Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Hunt Begins

Over the weekend, Ryan and I decided that now is the time to buy a house. The reasons for this decision are these:

1. The $8,000 tax credit will be over in 3 months. Ryan just got a raise, but he probably won't have a salaried position until after that time period. Hence, now is a good time to move on this.

2. We'll go for something quite modest right now... something in which the mortgage payments are less than our current rent. (How cool is it that we can buy a house for essentially less than we're spending on rent? Pretty dang, I think.) This means that when Ryan does get a salary, the extra money can go into savings, or vacations, or house/land improvements that will increase the value of our home when we decide to sell in a few years. This instead of waiting until he does have a salary and we spend as much money as we can on the mortgage payment and have a very nice house but little in the way of anything extra.

3. I'm going a little bit stir crazy in this tiny little apartment without a yard.

So, we're searching. So far, our criteria are these:

1. Small house; lots of dirt. We need to get outside. All three of us do. Cara looks amazed every time we leave the house... because she gets outside at all maybe twice a week. I used to spend 30 hourse of every week outside, and now I get outside maybe -maybe- twice as much as Cara... which is to say that I go get the mail while she's inside taking a nap. Anyway, we want at least 1/4 of a acre, but the more the better to my way of thinking. I grew up on 600+ acres, for goodness' sake!

2. Three bedrooms, two baths. Cara needs her own room, and there's a good possibility that we'll be having at least one more child while we're in this house. Again, the more the better, but we're getting good at making do.

3. Storage space. Be it in a garage or a shed out back, we need someplace to store our extra stuff. We plan on having a lawn, which means a lawnmower. Ryan has a weight set; I want to get a stationary bike. We both love tools, and I have a bunch of tack that we need to put somewhere.

Those are the bare necesities. Of course we'd like other things. A big kitchen. A master bathroom. A dining area that is separate from the kitchen. A living room and a family room. A laundry room. A pantry. More bedrooms. A two-car garage. A tack room. An indoor arena. Well, those last two are more for "someday", but while I'm dreaming...

We're looking for a place that will be no more than a 30 minute drive from Orem. Of course, Orem is where Ryan works now. That location may be changing relatively soon. The company is doing well, and they're looking to expand to a bigger facility. When that happens, they will probably be moving north, close to Lindon. Probably. Nothing is set in stone, of course. Still, it's something to keep in mind.

Anyway, we're seriously considering getting a manufactured home and a piece of land. We found 23.6 acres for $20,000 in Elberta, but the drive was a little too far. If we find just the right house already built, then fantastic. But I'm okay with a little hard work and making sure we have just what we want. Plus, if we have to do all the landscaping ourselves, it will have many many benefits. Exercise. A chance to learn about gardening. We'll all get outside more. All sorts of possibilities.

Then again, having a sprinkler system already put in is nice too...

I'm excited! It's like a game, trying to find a place that will be the best thing for our whole family for the next several years. I'm having fun trying to get it all figured out.

Wish us luck!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Best "Unlikely Toys" List of 09-10

Here they are, folks! The long-awaited list of toys you wouldn't think would be great toys!

In the category of toys that work for ages far younger than you would believe, we have:

Mylar Balloons!

That's right, at 4 months of age, and babies just barely able to grasp things, those strings are fascinating and, when pulled, make the balloons jump. Great fun!

In the category of toys you can't get away from, we have:

Mama's Sweatshirt Strings!

If you're short on money and patience, that's okay. Put on a sweatshirt and hold your little 6 month-old. You may choke a little when the strings are pulled tight, but at least baby's happy!

In the category of toys you never would have thought of as a toy period, we have:

A Toothbrush!

Either in the package or out of it, this little toy is easy to grasp, has fun textures, and provides hours and hours of entertainment, and you can feel very good about going into Baby's mouth.

Stay tuned for more "Unlikely Toys"!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

6 Months!

Happy Half-Birthday, Daughter (as of yesterday...)
So far, she's gone from this:

To this:

She confidently eats mushy food from a spoon, and laughs, and sits up, and is generally very happy with life. We love her so much!