Saturday, March 22, 2014

Happy 3rd Birthday, Mick!

Happy Birthday to my sweet little Mick!

And to my cool dude...

And to my little foodie and train-lover...

To my playful...

 and mischievous little one :)

We love you so!

I love you when you're happy.
I love you when you're sad.
I love you when you're stinky.
And even when you're mad.
I love you all of the time.

And a special Mick verse:

We love you when you're a kitty cat,
We love you when you're an owl.
We love you when you're an otter.
And whether you say hoo or meow.
We love you all of the time.

Mick is 3!

Mick had a wonderful birthday week!

On the morning of his birthday, he woke up to new Lego presents - a bucket truck and a backhoe.

I met him at his school for lunch that day. He was excited to me see me and as soon as he saw me, he remembered why I was there and exclaimed, "It's my birthday!"

That evening Mick made his first trip to Amelie's for a special treat.

The following Saturday was the real fun - the birthday party at Midwood Park!

We were so lucky the weather was just right. The sun and warmth came out for the day of his party, breaking a few days of cold, gray weather.

Mick was so wonderfully happy at his birthday party and was all smiles.

Mick was so happy to see each of his friends arrive.  He would shout "It's my birthday!" at them as they approached the pavilion :)

I love this proud and happy little smile as he welcomes Rebecca to the party.

The party was made special by...


(who made rainbow cupcakes for Mick which were the highlight of the party!)



And did I mention cupcakes?

It was a lovely morning, and it was then followed by Aunt Tricia's 50th (surprise!) birthday party.

Happy Birthday Aunt Pat!

One of my earliest significant memories is one with my Aunt Tricia: the day of my first sibling's birth when I was 4 years old. There was magic and excitement in the air because of the occasion, but also because of the special outing with "Aunt Pissa." I remember walking through the mall with you, seeing a movie, and feeling very spoiled by a new stuffed animal. It was a magical day for a 4 year old!

At age 9, of course I remember the fun sleepover and what seemed like an epic bike ride through Leesburg!


Throughout my childhood, you have contributed to many special memories for me individually and our family. And I am so grateful that so many of our family memories were captured by you in photographs!

At age 26, I was so happy my mom's sister was there huddled in the corner of the room with my own sisters when my first child was born. Thankfully no pictures were taken at that event and only of Killian once he arrived :)

Becoming a mom myself has made watching your boys grow up and reach milestones bittersweet, as I witness how quickly it seems they go from little boys to young men. I remember the excitement of Aunt Tricia expecting her first baby, and Mike meeting Patrick when he was a baby. It has been wonderful to see your beautiful family grow.


I am so grateful that you and your boys live close, so that my boys will have an Aunt Tricia in their lives too!

We love you, Aunt Tricia! Happy Birthday!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Should we stay or should we go? (Gridlock between spreadsheets & warm fuzzies)

Should we stay and add onto our house or rent our house and buy (or rent) a new one in NoDa? 

Why do anything? (The pain points)

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, well, we have some heart defects. We tried a shunt (taking down the cabinets), but I think we need a new heart. There is a severe lack of flow in the kitchen.  We can barely sit our family of 4 without asking someone to move their butt/elbow/chair to so we can reach the counterspace/silverware/shared pantry and laundry area.

Visually our kitchen is doing better now that the top cabinets are down and replaced with open shelving but out kitchen still feels very cavelike. 

This is more what we have in mind. Living space off of the kitchen and room for a big-ass table. More counterspace for the two cooks in the kitchen.

The kitchen is the main driver of making a move or addition. It would also be really nice to have another bedroom. We have no plans to add to our family any time soon, but it would be nice to have to have an extra room for guests (and aunts that may want to stay with us for a summer :) ).  The boys currently share a room (or their stuff shares a room), and our 3rd bedroom is used as my office and extra playroom/arts and crafts area for the kids. 

We have done spreadsheets, but there are really 3 main areas of consideration for each scenario we can identify: financial, hassle, and location/warm fuzzies. Below are the pros of the two options. What am I missing?  

Turn Yadkin into a rental and buy a new house:
Turning Yadkin into a rental is a financial no-brainer. NoDa has a strong rental market. The rent would cover our mortgage, so we would have no negative monthly cash flow, and somebody pays off our mortgage for us. Free money.  (Assuming we don't re-finance to a 15-year or overpay the mortgage, in 28 years, we have $300k+ equity.)

If we move, there is a hassle of packing, setting up shop at a new place, and finding renters. However, I think this hassle would be MUCH less than the hassle of 6 months of construction on our house, not having a kitchen for some time, construction permits, etc.

location/warm fuzzies
Will we have the same warm fuzzies about a new place as we do about Yadkin (documented below)? If we find something we like enough to put an offer on it, probably?

Renovation & Addition:
Renovation loans do not require a downpayment like buying a house. The equity we have in our house (thanks to the value shooting up significantly since we bought 2 years ago) counts as our downpayment, as far as banks are concerned.  We would not have to say goodbye to the cash reserves we've saved since the last move. (A short-term save... not sure how I can compare to the long-term investment of someone paying off our mortgage though.)

We could build a 4 bedroom (plan to put a master suite above kitchen bump-out) for the cost of buying a 3 bedroom in the neighborhood.  We flat-out can not afford to buy a 4 bedroom house in NoDa - you won't find one for under $400k. We could add it to our house for less and probably instantly have about $50k equity (difference between new loan balance with renovation and what a 4 bedroom is worth in NoDa).

If we moved, we would only be gaining more square footage and kitchen space of a 3 bedroom house, since we could not afford to move to a 4 bedroom.

We are familiar with the hassles of moving, but don't really know what to expect with a renovation. I am expecting the unexpected and for it to be somewhat painful/annoying for a several months while the work is being done.

location/warm fuzzies
We freakin' love our lot for too many reasons to list. It is objectively, the best lot in NoDa :)  The backyard. Tearing down that ugly shed would really make it magnificent.

I freakin' love the sun and light. If I'm not going to be in a high-rise condo, my house needs some good sun. I love that our backyard gets sun in the afternoon. Where we plan to add an eating area off the kitchen would be the recipient of warm afternoon and summer evening light. I would love to be able to gather in a sun-filled room in the afternoons and evenings.

Killian is able (and soon Killian and Mick for the next 6-7 years) are able to walk or scoot to school without crossing any major roads. (If we moved, we might move to 37th Street - a cute street, but you'd have to cross a busy road to get to school, the parks, the Y, restaurants, etc.)

We are a hop and a skip to the future light rail stop, the Y, etc.

Our street is just happy. Our passerbys are happy joggers and dog walkers. Our street has very few break-ins compared to other streets in NoDa due to its exact location and proximity within the neighborhood.  Like I said, perfect lot.  We could buy a beautiful new construction house on the outskirts of the neighborhood, but it wouldn't be a quick walk to many things, we'd have no backyard, and have to worry more about break-ins.


So. The financial analyst in me who makes decisions off of spreadsheets tells me to, "DUH, Move. Have someone pay your Yadkin mortgage for you. There are up front costs to moving and owning another property, but in the long-run, what a great payoff."

The other part of me that makes decisions based on warm fuzzies tells me we will not be able to find another house or lot in NoDa that has the sun just where we want it, and the school, the Y, the park, and roads just where we want them too.

I'm sure we could eventually find a great 3 bedroom house on a nice lot, with just a little more space than what we have now, but we would be paying the same monthly payment as if we renovated and added a 4th bedroom.

We are totally gridlocked between spreadsheets and warm fuzzies.

Thoughts, suggestions, feedback, ideas welcome.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Tonight Killian told me, as I tucked him in, "I want to be a kid forever, and I want you to be a grown-up forever, and we'll never get old."

And then I left his bedroom and a few minutes later, came across this essay that made me tear up and described everything I have been feeling lately about parenthood and my relationship with my kids and family.

" This abstract performance art called Family Life is our one run at the ultimate improv…our chance to be great for someone, to give another person everything they need to be happy. Ours to apologize for, to try again for, to get a little more right next time for. Ours to watch disappear into their next self—toddler to tike, tween to teen—ours to drop off somewhere and miss forever."