Friday, August 28, 2009
In our contract with the bank (because, if you remember, it's a bank-owned home), we agreed to close on September 15th. However, it sounds like nothing has technically been scheduled yet, so it could be slightly sooner than that. Frankly, Shawn and I would be happy with the 15th, because the only advantage we can see to doing it sooner is that we'd have a few extra days to get in there and do some work. Our lease at the apartment doesn't end until October 6th, so it's not like we're really in a hurry to get things done between closing and moving, though. And closing earlier means that we pay more in loan interest at closing. So...if we have a say in the matter, we'll stick with the 15th as our closing date. :)
In non-house news....not much has been going on this week. We went bowling last night. There were about 15 of us from church who went, so that was fun (even though I'm really not a good bowler!). I should've practiced first on the Wii. :) I've bought the materials to make a "home improvement binder"...I'll post pictures once I actually get it started. I've also been getting started on my online teaching job....I had four students enroll on Monday, and so far, one of them has done one assignment. I was wondering how quickly high school students jump into starting their online classes...I guess that's my answer!
Today is Shawn's last day of work before vacation! We leave first thing Monday morning for Hawaii! :)
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
That's definitely not the case today, though! It's currently 10:30 in the morning, and if I didn't know that the calendar still says August, I would tell you that it feels like October. Or maybe November. I just took this picture from our porch:
Monday, August 24, 2009
On Sunday, we decided to get up a bit earlier than usual to go to an earlier Mass. After church, we headed down to Ballard. Shawn wasn't able to come with us when I took my parents to the Ballard Locks, and he really wanted to see the salmon. Here's a quick science lesson. Salmon are some pretty darn cool fish. Salmon eggs are laid (and therefore hatch) in fresh water. The young salmon spend their first months or so in this fresh water before eventually making their way downstream and into the salt water of the ocean. I learned yesterday that there are 147 different species in the ocean that depend on salmon as their food source! Only about 1 in every 5000 salmon survive to spawn and lay their own eggs! But here's the really cool part...those salmon out there in the ocean know that when it's time to lay their eggs, they need to get back to the fresh water. So not only do they know that it's time to start swimming upstream....they also know that they need go back to the same fresh water in which they were born! How cool is that?!
So here's where the fish ladder concept comes in. It's already pretty difficult for a fish to swim upstream. But when they suddenly have to make their way through man-made structures like a lock, it's darn near impossible. So at the Ballard Locks (and lots of other places), the engineers have designed fish ladders. They are these sections off to the side of the Locks where fish can "easily" jump from one step to the next. Each step is kind of like a fish tank at a slightly higher altitude. At Ballard, there are 21 steps in the fish ladder, and once the fish gets through it, they've gone from the low level of the (salt water) Puget Sound to the higher level of the (fresh water) Lake Union. At the Ballard Locks, one large "step" of the fish ladder has glass walls so that visitors can watch the salmon that are in there. Here are a couple of the fish we saw yesterday, on their way to the fresh water:
At the Ballard Locks, there's also a really pretty garden area. It has lots of local and exotic plants and flowers. We didn't take the time to go through all of it yesterday, but I wanted to show one specific flower to Shawn that my parents and I saw when we were there. I have no clue what it is (I couldn't find a label), but isn't it unique? I've never seen anything like it:
After the Locks and the fish ladder, we stopped by Cupcake Royale again. Seriously, any visit to Ballard is just not complete without a super yummy cupcake. While there, we decide to wander about a block away...and stumbled onto the Ballard Farmers Market! We didn't know it was there, and it's pretty darn cool. Shawn got himself some organic blackberries. It was a great way to spend a Sunday morning/early afternoon!
Saturday, August 22, 2009
I picked up a copy of this book at the used book store in Friday Harbor last weekend (when we ended up waiting near the Ferry terminal for 6 hours, waiting to get on the boat back to the mainland). It's been on my "to be read" list for awhile now, but I realized when I began reading, that I really hadn't known anything about it. I actually thought it was a relatively new book...so I was surprised to see that it was originally published in 1985!
The story takes place at some point in the not-too-distant future, in what used to be the United States. A revolution has taken place, and society is now completely different. We never actually learn the narrator's real name, although she is known as Offred. In this society, women have very few rights. They are not allowed to read, and all women have been classified into strict categories: Econowives (although this section isn't really explained well), Marthas (basically cooks and housekeepers), Wives ("married" to high ranking officials known as Commanders), and Handmaids. In this society, fertility is extremely valuable, and the Handmaids are given to Commanders whose Wives have been unable to bear children. As the title says, this book is the story of one of these Handmaids.
This is a very well-written book, and it's scary to think that the things that happen in this dystopian society have actually happened (or are happening) to women around the world. It's also scary to see how easily the change in society happened in the book. I'd like to think something like this could never happen in the U.S., but could it?
Friday, August 21, 2009
In house news...after my parents left on Tuesday morning, I was able to go hang out at the house with the realtor. We knew that Lowe's would be delivering our new stove between 11:00 and 1:00...and they actually showed up at 11:15! Also on Tuesday, we received our title report and title insurance information, and we were able to confirm that there are no leins on the property or anything else for us to be worried about. Later that afternoon, I was also able to get things squared away for our homeowners' insurance (and we're going to switch auto insurance, too...so much cheaper than what we've been paying, with better coverage!). We had our appraisal done on Wednesday, and we received the report last night. The valuation is higher than our purchase price, and the appraiser didn't find anything negative to report! It's been sent off to the underwriters, and now both our realtor and our mortgage officer feel very confident that we've cleared all the hurdles and should have smooth sailing from here until closing (knock on wood!).
In work news...I've been busy this week with meetings for my new online teaching job. I've gotten my courses loaded (with no students yet), and I'll be teaching American Lit. I've been told that this is a challenging course (for various reason), but I'm excited to get started. I need to spend more time going through the course more carefully, and I need to read Of Mice and Men (which I've actually never read, but which is required reading for my students this semester). Also, Shawn had a bit of a panic moment yesterday when 5 or 6 engineers at his job were laid off unexpectedly, but he was told by a "higher up" that there are no plans for anymore lay offs (and this guy said that he's heard "nothing but good things" about Shawn...which is good to hear!).
In social news...on Wednesday night, Shawn went over to a friend's house to play video games with the boys on a projection TV. Since the guys were all over there, I invited the girls to come over here. There ended up being six of us that enjoyed ourselves, just hanging out, chatting, eating food, and playing with babies. :)
And now we're heading into the weekend! We're hoping for another good mix of fun, relaxing, and responsibility this weekend, too. Maybe we should go pick out paint colors for the new house......
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
I won this book through the Goodreads First Reads program. I was intrigued by the title, as I've been wanting to learn more about John Paul II's Theology of the Body. That being said, for whatever reason, it took me forever to read this book!
JPII's Theology of the Body is actually from a series of talks that the Pope gave during his Wednesday audiences over a period of a few years. It's basically a series of teachings that shows the holiness of God's design of the male and female body, as the Bible tells us that we are "made in the image of God." This book explains the concepts of JPII's teachings. There is a definite emphasis on sex within marriage, although the book does discuss what these teachings mean for those who are single or who are consecrated virgins.
Truth be told, I would give this book 2.5 stars. I really wanted to love it, but I had trouble getting into it. I was hoping that the book would be very easily understood by a layman (like me), but I felt like it ventured into philosophical language a bit too much. There were times when the reading got too heavy, and I found myself feeling determined to just plow through it (instead of soaking it in and enjoying it).
I have read a couple other reviews on Goodreads that lead me to include one other "warning" here. If you choose to read this book, you need to understand that it is absolutely Catholic teaching. There shouldn't be anything offensive in the book (it doesn't disparage those of other faiths in any way); however, if you're not Catholic, you may find yourself disagreeing with certain aspects of the book. Please understand, again, that the author is simply discussing the teaching of John Paul II...and those teachings are 100% Catholic.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
On Saturday, Shawn and I had planned on taking my parents downtown. However, we had to make a stop first. We went shopping for our stove! We spent the morning doing that, and then we came home for lunch. The plan for the afternoon was to go to the Seattle Aquarium, followed by the Pike Market. However, the traffic getting into the city was insane! It literally took us over an hour and a half to get to the Aquarium. There were apparently a few issues going on. First of all, it was a gorgeous, sunny summer day in Seattle. Second, it was a Saturday. Third, it was HempFest. Yep...you read that right. HempFest. I never would have guessed that a festival dedicated to all things hemp (aka - marijuana) would've drawn such huge crowds, but it apparently does! The Aquarium itself was also pretty crowded, but we had a good time anyways. My parents really liked it, which was the whole point of going! Unfortunately, because of all the traffic and the crowds, we decided to skip the Pike Market. Instead, we just headed back up north towards home and went out to dinner at Boston's, one of our favorite restaurants.
On Sunday, we decided to head up to the San Juan Islands. Shawn and I have been up here a few times...we've explored San Juan Island (and Friday Harbor), we've gone kayaking near Anacortes, and we went whale watching here last year. The four of us left at 8:45 for the drive to Anacortes. We got there around 10:00 to get in line for the ferry that was scheduled to depart at 11:05. Getting out to Friday Harbor took us just over an hour, since this particular boat didn't stop at any other islands on the way out. Once on the island, we had lunch overlooking the water. Then we basically just drove around, looking at the scenery and stopping at a few historic sites. (This island was occupied by both American and British troops in the 1860s.) We got to the ferry terminal at 4:00, hoping to get on the 5:00 ferry. To his credit, the guy who was directing traffic didn't laugh at us too loudly. When we told him we wanted the 5:00 ferry, he quickly said that they've already "suspended parking" for the 6:55 boat! We should come back at 6:00 and see if we could get on that one. So we got some ice cream and Mom and I each bought a book at a used bookstore. As soon as they opened the parking for the 6:55 sailing, we got in line...and were #24 in the overflow line! They loaded the cars on the 6:55 ferry, and we didn't make it. The good news is that we were number 10 or so in line for the next sailing....at 10:00pm. So we all got dinner and found ways to kill time, and at 10:00, we were finally sailing towards the mainland. By the time we finally got back to Anacortes and then drove back home, it was almost 2:00am.
My poor parents were exhausted after this weekend! The original plan was to head back downtown on Monday and do a few more touristy things (Underground Tour, Space Needle, Pioneer Square, Pike Market). But my parents chose instead to just hang around the apartment and relax. So that's what we did on Monday! This morning we all (minus Shawn) were up at 4:30 Tuesday morning, and we left for the airport at 5:30. The nice thing about this...the traffic to the airport was actually pretty light. :-)
It was really nice to have my parents here! And hopefully the next time they come, they'll get to stay with us in our new house!
On Thursday, we had our inspection in the afternoon. But before that, I took my parents up to the Boeing Factory. They went through the Future of Flight museum (while I ran a quick errand), and then my mom and I went on the Factory Tour. The factory is the largest building (by volume) in the world, and it's pretty impressive. This is where they make a lot of the Boeing jets, and it was fun to see them in the various stages of assembly. We saw the first ever Boeing 747-8 (which is a 747 converted to a freight plane), and we also saw some of the new 787s.
On Friday, while Shawn was at work, my parents and I drove all over. I took them out to West Seattle and we ate fish n' chips at Alki Beach. Then we drove over to Ballard. We went to the Ballard Locks, and we were able to watch quite a few boats go through them. The main reason I took them there, though, was for the fish ladder. When salmon spawn, they go upstream to the place where they were born. Because the Locks have been built, the salmon can't get back, so a fish ladder has been built. You'll find these in lots of places in this area, but the Locks have one of the ladder sections glassed in. We saw a number of HUGE salmon in the ladder! It was pretty cool. My dad also really liked the gardens here. When we were done at the Locks. Of course, no visit to Ballard is complete without a visit to Cupcake Royale, so we stopped there before heading home. Friday night, we all headed back downtown to watch the Mariners/Yankees game.
Hm. As I'm typing this, I've realized that this is getting to be a huge post, and I still have 3 days of my parents' visit. I think I'll end this one here, and I'll write another one later. :-)
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
First of all, for the most part...we love our yard. Someone has taken pretty good care of the front yard, with nice green grass and some extra landscaping. We'd like to continue what's already there, and hopefully also add in some extra bushes or something in the spring. In the backyard, we do have one gigantic tree. In the picture below, you can see maybe 1/4 of the tree. It's definitely Shawn's favorite part of the backyard. We know that it's some kind of maple with gigantic leaves...I'm guessing that once upon a time, it may have been about 10 or 15 small trees planted really close together. Whatever the case, all of the trunks have pretty much morphed together. We're going to need to invest in a couple really sturdy rakes!
The rest of the backyard will need a little work, but it's still pretty nice. A few of the fence slats will need to be replaced, and there's a large area that will need something...grass or a stone patio or a garden or some combination of things. It's where we think the previous owners had a large playset for their kids.
We realized last week (after googling the name of the neighborhood) that our development has a pretty well established Home Owners' Association. That made me nervous at first, but then we realized that the annual dues are very reasonable, and the covenant seemed pretty reasonable, too. One thing that I like about the area is that we are, in fact, in a development, but it's not one of those cookie-cutter places. There's a variety of housing looks, and the yards are big with lots of tall trees and older growth bushes and landscaping.
Our favorite thing (so far) about the neighborhood is what the HOA does with the dues. There are a number of "common areas" for everyone to use, like a couple playfields, a soccer field, a playground, and what I assume could be a sledding hill in the winter (during the few times it might actually snow). What we love about this is that there is an actual trail system that connects all these areas! When you're on the trail, there's enough trees and other "natural" things that it's easy to forget that you're walking between backyards (and there's still privacy for the homes that back onto the trails). We also found lots of blackberry bushes filled with ripe berries in one of the common fields. :-)
In addition to the actual development itself, what's around it is great. There are two main "entrances" for the neighborhood. We're pretty close to one entrance, and on that end, there's a large, newer Safeway (grocery store) with a gas station. There's also a little shopping area right there that has a few little shops and restaurants and an Applebee's! I love Applebee's. :) Of course, because of this rather large financial obligation we'll soon be saddled with, our monthly "eating out" budget is going to be pretty small. This entrance also has a YMCA that's in the middle of a huge expansion...we just have to decide if it's worth the money to get passes. By the other "entrance" of the neighborhood, there's a little shopping area that has a take-n-bake pizza place, a bakery, a burger place, and an Italian restaurant.
So after spending an hour or two in our new neighborhood, we're getting more excited for the move! Now we just need to keep our fingers crossed that everything goes well during the inspection on Thursday!
Friday, August 7, 2009
So...where did these things come from? Why on earth would they have just stopped growing for 3 months, and then randomly, out of nowhere, bloom? Seriously, we didn't even notice the vines growing. Yesterday, there were just peas in that container (with some stunted carrots), and this morning there are 3 flowers! If you have an explanation for this, feel free to share!
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Today, our realtor sent us some more listings, and while we we knew that we still had our offer out there on the second house, we decided to start looking at some other places. Given the fact that this other house is also bank-owned, and given the fact that we knew that there were at least seven other offers submitted besides ours, we weren't going to hold our breath waiting for this one, either. I was intrigued by a couple of the listings that our realtor had sent, and I had sent her a couple questions.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Yesterday, after talking with our realtor, we decided to go look at a few more houses. One was actually a short sale (which wasn't mentioned on the listing...darn sneaky realtors!). We looked at it anyways, even though we're not really interested in going that route because of our time frame, and it was...interesting. The kitchen was beautiful! I would love that kitchen someday. But these people literally took over most of the original "living room" space when they redid the kitchen. Then they turned most of the one-car garage into a living room. But they left the garage door on, and part of the original garage is still there for storage space behind the drywall of the living room. So bizarre.
Another house we looked at was owner occupied, and it was just extremely outdated. We would've had to update lots of stuff, including some wall and ceiling repair in the lower level.
And the third house we looked at was another bank owned. There's great curb appeal and a big backyard with a deck. There will eventually need to be some updates, but nothing that would have to be done before moving in...except installing appliances. So...we put out another offer! We talked about it with our realtor for quite awhile, and again, if the bank takes our offer, it's just a good financial deal.
Going back to the original house we put an offer on, we finally heard back from the bank today. They've decided not to accept ANY of the offers they received! Instead, they want any interested parties to re-offer, and they officially changed the "listing". Basically, they're now offering to list for the original listing price but without doing any repairs, or they'll list it for quite a bit more but include some repairs. Shawn and I will need to talk about what we want to do on this one. I know that we like the place, but I'm pretty sure we'd need to up our offer by a pretty decent chunk. Like I said, we just need to talk about it. But if we're going to put another offer on it, we have to do it tonight so that our realtor can submit it first thing in the morning...because that's the new "cut off" for offers.
So...that's where we are right now. We need to decide if we want to put another offer on house #1, and I don't know when we might hear back about house #2. In the meantime...we're about to head out to drive by a place or two. Who knows...maybe we'll put an offer on house #3 soon! (Ugh...this doesn't seem to be the way these things go on House Hunters.)
Monday, August 3, 2009
1.) Maybe buying a house! We should hear today whether our offer has been accepted by the bank. I'll be honest....my gut feeling right now is that we won't get it. We learned on Saturday that the bank received NINE offers on this house!! I guess that should make us feel good that there were at least 8 other people who also thought it was a good financial decision. :) If our offer is accepted, then that means that we need to start the process of inspection, appraisal, etc. If our offer isn't accepted, then we get to go look at more houses...and hopefully find another one to put an offer on!
2.) My new job technically starts today. At least, my online training for my new online teaching job starts today. I checked last night, and I do have access to the class. There was some confusion late last week about my references, but I was told that I couldn't start the training if they couldn't track down my references....so it seems to have been taken care of! The training is scheduled to last two weeks, and I actually get paid for up to 10 hours a week...so I guess I should plan on spending two hours a day doing it? I'm not sure yet when my actual teaching will start. It should be sometime in late August or early September. (I'm hoping for September 8th or later because of #4 on my list here.)
3.) My parents are coming for a visit! Mom and Dad arrive next Wednesday afternoon and will be here for a week. Fortunately, they mentioned months ago that they'd be interested in going to look at houses with us if the timing worked out, so they may get their wish! Or they'll be able to see the "before" state of the house if our offer is accepted. :) We'll also get to do more "touristy" stuff with them since the only other time they've been to Washington is when they were here for a quick visit over Thanksgiving. Of course, that also means that I've got lots of cleaning and preparing to do before they get here!
4.) Hawaii!!! We leave for Hawaii in 4 weeks. 28 days. Yes, I realize that most of our Hawaii trip will take place in September, but we do leave for (and will arrive in) Maui on August 31, so it counts. :) Besides, any pre-trip prep will obviously need to be done in August.
So...yeah. I think we have enough "stuff" going on to keep us busy during the next month! Hopefully that also means that I'll have some interesting things to blog about! :)
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Yeah...let me back up a minute. Shawn and I decided that once we got back from our travels this summer, we'd start looking into the idea of buying a home. We met with a realtor that some friends highly recommended, and then we talked with a couple mortgage brokers that she recommended. It took us about two weeks to discuss things with each other (and with Shawn's mom, who's a realtor in Denver) before we decided to let the realtor know that we'd like to work with her and that we were ready to start looking at houses.
On Wednesday, our realtor, Grace, emailed us a couple listings that were in our price range, and we decided to go look at one of them. That evening, Shawn and I drove over to the one that really intrigued us, and we confirmed that it's in a pretty ideal location for us. (Basically, it's close enough to where we live now that Shawn could still ride his bike to work.) When we did our drive-by, we noticed that there were 3 or 4 other people/couples looking at the house. This made me wonder...if we end up liking this house, how quickly will we need to move on it? It seems like a really great deal on paper, and there is obviously a pretty decent amount of interest being shown on this house.
On Thursday, Shawn emailed Grace to ask her that question...and she called him back pretty quickly. She said that she found out that there were already multiple offers on the house, and that the bank had decided to only accept offers until 9:00 that night (it's a bank-owned house). So about an hour later, we met her at the house to take a look around! After looking through it and asking Grace lots of questions, Shawn and I went to a restaurant to get a snack and talk it over. And we decided to go for it! So we called Grace, and she met us at the restaurant with all the paperwork, and we put in what Grace thought was a "strong offer." Wow!
On Friday afternoon, Grace let us know that our offer was definitely in on time, and the listing agent said that at this point, it's up to the bank to decide which offer has terms that they like best...but we're definitely contenders! Unfortunately, they won't let us know anything until sometime on Monday.
So yeah.......we literally have put an offer on the first house we looked at! When we were talking about, we basically decided that it is a pretty darn good financial deal, and although we're offering more than what we had originally intended to spend, we can make it work. There's also LOTS of work that will need to be done on this house...so if we get it, feel free to come visit and help us out! :-) But overall, our main thought is this......if it's God's will for us to get this house, then the bank will accept our offer. If God has something else in mind for us, then we won't get this one. Not a really big deal.
So that's the latest news on our end! We spent the afternoon today wandering through Lowe's, just getting an idea of how much certain things cost (like flooring, kitchen cabinets, countertops, bathroom vanities, tub surrounds, overhead lighting, paint...you know, the basics). I'll let you know when we find something out!