Sunday, January 31, 2010

Real Estate Trials

Richard and I have lived in our condo for just over 2 years. When we purchased this place, the bank approval was based on my income alone, and we didn't have intentions of having kids so soon. Now that Richard has a steady income and we have a kid... yeah, space, an extra room, and a yard would be great. Also, our property taxes raised drastically and our HOA fees increased, so we are paying a significant amount more than when we first moved in.

We put the condo on the market almost 5 months ago. In that time, we've only had 2 people come in to look at the place! The neighborhood is okay and we're on the 2nd floor (added safety & security). We've done a lot of work (painted all rooms, added ceiling fans to bedrooms & living room, removed popcorn from main rooms' ceilings, the carpet is 2 years old, and completely remodeled the bathroom) and we get compliments from visitors all the time. We are priced around the same as comparable condos and we're listed through a large company. So, what is the problem? Well, with all of the crap that happened with the real estate companies, forclosures, bank bail-outs, and etc, the regulations have changed. It is harder for people to get approved for loans on condos!

We've been pre-approved for another mortgage and if we don't sell the condo, we have to have 6 months of payments in the bank (do-able) and the down payment for a new house (also do-able). We'd also have to have tenants with a 2-year lease AND receive enough rent to cover the mortgage and HOA fees (not likely). We can afford these payments ourselves, but it really is just too much for this place! Especially when you crunch the numbers and realize that if somebody bought the condo for our asking price, their mortgage payment would would be about 1/3 less than what we're paying!

The worst (or best) part is that there are SO MANY awesome houses in nice neighborhoods--that we could actually afford! If it weren't for us being stuck in this condo, we could be looking at 3-4 bedroom houses with 2 car garages and nice yards! I don't even want to look, though, because it would be hard to find something that I really love and not have all of our other "ducks in a row." Now we're starting to look at other options... so, hopefully we'll be able to figure something out soon.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Making Sacrifices

When you come to a point where you must decide which sacrifices are worth it, how do you know which is the right choice? Here's where I'm going with this: Richard has an opportunity to take a job closer to home (in Rio Rancho). But, if he takes it, he will also take a major pay cut. At his current out-of-town job he makes an hourly wage PLUS per diem (which cover living expenses with lots of surplus). The job in Abq would be the same hourly rate without the per diem. Also, he may be cut back up to 8hrs each week.

If he takes the job, he will be back home with us. He'll be able to spend all week with his family and see all the "little moments" in Isabella's growing up.

Being away all week is hard, but now is probably the best time because Isabella is young enough to not realize or be too deeply affected by her daddy being gone. It is obvious that she loves him and she gets so excited to see him the morning after he gets home! But, she doesn't wander the house all week looking for him--like he's "missing."

So, is it worth the sacrifice of missing out on the day-in day-out of her baby-hood to save up more money and get ourselves in a better financial situation. Or, will we regret all this time that he's missing out and wish that we had done thing differently? It's not necessarily a choice between work/money and family/Isabella, because he does spend the weekends with us and we make enough money to cover bills and still have fun (either way).

I think we're leaning towards temporarily postponing the move back, to try to put more money aside in savings. And, by the end of the summer, he'll be ready to come home (1 year after starting the job). Any thoughts, opinions, stories of your own?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sick Baby

Came home early to take care of a sick baby... again. The poor girl had a fever of 101.2 at daycare which meant I had to pick her up early AND she can't go into daycare tomorrow, either. I'm so fortunate to have family nearby. My sister is spending the night tonight and will stay home with her tomorrow. I'll still have to come home early, but at least I won't have to take a whole day off. It's not really a big deal to take off a day, except that I only have about 3 days worth of leave and I am essentially a single parent from Monday through Friday.

She had been doing so good and hadn't been sick since early December. Before that, she went back and forth between colds, ear infections, diarrhea, and the flu for 4 months! During those 4 months, we were a tthe doctor's office every 2-3 weeks! Of course, she is a "daycare baby," so it's bound to happen (and probably a good thing for the building of a strong immune system), but I really hate for her to be sick.

Here's to hoping she gets a good night sleep, gets enough vitamin C, and feels better SOON! Goodnight.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

You and me, baby

This week will mark 7 months since Richard started his out-of-town job. His previous employer was hit hard with the recession and had to cut almost 90% of their employees. Richard had only been there 6 months, so we were fortunate that they didn't cut him sooner. But, it was an unbelievable feeling when he called me at lunch on a Friday to tell me that he was "already home." He had gone in to work at 7, like usual, helped with some odd jobs around the office, and was told "we're sorry to do this, but you're going to have to go home." All this 3 months after Miss Isabella was born, and 3 weeks after I started back at work (added expense of full-time daycare)! Fortunately, Richard still had his business license to continue "The Handyman" jobs. That kept him busy for 4 months while he applied for new jobs and finally found his way to the Electrical Union. Since he was new to the Union, he tested into a job and scored an 8 (on a 1-8 scale)! The only thing higher than an 8 is Journeyman (and you have to have so many hours of experience before you can even take that test)! Awesome achievement for Richard, but a bit of hinderance on the job front: Level 8 positions are hard to come by. The best idea we could come up with was for him to take a job out-of-town. So he took the job. It is in a town at the far southeast corner of the state and almost 6 hours driving.

When Richard first left, we didn't see him for 3 weeks, then 2 weeks! Then we met him in Mississippi for a mini-family vacation of 10 days. For a few more months, he would come home every 2 weeks. By October, he started Union classes and has to be home every weekend, so he gets home late Thursday/early Friday and goes back south late Sunday. Now, he also has classes every other Saturday, so some weekends, we only see him for a few hours Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.

It's tough. He misses out on a lot of Isabella's firsts (I take lots of pictures & videos) and we have to carefully plan out weekends when we want to do things as a family. I have also made major adjustments to my daily routine and had to figure out how to work things out with just me and the baby. I'm still working full-time, the baby goes to daycare, and I get a hot meal on the table every night. Some days (weeks) take every ounce of energy, patience, and prayer that I have just to drag through. Some days I have to pinch myself to know that this amazing life is mine--this precious girl, caring and supportive husband, and all the other blessings that get me through the day.

I never imagined life like this: Me home alone with a baby all week, getting up for midnight feedings, changing never-ending diapers, making decisions based only on my best judgments. Richard, 6 hours away, in an apartment with 3 other guys, doing his own grocery shopping, laundry, and housecleaning. But, we're making it work. Eventually our situation will change. He'll do the Journeman thing, the recession will ease, Isabella will become self-sufficient, and we'll adjust. In the meantime, we'll "keep on keepin' on." This is my family, this is my life.

Monday, January 11, 2010

So Many Movies!

How come I never knew the wonders of Netflix before now? Over the past 4 months since I became a member, I have rented 22 movies and watched 19 of them. I currently have 2 waiting to be watched and 1 that I lost(!) and had to pay for. Wow. For years, we had been loyal Blockbuster customers. However, a few months ago we drove by our neighborhood rental store to find that it was closed. No warning, no signs, nothing; just lights off and the sign gone! (Maybe they had too many robberies and decided this location wasn't worth the risk?) After some griping during my lunchbreak, several of my co-workers suggested Netflix. They even brought in a bunch of "free trial" cards! So, I went online and signed up. 1 month Free (you don't even need the card to get that).

I was so caught up in the excitement that I didn't even know what movies to pick. My first 2: "Coraline" and "I love you, man." Interesting combination, I know. Both earned a "2 star" rating from me. In fact, I was a little traumatized by "Coraline" and had very weird dreams for a few nights!

I've gotten better with picking my movies (and moving the ones I'm actually excited about to the top). My current queue is a list of 45 (and I plan to add more tonight). I signed up for the 2-at-a-time option, thank goodness. So, if both movies arrive and I know Richard wouldn't be interested in watching one of them, I can watch it myself, send it out, and have another arrive within a few days! No late fees, watch at my convenience, and I don't even have to leave the house (just check the mail). Did I already say it: wow!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Starting Over

Today I will attempt to restart my life as a blogger. Things were so hectic for so long, and nevermind my best intentions, I could never get back in the swing of things with this blog. Now that the baby is on a schedule, work is on track, Richard is out of town all week, and I have a handy new laptop... I have no more excuses.

I already have lots of stories in mind, so hopefully I'll be able to keep you entertained, interested, and coming back for more! I'll try to avoid becoming a "mama blog" and mix it up with a little workplace drama, trials in my new-found kitchen, splash in some real estate, and top it off with all the random thoughts and dreams that I deem fit for publishing.

I hope you'll come back soon. And don't forget to leave a comment; that's the only way I'll know who's hanging around and which topics you enjoy or hate.

For now, I'll leave you with this:

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