Archive for August, 2007

2 weeks and counting…

Well, two weeks away from the big move. I think September 14th will be the most stressful day since Eli’s birth. With the 2 home closings and the 2 hr. drive from Oregon to Viroqua, we won’t even be able to start unloading the truck till 5 pm. Also, who knows what state Eli will be in without his normal napping routine. So, I’m praying a lot and trying to *pre*-pare everything I can before hand….like how we are going to get 4-5 cars/trucks from here to there. We think we’re coming up with a plan.

Right now, we’re putting a boxed frozen lasagna into the oven for dinner, Eli is playing and giggling in his exersaucer after a 4 hour nap(!) and Nathan’s trying to find boxes. Funny how you have an abundance of boxes that are the wrong size and no boxes that are the right size.

For this move, I’m trying to be as organized as possible. When we moved from our 500 sq. ft. loft to our current 1200 sq. ft. house, we just threw in whatever would fit in a box. This time, I’m trying to keep things organized by labeling which room it should go to in the new house…including which bathroom accessories do we use for our one bathroom in the new house and how should I store the rest (in a plastic storage box, of course – my favorite way to store items**)

Today we found an *error* in our previous financial calculations. I use the term *error* because we are coming out with less $ than we had originally thought. Talk about stress. We will be ok, but just breaking even. It was a close call…something you don’t want to repeat-EVER. When things like this happen, I think to myself (and sometimes say aloud) “How could we be so stupid!?”. I have to agree with Kendy’s comment on our last post. God is good. He lets us *swim* along thinking we’ve got everything under control and then- WHAM!- we open our eyes and see all the ways we’ve screwed it up and how he’s pulled us through – again. Really though, I guess I can’t ask for anything more than to let God show his mercy through our extreme weakness. It’s humbling but I imagine humbled people have an over-all bigger appreciation for life.

On a lighter and lovelier note: Eli is the greatest! We love him so! He’s figured out that smiling thing pretty well and also – just recently – that his feet are ticklish. He giggles and giggles when we play with his feet. And today, he said a word. Well, it wasn’t a word in the dictionary, and I can’t even remember how it would be spelled, but it was the most clear non-emotive communication that he’s spoken yet. As if he was stating a fact that was obvious to anyone. It caught me by surprise. I’m used to his smiles and giggles and cries and whines and squeals of glee – but this was none of those things and required simultaneous coordination of the tongue, lips, vocal chords & mental focus. I guess it’s time for us to start working on that “mommy” word. ;)

**Nathan and I are constantly arguing over the pros and cons of plastic storage boxes. His o-so practical side can’t understand the need to spend $10 on a see-through plastic box when one can just use a cardboard box that’s free. My A.R. side can’t understand why one wouldn’t invest in a see-through plastic box that is reusable, will last for years and helps one find exactly what one is looking for before one even pulls the box off the shelf and opens it. (Also, prevents flood & critter damage). Anybody else have a cardboard or plastic storage box preference?

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Our offer was accepted!

Little ranch

We will be the proud owners of this homey little ranch in Viroqua. We thank God that everything is working out so far. It feels really good and we’re both sleeping better.

We have plenty of plans for improving it. White trim outside, removing the big cone-shaped bush that blocks the front door. Lots of fresh paint and removing some of the carpet to expose more hardwood. We’ll need to learn all we can about shade friendly gardening. We can’t decide about the linoleum. It is in beautiful condition, no nicks, scratches or anything. Perhaps we should just decorate around it?

Eli in the red chair

We hope Eli will like his new place. The back yard should be fun for him. If he’s anything like me, he will be climbing these trees in no-time.

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Housing update

Thanks for all the good comments. I agree with all of you, but I’m still a little confused. Perhaps I am over-thinking it.

My concern is the “bubble” that is currently happening. Sarah’s examples show how people have bought and sold for 100% profit multiple times. The articles I linked to show how house prices have more than doubled in the past few years where job salaries have only risen by 10%. Practically, it can’t keep up…eventually people are not going to be able to afford houses. As long as there is demand for houses, then I think prices shouldn’t go down, but I think the day’s of doubling your money are over unless you can find a neighborhood that is on the upswing and buy really cheap. That doesn’t really happen in the little town of 4000 we are moving to.

We bought our current house 4 years ago and have added a bathroom and bedroom. In the current market, after all the stinking fees (realtor, taxes, title, etc..) we are barely breaking even. We are getting back the money we put into the house and that’s about it.

On a way more positive note, we found a house we liked today. It looks outdated, but it is really solid. The hard wood floors are nice, it has three bedrooms and it doesn’t need any work. Another big plus is that it doesn’t have too many tacky additions. I really don’t like it when people add things to an old house that don’t fit its original style. It is a ranch style house that manages to still be charming. As much as Kelli and I have turned up our noses at the style, this one has charmed us. The pictures don’t really do it justice.

Things we like about it:

  • Good condition, not a fixer upper.
  • Lots and lots of trees.
  • Three bedrooms.
  • Embraces its style, aka…has charm.

Things we don’t like about it:

  • No good garden spot.
  • Funky, sloped yard with huge walls holding the yard back. It’s located on the side of a hill.
  • On a “through” street.

The “through” street is in a town of 4000…it’s not exactly going to be super busy all the time. The yard isn’t so bad, I can learn to push the lawn mower up and down the hills. We’ll need to plant lots of shade happy plants to help prevent erosion. It does have a nice sunny spot for a few tomato plants and some spices. Also, my office has lots of community garden plots available.

You might be surprised that we don’t want a fixer-upper. We are attracted to them, but at the same time there weren’t any within our price range. Sure we could afford the $110,000 foursquare we looked at today. It had tons of potential, but needed a roof, siding, furnace, new windows, refinished floors, electric, insulation, kitchen cabinets, appliances, etc.. After years of work we would have a gorgeous house that we couldn’t afford. We would need to find a $60,000 house than needed lots of work. Those are hard to find because everyone has already fixed up the affordable ones. The giant ones are just so intimidating.

Overall, we’re pretty excited. We’ll make the offer tomorrow!

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To buy or not to buy…

We have most likely sold our house. It looks like the inspection hasn’t uncovered anything structural and we are praying that the transaction continues going well. Now we have a big decision to make… should we buy a house?

I have just assumed that we should buy because we can probably afford it and house prices are way cheaper in Vernon County than they are here in Dane County. We started questioning the decision to buy once we started looking, but this morning I found something that really has me thinking.

The average wage paid Vernon County is around $25,000 per year, it was around $23,000 per year in 2003. The median household income is only $35,000! Kelli and I are blessed to have an income quite a bit higher than this median.

House prices have risen substantially (doubled?) in the last 5 years. Kelli and I are looking at having to spend around $130,000 on a house that will serve our needs (number of bedrooms, space, garage, etc…). There are houses we could live in for around $98,000, but they would have fewer bedrooms, lots less space and no nice features like garages or basements.

Is it smart to spend $130,000 on a house in a small county where the average income is so low?

Also something to take into consideration is the current “bubble.”

We could rent an entire home for $600 a month. No taxes, no upkeep, no worry about house prices. Also, no pride of ownership, no long term stability, etc… A house is going to take a minimum of $1000 a month to keep up: $730 a month mortgage, $200 taxes, plus maintenance.

I also realize that if you commit to a house for 30 years, it can be a huge piece of stability as you get older and retire. I imagine retirement would be much easier without a mortgage. Imagine only paying taxes and maintenance. However, it seems unrealistic in today’s economy to stay in the same location for 30 years. Who knows where I will be working as a computer programmer when I’m 58?

So I’m asking for your comments/advice. Please don’t give me too much crap about how much more expensive houses are in your area. I realize that overall, houses are cheap here compared to bigger cities. I’m just trying to make a wise decision for my family given the county we are moving to and the overall market.

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We sold our house!

Yea!  We have an excepted offer – pending inspection and financing for the buyers.  We are supposed to close Sept. 14th.  That’s 4 weeks to find a house, make and offer, get an inspection, pack up our stuff and move.  Anyone want to volunteer to help? :)

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The September Baby Tour: Canceled

Kendy’s comment on my last blog reminded me that I haven’t updated folks on our traveling plans. Because of Nathan’s new job, he no longer has the amount of vacation time he had at InterVarsity. He gets a week vacation, pro-rated, as he works this first year (till next July). So, the Baby Tour we planned for this September will be canceled in order to have vacation days to visit during Christmas. At that point, we should have the week of Christmas (vacation & holidays combined), sandwiched by the 2 weekends on either side. That should leave us time to visit with most of you. I’m sorry that the September visiting plan did not work out. Job changes are inconvenient in that respect. But on the up side, Nathan is enjoying his new job and learning lots of new stuff and getting all the free organic milk and OJ he could ever want while he’s in the office. :)

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“You scream like a girl!”

The last 3 times we’ve taken Eli out and about, he starts screaming and crying the instant we walk into an establishment. The first time this happened was last Saturday. Nathan had been at his Beer festival for most of the day and I had been home with Eli alone – making one of my weekend days almost identical to my “work” days. This led to my suggestion that we go out for dinner… nothing fancy, just a burger at the Great Dane Pub. Immediately after passing through the doors, Eli begins screaming. Previously, the last month or so, he’d been doing this but would soon cease. Not this time. I felt sorry for the poor people sitting at the next table. (For some reason, the hostess sat us directly next to the only occupied table on the outside patio!) These people were clearly young and single and they winced at every blood curdling scream. So did we. We tried pulling Eli out of his car seat carrier and holding him. Just when we thought he’d calmed down, another scream. He didn’t hold back. I got two sips from my Diet Pepsi before I took him to the car while Nathan ordered our burgers to-go. I had to rock him with his pacifier and sing to him (“Hush, little baby” – though I only know the first 4 lines, the rest I hummed) before he calmed down. But as soon as we had to put him back in his car seat to drive home, he let out many more screams. I marked it up as him being tired.

Well, it happened again, the very next day. Except, this time it was early afternoon. We left immediately after he woke from his nap, knowing we had, at most, a 2 hr. interval before he would be beyond the threshold of sooth-able tiredness. We made it through a brief trip to Trader Joe’s with no problems. However, entering the mall to go to Hancock fabrics…again, screaming. He calmed down when Nathan walked him in his stroller in the mall “hall” before we went in to Hancocks. However, again, mere seconds upon entering the actual store, he began screaming again, stopped, then screamed and cried a little more a couple minutes later. Then he was fine. Luckily the bolts of fabric drowned out the intense high-pitch. That was a better experience than the previous night.

So, I was afraid tonight when we had to leave the house for an hour during a showing. I cleaned all day and Eli did not nap well. Not sure why. But I knew we were in for it. I expected nothing less than us driving around or sitting in a random parking lot trying to keep Eli from screaming while we tried not to lose our minds. We pulled into the Whole Foods parking lot, strapped on the Baby Bjorn, thinking he would feel more safe to be cuddled up next to us. No deal. He made it fine across the parking lot but screamed as we walked through the sliding doors. The poor lady at the help desk. What a greeting. People stop what they are doing and turn to look at him. They are startled by his intensity and we are helpless to console him. So, we went back outside. He stopped crying. He was fine outside. I suggested we try putting him in the Bjorn facing Nathan. Maybe the store was too much stimulation. He could face Nathan’s chest and hopefully (fingers crossed) feel more comfortable. We braced ourselves to re-enter. Again, another rude greeting for the help desk lady. Nathan apologetically tries to explain that “he’s been doing this whenever we enter a new place”. She smiles empathetically. A better response than we got from the neighboring table at The Dane. We made it to the bulk food section, picked out some trail mix before Nathan had to take Eli out. I was left alone to find my way through the unfamiliar territory. BUT, it was quiet. :)

I’m left unsettled and ashamed to say that I feel disappointed in Eli. He’s been so laid back up till now, just rolling with the punches, sleeping in his car seat whenever he felt like it. He was quite portable despite the weight of him and his car seat combined. Now, we cringe to think of taking him anywhere. I shouldn’t, though, be disappointed in him. I think my disappointment is a secondary emotion of feeling sad, confused and embarrassed by his behavior. I wish I knew what I could do to make things better for him. Short of never taking him anywhere OR just letting him scream his head off in stores/restaurants, driving the other customers up the wall, I’m not sure what to do. But his screaming reaction doesn’t seem to be a result of frustration or anger, but of fear. That’s what bothers me the most. What is suddenly so scary about these places? I really don’t want to subject him to such a terrifying experience. What if he’s Agoraphobic?! Suddenly my fears are over the top exaggerated and I’m OCD about the whole thing… just like his recent month long diaper rash. I find myself spending all my free time googling the web for answers to my cloth diapering concerns. Of course, everyone has a different answer and I’m completely exhausted and even more confused when I’m done. The simple act of changing a diaper becomes a disabling debate of cloth diaper, disposable or no diaper AND which of the 10 diaper ointment do I use, if any…. BLAH! Luckily after much “airing” and lots of lose & free peeing, the rash is hardly noticeable. A loooong battle that we seem to have won after much obsession. Now, the screaming. I’ve already tried googling “screaming baby in public places” with no luck. Everyone’s story is about a toddler. A completely different motivation behind the “scene-making”.

Well, before I run off on anymore tangents, I’ll close. But, if any of you other parents have experienced this, I’d love to hear your story (either about rashes or screaming). And just to end on a lovely and mentally balanced note, here’s a picture of my precious gem who is above and beyond amazing to me and mostly why I get up in the morning. :)

Purple hat

Couldn’t decide on which picture to post so I posted all 4! This is a hat that Leilani made for Eli. It was too big when she and my dad visited but I tried it on him again a couple days ago. Still a little big but it should fit perfectly when the weather is right. Plus, I got these super-great, cutie-pie pics of him!

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I love hanging out with my Moma

Eli and Kelli in the rocker

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