Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Mi casa es su casa-with first and last months rent.

It has been a dream of ours for a few years to move out of our house. We like our house, but when we moved in we had two adults, a cat, and some mismatched silverware.  A wedding (with 75 gifts from Crate and Barrel and Macys included), 2 kids, a dog, and career changes later: we've outgrown our house.

We decided it was time to really move when the real estate market in the Seattle area came to a point where inventory is sparse and demand is there. Thus, we hoped that someone would buy our house by default of no supply. We put a lot of work into shining it up: new paint, a few repairs, and a cleanout to compliment the updates we've put it over the past 7 years.

Selling a house is a difficult and emotional enough process without having to keep it sparkly clean and staged.  With two kids and a hairy dog, this is no easy task. The obvious answer was to run off to Mexico for a few days, leaving our house empty for real estate agents to drop in for showings. So, we did.  We even boarded the cat, a first in her 9 year life.  Much to our dismay, this did not go well. It was probably more to the cattery manager's dismay, and after a few scratches and hisses Coco was relegated to her luxury cat condo for 5 days of torture (to the tune of $136 for us).  But I digress.

Our fantasy of selling in the first weekend was not met, but we anticipated that as we were priced high. We had a minimum to break even which I think is really sad.  After all, isn't it the American dream to own a home for 7 years, put thousands of dollars into remodel, gain equity, and pay it down?  The result is walking away with a check to put down on your next home having gained both sweat and appreciation equity. Well, when you're approved for an interest only loan and a bubble bursts, you're considered lucky to break even after 7 years.

A month passed with LOTS of showings but no interest. Finally we held a renter's open house and invited strangers in to rent. We found that demand for a clean house like ours in a great location may not sell the house, but sure caused a lot of interest in the rental market.  We chose a really nice young married couple, much like us when we moved into the house. They had great references and we are confident they will be the ideal renters.  We high-fived our decision to rent our house until a more advantageous time and entered the world of landlordship.  The closest thing to a royal title I'll ever achieve, and I will NOT trade in that title for slumlordship.

Just as we were about to cancel the sale, we got an offer.  A low offer with a letter. To paraphrase: "We ask that you take a $15,000 bath because we really, really like your house, especially the basketball hoop and the dining room. We see ourselves bringing our babies home to this house".  No offense, but I'm not interested in paying out of pocket to accommodate your bouncing baby boy and your bouncing basketball.

So, next month, if everything goes right-we move into a brand new, cootie free home with a walk in closet, 2 places to shower, and 3 places to pee.  We become landlords. We beg our family to help us move our new giant couch.  We unpack, transition Maya to a big girl bed, and enjoy some much needed space.  Its not the way we envisioned it originally, but it is all starting to unfold quite nicely.

Ah the new American Dream- to own TWO homes.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Why Trick or Treating with an 18 month old is like taking your drunk friend home

Tonight I had the pleasure of taking my 18 month old ladybug for her first real trick or treat night. I had to laugh because it really reminded me of some nights in college (and maybe even post college) where an unfortunate friend would have to be taken home in that type of drunkeness that entails a few different phases. I'm not saying that I myself have not had some nights where I midjudged my tolerance, but that is not for blogging since the internet is a permanent record and my kids could at some point access this. (Hey year 2024 Tatum-don't ask). So for the purpose of this analogy, assume this is a generic case study based on no way on a specific event.

Maya began trick or treating at about 6:45, which is really about bedtime after a hard partying day of preschool Halloween activities. As we landed at the first home Maya decided to walk right into the house, arms in the air, grabbing fistfulls of candy on her way into the foyer. She was much like Stiffler walking into a party grabbing a keg cup and exclaiming "what's up f*ckers!" She had pre-funked with a 3 Muskateers and M&M's so this behavior was understandable.

As we continued down the street she INSISTED on walking by herself. If I tried to hold her hand she swatted it away or pulled away and yelled "no!". So, I had to herd her down the path to prevent her from swerving into the road. You know how drunk people won't listen to you, so you make them think that going home was THEIR idea rather than arguing? I applied that philosophy with my non-verbal directing of the baby down the street as she stumbled and fumbled down the dimly lit sidewalk.

Every so often a lip of the sidewalk or a stray piece of grass would jump in front of her foot and in her big plush costume she'd face plant, candy bucket splaying everywhere. For anyone who has visited or attended a college prone to sub-freezing temps in the winter, the sidewalks are suspiciously slippery at night while drinking, but easy to navigate on any given sober trip to the library. Same idea.

After about 4 houses Maya started to throw temper tantrums on doorsteps for no reason. She wanted more candy (cuz one full size Snickers will not satisfy her appetite). She wanted to touch the dog, she didn't want to be carried down the stairs. Thus the random tears and crying. Only instead of sputtering "she's such a bitch- I know she wore the same dress as me cuth she hates me" Maya was saying "I want to bury my face in that candy bowl, put me down!!!"

After what equated to one block I let her walk down the street and she wanted to go in every house: lights off, nobody is home, lets go up that walk way! And then there is the craving for bad food that ails every late drunken night. The overserved friend at closing time will slur "Get me some Jack in the Crack! I need me some Mickey-D's! Lets get Dick's!" (sidenote for non-Seattlites: Dick's is a famous hamburger chain. However I've heard that shouted in other states for other reasons as well). Maya was not asking for a Double Double, she was plunging her hand into the candy bucket and attempting to eat whoppers through the wrapper. When confronted by her sad lack of molars to tear the wrapper open, she dissolved into tears.

Next thing you know I'm carrying her football style, one little ladybug rainboot has fallen off, she is whimpering and hitting me. I'm getting questioning looks from non-parents and sympathetic looks from parents. I consent to put her down at the base of our driveway. She crawls, head drooping, up the stairs. She rips a random leaf of a plant and then starts randomly laughing.

I've done the following to many a drunken comrade, but this is the end of the night for baby Maya: I carried her to the car and put her in the back seat where she promptly passed out. Once home I carried her inside, gave her a bottle, washed her makeup off, brushed her teeth. I got her p.j.'s on while she unabashedly flatulated and giggled at every toot. Now she is tucked safe in bed and I just hope she doesn't throw up.

I am just glad that I'm writing about my baby Maya. It wasn't easy but I treasure holding her little hand, knowing she is safe, and laughing as she melts down on a strangers front porch. I just love that girl.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Farming instead of Facebook

Recently, my youngest sister was looking at a picture of me at my going away party at UW. I smiled from the rooftop of Sigma Phi Epsilong in my stylish blue cap sleeved shirt and Gap overalls.

"Oh fun, was it a theme party?" she asked.

"Um, no, why?" I responded.

"Why were you wearing overalls then?" She replied.

My sister, being 9 years younger, did not believe that overalls were actually in fashion and innocently thought we were having some sort of country themed going away party. Recently, trying to make space for baby two, I sadly parted with said Gap overalls and donated them. I now think I should have kept them, not for fashion but for pragmatic reasons.

Let me explain. In this modern world of conveniences we congratulate ourselves on all of the tools we've developed as a society to make our lives easier. Let the machines do the work and we'll kick back and relax, right? I would argue that our lives are busier and more stressful than the lives of farmers in "days of yore" who worked sun up to sun down. In fact, Kenny and I call eachother farmers now while we work into the night to manage a household and careers.

Our day starts early and ends late. I try to wake up at 5am or before (although lately I've been hitting the alarm off in my sleep) so that I can be to work at 6am. Farmers get up at 5 to feed the chickens and milk the cows. I'd rather be getting some fresh air with some barn animals (fresh until the cows fart at least) than logging into a computer. Regardless, I rather enjoy my early mornings of solitude, keeping up with the East Coast territory I work. Meanwhile, Kenny is wrangling the kids while his blackberry buzzes with requests and expectations. I think he might prefer sheep sheering to "dealing with douchebags" as he says. But every morning the kids are fed, dressed, and out the door by 7:30 or 8:00.

We work all day at our desks, on our smartphones, landlines, voicemails, emails. We have expectations from above and the need to make money. We are tilling the land and growing crops. If, by crops, you mean software that manages expense reports and by tilling the land you mean Webinars.

Of course I have the good fortune to be done with work early as I started early. I'd love to say I go enjoy a good novel, pick up my kids early every day, get the house tidied etc. Some days, I do pick up the kids or tidy the house. Often I am going to the country store (aka Safeway, Bed Bath and Beyond) to procure items for the homestead or getting in some excercise because I sit at a desk all day. I pick up the kids at 4:30 or 5:00 and we go home, feed them dinner, figure out dinner for Kenny and I, do dishes, make lunches, do laundry, pick up toys, take out toys, bathe again because Maya found an uncapped marker, read books and get the kids to bed. We often eat dinner late and proceed to fold laundry, catch up with emails, clean a toilet, go through mail, pay bills etc. By the time 9pm rolls around I finally get a post-workout shower in and have a few minutes with the kindle. During all of this there is access, there is a need to get on Snapfish to order photos, there is a need to do online research for this and that.

Life is still busy, and somehow modern conveniences have created more work. The cost of all of these modern conveniences causes the need for a dual income. If we really were farmers, our workout would be built into our work. Riding a horse, walking the fields, hand laundering, think about the forearm workout you get from milking a cow! (Just don't milk the bull). If nobody could get a hold of you by email, and they were patient enough to tell you something when they see you next, we could spend time interacting face to face. We may not know everything about everyone, but our brains could keep track of life without assistance from a smartphone and Outlook calendar. How much time do you spend in front of a screen? What would happen if you didn't have any screentime for a week outside of absolutely necessary screentime required for work? What could you accomplish?

Thus, I wish I could trade in my iPhone for my Gap overalls. I'd keep a notebook in one pocket, wear a watch, carry a couple of pictures of my kids, and reduce eyestrain. I'd probably be more efficient, if not a little out of touch. I'd miss some Facebook posts (I wonder if there is a statistic about how many people have posted pictures of their feet and a drink while relaxing? Are you really relaxing if you're on the internet?). Maybe life would go on if I missed some political opinions and happy hour "check-ins".

I can't wear overalls and I can't hand launder my clothes or pluck a chicken from my yard (primarily because I don't have a chicken, I have a cat, and she'll be pissed if I pluck her hair). I really can't even go computerless because I have a job to do. But I can do a week without Facebook. Its become a bad habit to check FB when I'm bored, waiting, listening to a conference call, whatever. I think I need to disconnect for a bit. So, until Wednesday August 17 I will be unavailable on Facebook. I'm removing the app from my iPhone for now, and I'll see my FB friends in a week.

Off to the fields...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Kids are just to dye for and make me want to drink whine

Life provides a huge bag of stressful events. Stress is all relative, and I'm happy to share that although we have plenty of our own stresses, they are manageable and open our eyes up to appreciate the good times. This weekend was no exception.
My life is full of whiners, tantrums, and emotional negotiations. The W's, T's, and EN's are not limited to the two small children either. I won't go into the details but lets just say that the stress of finishing a difficult home improvement project lead Kenny to be a bit stressed. Don't worry, I knew that it was an emotional negotiation and almost had to laugh, so I let it slide.
Kenny finished the fence and overcame the challenge of building something that he previously did not know how to build. He whined a little, threw a tantrum, and performed an emotional negotiation with me and with himself.
While he finished the fence I put Maya down for a nap and Tatum played around in the warm, sunny backyard. I wanted to go to Flower World and Home Depot, but was at the mercy of naptime and the constant questioning and demands of a four year old. "Mommy I want to ride my bike, will you help me?" "Mommy I have to go potty can you take my helmet off?" "Mommy I'm hungry for a snack"... all while discovering that there were termites in a piece of rotted out wood in our back garden. Cue Mommy WTEN.
So, off we go to Home Depot at 2:45pm with the two girls and aspirations of a trip to Flower World (birds tweeting, happy family playfully chasing chickens, loving parents explaining the difference between a peacock and a peahen to our interested little angel). The moment we walked into Home Depot Tatum began to whine about how she wanted to go to a kid's store where you can play. She didn't want to buy paint. Suddenly the nose was a faucet and the whining volume grew to a threatening pitch. As I tried to negotiate a trade in the garden department for a four year old ("how many perennials for a slightly dirty preschooler?"), the cries of "I don't want to be here" were muffled by the back of her hand wiping slime from her nose. As we shopped for caulk and stain, Maya looked curiously on as Tatum drew the attention of a pregnant couple who I could tell were silently prophesizing that their unborn baby would never be that kid.
By the time we got to the flowers, Tatum had calmed down and we attempted an emotional negotiation of sorts as she wanted "4 red flowers". I consented because I too wanted some red flowers. We thought everything was going to be okay as we walked back toward the checkout area and Tatum spotted the checkout aisle display of candy bars.
"Mommy can we buy a candy bar"
"But mommy we need candy its yummy" (Lip begins to quiver)
"If you're a good girl, the easter bunny will bring you treats tonight"
(panicked voice): "But when we run out of candy next week, can we come back and buy some"
"No honey, candy isn't healthy, we are not coming back to buy candy next week"
Now, remember in cartoons, I believe especially Charlie Brown, where a character would begin to cry and the tears would shoot out from the corners of the eyes like sprinklers? Yea that happened, coupled with cries of "but I want the candy bar next week! But I want the candy bar next week! Mommy when we run out of candy next week can we buy candy bars here?!" "No Tatum you can't"
This escalated and she was worked up past "Emotional Negotiation" and skidded into "Why don't they make straight jackets for kids". Kenny saw me reaching a boiling point and told me to take Maya to the car. I believe his words were "I got this".
I took Maya to the car and after a few moments I heard "BUT I WANT THE CANDY BAR NEXT WEEK" rolling toward our car. Here comes Kenny making his way through the parking lot with a blubbering mess. He told me that everyone around him was looking at him suspiciously as he wrangled a child, struggling to get away from him and screaming "I want my mommy". It was like one of those moral dilemma hidden camera shows about bystander intervention. They figured she looks like him and he wasn't running so it must be okay. I'm just glad we hadn't gone in his work van, because putting her in a white minivan labeled "Team Clark" might have heightened their suspicions.
We got home and Tatum went down for a nap. Breathing a sigh of relief I took Maya out to the backyard where we snuggled on a blanket and played with toys. Kenny delivered a sandwich and glass of wine where we had a little moment of zen with our happy go lucky 11 month old. Maya gleefully gnawed on a pickle. I then realized I didn't know what else to do with her when she tried to crawl and eat grass, so I took her for a walk in the beautiful spring day.
Tatum woke up from her nap in a markedly better mood and she went to the fence where Kenny was painting and asked a barrage of questions around fences and paint and possibly the lifecycle of worms. She was back in his heart and things were looking up.
That evening I insisted in continuing with the plan of coloring Easter Eggs, and I filled the cups with dye and brought out 17 hardboiled eggs. We had a nice time coloring eggs and talking strategy around making multi-colored eggs. I looked at the clock and exclaimed "Oh my gosh Tatum, its past your bedtime! If the bunny sees you up he may skip our house!". "Oh my gosh mom okay what do we do?" "Well, I'm going to go get the Easter basket to put out, and a pen to write the bunny a note apologizing for your tantrum at the store".
When I went to get the basket (in sleeping Maya's room) I heard clinking downstairs that made me nervous. Sure enough when I came downstairs there were only two of the six dye cups remaining on the table, and four trails of colored vinegar leading into the kitchen. I rounded the corner to see Tatum furiously wiping up spilled dye, and she looked at me with the knowledge that she was in trouble. It was so darling I just said "honey thanks for wiping it up! Let me help you because the bunny is watching!" (Emotional Negotiation). We wiped it up and Tatum had dye all over her toes and fingers.
"Tatum, you have dye on your fingers and toes, we better get in the bath!"
She looked at her fingers and her toes and peered at me with the biggest doe eyes. "Mommy if my fingers and toes are died... will they grow back?"
Oh my heart melted at that point and I attempted to explain the difference between dye and die. She was in too big of a hurry to bathe so I whisked her upstairs and washed off the color. While she soaked we composed a letter to E. Bunny.
"Okay Tatum, what do you want to say to the bunny?"
"Um, okay T...A..." (oh cute she's spelling her name!). "C...H...K..." (huh?) "um...3...L...Y"
"Okay Tatum how about words. What words do you want to say?"
"Please.... um... Thank you" (Okay now we're on the right track) "....and something in spanish. Quatro!"
In the end her letter read: "Please Thank you quattro. A Toy, sorry for having a tantrum at the store, please hide my eggs. TachK3Ly."
After that was done she rushed to get ready and hurriedly kissed daddy goodnight with a sense of urgency I've never seen at bedtime. She insisted I tell a Princess story with the light out so the Bunny wouldn't see that she was still awake. I got one sentence in before she took over with "and then the princess colored eggs and her fingers died and she woke up and hunted for them the end okay goodnight mommy! Go to bed quietly, tiptoe and whisper so the bunny doesn't know you're awake!"
Once downstairs, Kenny and I toasted our parenting prowess and home improvement dedication with a shot of tequila. We celebrated the day with a late dinner, some white wine, and a couple episodes of Entourage.
The next morning I was not so happy with the successful early bedtime when 6:15 rolled around and the pitter patter of little feed was followed by a messy haired vision, seen between one open eye whispering "mommy, lets go see if my note worked and the easter bunny came". And so another adventure began.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The worst job in the world? or the best?

Some of my friends and family have heard my griping about my job lately. But I have to think, there are worse job descriptions out there:

  • I can move around, drive places, and I'm not sitting all day.
  • I don't manage a factory.
  • My job doesn't result in permanent weight gain.
  • I'm not old, working in a workforce of young people and trying to understand my employees.
  • I don't have to work on the day after Thanksgiving or Christmas.
  • I get to live in a great bustling metropolitan area, no relocation to somewhere less desirable required.
  • Although I work for Avis, I don't have to wear a red uniform as I don't work at the airport (I do not look good in red)
  • People pay me for my product.
  • I don't make my customers cry on a regular basis.
  • I don't have to listen to them whine about what they want constantly. (oh wait... maybe this is actually part of my job)

The job I have described above is that of Santa Claus. Yes, Kris Kringle has to maintain a thick waist, wear an outdated red suit, live in the arctic, manage a factory of little old people, and work on Christmas. All to give stuff away for free to a bunch of strangers, and spend the whole month of December making little kids cry or greedy kids demand toys. His car is a convertible in the coldest month (in the northern hemisphere at least), but at least it delivers minimal greenhouse emissions since it runs on magic and reindeer power.

Then again, he brings joy to good little girls and boys. He also gets tons of press, his face is splattered across greeting cards, billboards, and the t.v. He doesn't have pressure to go to the gym (in fact its discouraged). I'm pretty sure he doesn't have bills to pay and he never has to fight traffic. I imagine there is a great sense of job security as well. And vacation time in the worst months, January and February, would be a plus. Papparazzi always catch him on the beaches.

Plus his job includes phrases such as "Christmas Spirit" and "Seasons Greetings" and "the magic of Christmas". Not: "RFP" and "conference call" and "vulnerable accounts".

Maybe that does sound okay. I wonder if he's looking for an assistant?

Merry Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Oh Crap at Redhook again

Now that baby Maya is getting older, we are seeing a clear bond forming between the girls. Maya gets SO excited to see Tatum, and Tatum is turning into a loving, nurturing older sister. We are starting to see how little Maya is going to look up to Tatum, and as a result we need to make sure that Tatum is setting a good example.

Somehow, Maya has caught wind of things that Tatum did as a baby, and she sometimes seems like Tatum part deux. Sometimes that is a good thing, like when she sleeps through the night. Other times, not so much.

Lets flash back to three years ago. My old roommate Shannon, and her husband Chuckie, visited from Arizona. As it was a wonderful sunny Seattle day we took them on a tour of Redhook brewery and went to the PACKED patio for lunch. At the time, Shannon and Chuckie were pre-child. We had sweet baby Tatum in the baby bjorn. While we were enjoying a pitcher of Redhooks finest, I saw Tatum's little face turn bright red, her eyes squint shut, and a gurgling sound that only a parent can accurately diagnose. She then looked up at me and smiled a smile that said "ha ha, have fun with that. Boy do I feel better now!"

She had just done the equivalent to a guy sitting on the toilet on a Sunday morning, newspaper in hand, post-coffee, after having 6 or 7 beers the night before.

The interesting thing about babies is that they defy gravity. They poop on their own head. And as we figured out what Tatum had just done, I peeled open the baby bjorn to discover a mass of sludge to rival any swamp adjacent to a tire factory. Chuckie's face turned white, eyes like saucers. Shannon said in her usually cheerful voice "Oh that is definitely a right of passage as a parent, isn't it?". To the dismay of our fellow diners, (and due to lack of options), we stripped off her rotten banana covered onesie right on the picnic bench. I held her high in the air like Simba's stinky little lion and hosed her off in the bathroom. It was horrifying at the time, but a funny story.

Flash forward to last week. We are at Redhook, beautiful Seattle day, pitcher of ESB. Tatum is coloring and Maya is 5 months old, so we share the above story with out latest guest: John. John is Kenny's ex-roommate from Arizona. Single, no kids. No less than 10 minutes after we tell the story, I notice Maya smiling and smell a familiar scent. I pick her up, see the yellow smudge on her back and say "no way... its happened again". Strip. Bathroom. papertowels. Naked baby. horrified house guest.

What's next?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

We are trying really hard to not completely ignore our Pets

Ahhhh, well I have fake teeth but they look pretty good. I had to give a presentation to 50 people and luckily didnt even need to explain that... yes, I am here to sell tools and also I hit myself in the mouth with a wrench. No one noticed, thanks to my awesome temporary teeth that I cant chew with.

In other news, I really love being a dad of girls. They are fun, cute and smart. Tatum is beginning to really impress us with her memory and subjective opinions on things like fashion, what we should do now and what our dog is thinking about. Tatum is just getting old enough to play fetch with Jackson, which is the extent of his exercise on mamy days.

I can say that we have not completely ignored our half black lab half golden retriever, he just got to run free and swim in the slew at the marymoor dog park, and then washed in the new little doggie wash station they have set up there. Tatum help me wash jackson and loved it, and I helped tatum not notice the dogs humping each other while we waiting in line for the Doggie tub.

Our cat has resorted to throwing up for attention which is just wonderful. My neighbor gave me some iams catfood that he is a salesmen for. This is a sort of low residue special sensitive cancer cat formula. We fed coconut that and she didn't like it but ate it anyways because she is part goat. He also gave me some samples of Iams Pate which I got an email from my aunt was recalled between certain dates because of not enough thiamine (which cats need to survive). I checked the dates, they were cans that were recalled. I fed my cat the food anyways. Its free catfood and it just lacked thiamine so we also mixed other stuff every other can. I am sure Coconut will live a happy low thiamine lifestyle for a month or two.

The dog and the cat now spend most of their time watching us walk back in forth to do something for the kids while the sit and wait for their half hour of attention that they get for the day... like a prisoner who gets a half hour in the yard. I have tried putting on animal planet for Jackson to stimulate his mind, but it mostly seems to stress him out that their is a wildebeast standing in his living room.

I can't wait until I have the girls feeding the pets as a choir and petting them for some attention. that way I can stop worrying if my pets are happy and just know that they are content... like me.