Wednesday, March 23, 2016

THE House

I fully intended to blog more this year.  I got my yearly Blogs2Print book, and was shocked at home tiny it was.  My goal was to get a bigger book next year... but here it is, the end of March, and I've only written once.  I'm hoping to catch up on that as the year goes on, and as my to-do list around the house starts to shrink... (yeah, right?).

So, where did I leave off?  Oh yes... the house.  Our new, big, beautiful, "forever home" house!  I've been meaning to write about it, but I know that the post is going to be long and I never seem to have enough time to myself.  Today though, I'm sitting in a coffee shop after dropping the kids off with a sitter for a few hours, so, I'm going to try to tackle it.  =)

To start at the beginning... Jacob got a new job across the river in Vancouver back in July 2015.  It is a good job, with a good salary.  However, living and working in two different states caused a few problems.  First, we were still paying income tax for our home state (if we lived in Washington, we would have avoided this) and second, it meant Jacob was driving 1.5-2 hours per day between home work and picking the kids up from daycare.  When he got the job, we talked about moving over the river, but I was still working in Portland and our daycare provider (who we love and cuts us a SUPER deal) was also in Portland--and completely out of the way of what would be our new commute.  Moving would mean that we'd either a) have to find--and pay twice as much for--a new daycare, or b) me quitting my job and staying home.

At that time, I was just a few months in to a new job that had the potential for some advancement opportunities.  I really liked the company that I was working for, and was scared of the emotional and financial strain of being a stay at home parent.  So, Jacob continued with the commute and we kept the status quot.

Fast forward to the middle of August... I applied for a promotion at my job, something that I REALLY thought that I was going to get.  Something that I felt that I'd been kind of groomed to take on.  They offered someone else the position.  No ill will from me, really.  They made the decision that they felt was best for their organization.  However, I was then faced with making a decision that was best for ME.  Since 2009, between two different organizations, I had basically been doing the same work.  After 6 years as a direct service workforce development coach (and another 4 years before that in other direct service social service roles) I was feeling pretty burnt out... especially after being turned down for promotion opportunities twice.

One day in August I was driving home from out of town.  It was a long drive and my mind started to wander.  I started to think about our current situation, our desire to move, and how we could make that possible.  I thought about my job situation and if I wanted to stay somewhere (that I liked) doing work that I didn't for who knows how long... again.  I didn't.  Jacob's new salary is equal to what both of us made combined the year before, and we lived quite comfortably then, so I didn't fear the finance issue too much.  But could I be a stay at home mom?  The more I thought about it, the more I felt a resounding HELL YES.  After years of doing the working mom thing (it was exhausting and really emotionally draining for both me AND Jacob) and realized that I was ready for a new challenge.

When I got home, I talked to Jacob about my thoughts and decisions.  Very shortly thereafter, we called our real estate agent.

After speaking with our agent (who helped us purchase our first home, and would be helping us sell it), reviewing the housing market, and looking at time lines, we decided to find a house first, and make a contingent offer before putting ours on the market.  We didn't want to be stuck without a place to live.  So, armed with a Washington agent referral, we started our hunt for new homes in Vancouver, WA.

We looked at a handful of homes, and they were nice, but nothing was really taking our breath away.  The one that we most liked already had an offer accepted before we left the viewing, so we had to move on.  Since we were driving back and forth after work hours (during rush hour) and on the weekends to view homes (usually with 2 kids in tow), our WA agent decided to check into a few homes on her own and then let us know if she thought we should see them, too.  She had a pretty good sense at that point of what we were looking for and what features we did and didn't like.

One house in particular had one photo on their listing.  The description sounded good, but the single photo (a bad one of the exterior) made us leery about it.  Our agent went out with the intention of taking a look and sending us some additional photos.  Later that evening, she sent us some images with her story... after being assured that the alarm had been turned off, she entered the home... to be greeted by a blaring alarm through the whole house.  She waited for the police to arrive, explained who she was, and then ran through the house taking quick photos, covering her ears, waiting for the alarm to get shut off! lol  Thankfully her aural discomfort was not for loss.  We liked the photos and her description and decided to take a look at it ourselves.

The house was HUGE.  Jacob and I kept looking at each other with a "what the hell will we do with all this space" expressions.  The asking price was a bit above our self-imposed budget.  That and the space abundance were holding us up at first.  But, after seeing other slightly smaller homes with postage stamp sized backyards, we decided to put in an offer.  (side note: when we looked at the house we "surprised" one of the residents who was hanging out in her bedroom upstairs and didn't know that someone was coming to take a look at the house.  We should have taken note about the communication struggles at that point).

We made an offer, contingent on the sale of our home, for slightly under their asking price.  The responded that they would not take anything under asking.  After assessing our finances and what the likely monthly payments would be, we decided to accept the counter offer and pay asking.  Then we called our Oregon agent and pulled the trigger to list our current home.

For the next two weeks we kept our house sparkling clean, and crossed our fingers that we would get an offer and not lose "our" house based on the contingency.

We did NOT get an offer in time.  We prepared paperwork asking for an extension.  Three days after the contingency period ended, we got an offer.  As we had not heard anything back yet regarding our extension request, our agent contacted the sellers and asked to proceed.

They increased the asking price for the home by 10k.  And sure, we could proceed if we were willing to pay that.  Our agent was flabbergasted.  Our offer was the only offer that they'd received on the house.  Why would they UP the price??  Jacob and I had already offered 15k over our "budget", tacking on another 10k made me very nervous... especially since we were going to be on one income after we moved.  After some talk via agents, they lowered it to 5k.  We told them that we could not do that, and that we would have to pass (at this point we were just pissed and thinking about principal rather than dollar signs).

Our agent then took us to view about 6 other homes.  They all sucked in comparison to THE house.  I had gone and gotten attached to that house... something that I told myself not to do.  So much for that.  We had already accepted the offer on our current house, so not only we were in the position that we didn't want to be (on a time line for finding a place or we'd be homeless), but I loved a house that was above our budget... which is the exact same thing that happened to us with our first home purchase.

We decided to take the 5k offer and wrote the sellers a letter pretty much asking them not to be jerks to a young family that really loved their home (a home that they had only been in for about 2 years).  The deal was done and the inspection process started... on both homes.

Our to-be home passed inspections with flying colors.  The inspector even called me to tell me how gorgeous the house was.  The inspection on our current home was not so good.  There were wiring issues, and dry rot, some chimney structural concerns and (the one that grossed me out the most), rats.  Rats??  Rats.  Apparently we had rodents living under our house.  Which surprised me completely.  In the 5 years that we lived there, we saw a mouse... once.  No other signs of any other varmints.  So then negotiations for repairs starts.  Back and forth.  We'll fix this, but not this.  Finally we agreed on the terms.  And then the repairs started.

I feel like I should note at this point that during this whole process I was recovering from pneumonia.  During the initial offer/up the price portion, I was actually e-signing documents from my ICU hospital bed.  The inspections and repairs I was at home on bed rest.

Anyway, we got the repairs done, and the inspector came out to take a look.  They weren't done to his satisfaction.  So we had to get more contractors in to do more things.  Silver lining, because the repairs weren't done on time, we had to extend the closing date on our current home.  Which actually meant that we could make a smooth, single day move from one house to the other... without that, we would have been "homeless" for three days between the two closing dates.

Finally everything was done, movers were booked, boxes were packed, and it was time to sign closing documents.  Our house was sold!  A couple days later we went in to sign for our new home.  It was done!

We thought.

Fast forward to later on signing day... our agent calls us with some bad news.  One of the sellers is out of the country and can't sign his portion of the documents.  Let me note that throughout the whole negotiation process we had to wait, several times, for the husband, a musician to be in town to sign documents.  He was traveling constantly.  Problem is, they didn't tell anyone, THEIR agent included, that he was going to be out of the country during the closing time period.  Again, our agent was livid and so confused.  The wife went in and signed her portion of the documents, and then paperwork was started to give her the proper power of attorney rights to sign for her husband.  Problem is though that this was going to push the closing date out.  And the problem with that is that the movers had already been scheduled and we needed to be out of our old house!

After more conversation via agents, we finally got paperwork that would make us no-charge "renters" of the home before closing was official, which would allow us to move in as scheduled.  On moving day, I drove up to the new house to get the keys while Jacob stayed behind to help direct the movers.  I prayed that nothing would go wrong.  Our agent was there with the keys, and copies of all relevant documents... in case the alarm went off on us or there were any other concerns on our legitimacy to be there (she, as well, was having some trust issues at that point).  She told me then that she'd made a bit of no-no, but that it had worked out in our favor...

Apparently the sellers had wanted to charge us rent for being there before closing.  Our agent sent a text message blasting the sellers and stating that the issue was their fault and not ours, and that they were being greedy and difficult.  Fortunately/Unfortunately, she accidentally sent it to the sellers directly rather than the agent.  They didn't respond, but we received the keys and rental agreement with no further financial discussion.

We got everything moved out/moved in that day.  Aside from waiting for either a) international power of attorney paperwork to get processed or b) the husband to get back in town to sign papers so that would could finally close, we thought that things were done and over with.

But then we realized that we didn't have a mail box key.

Via agents, we heard from the seller that they expected us to change the lock and get our own key like they had.  I called the post office to inquire about this... $40, we needed to provide home purchase paperwork, and it could take a couple weeks.  Plus, we were RENTERS at that point and didn't have the authority to change the locks anyway.  It took us about a week to convince the sellers to give us the damn mailbox key!  I couldn't believe it.  Absolutely ridiculous.  I had to buy a new Halloween costume last minute because my costume for my office party was in the box.  It's petty, I know, but still soo soo annoying!

We closed on the house on Sam's birthday, October 30th.  Four days after we moved in.  After getting the mail situation figured out, I was so glad to be over with it and move on to the fun stuff.  So far we have replaced some flooring, painted some walls, bought some furniture and changed the locks.  ;)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Beware of Bronchitis

There were two thing that I had planned/hoped to write about before the end of 2015... the adventure of purchasing our second home (hoping to get to this soon!) and my 3-day stay in our local ICU.  Unfortunately, neither of these got written and posted in time to make it into my 2015 blog book (which I ordered today!), but better late than never, right?

On September 13th I headed to the beach for a work related conference.  I was SOO looking forward to three nights of "mommy vacation" in a quiet room and a bed to myself.  Plus, this was my third trip to this conference, one that I have enjoyed every year, so I was pumped.

I arrived at the hotel, checked into my room, headed to the restaurant to grab some dinner and a glass of wine, and started to feel a bit "blah".  Thought for sure that I'd just picked up another daycare cold and that I'd suffer through it.  The next day, Monday, I felt awful.  I made it through the day, but left the last session early to go rest.  I ordered room service for dinner.  A bowl of clam chowder and a roll... which would last me for the next two days of meals.

Sick in my beautiful, coastal hotel room


Tuesday I went down to the conference for breakfast, but had to leave about half an hour into the first keynote session... and spent the rest of the day in bed with what I'm assuming were chills and aches from a fever.  Wednesday morning I didn't even try.  I just got out of bed, packed up my stuff, and drove home... hoping that I could make it back safety.

On Thursday I went to the doctor.  He looked, listened, etc, etc. and told me that I had Bronchitis.  He pretty much told me that I had to suffer through it and that it would go away eventually.  BUT if I got symptom A, B, or C to come back.  I never got any of these additional symptoms, but by Monday I was still feeling AWFUL.  I could barely move, I had an awful cough, I was exhausted and just wanted to sleep all day.  By this point I had been out of work for a week.  My daughter was getting a bit scared (she cried one morning and told my husband how much she missed her mommy).  So, that morning we dropped off the kids at daycare and I had Jacob take me to Urgent Care for a second opinion on this whole Bronchitis thing.

I don't know how long we waited in the waiting room.  As I mentioned, I just wanted to sleep.  I may have very well fallen asleep.  Everything around this stage in the story is a bit foggy.  When we were called back they did the usual scale, blood pressure, check oxygen level thing... but something wasn't right.  They checked my oxygen twice (I think with two different devices) and then called an ambulance.  With in minutes I was hooked up to an oxygen tank, in a hospital gown, on a gurney in the back of an ambulance headed to the ER.

Turns out that I had developed pneumonia and was in "respiratory failure" (this bit was not made clear to me until after I was released from the ICU).  My oxygen levels were in the mid-80% range.  Hospital staff refused to let me move for about 24 hours as every time I did my levels decreased.  I had a nose tub oxygenation device AND a face mask for the first day/night.  The doctor told me that if my levels didn't increase that they would have to intubate.  I took LOTS of deep breaths after that point and thankfully it never came to that.  But that first night was awful.  I couldn't sleep with all of the oxygen being pumped into my nose and mouth.  Plus I still had a horrible cough and "waking up" coughing in the middle of the night with a mask on your face leads to some real claustrophobic type of feelings.

View from the ICU


By the middle of the second day I was off of the face mask and finally walking around a little bit.  My oxygen levels had reached the mid-90% range, but I still had to wear my nose tubing while they slowly decreased the amount of oxygen that was getting pumped into me to make sure that my lungs were fully capable of working on their own.  The second night I only had to "sleep" with the nose tubes.  I was thankful.

Day three, I started walking up and down the halls with my nurse.  The nose tubes were removed and I was steadily breathing on my own again.  My oxygen levels stayed up there and so that doctors agreed that I could be discharged from the ICU and moved to a "regular" hospital room... where I spent my last night and got to take a shower (Hallelujah! I will never again to Urgent Care without taking a shower first!).

I was discharged the following day (Thursday) and was pretty much on bed rest for another week.  In the end, I was out of work for 3 weeks... and probably should have stayed out longer.  It took much more time than that for my lungs to strengthen up again (I had to skip another 5k that I'd signed up for, and put my workouts on hold for about 2 months while I recovered), plus, I lost about 15 pounds... in a week... and was really, really weak.  I have also been told that now I am more susceptible to developing pneumonia in the future, so that I have to be extra careful and cautious when I get ill.  I may end up buying myself one of those finger tip oxygen reader things... I don't want to ever repeat that experience again!

Goodbye hospital bed!


I was so thankful for Jacob and our child care provider during this whole process.  Jacob worked remotely from the hospital room in the mornings and then went to the office in the afternoons... and then came back in the evenings.  Our daycare provider kept the kids for two overnights so that Jacob could be there with me.  I was so thankful for that.  It gets pretty lonely in the ICU, especially when you don't really know/understand what's happening to you or how bad of a situation you are in.

When the nurse in my "regular" room told her colleague at shift change that I had been "admitted in respiratory failure" I'm sure that my heart skipped a beat.  I hadn't known that things were that bad... seeing an 80% reading on an oxygen monitor doesn't mean anything to a lay-person... at least, not to this one.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Facing My Fears!

This is by far not the most important of blog posts in terms of the catch up that I'm trying to do, but I think it is definitely worth including...

I got a tattoo!

For some, this is no big deal, for me, it is a HUGE accomplishment and milestone of me facing some pretty big fears.

I have been terrified of (some) needles for a very, very long time... almost phobic (my doctor's have actually prescribed me anti-anxiety medications before to assist with the need for blood draws/testing).  Ever since I was a kid, getting a blood draw (or other intrusive needle jabbing)--and sometimes just the THOUGHT of it--was usually accompanied by a fainting spell.  Passing out in doctor's chairs, car passenger seats, my dentists chair, a pre-op hospital bed, health class (yup...), while watching medical shows on TV... it was definitely a "thing".  One of my biggest concerns about ever getting pregnant was the sheer number of pre-natal blood tests and being connected to an IV in the hospital.

Over the years, I have figured out ways to combat my anxiety around this and have discovered different coping mechanisms that help.  But getting in front of a needle is not exactly my idea of a good time (I didn't get my ears pierced until I was 25... AFTER getting my nose pierced as my quarter-century birthday-present-to-me/act of personal rebellion... I figured it was just one hole/needle rather than two! lol).

That being said, I have been thinking about getting a tattoo for YEARS.  In fact, a few months before I made the consultation appointment with the artist I got a Timehop flashback from FOUR YEARS AGO saying something around the lines of "I really want to get a tattoo!" =)  I figured that it was time. 

I'd been thinking about what I wanted for a pretty long time, and had been searching around Yelp/Google/Reviews/etc for artists and shops in the area... but I just hadn't pulled the trigger.  Then, a friend of mine got the name of an artist that she thought would do a good job... and Jacob said that he would finally get "his" tattoo, too!  So, we made it a sort of 5-year wedding anniversary adventure and gave up our tattoo virginities at the same time.  =)



I had a pretty good sense of what I wanted from my tattoo, but needed something designed.  I am very happy with the results!  The image is a floral "timeline".  The first flower, the Morning Glory, is a birth month flower for September (both Jacob and I were born in September), the Sunflower was our wedding flower.  The Sweet Pea ins April's flower (Emily's birth month) and the orange flower, a Cosmos (or could also double as a marigold, is for October, when Sam was born.

Jacob had a friend design his (based on line art that he had already created).  The symbol signifies a childhood nickname.  And also his online gaming persona.  ;)



Overall, I am very happy with the final products.  And am happy to report that I didn't pass out AT ALL!  That is a HUGE win!  It went so well (and didn't hurt nearly as much as I was expecting), that I'm already wondering what my next one will be.  ;)

My (Other) Baby Turns 1!

OK, actually, he just turned 13 months... I'm a bit behind with my life recaps (we've been busy, I swear!) but here is a cute kid photo dump of Sam's first birthday party last month!  His actual birthday double as CLOSING DAY for our new house, and so his birthday party the following week was kind of an open house for family and friends as well.  =)  Much to celebrate!

Sam was actually pretty tentative with the cake.  We didn't get the traditional "smash" that we were hoping for.  In fact, Jacob had to put Cheerios on it just to get Sam to put the frosting in his mouth! lol

























Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Hypocrite Much? ;)

As I'm sitting here in a coffee shop eating a chocolate chip-raspberry muffin and drinking a brown sugar chai, I think this may be the appropriate time to talk about my weight loss and fitness progress and goals.  ;)

I have battled with my weight for YEARS.  I like to blame it on my kids/pregnancies, but that is by far not how/when it started.  In all honesty, I think it started when I finally found myself feeling safe, comfortable and happy (ironic, huh?)... when I was in my mid 20s.  (It may have started earlier than that, but thinking back and seeing myself in pictures in high school/college/graduation/etc, I didn't start to balloon until after I graduated from college).  I have discovered that my body is REALLY good at gaining weight.  But it's also pretty good at losing it... thus lots of fluctuation over the years (and lots of piles of pants that are either too big or two small in my closet).

When I got my first job post-grad school I was at my highest weight.  I hated to admit the numbers on the scale and mostly just ignored them (and had been doing so for months--maybe years--I'm sure).  My now-husband had also proposed to me just a few months prior to this point, and I knew that I wanted to drop some inches before my wedding day.  So, I did.  Between a counting calories routine and getting some exercise (though more of the former and less of latter, to be honest), I dropped 30 lbs in 8 months.  My dress had to be altered a lot (and the seamstress even commented on the fact that I bought too big of a dress size... I told her it was my "fault" for dropping the weight).

When I got pregnant roughly a year later, I was only up about 5-10 lbs from wedding weight... but then I gained a TON during pregnancy (too many brownies) and my daughter wasn't nearly chubby enough to take the bulk of it with her.  ;)  About a year after she was born, I was at my NEW highest weight (by about 15 lbs, I think) and felt awful.  So, I started the food diary/calorie counting routine again and started to (attempt to) work out again.  I'll tell you though, working out with an infant/toddler at home after working 40 hours/week is REALLY difficult, both emotionally and physically).  

By February 2014 I was down roughly 25 lbs, had just fit back into my pre-prego jeans, was 5-10 lbs away from pre-prego weight (and about 15-20 lbs away from wedding weight) and was feeling pretty awesome!  And then, I found out that I was pregnant with my son.  FANTASTIC news for my husband and I and our families, but terrible news for my body.  As I mentioned before, my body is REALLY good at gaining weight.

With my son, I stopped paying attention to the scales at the doctor's office.  I tried to be "good" with my eating and only had MAYBE one or two chocolate milkshakes the entire time!  But, I still gained a lot of weight (much more than the "recommended" amount) and, after my son was born, I was right back to the beginning in terms of my post-prego weight loss with my daughter.  Only, this time, I had a goal... by my son's 1st birthday, I wanted to have dropped the weight!  So, I kicked my own ass into gear!

In May I joined a "Biggest Loser" challenge with a group of local moms.  It was great to have the weekly food and exercise challenges, as well as the encouragement from others.  In the 8ish weeks that the challenge occurred, I dropped roughly 13 lbs.



During the last 4 weeks of the challenge, the weather was started to get nicer, earlier so I started (again, for the third time) the Couch To 5k (C25k) running program.  I would go in the mornings before work (hello 5:30 am) and go for runs... something that I was NEVER good at, and always HATED... before now, and before I saw the weight loss results that running could have!  After the end of the Biggest Loser challenge I continued the C25k program and signed up for another 5k (I signed up for one with my sister in law at the beginning of the summer, but don't really count that one as I walked the majority of the course).

I had a new goal... no longer was my goal to "lose weight", but rather to RUN a 5k.  And I was determined to do so by the race in August.

And I DID IT!  Not only did a RUN the entire thing, but I took something like 11 minutes off my time from the first (walked) race... and finished in the middle of my age division.  Did you hear that?  The MIDDLE!  Not the END!  The amount of pride that I felt in myself was unbelievable. And, as an extra bonus, I'd lost another 10 lbs or so.


I decided to sign up for another 5k a couple months later, in early October.  I continued to run with a goal to improve my time and do it for enjoyment (running on the beach is awesome!)



About a month in, something totally came in and ruined my plans... I got pneumonia.  I was hospitalized for several days (more on this later) and it just completed kicked my butt and knocked me out.  It was absolutely awful (more on this later)  That being said... I lost about 15 lbs... in less than a week, and found myself at pre-prego weight before little man's 1st birthday.  Silver lining?

Though I was down pounds-wise, I didn't feel strong anymore.  I felt so, so weak..

It's been almost 2 months since I was discharged from the hospital.  I have gained back about 6 lbs (I am ok with that for now, as I know that my body wasn't ready to lose it), and just started running around last week.  I have signed up for a 5k in March and am looking forward to the cold, wet asphalt and my ability to, once again, see my body in action and feel strong and accomplished.  Also, hoping to get back down to pre-Sam weight, followed by pre-Emily weight, followed by (dare I say?) wedding weight.  ;)