Monday, February 26, 2007

Frosting on top

I'm excited to report that nothing interesting happened this weekend! That may sound strange, but if you've been around for the past 3 turbulent weeks; you'll know that just getting through a weekend and achieving some peace and quiet is an accomplishment for us. Continuing to celebrate V's birthday was about as exciting as it got for us. As part of the fanfare, I baked her a birthday cake, which was humorous all by itself. I will have to say that trying to frost a cake is way more difficult than I thought. If you want to torture a perfectionist / obsessive compulsive individual, ask him to frost a cake. Oh my goodness. The lack of symmetry was killing me. And the more you try to smooth out one side, the crazier the other side looks. And then there's the edges; trying to blend them nicely from top to side, not to mention making them uniform. And then eventually I ran out of frosting, so now I'm trying to spread it thin to cover up all of the holes... but still keep it uniform (deep sigh). Meanwhile, the cake is starting to fall apart from all of this manipulation I'm doing... Man, it shouldn't have been that hard. But that's the price I pay for being who I am. But, of course V just took pleasure in my pain and thought the whole thing was funny. In the end the cake turned out to be tasty, and so I was at least happy with that.

Otherwise [besides a middle school math contest I attended, brunch with the ladies for V, a visit to the massage therapist, and the usual errands, grading and lesson planning for both of us] it was a much needed low-key weekend in our household. As for today, it's back off to the races, as I try to wrap things up at school before Spring break (which means tests to make & grade, and lessons to get through). I'm also looking to hear from the (potential) general contractor sooner than later concerning an estimate on the PA property. I think he's about to lose his job before he even gets it, but I'll write about that in more detail later on. For now, I best start getting ready for work. Ciao.

Take note of a very pregnant
looking V as she makes a wish
on her birthday candles.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Blazing a trail

I just chased down the lady who delivers the paper in the morning in order to have "a few friendly words" with her... and next up will be the mailman (mail woman?). Both have decided that it's too much work to walk around to the concrete walkway, and as a result have blazed a serious trail thru my lawn. Anybody who knows me (hmm... what is that, like 3 people?) knows that I put way too much time and effort into my lawn for them to be trampling my grass to death in the name of a shortcut. Oh heck no. Y'all about to walk around. Ain't like you can't use the exercise. Get to stepping... AROUND, to the concrete path you go. Thank you. Have a nice day.

What in the world... and it's like, I KNOW you see the grass dying, Ms. Mail-Delivery-Thru-Your-Lawn. In fact, the crazy part is that you're the one who pointed it out to me months ago, way before it got this bad. Talking about, "oooh look, I'm just making a big ol' path through your grass, ain't I? I guess I should walk around or something"... and 4 months later, my lawn still looks like part of the Appalachian Trail. Man... What in the world?

I'll be alright... after a few deep breaths. Especially if they stop cutting through my lawn. [deep breath] It's ridiculous.

V practices her fighting crane technique in case
I need her to break loose on the mail lady.
In other news, the baby has been incredibly active this week. Just a few days ago, with a hand on V's belly, I felt it move for the first time. We've known that we have an active baby since one of the first ultrasounds, when even the doctor got a kick out of how much the baby just wouldn't stay still. At this point, movement is pretty constant; which seems surprising to be to so early (22/23 weeks). I can only imagine what the next 17 weeks will bring as the baby goes from weighing 1 pound (last week) to tipping the scales at over 7 lbs. If V thinks that the baby is "dancing on her bladder" now, wait until (s)he gets some weight behind those dance moves.

Anyhow, V is back to work today after our (usual?) fair share of dramatic moments this week. She called me at work on Wednesday at about 10am with eight dreadful words: "I need to go to the emergency room". And just like that, any semblance of normality evaporated (...again), and we were off to the races (...again).

As it turns out, all is well. She was experiencing some pretty severe abdominal and (eventually) lower back pain, plus lightheadedness; and of course with the pregnancy nothing is left to chance. So we went to the ob/gyn, then to outpatient for additional tests... and we thought we were done until the pain tripled in intensity, putting her in a wheel chair and making the emergency room the last stop on our hospital tour. But after waiting for about 45 minutes, (there were people there that had already waited anywhere from 3 to 5 hours... man, that's crazy) the prospect of waiting 4 more hours was enough to get her feeling healthy again and ready to go home (5 hours?! I would've been ready to go home, too).

And so I made her stay home from work yesterday. But trying to get her to stay home 2 days in a row simply wasn't happening (the woman loves her job too much). It's all good though since she's now back up to 100%. Of course, the baby was fine through the whole ordeal, and so at least there was no mental stress in that respect. We never did find out what the cause was, but are content to know that it's behind us now.

All of this on the heels of her birthday, for which we went out and truly had a great time sharing dinner and conversation with another married couple that we met at church some months ago, DeVon and Danah (I forgot to take a picture!). The plan was to have the neighbors over the next day for cake, ice cream and a scoop of fellowship, but of course that got put on the back burner with the whole hospital ordeal (which in total lasted about 6 hours on Wednesday).

As for the two properties, there's not a whole lot to report this morning. After securing homeowners insurance for the SC property (Safeco Insurance, $419... can't beat it) I think I may be done with that one until closing time rolls around (Praise God!) One less thing to worry about. Closing is only a mere 12 days away, but I'll take it. Juggling two closing processes has been a beast on the schedule, but now I can focus on just the PA property for a week. The lending agent I'm dealing with there (Bank of America) sent all of my paperwork with the wrong purchase amount (genius!), so we're waiting on a new batch before we get started with the signatures again. On the other end of that deal though, I have to say that it's been helpful that my mom is the selling agent for this property. Since we speak just about everyday anyway, it's been easy to keep track of what needs to be done for her without a whole lot of added stress / people to connect with. Plus it's one less person I've gotta check after, since I know she's got everything under control. (You DO have everything under control... right? :o)

7:07am. Time to get moving for work. Peace out.

Monday, February 19, 2007


The driver side of the car (top photo) now serves as the "before" picture and the passenger side (bottom photo) is the post-Saturday version.

To say that we didn't quite have the fantastic weekend that I had planned for us would be like saying fried worms and cheesecake don't quite taste the same. Just when you think you know what's coming and you're ready to settle in & "sit dead-red fastball", life always finds a way to throw you a wicked knee-buckling curveball instead.

Between the house-related travel and the food-poisoning last week, I thought we were out of the woods for sure; and was just telling V that I was looking forward to a little normality again. The day started off grand. Lots of laughs in the house. V cut my hair for the first time (and I still have both my ears) and that was a lot of fun... But then, we left the house, and WHAM. Just like that, the passenger side of my trusty and beloved Honda Civic was obliterated by a 22-year-old Texan and his untimely "improper lane change". And of course, just that split second of poor judgement on his part will now cost us additional minutes / hours / days that we didn't have in the first place; as over the next few days (weeks?) we have to deal with insurance company 1, insurance company 2, a car rental company, and an auto body shop; all in the name of trying to piece our lives (and our car) back together again.

Couple that with two home closings, V's 30th birthday tomorrow, our usual 9-to-5's (in which I seem to fall further behind in everyday), a pregnancy, and an endless to-do list (oh, and just forget about the things that you actually would like to do), and the word "overwhelming" has just become the slogan of February, 2007.

Anyhow... V's been taking care of the insurance claims and the countless phone calls that tend to follow such an event, while I continue to juggle the requirements of our investment venture (update: More contract papers for PA arrived today, and mom postponed her meeting with our potential GC, while in SC the re-inspection went smoothly as planned). As one of our many chores today, we picked up a (good lawd) mini-van as our rental car from enterprise, which is a story in and of itself I suppose... but I digress.

As for the accident itself, here's the bottom line in 3 words or less: improper lane change. I guess the kid never saw us coming, and it happened so fast that we never had a chance. Needless to say, we never made it to Babies R Us (will we ever get this registry done?!)... the accident happened at about 10:02am, and between the 25 minute wait for the police (TWENTY FIVE MINUTES... man, I just wanted to get out and steal something), and the visit to the hospital to check V's vitals (precautionary measures), we didn't close the book on the whole ordeal until after 4pm if I'm not mistaken. And beyond that, we were pretty toasted from just the stress of the whole thing. I can't remember what time we crashed last night (um... poor choice of words?), but it was early.

Sunday was pretty much chalked up as another recovery day, plus a good amount of grading to prepare for the week. The blessing of it all, though, was that there were no injuries. Despite bumping her head, and having some initial neck and back aches, the next day didn't bring soreness to either of us. Much to be thankful for in that respect.

On a totally different note... My biggest disappointment (at the moment) is not being able to do it up for V's 30th tomorrow like I anticipated. I had big plans, man. Big plans. No joke. But I lacked on the execution, and it cost me... not to mention left me standing empty handed with not much of a worthwhile backup plan to lay out for her. But we had a good discussion about it tonight, and despite my sulking, we concluded that the end result is probably for the best. Anything more would have just overwhelmed both of us right about now. And so, in due time, we'll celebrate on a larger scale if we still deem it necessary / desired. For now, I think we'll just give it one more shot at focusing on enjoying each other and our time together despite the obstacle course that our lives have recently turned into.

And in the scheme of things, there is still not a whole lot to complain about. God is good. We've just got to push through for a little bit longer, and we'll be straight. But for now, sleep is of the essence. So I'm out. G'nite!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Babies R Us

Tomorrow we plan to finally make some headway on a baby registry. My guess is that our first stop will be the obvious choice, Babies R Us. Being as anal as we are about researching everything we do, the prospect of buying baby stuff is incredibly overwhelming to me... just wayyy too much to read about.

I mean... What makes a good stroller and why? And why are there like 10 billion different types? Can they really be that different? All you really need is four wheels, a seat and a handle to push. Shouldn't be that complicated. But I know it is.

And of course once we get passed that hurdle, there are also 98 different playpens to choose from, 126 different breast pumps, 8 different diaper brands, 1823 cribs, 892 bassinets, 716 car seats, 82 baby monitors, 64 diaper bags, 28 pacifiers, 31 teething rings, 14 changing pads, 292 slings and pouches, 16 types of bottles... and the list rolls on. Good Lord. Forget it.

No baby registry. I'm tired just thinking about it.

Seriously though, hopefully the customer service at Babies R Us will be worth their salt and able to make life a lot easier for us when it comes to this baby registry ordeal. Given that we haven't done much to really celebrate and enjoy the pregnancy lately (we've just been too busy), I'm hoping to really make this a fun outting tomorrow... unlike the absolute chore / nightmare that choosing our wedding registry became two years ago.

Anyhow, stay tuned for the verdict.

First posting / 2-week whirlwind

I came across a blog today (another person looking to flip their first house) that inspired me to finally start my own. Plus, in the midst of all the paperwork we've had to fill out lately, it occured to me that with so much going on in our lives, it might be a good time to start a blog. I've flirted with starting it about a thousand times over the past couple of years, but maybe this time it'll stick.

At first, I felt the need to write about everything that has happened up to this point. But then I quickly realized that would take one heck of an essay to bring you up to speed. So instead I'm just going to jump in and say where we are today. My hope is that, if this blog is in existence long enough, the why's, where's, how's and who's will all eventually sort themselves out.

I should also warn you in advance that this blog will likely have no theme whatsoever. It's an account of our life as it transpires. Between the baby being on the way, and the investments that we're looking into, it should be a clever and convenient way to keep track of all of the insanity that is seemingly about to unfold into existence. As much of a whirlwind as the past two weeks have been, I'm guessing that several years from now we may look back at this point and consider this a significant turning point for us. Or not. Who knows.

But with that said, I will at least rewind the past 13 days for you.

Two Saturday's ago: I drove to SC to meet with a realtor and scope out some potential picks for our first rental property (I left at 3am for a 10am meeting). V flew down the same day to spend time with fam while I was out house hunting.

Sunday: V and I revisited the top 3 prospects. She picked the last one as her favorite. By the end of the day I was back on the road, headed to Richmond for a two day work-related workshop.

Monday: In the midst of the workshop, I managed to fax over a contract on the property we selected. And so the waiting game began.

Tuesday: Workshop over / Contract accepted! (Whoo hoo) We are officially on our way to owning an investment property.

Wednesday & Thursday: Finally back home.

Friday: At the last minute, I decided to drive to PA to check out a property that my mom has been telling me about for 3 weeks now. It's a foreclosure that she thinks has plenty of potential for a flip. We've never done anything like that... and already are (to some extent) over our heads with the prospect of owning a property in SC... but for some reason I felt prepared to at least survey the potential of what was going on in PA.

Saturday: I viewed the house with a contractor, got an estimate on the work, and got back on the road for the 6 hour drive back to Hampton Roads. Back in VA by midnight.

Sunday: Back home... just in time to go to church, have lunch with new friends, and catch a horrendous case of food poisoning. We suspect I lost about 6 pounds that day. Man, it was aweful. V was an absolute champion in how well she took care of me.

Monday: To everyone's surprise (including our own) we submitted a contract on the PA property as well.

Tuesday: (gasp) Contract 2 accepted!

Wednesday, Thursday, and Today: We continue to sit in disbelief as we look at each other and try to figure out what just happened. It took us over a year to find the house that we live in, but in consecutive weekends, we were suddenly wheeling and dealing purchase contracts like seasoned real estate moguls. Trust me, we still can't figure it ourselves. And while the whole thing just seems to have come out of nowhere, the amount of peace that we both have had through it all has been enough confirmation for us that, despite our novice status and boat loads of uncertainty, we're confidently headed in the right direction.

And so, with our first child due in June, so begins of our very ambitious dive into the realm of real estate investment.

It;s 8:02am. Time to shower and dress. My first class is 58 minutes away. Until next time...