Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Chesapeake Pt II

Random thoughts about the move...

1. According to her, V hates moving, but I love it. There's nothing like a fresh start. It forces you to reevaluate your physical (and mental) inventory and abandon your comfort zone for the potential of progress. Change. Love it.

2. Justin is so not feeling the tire swing. Jasmine on the other hand...

3. Say what you want about stereotypes, but as a landlord how can you not love the section 8 program?! Under what other program can your tenant flat out lose their job and your rental payments not skip a beat. Love it. Love it. Love it.

4. It's kinda sad to think that the kids probably won't remember our house here in Norfolk despite it being where we lived when they were born and where they spent their first few years (I certainly have zero memory of my first domicile)... But then, this digital age is so rich with technology that maybe they won't forget as much as I think they will. Given all the photos and videos that they've logged here, Justin has already seen more photos of himself on the internet than I've seen of myself in my entire life. We live in a totally different era.

5. It's going to take a lot of discipline not to invest too much (if any) money into someone else's property in the name of trying to make "our house" the way we like it. We're gonna have to focus on them long term goals. Constantly.

6. If you thought we were frugal before, then you just wait. We'z about to get super frugalistic on that behind as we do what we can to save up for our next home... wherever and whenever that may be... because we sure aren't trying to rent forever. I would put a time limit on it (2 years sounds like a nice number) but I ain't stupid. We were supposed to be out of this house 4 years and 2 kids ago. Go figure.

7. Having a refrigerator flush with the wall seems like a super cool idea until you realize... now where are we going to put all of these magnetic toys and to-do lists? I'm way too OCD to have all of that stuff plastered on the front of the fridge. We'll figure something out.

8. And last but not least, what's a new house without some new big boy toys. Meet my new friend John Deere. Forget about the fact that I don't even know how to turn it on yet. I'm so excited that I don't know what to do with myself. Never been so excited about watching the grass grow. Is it springtime yet?

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Norfolk to Chesapeake

We're moving! I don't even know what else to say...

As the saying goes, things move so quickly in life that you've gotta be ready to seize the opportunity when it comes. Well, it came. And we grabbed it by the neck. As of a few weeks ago, we had decided to put off the prospect of moving for at least another year. We were more than content that the neighbors who had given us the most grief had moved out and the original owners of that home had moved back in... instant 300% upgrade to the neighborhood. We had also just revisited our financial goals, long term and short, to adjust them based on our new expectation of not leaving our home for a while. V had also just come home from her 2-week stint in SC, expecting to settle back in and return her life to normalcy. And then BAM. A sharp left turn knocked all of those plans out the window. And here we are. Packing up and getting up outta here.

Now for the specifics. Last Monday, our latest section 8 applicant finally got approved. Just when we had given up hope of ever getting someone with a section 8 voucher even close to our asking rent, we got one. And while they still missed the mark by $300... (hey... the first potential tenant from a few months ago was off by about $900) something told us that this was it. For one, we got a good vibe about the tenant. Two, the $1525 per month we'll get won't cover the mortgage, but it will cover the place we'll be renting for ourselves in Chesapeake (which we found, agreed on, and signed off on in record time). Three, it's no guarantee, but a rent increase via section 8 seems likely after the first year of occupancy. And so now we're packing. The moving truck comes in 4 days. We will turn over the keys to our primary residence in 7 days. And this, my friend, will be one crazy week.

And while we don't know exactly what the next step will be, the good news is that this puts us in a pretty decent position in a few respects. For one, I'm up for tenure and promotion this year at The University. Having our house rented and not having to worry about a quick sale in this awful market will give us a nice amount of mobility in 2011 in the event that the university administration loses their collective minds and decides to shaft me in any respect whatsoever. Secondly, it officially makes us the owners of a 3rd rental property. Granted, when we first started the rental thing, I was always hopeful that we would've had rental property 3 ages ago... and whenever it did come, I would not have guessed that it would be in Virginia (the 1st two are in SC). But life has a funny way of turning your grand scheme of a plan on its head and spinning it in a totally different direction. So here we are. I suppose we're exactly where we're supposed to be. And without a clue as to where we'll be next. But enjoying the moment, and doing our best to hang on. Not to mention pack up... and get out.

Buckle up, kids. We're going for a spin.

We'll see you in Chesapeake.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Jazzy Stones XVIII

Don't even think about reading this entire entry. It is way too long. Even for a grandparent. Browse the photos and move on. It's what any sane person would do. And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

18 Months ago, we had a baby girl. And just like that, she's walking, talking and... well... smacking us all around. As for what she's been up to lately...

Look Who's Talking
When Justin was about two years old, I clearly remember not being able to visualize the jump from where he was with his speech development to him having the ability to talk in full sentences. In listening to kids that were just months older than him, it seemed like going from point a to b in speech development would be a quantum leap. Well, of course he eventually made that leap and now we can't get him to be quiet. But Jasmine... well, she's 1.5 years old... and I already can't remember her NOT being able to talk. The other thing is that with Justin, I remember needing one of those decoder rings that come in a cereal box to understand what he was trying to say: "Eye wung eee"... oh... you want to eat?... (isn't it funny how every parent knows their own kid's crazy babble talk?)... but with Jasmine it's as if she won't utter a given word until she has rehearsed it in her head and can say it perfectly. Where is your baby talk, little momma?! So grown.

Here's Jasmine last week, handing something to her mommy...
Jasmine: Mommy, (it's) broken.
Mommy: Yes, baby, it's broken. It doesn't work anymore.
Jasmine... after a short pause... "FIX IT!"

Incredible. Just listening to that exchange over the phone, I almost fell over in my chair laughing. Yesterday in the car, Jasmine completed a sentence of 5 or 6 words. I can't remember for the life of me what it was... but I do remember that she repeated it several times, and neither V nor I knew how to respond... so we just sat there in silent denial like, "this isn't happening". So now, my friend, you see one of the many reasons I have thrown the milestone blog entries out the window with this here child. It's hard to mark off every 3 feet of progress when you're going 30 miles per hour. At this rate, she'll be reading bedtime stories to Justin in no time.

Home Court Advantage
A second child just has so many advantages over the first. There's the obvious advantage of having a sibling and hence a 3rd teacher in the house: someone closer to her in age, stature, and mentality to interact with on a constant basis. That makes learning via imitation a lot easier (I think she learned the word "mine!" about a year earlier than Justin... for obvious reasons I guess). I remember it being forever before Justin could jump (salta!) off of two feet properly... Jasmine? Forget about it. She has mastered that and the entire playground already, and would probably jump off of any piece of furniture headfirst if you let her. You'd think she's been doing it for years. But then, what choice does she have when her only goal is to keep up with everything her brother can do.

She also has way more toys around the house; most of which are Justin's and are not age appropriate. That by itself pushes her to be more advanced than he was at this age. Justin spent endless hours playing with the magnetic letters on the refrigerator even before he was two years old... but why would you want to play with some stinking plastic letters when you've got a full drum set. Hit it!

ABC's and 123's
Speaking of plastic letters... while she's got him beat in street smarts, it's my suspicion that Justin was a good ways ahead of her by now with respect to knowing his ABC's, 123's, and all of the other typical toddler milestones. And that's totally not a problem, but it is interesting to see how different their skill sets are as a product of how different our lives are now with 2 kids versus just one. I felt guilty about it for a while, but Justin definitely got read to more, sang to more, etc... you know, all of that textbook stuff that you can do with your toddler when you don't have to worry about entertaining their older sibling (or simply maintaining your sanity) at the same time. As it stands, by the end of the day, we're not exactly anxious to curl up with the two of them and read a few books together. It's more like... EVERYBODY... GOOOO TOOOO BED!!!!!!!! And then we all pass out. So she's got the short end of that stick... but then she will answer a string of yes / no questions correctly with what is obviously full comprehension... and also takes her plate and cup to the kitchen and puts it in the sink after dinner all by herself (which speaks to both her wit and her height and long reach)... clearing the table? um, yeah... Justin wasn't doing that until... well... until Jasmine was. Just two different kids. Certainly clever in their own different ways. What are you gonna do but love 'em both.

Before the fam left for South Carolina, it had officially been put on the to do list to buy Jasmine some (drum roll please...) panties. Yep, the gurl dun been potty trained. Wait...wait... wait... don't get it twisted, she's not 100% yet. But she is definitely ready for the next step. More often than not, she'll let us know when she's gotta go, and will hold it 'til you get there. And more than anything, the girl is ready to don some underwear. Leave her alone in their bedroom, and she'll snatch a pair of Justin's drawers and come out wearing them in 20 seconds or less. It's like a Houdini trick or something. And she's so excited about it, that we just figured, what the heck. Now, granted, we may have taken a step or two backwards with the 2 week hiatus to SC... so we'll see how things progress. But she's definitely on her way... which by the way, is not anything to be too excited about... all it really does is double the probability of us having to stop to use the bathroom at every store on every trip out the house. It's also one more person that we have to pitstop to the bathroom on the way out the door (as if it didn't take us long enough to get anywhere we're going). At the end of the day, it's a nice reminder that diapers are not forever... but they sure have their advantages. (Gotta go? Go ahead... I'll clean it up later).

And Finally...
The regular stuff: She has FINALLY graduated to not wearing a bib 24 hours (You would've thought it was part of every outfit. I have never seen so much drool in my life... gotta be a record). Still 8 teeth. Still napping an hour-plus. Two naps on a good day (with daddy home). Still giving mommy endless grief, but then screaming for her like a mad woman when she leaves the room. Still throwing sn0w angel floor tantrums at the mere thought of the word no. And still the apple of daddy's eye regardless of it all. That's our Jasmine Olivia.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Three Clicks

Justin and Jasmine went absolutely looney tunes bananas when they pulled up to my job and saw me waiting for them... bouncing around the van like they lost their minds. I've gotta say that it feels good to be a celebrity in your own home. As for me, I couldn't be more excited to see my family... and from the way they ran around the house like it was Christmas morning, the kids evidently couldn't be more excited to be back. Welcome home, guys. Daddy missed the 3 of you to pieces.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


New Personal Record... went for the usual 3 mile run this morning, got to the turnaround point... and didn't turn around. Just kept going. And going... and ... finally got back to the house and thought to myself... why not keep going? I don't know what I ate this morning, but I had Forrest Gump Syndrome for real. 1 hour, 10 minutes, and 29 seconds later... I stopped. The total damage: 11K (6.8 miles)... and suddenly I'm thinking that a half marathon (13.1 miles) doesn't sound so crazy after all. Ridiculous? Perhaps. But not crazy.

My other goal? Killer abs by summertime or bust! Okay... not really. But it sounded good.

PS... Has anyone seen my family?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wait Your Turn

Last week, we let the kids bathe in our jetted tub for the first time. It's funny how such amenities seem so nice on paper when you first move in... then 6 years later you realize that you can count on one hand the number of times you've used it... but I digress. As for the kids and their whirlpool experience, the jets came on and they both looked kinda freaked out. But Justin eventually turned the page and thought it was totally cool. With toy boats and rubber duckies flying all over the place, I guess it was like a tsunami on sesame street. As for Jasmine... I don't think she ever sat down (granted the water was way higher than their bathtub water ever is) and she was quite content to return to their usual bathtub the next day. Finally... something that can make our otherwise fearless little momma pause for a second. Hey Justin, for once in your life, you won't have to worry about your bossy little sister hollering MINE!!!!!!!!!!!! at the top of her lungs. Enjoy it while it last.