Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Throat Thumpers

Leif: "Mommy, I am going to be sick again and have to go to the hospital again, like grandma had to go too."

NM: "No, you aren't going to be sick, you are just fine. A healthy little boy."

Leif: "No mommy, you don't know this. I have thumpers in my throat and they thump my throat and make it hurt."

NM: Stifling laughter. "Do you have a sore throat?"

Leif: "No, but the thumpers come alive whenever they want and thump it and make it sore."

NM: Stifling more laughter. "Well a sore throat won't send you to the hospital."

Leif: "But the thumpers will. They thump my throat ALL the time, like this." (Clicks his tongue.)
NM: "I need to know more about these thumpers. What are they like?"

Leif: "Well there are brown ones, and yellow ones and white ones and they are alive and they will make my throat sick mommy and we will have to stay home from school for 100 years!"

NM: Laughter bubbles over. No longer stifling. "You are so full of it."

Leif: *grinning* (Because he made me laugh.)


Leif (interrupting AB and I as usual): "Do you know about Broccoli Obama?"

AB: "I do know about him, what do you know about him."

Leif: "Well, I know that he is my teachers new present."

AB: "Do you mean president?"

Leif: "Yes, president, He is my teacher's president."

NM: "He is the new president of the United States, he is president of all of us."

Leif: "Nope, not my president."

NM: "Yep, yours too." (While eyeing AB out of the corner of my eye... waiting for a smirk.)

Leif: "Did you know that Broccoli has carrots on his back and he can shoot carrots off his back at the bad guys?"

(Visions of Bin Laden being stricken by carrots...)

AB: "Carrots?"

Leif: "That's silly isn't it!"

NM: "Very silly."

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Weekend recap

This weekend was quiet. No birthday parties, no playdates, no house hunting, just us. Our house is never really quiet it seems, but every once in awhile it is really nice to just have a weekend with little planned, especially after the last few weeks.

I wrote this up and then reread it. Paragraphs of work drama that could be summarized here - 50 pages of text comprising 5 proposals submitted, three to the client I SWORE I would never work for again. That's what happens when you make declarative statements like "I will never..." they come back to bite you in the tush.

I had a photo shoot scheduled today for one of my teams. It went well and there was much whining about "man space". It isn't just men who need space. I was very cognizent of being stuffed in between Miss Pink and the post-Masters student working on my project. I eeked my way towards Miss Pink. Why is it that we Americans (since AB says it is a cultural thing) need so much space, but yet all agree that everyone packed in close together makes for better pictures? After we finished the group shot I was snagged to have my picture taken with the former deputy sector manager. It was a huge honor to stand next to him and smile for the camera. Four weeks until he starts his consulting position with my client and he takes his seat across the table from me. I miss him terribly in his former role.

My blogging mojo has taken a back seat. I am just feeling quiet and reflective. I am enjoying catching up with the people I never thought I would ever see again after high school and college. I have to learn to logoff though and not leave Facebook up. A few weeks ago Leif typed a message to Rockergirrl - thankfully she has kids and so his "e-mail" to her made perfect sense. Yesterday I came back to the computer to see a one sided chat with a long lost friend of mine from high school that I was sorry to have missed - and I still have no freaking idea what he was talking about. (Thankfully Leif didn't respond to that one... time to start thinking about internet safety?)

A lot of what is going on here is centered around houses. Our new house, our current house, what needs to be paid for, financing, how to move, when to move, rent or sell, what we need to buy (fridge and potentially washer and dryer), what we want to buy (new barstools that kids can sit on, a new TV, a set of bunk beds, another couch, hot tub... see the list started practical and very quickly plummeted off the deep end), what we want to paint (formal dining room and office), how to decorate a Star Wars room, where our daughter should sleep post-move, how many gates we need and not to mention packing logistics.

So the rest of the world revolving around us? Invisible.

Dog - poor baby. She has become "the dog". She is very happy though that I just finished reading "Call of the Wild" and have remembered that she has feelings too. (Seriously a most awesome - and short - book.) Her evening walks have become less frequent lately. And my advances to swoon her back to my side by snuggling her on the floor next to me, only to trick her with the Furminator in the other hand have not been well received.

Cat - I thought cats were supposed to be all independent like? I have the most dependent cat ever. And huge. Maybe his dependency wouldn't be such a big deal if he wasn't nearly 20 lbs. The kids aren't thrilled when he sits on their laps and his persistent lying on the keyboard while we are trying to type is just annoying. AB is thrilled though that he does tame my nighttime wiggles since he plants himself on my legs and wills me not to move.

Boy child - He is starting to bend to our will. He has a firm understanding of what exactly "talking back" is and picks the most inopportune times to exercise this new found talent. I look forward to the day when bribery doesn't rule. When we don't have to threaten to take away a privilege to get the most basic tasks accomplished. He is fully immersed in the world of the Transformers and Star Wars The Clone Wars. Despite all his annoying four and a half year old boy antics, he still is a mama's boy at heart and offers unsolicited kisses, wants me beside him for every step and is a sweetheart of a brother (most of the time).

Girl child - She is nearing two and her language explosion is a huge relief to all off us. It was quite convenient last night at dinner when she was able to sob out "tummy hurts" instead of just sobbing and screaming. Miss Skadi is karma biting me back. I remember pre-kids being annoyed with those parents whose kids hit, kicked, scratched (I would add bit in there, but we may have nailed the biting) and pulled hair like wild beasts. Why don't those parents do something? "I AM TRYING!!" I am screaming to my former self. 80% of the time she is a sweet little girl who likes dresses and clothes and snuggling with and being just like her brother. Oh and the whole being carried by whoever will carry her. She is an amazing little fish and loves her swimming lessons.

The rest of it - I am still a Top Chef addict even though this season so far seems more soap opera and less fascinating personalities on it. Back to lovin' Big Love. Then much to our surprise last week Burn Notice made a surprising return. Aside from that? AB and I have let so many tv shows go lately, we watch right at about 3 hours a week amazingly enough.

I need to get back on the treadmill in a bad way if I am going to run Bloomsday. Of course this would be made easier if my husband didn't lose the magnetic lock key. It has to be somewhere, right??

The goal for the rest of the week - more focused blog posts. I do have a couple Leif funnies - one about Broccoli Obama being our new president (did you know he can shoot carrots out of his back? Yeah I didn't either.) And another about the things in his throat that make him sick. I will try to hit those tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our new house...

Great curb appeal. A corner lot. You can't see the waterfall, but there is a waterfall - that will be AB's responsibility. I am going to have my hands full in maintaining the fabulous foliage.

The bathtub and one of the two vanities in the Master bath. What you don't see here is the very small, ugly shower that AB is going to make a priority to do something with. We each have our things - I want new floors in the entry room areas, he wants a "real" shower.

The bonus room. Someone came in and painted because the red wall was not there. Note the ceiling fans - every room has a ceiling fan, which is kind of neat!

Family room below the bonus room and open to the kitchen. Note though that the doors on the right hand side are the only doors that access the back yard from the house. This is a weird location since you have to walk through the family room to get to the BBQ area - and it is the BBQ area since there is propane plumbed there.

The kitchen. The previous owner had obviously started to upgrade the house and started in the kitchen. It is an awesome kitchen. I would like to try and fit an island in there. And I am already neurosing on the fridge opening. All the appliances are Kitchen Aid - so presumably there was a Kitchen Aid fridge in there at one point? AB measured the opening and it was 40" - he swears. But there are no 40" fridges - they are 36" or some select 42". And there is a Kitchen Aid 42" (well 41.25") fridge... did AB measure right?

Check out the 6 burner gas range - AB is looking forward to that beast. I am not so thrilled with the knobs on the front in a home with small children, but oh well. More knob covers.

The early 90's style formal dining room in a home built in 2000. That will be changing.

Side view. The room over the garage will be Leif's. You would think it was a bonus room, but the bonus room is on the other side of the house. The entire area over the smaller garage is the closet for that room. That closet *may* be bigger than the Master closet. It's a playroom in its own right.

Oh and if you haven't figured it out yet? Yes, our offer was accepted.

Monday, January 19, 2009

They can be pretty cute together...

The battle I don't fight...

This was Friday as we were leaving for daycare/preschool/work.

Yes, those are Santa pajamas under the skirt. And yes, the headlamp is a vital component to most ensembles lately.

Offer number two

This morning our agent made our offer on the current house of interest.

The house was built in 2000, is a two story home with great curb appeal - even a waterfall in the front yard which AB will be solely responsible for maintaining and cleaning. It has a great kitchen and a large pantry. Under stair storage next to the kitchen which would likely be a kids' hideaway. The rest of the house, while quite functional, needs some updating. The paint is old, the carpets are old. The first floor has a great kitchen (that WAS recently updated), formal living room (office), formal dining room, dining area and family room. Two staircases that go upstairs to four bedrooms and a bonus room. Each bedroom has its own walk in closet and access to a bathroom - two of the bedrooms share a jack and jill bath. The Master suite is large with a big bathroom, two linen closets and a large walk in closet. The laundry room is upstairs as well. There is a three car garage and the lot is right at a quarter acre.

The house has everything we have lined out as wanting - with the potential for more. It is at an inexpensive price compared to what we have been looking at - which is a bonus. This is likely because the house does need a little work.

To this point we have taken our time with the house since it has been on the market for about a year and "no movement" in the last few months according to the listing agent when our agent inquired a week ago. We took our time with the offer and looked at a few more houses - rounding out our list so we could now say we saw everything in our price range. On Friday evening we told our agents we wanted to make an offer. Since it is owned by a company and she couldn't present the offer on a weekend, we elected to write up the offer on Sunday and have her present Monday.

We wrote the offer up and she phoned the listing agent to schedule the offer, whereby he said, "interesting, this house has suddenly moved up on the radar, it has suddenly seen lots of activity and at least one other offer this weekend".

Of course it has. Because in *this* housing market, you would expect people to be jumping on houses left and right, wouldn't you?? Of course another house that has been on the market for "going on a year" would suddenly get two offers in one weekend.

So here's the deal. Have a house that you are trying to sell that has been on the market for awhile? Let my husband and I take a crack at it. We will make the offer and you are guaranteed to have a run on the house. Just don't pick our offer okay, particularly if you live out of state. All this for a finders fee of say 1%?

Ok. All joking aside... we did end up verbally bumping up our offer after our agent probed the listing agent to find out that our offer was less than the other. She crossed out our offer and we added $15K to our offer over the phone. She said she felt pretty optimistic after the meeting this morning.

Is it a good sign that the mortgage company affiliated with the listing agent's company called AB today with an unsolicited "good faith estimate" on a new loan for our offer?

Tune in later for this story and more brought to you by the letter N and M and the number 8.

Hero Worship Part Deux

I have been meaning to blog my Hero Worship Part 2 post longer than I even had Part 1 in my brain. That would make this one really Part 1 and the other really Part 2... but whatever. Anyways, time to sit down and write it out has not been on my side.

A few weeks ago, V sent me a notice that a professor from my alma mater would be giving a presentation here at work. I was thrilled to see that it was not only one of my former professors at the university, but one of my heroes, Dr. L.

He was my physical chemistry professor and saved me from a mid-college-career major change. I had struggled through Organic Chemistry and was ready to ditch chemistry, but didn't know for what yet. In my floundering, I decided to remain in chemistry until I could figure it all out.

I knew from day one that we were lucky to have him for a professor. He was an easy going, friendly man who smiled a lot, waved his hands a lot (both literally and figuratively) and was in a position to make the "choice" to teach or not. Not many professors are in this position at a University and from my first visit to his office I suspected he was someone who had done a lot in his career thus far since his office was on the top floor of the JILA tower with amazing views of Boulder. Oh and he had a secretary. No professors I knew had their own secretary.

He told me early on that chemistry was taught in the wrong order. It is more logical to teach Physical Chemistry after General Chemistry and before Organic Chemistry. However, that would make a chemistry major a year longer because of the Calculus requirements to take PChem. This gave me a little comfort that it wasn't just me that struggled for more understanding of the fundamentals. He told me a number of times that I just needed to accept some hand waving and quit looking for the deep reasons behind it all... for now.

I fell in love with my major again after learning Physical Chem from him. I graduated and after a two year sabbatical made my way to grad school.

About mid-way through my stint in grad school, my hero professor was awarded an honor from my section's ACS meeting and I went to hear his talk and have dinner with him. His seminar was wonderful, just as I had remembered him speak from 6 years prior and he even swore up and down he remembered me. He even remembered AB (who then kicked himself for not attending the talk and dinner). (AB and I first met in Physical Chemistry - of course at that point I was dating another guy.)

I arrived at his recent seminar about 10 minutes early on purpose. I walked in to the empty auditorium with just a few scientists standing around. I walked up to the front of the auditorium and introduced myself. He still swore he remembered me from his class and from my time at UNR. I was initially inclined to not believe him - how could he possibly remember me - nobody remembers me!! But then again, the guy is an amazing genius - maybe he does remember me, I thought to myself. We talked a touch about my research and then I made my way to an edge seat for his seminar. A few people I knew came in - were surprised to see me there (I am applied scientist, not a fundamental scientist, I don't often get time for the folly of seminars... kidding, our speakers just tend to be of a different flavor I suppose).

I knew they were wondering what I was doing there and I happily announced that he was my former professor. I immediately became the subject of a few minutes of murmuring around me.

20 minutes later was when I started calling into question the possibility of him really remembering me, along with being happy that I selected an edge seat.

It saddened me to see his seminar wasn't animated like our lectures used to be, that certain slides he flipped to and had no idea what they were, so he would flip to the next and look for something familiar. He was always a fast talker, but even that is gone. When the seminar was an hour and 15 minutes in I had to make the decision to get up and leave since I had work to do.

I was reminded that he is well into his 70's. Absolutely - he was no spring chicken when he was my professor in 1992-93.

Still he remains my hero.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Hero worship part 1

Leif is a little obsessed with his Uncle Scott.

Anything that he makes up that is the remote bit fantastic and grand in scale (like hunting for rhinos) - it is usually something Uncle Scott has done and often "all the time".

Uncle Scott is daddy's youngest brother. Leif has seen Uncle Scott twice in this last year - they joined us on our trip to Alaska this summer and then we saw him in Colorado over Thanksgiving.

Lately Leif has come up with lots of things that he and Uncle Scott are planning on doing together - Uncle Scott is a tad in the dark here...

"Uncle Scott and I are going to go hunt for rhinos and we will go carefully and quietly..."

"Uncle Scott and I are going to go to Antarctica and save baby penguins and that is very dangerous and so it has to be Uncle Scott..."

"Uncle Scott caught the biggest fish when we were in Alaska..." (AB would like to note that Scott did NOT catch the biggest fish in Alaska.)

Then there was the one tonight.

"Uncle Scott and I are going to go to Antarctica," he started.

AB interrupts him, "why is it always Uncle Scott, why not daddy?"

"Because Uncle Scott has a gun, and you don't," Leif says. (I am so not happy with the gun obsession thing, but it seems to plague most little boys.)

"Uncle Scott does NOT have a gun," AB says.

"Yes he does, he has a caulking gun!" Leif exclaims.

(Yes, there have been some recent home fix-ups.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Best friends 4-year-old style

I asked Leif in the car on the way home who his best friends are.

"N and C," he replies without missing a step.

I knew this. But I have been probing trying to figure out the friendship dynamics going on when he had a bad day the other day and was in tears regarding friends. Seems that he told on his closest friend, B, in class the other day. B got in trouble and told Leif he was not his friend anymore and was never going to play with him ever again. This broke Leif's heart.

Leif is a stickler for rules and making sure everyone follows them. He doesn't understand that this type of thing also won't make him the most popular kid in the class... We have been working on explaining this to him and asking him to be patient with B and give him space and he will probably come around.

Maybe someday.

But not today.

"So who is your best friend in your class?" I asked him.

"Well Zoe is," he says.

I was surprised. "Zoe, really?" I asked.

"Yes, she told me that if I let her cut in line she would be my best friend," he announced.

Immediately I was ticked off at that little chicky. Who does she think she is? And is my boy really going to follow for such female trickery?

I probed Leif for a minute about this. "You didn't let her, did you?" I asked. Leif wouldn't fall for that trick.

"Yes, I let her cut," he said.

"And are you her best friend now? Is she treating you nicely and playing with you on the playground???" I am insisting.

"Well but I am only kinda her best friend now she told me," he says.

I am huffing to myself. That little...

Then Leif goes on, "but that's ok because she is only kinda my best friend too," he assures me.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Bargain hunting

AB and I put a lot of credence into what our family advises us with respect to houses. At least on my in laws side - they have a lot of experience both professionally (my MIL is a real estate agent and my FIL is a mortgage lender) and through real estate investments. If there are two people who know the business it is them.

There are typically two different schools of thought in purchasing real estate. One thought is that you buy as much house as you possibly can. You stretch yourself to the max knowing that you will get promotions and eventually your payment won't be so tight. And the people who do this tend to make a fortune in real estate. The other school of thought says that you buy what you need and make sure to live well within your means. Neither method is wrong.

Both methods have merit... with the first you might make a mint on a home, particularly if you can afford to buy during down times. The flip side is that a number of these failed ventures lands us where we are now with the economy. Too many people with mortgages that are too big. With the second method, if you always play it safe you are never going to get the big payoff.

Our family has offered differing perspectives on how to handle house shopping. But one thing everyone agrees on is that right now is the time for bargain shopping.

This last weekend we saw both of these perspectives in action and had to (or still are) making a decision on our path forward.

We viewed nine houses this weekend. Four houses on Friday afternoon/evening and five houses Sunday morning.

We had planned on seeing two or three houses on Friday afternoon and were a little surprised when our agent apologized about adding in one more. No problem, we said, we were anxious to see what she found for us.

It was this fourth house that is an explicit example of the first perspective on home buying.

AB and I have established with our agents our upper limit. That doesn't mean we won't look at houses over that amount, but our agents know that we will not offer anything above that amount and that it has to be one amazing house to even bring us to our knees... I mean to our max point. Our agent told us the story behind this house.

Big long unfamiliar story of "they need to sell". Ok, not a big long unfamiliar story, quite the opposite actually. We hear that a lot. "Seller is motivated" or "bring an offer". She told us that the house was WAY outside our price range, but the listing agent begged her to show it to us and that they will entertain any offer.

A house on the hill in a gated community on a fabulous corner lot with an amazing view. The house was amazingly grand.

But as I walked through, it wasn't my house. Yes, it had everything that I want in a house. But I couldn't see myself in this Barbie dream house.

AB and I actually kicked it around and drove back up to see it on Saturday in the light. It was still amazing. And we were essentially told to make an offer at the high end of our price tag and the house was ours.

It was tempting. Damn tempting. It is still tempting. Because when the economy turns - and we know it will, we could sell it and make some big money. We may not be able to vacation or get out of debt, or take our kids to the movies, for the next couple years, but we would have one amazing house.

The problem was I didn't love it. I still don't love it. It wasn't my house, it was some rich person's house. And gated community? Like there are any kids on a gated community.

Sunday morning the first house we went to helped us exercise perspective two. The first house we looked at was a little over half the price of the Barbie Dream House. And I fell in love with the house. I have even had a hard time not calling it "my house" already. And we haven't even made an offer.

It's a pretty house on an ordinary street. It has a great kitchen and walk in pantry, but it needs work. It needs a new shower upstairs. It needs paint... badly. It screams for new carpets. It needs some love.

I love that house. It IS my house and thinking about all the options is a lot of fun.

And we can still go on vacations... and buy a minivan... and buy land to build a cabin... and pay for our house cleaner...

Now I just have to finish selling my husband on this. He doesn't see himself in that house... yet. He wants something "just a touch more grand, but not the big house grand".

I will work on him. I will succeed. Resistance is futile. (Or we will find something else between now and Friday... you never know.)

I have become...

the person I despised.

I got a phone call at work the other day asking me if I had spare time. That is always a loaded question.

It depends, I told them.

We need you to write another proposal, one of the 20 pagers the voice on the other end of the line told me. The voice went on to explain that one of the white papers that was accepted was written by someone who isn't ready to be either a PI or a PM and would I possibly have time to take on this project and not only manage it but be PI.

It's a huge compliment. I now have two clients under my belt (one where my projects are her sole projects and the second where I have four projects under the other client) and am working on business development for a third client. I am really enjoying this aspect of my job. This proposal fell under the purvey of client number two.

While this was a huge compliment I also remember far too well being on the other side of the coin. When I was on maternity leave and my first funded project was handed off to someone with more experience. Then the year after that when I landed my second proposal and they "tasked" it under another larger umbrella. I remember being frustrated that no one would give me the opportunity to lead. I remember crying about the fact that it seemed as though if someone wanted a proposal funded they handed it to someone with the right name to put on the front of it and how completely unfair that was.

Now here I am on the flip side. Part of me says, "see I told you I could do it". The other part reminds myself that I have worked hard and earned this, I climbed the ranks. And the other part of me balks at it, if someone proposed the work, let them write the proposal and land the fish, I will stand by and help and offer advice.

In the end... I am slime. I took it. I will write the proposal and am fairly confident that my experience with the client will land the proposal to round out our portfolio.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

On turning 37

I am not quite sure when I hit my mid 30's. I still feel as though I should be in my 20's. I have moved past that time in my life where I was sure I was still a teenager. An awareness of mortality and little beings that call me "mommy" did that for me.

37. How did I get here? (And if you are like me you are now humming a particular Talking Heads song.)

I remember when I turned seven. I was in the first grade and my parents invited all the little girls in my class for a sleepover. The things I remember... Anna (who my sister adored) got scared and her parents came to pick her up. All of our sleeping bags (many were Strawberry Shortcake) lined up. One girl wet her sleeping bag. Pancakes, pancakes and more pancakes the next morning. And we never did a birthday sleepover again. My sister got the short end of the stick on that one and this is one of the few things that I got, but my sister did not.

I remember turning eight. I turned eight on Jan 8, 1980 and I thought that was so special. We had a small party with about five girls and two boys who I was friends with. I went through the spanking machine. We rented a thing called a VCR and a movie, Xanadu. You could pause the movie and rewind it (we did this to watch the dance scenes over and over) and you could rewatch the entire movie as many times as you wanted. One of the boys, Dusty, bought me a weaving loom and I loved that and was going to make high fashion for all my dolls and someone somewhere might see them and I would be famous for my fashions. I also got my first Barbie that was all my own (I had my mom's old Barbies whose heads popped off from about 20 years earlier). She was the first Barbie with bendable legs and a princess. I wasn't much of a princess girl myself, but she was special and I still have her in near perfect condition (except for the one chewed foot courtesy of our dachshund Inga) in her original dress. I had a cake with red icing and for years after I got to hear details about Shannon's throw up from eating my cake with red icing. I was sure she blamed me.

The next party I remember was the year I turned 16. Without telling my mom I went around and "invited" or suggested to my friends that they come to my house to "hang out" that evening. I didn't have anything planned other than going out to pizza with a couple of friends that evening. Little did I know but my friends were in cahoots with my mom and she had thrown a "surprise" birthday party to me. When we got back from dinner I was glad to see that all the people I had told to "stop by" were there! It didn't even dawn on me for a little while it was a surprise party. That year my stepmom and dad drove my present down - 100 one dollar bills rolled up and tied to a small tree. It was my own personal money tree.

Then there was number 17. I was dating Greg then. My mom invited Greg over for dinner and we opened gifts later. I had wanted a pair of pajamas that weren't so much little girl pajamas anymore. I wanted satin pajamas. My mom picked out a pretty pair of green satin pajamas (boxers and a tank top) for me. I was so embarrassed when I opened them up in front of Greg!

21. Oh birthday 21. Knowing I went to college in a party town you might assume birthday number 21 was a big whopper. It wasn't. I had recently broken up with Scott. My relationship with Scott was all encompassing and I didn't have other friends to party with. Scott and I still lived together and so he (my ex boyfriend) took me to The Rio Grande for dinner and margs. I had one margarita legally and was good for the night. If you have had Rio Grande margs, you understand.

31. I was fairly new in my job as a post-doc and had been at the lab for about 8-9 months. There was a tradition that you bought and brought in donuts on your birthday in my building. I bought a big box of donuts and did like everyone else did in putting a sign on them saying, "Happy Birthday April" and plopped them in the lunchroom. I never heard another word. Not even my mentor came to my office to wish me a happy birthday. I went by the lunch room early that afternoon just to see if the box of donuts was still full and that was why no one had come by to wish me a happy birthday. There were three craft guys I didn't know sitting in there chowing away at their donuts from the now empty box. "Someone left donuts!" they said. "I did," I replied. "Oh," they said, "were we supposed to eat them? Shouldn't leave them sitting in a lunchroom if they aren't for everyone." I replied softly, "that's fine, you can have them". Since that day my expectations for my birthday from people I work with has been nil.

37. My family and my online community rocks. I had a long list of wishes on Facebook and my two forums. My mom called me. My sister called me and my dad called me. My MIL bought me an awesome Smartwool sweater that I love. Skadi woke up happy and was easily pliable with clothes after she picked out her outfit (short sleeves) and I suggested a sweatshirt - her favorite Alaska sweatshirt - to go over the top. Leif practiced singing me Happy Birthday this morning, but only for practice not for reals since we didn't have a cake. AB moved the kids' easel to where I would be certain to see it and wrote a big Happy Birthday message on it for me. I bought a pumpkin spice latte and hot cocoas for the kids on our way in and even remembered the sippy cup for Skadi. She talked about "cocoa" all morning long. We got home and after the typical nightly routine AB gave me my gift - a moonstone ring from Sundance and then cake. We blew out the candles umpteen times and then ate my delicious Baskin Robbins cake. And now my husband is waiting for me to come watch Top Chef. Can't ask for much more than my birthday with those I love most.

I am fine with my 30's. 30's are a good and happy place.

40 might kill me.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

How it went down...

So for those of you following the house saga... here is how it went down.

This last long weekend AB and I spent a fair amount of time wandering houses with our agents. We actually had a great time with them. Or at least I really enjoyed it. Even for the houses that we just aren't interested in, it was fun to get ideas. We also had in there an appointment with one of the local builders mostly for information gathering.

On Friday we hit five houses. The third house struck us. We both fell immediately in love with it and it was the first house we have seen so far where we knew we needed to get an offer in.

I am kicking myself because it has been on and off the market for awhile now. The first picture of the exterior... not something I would have been interested in. So while I was going through finding houses to check out when we started looking, I probably flipped right by it. It wasn't until we were starting to exhaust listings that fit our criteria that it popped back up again. This time I took a better look and immediately said we had to see the house.

We saw it, we loved it. It wasn't a grand house. It had a stellar view, but was a pretty modest house on a half acre lot. But we left the house knowing there wasn't anything we would change about it and feeling we could live in that house forever.

Saturday we got our act together and scheduled another viewing. When we arrived we found out that an offer had been received for the house and so we knew we would need to move fast. We went and saw the house again and went directly to our agents office and made an offer - which took forever since there was also a rent-back agreement to be filed. The couple are older, wife's health is declining and they need a smaller house and are building one which will be finished in May. They didn't want to move twice and so we readily wrote up a rental agreement with our offer letter.

Our agent presented the offer in person as she likes to do. She explained that it isn't done so much anymore, but she likes to make a personal connection and tell the seller a little about the potential buyer. In this case I tuned her into the fact that I knew the husband through work, how I knew him and she ran with it.

We waited Saturday evening. We waited Sunday. Finally at 5pm our agent called us with the answer.

In the listing agents experience she has never had a case like this. Offer letters came in within hours of each other for the exact same price and the exact same rent back agreement. The difference? We had asked they split the closing costs with us and the other buyers did not.

This should be an easy decision for the seller right? Except that the wife liked Terese and really wanted to sell the house to a family. She debated with her (very analytical analytical) husband all day, which was why we didn't get the answer quicker today. In the end, the husband won out and we lost on the offer.

Back to the drawing board.

AB is more disappointed then he thought he was going to be. I am less disappointed than I thought I was going to be. AB actually has said he is a little ticked too. The sellers never countered. Who doesn't counter offer? If they wanted to sell the house to a family, why not counter and ask for the same offer as the other buyer? Or more? Because we could have and would have done it.

At this point we have looked at everything in our region fitting our criteria. We are hoping to see some new homes hit the market in the next month or so. We will also start looking for lots and considering building. But given that we were willing to not have a house until May potentially, it also says to us that we should not be in a hurry. Interest rates aren't as great as they were initially touted - so that isn't a reason to push it either.

We will just take our time and see what hits the market here in the next few months while we look for lots and decide what the layout of our house would be - if we build.

Safety First

Last night I was reading a book to Leif. Ok, he picked out a Christmas book about decorating for Christmas. I read the page about the little girl putting the star on top of the tree.

Leif stops me.

"But this is very dangerous, she is standing on top of the ladder and that is dangerous and not how you use a ladder properly. You should only climb about this high and still have space to hold on with your hands," he tells me.

"AB!!!!!" I yell!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

No sledding today

Leif has had such a fantastic time sledding lately that we decided to make a big sledding trip today. About an hour and a half out of town was the plan with the intent also of scoping out ski areas.

Was the intent.

That went down the drain yesterday when we found our house.

Now we are waiting for our agent to call us back on when we can see the house a second time and if everything looks as wonderful today as it did yesterday we will be making an offer.

I have run the gamut of emotions. From yesterday leaving thinking we had to make an offer NOW, to wanting to e-mail our agents last night to tell them to get started on the paperwork, to the middle of the night last night, finding things that might potentially be wrong with the house to this morning, just plain cold feet.

The house - when the MLS listing came across our e-mail - the first picture of the outside struck me as a "no". Something I wouldn't be interested in. Then I started flipping through the pictures. Half acre, beautifully landscaped, a gorgeous deck and "one and a half story". What was one and a half story house? And then there was the picture of the kitchen. A single picture of a kitchen can make or break our decision to see the house.

That picture of the kitchen did it.

From the time we were through the great room and kitchen I knew I wanted that house. I didn't have to see the rest of the house. But it continued to amaze me as we kept walking.

But back to that kitchen... every upgrade you can think of in the cabinets. One of those swing up mixer stands, cabinets and drawers in the huge walk in pantry, two sinks, multiple work stations, two ovens and a warming drawer. The list goes on.

Of course the rest of the house was fantastic as well - I am not just buying a kitchen for a ridiculous amount of money.

We are looking again this afternoon at the house and will submit our offer after that. Cross your fingers for us!

Friday, January 02, 2009


So we woke up this morning to a few inches of snow. Looks pretty and looks heavy.

AB and I are off today but sending the kids into school. I am feeling a bit guilty about this since it is still in my mind "Christmas break" - though I did work Monday thru Wednesday. I keep reminding myself that there will be MANY years when our kids are in public school and we have to take off 2 weeks to relish the time when I do have care, plus the fact that I am paying for it.

Anyways... the snow.

Woke up to snow. Got the kids ready. AB is taking them in right now. We go to look at houses again starting at noon today and have a meeting with the builder a little later.

I sit down at the computer and open my work e-mail.

Work delay.

You HAVE to be kidding me.

Not that I actually get to take advantage of it with my scheduled time off. But I wouldn't have even guessed! All that week with mounds and mounds of snow and we had one work delay that started at 9:30am? And now this slushy couple of inches constitutes a delay till 10am?

My kids will be the first ones at school today. (More guilt.)


In one way, AB and I are very different.

I have a vault of a memory when it comes to faces. Not always names, but I recognize faces very easily. I remember kids from kindergarten to college and I can usually place them too.

This has been very interesting with regards to sites like Classmates and more aptly, Facebook. Truly I look through my list of people from high school on Facebook and I know most all of them. And I didn't go to a small high school. Search my work place and I can pinpoint most of the people who list my company as their place of employment work. I know faces. And if we went to the same high school, I remember you.

I knew this was unusual probably about high school. I remember being in some get together study group after school one day. I was sitting in the classroom with many of the crowd I didn't hang around with, but knew because we had classes together - or so *I* thought. Somehow we got on topic of knowing people and I was surprised that even though I had classes with most of these people, they didn't know who I was or that we had other classes together. I was a quiet teenager and I tended to stick to myself, not participate a lot and hang out across the street from the school in "the park" and not on campus. I never saw it as my fault people didn't remember me, but instead their oblivion.

At my 10 year class reunion I got a lot of blank looks as people were greeting me. It was as though they were trying to be nice as I called them by name, but truly had no idea who I was. I remember one girl who hung out in the park with us actually admitted - "I have no idea at all who you are". The first honest person all night.

Sure, I look a lot different from high school. But my ability to recognize faces is sometimes annoying. Take the other morning for example. I had friended a guy from high school on Facebook who was in my crowd our junior year - he was a year older than us. I can tell you what his parents house was like (gorgeous and white), what kind of dog he had (bull terrier that looked like Spuds Mackenzie), that he drove a red Honda CR-X, who he dated (Cinnamon) and that after he dumped her he dated Lynette for awhile (and this appalled me), that he cut his hair after he made a deal with his dad that if he cut it, dad would buy him the Honda CR-X. I even remember intimate details of a relationship of his and the details he shared with my guy friends about this girl in my gym class in a not so favorable light.

Surely he would remember me, we hung out together, went camping as a group together...


He accepted my friendship request and honestly (which really does make me happy to know these things) sent me a note telling me he had no idea who I was.

I have come to accept for some time now that I will remember people and they don't remember me. I don't always friend people that I know right away on Facebook because I carry a little paranoia in my head that they won't have any idea who I am and will just think I am a stalker freak. It is only people I know HAVE to know me, that I jump on friending. And when they remember me it makes me happy and feel a little normal!

Now the flip side.

My husband.

He remembers NO ONE. He remembers his crowd. He accepts friends on Facebook and then spends weeks trying to figure out why he should know this person. He even carried on a long conversation with one guy on Facebook and still claims he has absolutely no idea who he is! I keep telling him to tell people this up front. It doesn't mean you aren't open to a friendship, but maybe they can help you jog your brain.

Another aspect - EVERYONE and their dog remembers my husband. (Seriously dogs remember AB.) He actually gets a little annoyed by this probably in the same way I get a little annoyed at never being remembered. We go to the grocery store and invariably someone will come up and greet him and chat. We walk off as I chastise him for not introducing me and he admits, "I didnt introduce you because I had no idea who they were, I probably work with them".

Totally foreign to me. I can't cover myself as well as AB does. He is good at going with the flow when someone recognizes him and he doesn't them. Me? IF this ever happened to me I would stand there blankly.

AB often wonders why people remember him.


I remind him that his port wine stain is pretty much a dead giveaway as well as his somewhat unique name.