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 realtor.com'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