Monthly Archives: May 2007

Rants – Dream Houses

Buying a house is about one thing only, location, i.e. location, location, location. The problem being that the houses we want aren't where we want them or priced like they are where we don't want them. That is why shopping for a house sucks.

My family and I currently live in a modest bungalow in the old part of the suburbs. While I joke that the house is falling apart, it is actually quite sturdy. In fact, my wife and I (with some help) almost have our house just the way we want it. As our family grows, however, we envision our wants changing.

The problem started when I bought the house. I was single and planned on only using the first floor. I had met my future wife only three weeks before I put in an offer on the house but not less than a month after taking possession, we were engaged. It quickly dawned on both of us that I had made a huge mistake; I had bought a house just for me when we should have been buying a house together.

Now we are at a cross-roads. We know we want a larger home for our growing family, but we do not want to bust our budgets paying for it. We want to live a child friendly area. We want a historic home with four bedrooms, original woodwork, built-ins, a 2 car garage, full insulation, a large kitchen, a wrap around porch, and space for a home office. Hence, we are picky.

It is easy to be picky. My wife and I agree that most new homes have crappy floor plans. In new homes, the bedrooms are too close to the living rooms, the master suite is too far from the childrens' rooms, there are too many bathrooms (which get expensive at $10,000 each), and the whole open floor plan means more noise and confusion. Older homes are usually renovated into disasters; split into apartments, garages converted into living spaces, tiny kitchens, and no real repairs. Worse yet, trying to find open land to build on without entering into a restrictive covenant.

This last weekend my wife and I found a

gorgeous old four square. It is located across from a park in a quiet little town a mere 15 minutes from my office. No restrictive covenants, no bad renovations, and a great floor plan. The pictures speak for themselves. We have toured a dozen or so homes and reviewed hundreds (if not thousands) of listings. This is a bona fide find.

The location in a small town not only results in a lower price, it also means less danger. This type of historic home abounds in the big city, but the sorry bastards/gentrification minded heroes who live in the city's historic neighborhoods suffered three shootings over the last weekend. I doubt this little town has ever had a shooting. If we ever move to such a bastion of serenity, I might even forgo my plan to implant little guy with a satellite tracking system.

When I was in third grade, my dream house had a helicopter pad on the roof, a submarine bay, machine gun nests, and its own video game arcade. Cost was not an issue then but it sure the heck is now. My wife ran some numbers on the historic small town home. We could buy it, but there wouldn't much money left for anything else. So we put practicality over the dream and decided to forgo this one of kind beauty.

Our house search did not end in bust. We now know what type of house we want, and we know that a house like it will be available again (with another round of exhaustive searching). It is nice to have a concrete goal to work towards. Maybe we'll be ready next year. Maybe sooner, maybe longer. Until then, we will keep saving and keep dreaming. 

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If little man had blog

If the littlest member of my family had a blog, this is what it might be like. Consider this entire post one huge gratuitous toddler photo.

Baba buka buka – Bus

Abababa dadda dadda bbbbbbddddbbbb aaabbuuuu buka buu ayeyea ayae aeae

bUs

abu abus

BusBuus

buus abuus


bus mama mama mama MAMA MAMA ehheah eah mama mama

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Untimely Reviews – The Aristocrats

If you can see the DVD box art to the left, you can read the select snippets of reviews. Note that "the funniest movie you'll ever see!" is preceded by "might be". This type of deceptive advertising matters little in the home of untimely reviews. I saw this movie on my local TV listing, and decided to record. Having a moment to myself with the living room TV, I gave "The Aristocrats" a watch. For all I knew, the DVD box could have described excrement.

"The Aristocrats" might not be the funniest movie you'll ever see, but could be the funniest documentary about comedy you will ever see. The entire film is a study of one joke as it is told by different comedians. Then the comedians comment to death up on it. The joke is purposefuly dirty, but honestly, I've heard worse. I did laugh when Bob Saget threw out expletives, descriptions of sex, and slang for bowel movements. It was like the first time I saw the cursing children of South Park.

I recommend this movie for anyone bedazzled by the art of comedy, assuming "Punchline" isn't available.

I do not recommend this movie for when you have a bunch of friends over for movie night. For those moments, stick with "The Big Lebowski". Unless of course, it is documentary night.

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Just silly – if raising a child were a video game

If raising little man were a video game, it might be a cross between Tomb Raider and the Sims. These are pictures of little guy at a park by a lake. Throw in a zombie and an UZI, and this would make for some great cover art.
 
Little man is fearless is his exploration, but he refused to walk in the sand.

I don't know if those crates are full of weapons, armor, or health. Too bad little guy didn't have a crow bar to smash them open.

Huzaa to a life of adventure.

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Personal Stories – Goofing off

My wife and I live in a work-in-progress. The list of projects for our home has officially become impossible to accomplish. This last weekend is a perfect example of what goes wrong.

Projects to accomplish: install quarter round, trim bathroom window, hang shelves in my wife's office. We start with the shelves, seemingly the easiest project. My Dad and I buy the materials at Lowe's and return back for the install. My Dad was tired from driving the day before, and takes a nap. My dear wife had hurt her back and she was in no shape to play contractor. My Mom watched little man. Eventually it was time for little man to go to bed and my parents left. Status of project, we screwed a piece of metal to the wall.

Day two: I really wanted to hang these shelves now. My wife's back was better, and she and my Mom helped align metal brackets. My Dad played outside with little man and showed off his "boo-taa" (blue truck). As far as little man is concerned, all taas are boo-taas. We actually succeed installing the metal wall brackets. That was the end of the weekend projects.

We aren't done with the shelves, of course. Upon installation we realized that we could add another shelf at the top. Also, the shelves need to be affixed to the metal brackets, else they could move around. But first, its time for naps.

When little man sleeps, all work stops. One of the problems with older houses is noise transference. From little guy's bedroom, all noise in the house is actually amplified. So when he sleeps, everyone must play ninja, and ninjas do not use power tools.

The picture to the left is the sum total renovation from the entire weekend. The memories of our time together and enjoying each other's company will fade, but those shelves will last forever (and so will the pictures).

Huzaa' to shelves memories.

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Personal Stories – Garage sale gold

Although my wife and I feel like we are in good shape financially, we still love to save money. When we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii, we spent part of the time at my brother's condo, while he was still there. In fact, I knew I had found my fiscal soul mate when we ended up at a more expensive than anticipated restaurant. I said "Jeez, $20 for lunch, these prices are crazy." My wife said, "we could leave." I said, "really?". She replied, "really!". We left and are both richer for it. Hence, following the quick tip of the day, we shy away not from garage sales.

We have been buying little man's clothes at garage sales since before he was born. The thing about baby clothes is that babies do not wear them for long, if at all. We personally have a few outfits that our little guy never wore; he just grew too big too fast. The trick is to find clothes that match size to season, i.e. someone's kid had to have been 18 months in summer, when our little guy will be 18 months, for us to find shorts and t-shirts in his size.

The picture on the left displays all the clothes priced from a quarter to a dollar that my wife picked up last Friday morning. The picture on the right is from Saturday morning. Below is a sampling of toys from one weekend. The construction vehicle can talk and move its head, but it still sells for only a couple of bucks. We have amassed a large collection of sale toys, all lovingly cleaned for cooties by my sweet wife.

We definitely appreciate everyone who buys these things new and we also buy new things now and then. There are some toys, books, and clothes that are just too tempting to pass up, and we cannot always count on a used version showing up at the next family sale.

Garage sales are not limited to baby either. Our favorite furniture pieces are refinished garage sale fodder and we are always on the lookout for quality Corningware(R). Cheapness is as cheapness does.

Huzaa to garage sales!

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Quick Tip – Cheaper is Cheaper

The less expensive an item is, the less it costs to buy. In other words, buying new is for suckers.

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