  You are starting to ask for your "muh" which is for milk.  You are generally a kid that calls things by two syllable names, like a ball is a "bah-bah" and the dogs are "daw-daws".  You also use the same "bah-bah" for bath.  It's fun to watch you learn the English language and try to communicate with us.  When I sit you on your changing table, you love to point at the map above you and say "mah".

Speaking of pointing, your newest hobby is to point at everything above you.  Mostly in the house, you point at ceiling fans and lights.  Outside, you hear every single airplane and helicopter that flies above us.  It's crazy what you hear and notice.

You love to be in the water, whether that means the splash park, the pool or the bathtub.  You are happiest when we are going somewhere and doing something.  On the playground, you are very obsessed with the swings but you have no fear of climbing up the playscapes and going down the big slides.  We have spent a big portion of this relatively mild summer outside and you have a tiny little farmer's tan to show for it.

You've recently taken a big interest in kids older than you.  When you've had the chance, you've loved playing with 5 year old boys.  It makes me laugh because it's almost like you should have been someone's little brother.  You have also recently taken a shine to all of your books.  You especially love anything by Sandra Boynton and you will sit and "read" her books for awhile every day.

You still eat like a champ, recently deciding that you need your own daily green smoothie just like your dad and me.  Sometimes you go through phases where you don't want to eat vegetables or another time it might be meat that you throw off of your tray, but overall, you haven't displayed any picky habits (yet).

You're still a monster in the growth department.  You had a weird wheezing episode around July 4th and you were down 7 oz from your 12 month check up then.  Less than one month later, you were up two pounds- so much for my hopes that maybe your growth had tapered off!  You seem to be destined to be a big boy.

We love you so incredibly much and every milestone you hit just makes you even more fun for us!


15 mo Well Check stats

height:  34 3/4 inches (greater than 97 percentile)
weight:  30 lbs 5 oz (97%)
head:  greater than 97%, big all across the board!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

12 Months

Dear Owen,

Twelve months!  One year!  It's amazing to think that one year ago we met you.  On the one hand, it seems like you've been here forever but on the other, it seems impossible that we've hit this year milestone.  More so than any other time, this is the place where I think I'd like to freeze time for a little while if I could.  While last month was so challenging in different ways, it is almost as though you were able to grasp all the things that frustrated you before.  You started to wave hello and good-bye to people when we are out and about.  You will hold your hands high when we ask "How big are you, Owen?" and we'll laugh and say "SOOOO BIG!".

We are considering "buh-buh" (bye-bye) to be your first word for all intents and purposes.  At the end of the month, you will occasionally say it when we get ready to leave and are saying our good-byes.  You still say lots of "ma-ma"s and "da-da"s but never really to us.  You will occasionally say "dau-dau" so maybe you are trying to say "doggie"?  Your ever expanding little vocabulary is very amusing.

You also walk when you want to.  And by walk, I really mean hurl your self from object to object (or person) taking a few independent steps.  You get especially motivated to do this when you're mad.  We're still waiting for you to figure it out and really take off.

Your birthday party was so fantastic that it deserves it's own separate post.  We had people in town all weekend and after they left, we got a last minute wild hair and decided to take you to Babe's Chicken House for a little family dinner.  Your dad and I had been earlier in the week and he happened to see a birthday celebration and thought we should do that with you.  You loved the food, especially the biscuits, and loved watching our young waitress.  She was happy to oblige us and they brought over the Babe's Chicken hat and sang to you over a biscuit with a candle.  When they first came over, you had a little shudder and your eyes got SUPER wide and for a fleeting moment we thought that you were going to scream and be miserable!  The worry was for nothing because you just sat there with your sippy cup and watched all the waitresses until they were done singing to you.  After the song was over, you promptly removed the chicken hat and threw it on the lit candle.  Luckily, Daddy moved fast and saved the hat from catching fire.

My favorite new thing has been your new obsession with your doggie brothers.  When you wake from a nap, I'll look at Higgins and ask him if he wants to go get the baby.  He immediately sprints toward your door and waits for me to open it so he can come in and find you in your crib.  When you wake up and see the dogs for the first time, you laugh and try to get their attention.  You are learning to play with them by giving them their toys for a little game of fetch.  You are still a little too rough at times (especially with poor Milo) but you are starting to learn that they aren't toys and we have to use gentle hands when playing with the dogs.

For your birthday, Gram and Papa gifted us a membership to the Arboretum.  Since the weather is getting warmer, I have a feeling we'll be spending lots of time there in the water.  We went once this month with Natalie and Jack.  You two boys had a great time splashing!

You got to go to your first Rangers game, which was also your very first sporting event ever!  Due to some snafus with the tickets, we ended up sitting in the seats instead of a suite but you had a great time and were on your best behavior.  Some teenage boys sitting next to us gave you a figurine of the Ballpark that they were handing out for the 20th anniversary.  You played with your buddies, Derrick and Nolan, and the three of you entertained all the people around us in our section.

We celebrated Easter and you got to participate in three Easter Egg Hunts.  I'm looking forward to next year because I think you'll understand how to do it a little bit better.  We celebrated two other first birthdays!  Your best friend, Neil, and your sort-of-cousin, Martina, both had awesome parties.  We played with all our playgroup pals at the Mom's Club Easter Party and Daddy got to come to that one too.  They had a little kiddos bounce house and a petting zoo.  You thoroughly enjoyed both.

Beyond just the dogs, there are so many things that you are just "getting" now!  While I sometimes feel small pangs of sadness that you are growing up so fast, each stage in your development has been better than the last and I am looking forward to you telling us what is on your mind.  This transition from baby to toddler is very cool from our perspective.  We had a VERY BIG and EXCITING April.  I think I feel this way after each of your monthly recaps, but this was definitely our best month ever.  You are such a special guy and we're so thankful to share our days with you.


12 month well check stats

height: 32 inches (90th percentile)
weight:  28 lbs 11 oz (90th)
head: over 90th percentile 

Bits of Owen at 13 mo

  • You say a few words here and there but my absolute favorite is when you say bye-bye because it comes out VERY Southern (more like buh-baaaah).  It's the best ever and I hope you never figure out how to say it right. 
  • You are a walking fool!  You started to get the hang of it right around your first birthday and you are moving and shaking.  
  • We spend almost every day outside.  You love going to splash parks.  I used to think those were terrible in comparison to pools but now I realize that they are 100% perfect for the toddler set.  You spend a lot of time with your buddy Neil and you two adore getting in the water.  You, in particular, like the frogs at the Arboretum because you get under the water almost like it's a shower. 
  • We are just about finished with swim lessons.  You have done so well! I'm really proud of my big boy who can use his arms and legs to swim to me for 10 seconds underwater.  We're going to take a break for the summer so you can really focus on splash park fun :) 
  • You don't drink as much milk as you used to because we fully switched from bottles to sippies.  You are eating like a champ, as always.  
  • We are moving to a new house this month and you'll have your own dedicated playspace off of our living room.  It's going to be awesome.  I did a lighter shade of blue in your new room, which I guess isn't really a nursery!  Crazy, you little toddler.  
  • You love your backyard swimming pool and water table.  I love the water too and usually don't mind to be splashed a bit so we're having a great time.  

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

One Year Ago.

Dear Owen,

One year ago, on April 28th, your dad and I checked into the hospital.  We had no idea, not even the smallest inkling of an idea, of the magnitude that walking through those doors would change our lives.  We walked in as a husband and wife and 4 days later, we walked out as a family of three.  It still sounds crazy to think about it that way, I mean, we had an extra human being with us when we left!  That will probably always be mindblowing to me.

When your dad and I got married, we always planned on me working until we had a baby and then I would stay home during the pre-school years.  This evolved even more when we moved down to Texas, as dad's job demands changed a bit.  With his very erratic travel schedule, we don't know when I will go back to work in a more full-time way.  When we first came home with you, this was a challenge for me.  I was overwhelmed by having two dogs and a baby who needed me 24/7 and was eating ALL THE TIME.  What I didn't know was how much of a blessing it would ultimately turn out to be.  I was able to start back to teaching my classes when you were about 10 weeks old, which has been the best balance for both of us.  You have your buddies at the YMCA Child Watch and I have an outlet that gets us out of the house and the opportunity to have adult interaction.  The amount of stress in my life has decreased dramatically.  I have ample time to enjoy you and watch you grow up.  You spend some of your day with other kids and without me, learning to assert your independence.  It was a HUGE change from working 40+ hours a week and while I had to learn to adjust to it, we are incredibly lucky to be able to live our lives this way.

Because we've had this flexibility, it has allowed your dad to focus on his career and excel.  You should be incredibly proud of all that he has accomplished this past year.  I think having you has given him even more of a purpose and desire to succeed.  He has been both lucky that opportunities have been placed in his path, but more so, his success is because he gets up early every morning and goes to work to support us.  We have been blessed this past year!  Everyone will tell you before you have a child that when you do, you will just "find" the money for the extra expenses.  It has been true for us this year, God has provided for us and losing my income has not been as challenging as we imagined it would be.

Before you were born, circumstances changed and brought your Mimzy to Irving to be closer to us.  It has been one of the biggest blessings of your arrival into our family.  We are much closer now and watching you have this special relationship with your own grandmother has healed my heart so much.  It's not that I miss my own special Grandmother any less but watching you and your Mimzy having so much fun together makes me incredibly happy.  I hope that you have the same fierce love for her that I did for Grandmother, as it was one of the most enriching relationships I will ever have.

Motherhood and being your mother, more specifically, has changed me in about a million ways for the better.  Somehow, just you being you has made me more relaxed and laid back.  I still worry about you, probably too much for my own good, but who you are has made me chill out about so many things in life.  I don't know what it is about you but just know that you have calmed me down and helped me become more of the person that I want to be.  I still have work to do on so many things but you are helping me get there.

A year later and we are still relatively certain that you have completed our family.  Not to say that we won't change our minds one day, but for now, this is it.  With each stage that passes as you move from baby to toddler, I've had a couple of moments of sadness but mostly, I'm looking forward because I believe that the best is still yet to come.

I hope you know just how much you are loved by not only your dad and I but by basically everyone who meets you.  You have an infectious smile and the happiest disposition.  You make even our worst days better.  When you had your last ear infection, you were running a pretty high fever and generally miserable but the nurse still commented on you because you were really trying to be happy.  Not many people bother to try being happy when they are as sick as you were!  I hope you always laugh as much as you do now.

Tomorrow, or really overnight at 3:06 a.m., will mark your first birthday.  One year.  This past year has taught me more about myself than I imagined possible.  There is a saying about motherhood about having your heart walking around outside your body.  I had to experience it to understand but it's true.  I still can't believe that a year ago, you were still on the inside!  Most of the time, I feel like you have been around forever.  It has been, without a doubt, the best year of my life and I can't imagine what the future holds for us!


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

More House Feelings!!!1!

Adam and I drove by the owner financing house on Sunday morning but it was pouring rain and we didn't get a great look.  I met with our realtor and toured that house last night while Adam was out of town.  My mom came with me, which in hindsight I am so glad because now I have someone to back me up when I say it was the MOST HORRIBLE HOUSE EVER.  It was good that we went back during rush hour time because holy hell was it ever a busy corner.  Being that we used to live in the heart of the city of Chicago, the busy doesn't bother ME, but for future resale value?  No thanks.  The yard wasn't as pretty when you got out of the car and it wasn't pouring down rain.  We walked in the front door and David (realtor) told me point blank that I couldn't have this house.  We laughed and then got down to business.

Y'ALL!  SO many problems.  They "gutted it", yes, but half assed every single thing they did.  It was awful.  The open concept was horribly done.  We're not even sure if the two poles (that were a completely different color than the awful laminate flooring) were actually supporting the place, it honestly looked almost like 2X4s that had been slapped together.  The kitchen was a nightmare, the original cabinets had just been painted over what looked like 10 times.  They cheaped out on every detail, the bathrooms were just weird.  The carpet was hideous and not even attached, I pulled up part of it in the master bedroom.  It was almost as though they had it cut to fit the rooms but never attached it to the floor with metal as one does when one installs carpet.  WTF.  There were weird cracks in the floor where it met the walls in a couple of places.  There was standing water in the garage from the rain on Sunday.  There was a huge hole in the back yard that could have fit both doggies and the baby in it.  The pantry (or lack there of) was pretty bad and there was space where they could have created a lot more kitchen storage but chose not to.  The fireplace (Y'ALL!) (SOB!) was horribly covered in this awful tile that didn't match anything.  Why didn't they just paint the brick?  The floor was the aforementioned terrible laminate but when they knocked down the walls, they didn't change out the floor in the kitchen and entry way so there were two really odd areas of terrible white tile.  I had so many questions.  Was this a flip gone wrong? (According to's listing history, it appears that might be the case.) But the carpet in the bedrooms was clearly lived in so it left me wondering what had gone on between these walls.  The realtor representing the property didn't meet us there and was really awkward in her email back to me re: owner finance.  I actually felt sorry for her because this place was so truly bad.  They are priced way too high both for rent and for sale.  David told me to get it out of my mind for even renting straight up and he has a point.  I have no idea how I'd make the place work even as a temporary rental!  The sketchy poles that are potentially holding up the house freaked me out, I wouldn't even let Owen pull up on them.  I'd pay money to be a fly on the wall during the potential inspection.  I almost forgot!  The popcorn ceilings!  YOU GUYS.  They took ceilings like this:

and sprayed popcorn ceilings on top of that.  WHY? WHY?  You could still see the circles, which are CLEARLY SUPERIOR TO POPCORN CEILINGS.  Who did this?  What crack were they smoking when they did this "renovation"?  Like I said, I had more questions when I left than when I got there.

So where does this leave us now?  I have no idea!  David thinks we can get a loan this summer.  When I do the math, if we bought a cheaper house that needed work, it makes more sense for us to buy now rather than rent (duh, Jen).  We're investigating possibilities of getting a loan so please keep all your appendages crossed for us that someone has mercy on our souls.

Leave me a comment here and I'll email you back with the listing if you so desire.  Be forewarned, it looks semi-decent in the photos, as houses always seem to do.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Full Circle

It's funny because I originally started writing in this space to vent my complete and utter frustration with our condo and our housing situation.  While we're in a better place (A MUCH BETTER PLACE MENTALLY FOR ME THANK GOD) on so many levels, I have yet to go back and read those archives.  I probably sound whiney but this has been the longest, most frustrating and arduous process ever.  We're lucky, it could have been so much worse, we've never been homeless but GAH.  Foreclosing on property sucks so so so so so so so so hard X 1 billion.

(without getting into all the details the back story is such:  Adam bought a condo in Spring 2008.  We met in September 2008.  He bought at what he was told was the bottom of the market because no one had any idea how crappy the Chicago market would get.  It was a three ring circus from the start of his ownership until the very last second with everything, especially the financing.  His (terrible) loan was purchased probably 5-10 times over three years and re-financing that he had been promised wasn't an option when the prices dropped.  When we got married and decided to move back to TX, we put it on the market in Spring of 2011.  By that summer, we had relocation from his company, which provided us with a new realtor, one of the best in town.  At one point, we had it on the market at a place where we would have brought 60K to the closing table just to get out of the place, provided we had gotten an offer at asking price.  We were way above all the comps in the neighborhood.  Our awesome realtors worked with us to the bitter end.  We tried short sale and got two really strong offers, both slightly above neighborhood comps.  The bank rejected both of them.  We started on the road to foreclosure sometime in 2012.  After missed court dates, recused judges and basically every other snafu you could think of, the bank took possession in May 2013.  For the record, this was after basically begging the bank to just foreclose on the property so we could move on with the years of bad credit.  Let's just say that I get extremely pissed when people cry on TV about getting kicked out of their house by the banks, it takes years to go through a foreclosure and in our case, it was a hellish nightmare.)

SO!  Back to present-ish day.  We found the house we are renting currently after living here in Dallas for a year.  It was never intended to be even remotely permanent but we were reasonably happy about it and could make the things we didn't like work for now.  We just figured we'd start getting serious about moving into our "forever home"* when Owen was about a year away from kindergarten.  That would be 4-5 years post foreclosure and would also give us ample time to save 20% or more for the down payment on a conventional loan.  The only kink in the plan is that it's looking more and more likely that we'll be forced to move in July when our lease is up.  I spent so many years loving renting but I just feel like I'm ready to put down our roots.  I don't want to move again now and move again later.  I don't really want to move because I do feel some emotional ties to this house.  It was the home we brought our baby home to!

I have been scouring the rental market and I basically hate everything.

I enrolled Owen in a Mother's Day Out near here without even thinking about the possibility that we'd have to move.

I don't want to pay more than what we currently pay because that is less to save toward forever home.

With two dogs and a toddler, we have to have a yard.  I don't think there is any way I could wrangle both dogs and Owen in an apartment complex every time the dogs need to go out.

Again, I hate everything on the rental market.  I don't want to pay more to live in a crappier house.

Our old property manager here is a realtor so we've enlisted his help.  Obviously, as a realtor, he's much more interested in selling us a house.  Which AWESOME! I'm down!  But what bank is going to loan a stay-at-home-mom a mortgage?  And Adam can't get a loan until next May (2015) (I hate our old bank, burn in hell for taking so long).

Our options boil down to:
1. Find a crap place to rent for a year.  Try to get an FHA loan next year and hope to refinance to conventional in 2 more years.
2. Find a decent place and rent for 3+ years and continue to save for a conventional loan in 2017.
3. Be homeless. (kidding)
4. Find owner financing (?)

Option 4 is the wild card here.  It's extremely unlikely, except for a listing that I've been following for months just got changed to owner financing available.  It's a scary option on so many levels (like if they stop paying the mortgage and just pocket our money!) but it's a great house in a great neighborhood.  They just can't sell it because it's on a busy corner and they have it priced way too high (both as a rental and as a home sale).  I've already moved in to this place in my head.  Our realtor might take me to see it today.  I hate that I'm even entertaining these thoughts!  I just hate all our other options with a fiery passion.  Housing in Dallas is ridiculous right now because more people move into the area every day and there just isn't enough housing available.

So, I just felt like maybe getting all of that out there in total word vomit form.  I just want to have my house!  My home that I can do work on!  My yard, my flowers, my floors, my walls.  UG. I'm sad.

*forever home meaning 15-20 year home because we'll probably go back to being city mice after Owen graduates high school

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Eleven Months

Dear Owen,

Mr. Bear!  You have only a month left before your first birthday.  It's unbelievable to me how quickly these eleven months have passed and how much you have changed and grown.  Each month has been more enjoyable than the last and this month was no exception.  In some ways, it was our most challenging month but you are worth the missing sleep and hard moments.

You cut four teeth!  It was a VERY long process that involved you going through what felt like a continuous month long cold.  Between a very runny nose and all of the mouth pain, there were some tough days and nights.  When you got your two bottom teeth, it was kind of icky for a couple of days and then BOOM! two teeth!  This time we could see all four of the top teeth before they actually cut and it was a weeks long situation.  It was hard for you, I'm sure, and very sad/frustrating for us that we couldn't help you more.  There was a lot of Baby Advil and Tylenol in your life this month.

You're also a babbling fool.  You say all of the same things and you've gotten really good at signing "more", although sometimes it's more like clapping your hands.  It's funny to watch you try to communicate with us.  Sometimes we get confused because you clap/sign more quite a bit!  (Always "more" for food!)

You've had some fun adventures this month.  Gram came to see you for a couple of days, but unfortunately the weather was icky and icy so we mostly stayed home.  We also had Grandpa River and Grandma Bean in town for a nice visit.  We went to Klyde Warren Park and ate a nice dinner at a restaurant in the new hip neighborhood, Trinity Groves.  We found the Big D B&G letters and got some funny photos.  We went to the Arboretum for the first time this year with Natalie and Jack.  You had a great time even though you got a little cranky with me because it was too cold for you to just sit in the water and play.  You did get to splash around a little.

We celebrated St Patrick's Day by playing in the backyard and enjoying the mild weather.  You were getting over a particularly nasty version of your omnipresent cold that day so there were lots of Boogie Wipes involved in our celebrations.  We did spend the afternoon of St Pat's weekend down in Salado at the Big Green Egg Fest.  Alli Rae came to meet us and you ate all sorts of things including green chile chili and River's spicy meatloaf.

I got you a little walker at a garage sale and you love to push it all over the living room (and into the doggies if they don't move out of the way).  You do really well with it and you still cruise all over the house like a wild man, using the furniture and walls to make your way.  You have taken a few independent steps, usually just one at a time, toward us.  You kind of lunge/hurl yourself more so than actually walking so you have a little bit more work to do.  I know it won't be long before you're really moving, we assume by next month (your 1 year update?! What?!) you will be a full-fledged walking man.

You are a rockstar at all of your swimming lessons.  Currently, you are up to 7 seconds underwater and you even learned to kick your legs and swim to me without the instructor holding you.  It's amazing to watch you progress in the water.  You still seem to love going every week and you love observing all the other kids in your class.

Unfortunately, we had to miss one lesson this month.  We spent almost an entire week with both you and I sick as dogs!  You had been congested and stuffy for basically the entire month, which we assumed was cold after cold since you were teething for so long.  On Monday, you didn't nap well in the afternoon and fell asleep for a second time with me on the couch.  My first clue that something was wrong was that you weren't even happy when we went outside to play.  When you woke up from the second cat nap, I took your temperature and since it was a fever, we made an appointment to see the on call doctor for after hours.  We confirmed that you had another ear infection (#4 for those counting) and got some antibiotics.  This was the sickest, by far, that you had ever been.  You kept spiking fevers and life was a constant stream of alternating tylenol and advil for the next 3 days.  I was also feeling icky and by Thursday morning, I broke down and went to the doctor to find out I had strep.  Luckily Mimzy was available and helped us a lot this week so you didn't have to go to classes or the doctor with me.  It was no fun watching you be a sick fever baby.  Luckily, as this month ends, we're both on the mend and doing better and we can catch up with swimming next week!  We have to keep monitoring your ear stuff though and fingers are crossed that we are done with infections for this year.

Sick or teething or not, you are still the happiest little guy around.  You make us laugh every single day and you try to smile even when you are miserable.  We love your easy going disposition and even though you are impossible to keep still for more than a minute, we are having the best time watching you grow.


Stats and Milestones:

Height and Weight: (weighed at the dr on 4/4) 26 lbs, 13 oz and 32 (!!!) inches long
Diaper Size:  size 5 
Clothing Size: you've started to grow out of everything that is 18 month and below.  2T it is! I'm basically skipping 24 months for the most part since 2T usually has a little more length

First Green Egg Fest:  3/15
First St. Patrick's Day:  3/17

You sleep from around 7-6:30 or 7 every night.  You only wake up at night when the teething is bad or you're running a fever.  You dropped down to 3 bottles a day and you don't always finish them.  We've started sippy cups with water and you're finally understanding how to drink from them!

You take two naps a day.  About 45 min-1 hour in the morning and about 1.5-2.5 hours in the afternoon.  Occasionally, you just do one longer nap a day for closer to 3 hours.  When you were sick, you marathon napped for 1-1.5 hours in the morning and 3-3.5 hours in the afternoon.  It was crazy! 

You cruise and crawl all over the place and have started taking some independent steps. 

Nicknames:  Owen Bear, Mr. Bear, Beary-Boo, Mr. O, Beary, Bud
Things you love:  food! you love beans and we do lots of quesadillas.  This month you've really mastered picking up and eating slimy pieces of avocado and it is definitely a favorite.  you also love:  going out to eat, pizza from Tony's, exploring other people's houses (especially non baby proofed homes), playgroup, being outside on your swing, water (especially the swimming pool or anything you can splash in)
Things you don't love:  being put in the "pen", which is your packNplay so Mommy can cook dinner; being hungry or tired; waiting between bites of yogurt; when you are on the wrong side of your living room "baby jail"; teething; fevers; ear infections

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ten Months

Dear Owen,

I cannot believe you are ten whole months old.  Double digits!  You change so much with each month that passes and month 10 was no exception.  You are starting to show that you understand some of the things that are happening around you, especially some words and phrases.  You clap your hands on command and when we say, "Are you hungry?" you make your grunting noises.  It's fun starting to communicate with you a little bit more.  You babble a lot and make sounds for your "ba-ba" (bottle? sometimes you mean water or food).  You say "mama" and "dada" a lot but I don't think you use them to identify us just yet.

Physically, you are cruising all over everything.  We have the living room pretty well organized to make moving from furniture piece to piece pretty easy for you.  Almost everything has a soft edge and you love to rotate around on the ottoman.  You even take your little activity table and push it around like a push walker.  You rarely stay seated for long and prefer to be up and moving.

We celebrated Valentine's Day with our playgroup buddies!  We had a great afternoon party at the park and the weather was sunny and perfect for you to play with your Mom's Club friends.

We also had a little bit of snow.  It wasn't too cold when it first started so we bundled up and you got to ride in your swing for a few minutes as it was falling.  It was so pretty and you and the doggies had fun outside.  It was my favorite kind of snow because it was fluffy and light and didn't hang around on the streets for long.

Mimzy came over and stayed with you and the doggies for a few days while Dad and I went to San Francisco.  He had a work trip that fell on his birthday so I got to go with him.  You behaved very well for your grandmother and I think she had a good time with you.  We got lots of good nap reports and other than Higgins eating two of your pacis, all the doggies and babies were good boys.   On the tail end of Mimzy's stay, you started cutting one of your eye-teeth or vampire teeth.  There are three more teeth on the top trying to break through.

You started some serious swimming lessons this month at Emler Swim School.  They are teaching you how to climb out of the pool on your own and be safe in the water.  You LOVE it.  You are the biggest kid in your class and also the youngest (not surprising).  You love to watch the other kids and parents and you do great with all the teachers.  It's so fun to watch you get even more confident in the water.

We went to your friend Kyle's 5th birthday party this month and it was at a really cool bowling alley.  They had this little alligator that helped hold the ball so you even got to bowl a little bit with Daddy.  It was so fun!  They were serving pizza at the party and I was going to split a piece with you until you grabbed it and ate the whole thing yourself.  You continue to be an excellent eater.

Each month with you, watching you learn and grow, has been even more fun than the last.  I'm so thankful that we ended up with you in our family.  I loved you so much when you were a tiny baby but watching you become a little boy is a blast.  Daddy and I spend so much time just laughing with you and having fun.  I hope you always stay so sweet and happy.


Stats and Milestones:

Height and Weight: we didn't measure this month since technically you would have been 10 months on the 30th and there is no 30th of Feb!
Diaper Size:  size 5 
Clothing Size: 18 month and some of those are getting tight, you have a few 24m and 2T things in rotation

First swimming lesson at Emler: 1/31
First bowling birthday party:  2/8
First Valentine's Day:  2/14 (you gave your Valentine to Mimzy)

You sleep from around 7-6:30 or 7 every night.  You only wake up at night when the teething is bad.  You drink 4 bottles a day for a total of 26 oz or less.  

You take two naps a day.  About 45 min-1 hour in the morning and about 1.5-2.5 hours in the afternoon.   

You are cruising around the house and crawling faster!  

Nicknames:  Owen Bear, Mr. Bear, Beary-Boo, Mr. O, Beary, Bud
Things you love:  food of all kinds but especially greek yogurt and Ritz crackers; your swing; being a "standin' up baby"; your activity table
Things you don't love:  your exersaucer; being put in the "pen", which is your packNplay so Mommy can cook dinner; being hungry or tired; waiting between bites of yogurt