House Update, and more Disney than you care to read

I just LOVE that you guys are so ENCOURAGING about what is, I've decided, an Officially Bat@*#$ Crazy Idea! YOU ARE SO CUTE! Well, all of you except my friend Dan down there who was a major downer. First comment on my website and he's gotta be all DEPRECIATION and MARKET VALUE BLAH BLAH BLAH. 

So yeah. It was this Very! Exciting! Thought! and then I woke up with a huge stomachache and a general sense of what-the-hell-are-we-thinking. How did we go from wanting to buy a fixed up turn-key house to considering rehabbing a super quirky 1921 house on a busy street next to a funky duplex and - I forgot to mention this part - a cemetery? HMMM? That said, we're still waiting on our architect friend to drop by and give us some educated opinions, but after talking to our agent last night (who herself was encouraging while also being completely honest and way helpful) I kind of feel like this sort of project is way out of our sphere. It's not just a kitchen remodel, it'd be a WHOLE HOUSE REMODEL. Did I mention that I'm supposed to have a new baby in October? OH YEAH RIGHT.

Anyway. Agent and I are off to see something like 10 houses tomorrow morning and I have kicked the House Prayer into high gear. 

So now I'm going to write about our trip. Because I need to think about something else. Also: MY WEBSITE. 

Disney! The happiest place on earth! I love it, I just love it and I don't care what you say. I will admit, however, that this trip was harder than the first. Here are the reasons why: 

1. Spring Break. At least I THINK the reason it seemed SO VERY CROWDED (compared to our post-Labor Day trip a year and a half ago) was Spring Break and also (I heard) 3 conventions going on in Anaheim. (The Religious Education Congress was staying in our hotel, as evidenced by the giant "Welcome Religious Education Congress! Happy Hour at 2:30!" sign on the wall.) On our first trip we had a relatively easy time riding every ride we wanted, when we wanted. This time we didn't manage Peter Pan or Dumbo or Alice in Wonderland or the tea cups until three days into the trip, our first chance to arrive way super early, and even THEN Peter Pan was mobbed a half hour into opening. Like, an hour long wait. On our previous trip we felt like we had the run of the park for that first hour, so it was a little frustrating. (I should say that Friday, our last day, felt a lot different. Either the crowds were smaller or we were used to it!) 

2. The Weather. I am not COMPLAINING about the weather, which was mostly in the low seventies/high sixties and SUNSHINEY the entire time. But it was in the fifties when we left the hotel in the morning, fairly warm by the time we headed back to the hotel for naps, and chilly again in the evenings. So I was constantly stressed about what everyone was wearing. I know that's the stupidest thing in the world, but I spent a ton of time deciding what everyone was going to wear and what layers we were going to pack in the stroller and whether they'd be warm/cool enough and... yeah, major source of mental exhaustion for me. Our first trip was easy: shorts! And maybe a sweatshirt if we stayed out late. This time I was not at all sorry I packed everything from down vests to sundresses. 

3. Our Hotel. If this had been our first Disneyland hotel experience it would have been just fine. But I was TOTALLY SPOILED by the HoJo's giant kid suite rooms, their fancy spraypark (which we wouldn't have used anyway, but still) and crazy expensive but fully stocked convenience store. Our hotel, the Anabella, was great - separate room with bunk beds, ANOTHER separate room with a daybed and a TV (great for Molly's nap) - but lacking in space over all, with no microwave, no good breakfast eating space, a window that looked right out on the balcony walkway (motel style) and shades that didn't fully close AND curtains that didn't fully close. So you couldn't open the shades and curtains for sunlight, unless you wanted to give the world a full view, but you couldn't close them either to make it nice and dark at night. Annoying. Obvs not the end of the world, and we sort of liked the walk to Disneyland better from the Anabella than from the HoJo (and I'm sure it was cheaper too, have to look), but I had a hard time not letting a few things bug me. 

4. My Children. On our first trip to Disneyland, Jack was TWO and Molly was ONE. Molly wasn't even WALKING. The first thing we discovered in Disneyland this time is that we had a runner on our hands. After the second or third time Molly disappeared on us, we became super vigilant and adamant about hand holding. They also decided to have Opinions, Jack especially. The first two days we couldn't get him to nap, and he was a TOTAL PILL in the afternoons. He kept asking to go to HAWAII. He wanted to go to the BEACH. Like THAT is a proper vacation. What are we doing in this BEAUTIFUL LAND OF MANUFACTURED JOY?!? I lost my patience a few times, I was tempted to give lectures on being ungrateful, I occasionally wondered why we even BOTHERED. Then the last two days he napped freakishly long in the afternoons and was, of course, an Absolute Delight. Cheered and excited by everything, willing to do whatever, totally happy to BE ALIVE. That's more like it. 

ALL OF THAT SAID. I think we had a pretty awesome time. I feel like we did a lot more. Since the kids were older and also slept till nearly five or six in the evening, we stayed out pretty late which meant we got to see some fireworks and the World of Color fountain show, plus hit up some rides with super short lines before closing. Some of their opinions were fun - last time, no one gave a rip if we saw Mickey or not. NOW it was IMPERATIVE. 

They didn't have any parades this time, which was a total bummer (since that's what the kids loved most last time). But we did get to see World of Color which was pretty spectacular, the fireworks, and a handful of live performances around the park. We also did a handful of not-rides: the dream house inside the Innoventions building was pretty interesting for a couple of computer dorks like Phillip and me, and I have to give five stars to Turtle Talk with Crush in DCA. FREAKING AMAZING. It's "live" animation. Seriously. You are having a conversation with Crush. I have no idea how they do that. 

I guess the other thing that was different was food. I made sure to bring a TON of food with us - peanut butter and cereal and juice boxes - but we ended up just dropping a ton of cash on food in the park. I had to think about this for a while, and I think it's because we had a different schedule. We could stay in the park later, so we ended up buying lunch. Of course I could have brought lunch with us, and I did once or twice, but we always supplemented with something snacky from the park. And we ended up eating dinner there nearly every night. Part of it, of course, is that Phillip and I are totally those people who treat ourselves with food, so we are inclined to be spending way too much on things like mid morning snacks anyway. The good thing is that we'd decided ahead of time that it was okay to spend money, that this was Our Vacation and we weren't going to worry too much. 

And I have to say that was the best part. I napped every day, even when Jack didn't. I slept GREAT. When both kids were sleeping Phillip and I just lazed around, and since the internet connection was so horrible we were forced to interact! It was just SO NICE to do NOTHING and do our nothingness in the same place. Molly wanted nearly nothing to do with me, and was always reaching for Phillip and I was just happy for her that he was around to hold her, you know? And on the last day when we could have stuck it out a little longer and crammed in a few more rides, we were both in agreement about heading home, turning on a DVD for the kids and calling it a night. It was low stress all around. Well, except for what everyone was wearing. I couldn't help that. 

Besides, on the last day we got to hang out with Sydney InsideDog


Jack likes blonds

(Chasing the three kids around Tom Sawyer's Island that morning was an unexpected blast for me. I can't believe we didn't go there on our first trip!)


I like her mom


Molly likes Dumbo

They ALL liked making me sick in the spinning cup

Jack liked the 20-second Heimlich Chew Chew Train ride in DCA, for which we spent an eternity in line (SKIP THIS!)


I THINK they like each other

P.S. If you would like excruciating detail about any aspect of Disney-With-Two-Shorties, I would LOVE to pontificate further. FYI. I had a really hard time finding reviews that fit our type of family, so email if you're interested!

Welcome home, Cheungs!

I know I'm supposed to tell you ALL about our Disney trip and then I could probably write another week of blog posts about moving the kids into one room today and the subsequent disaster area that is my house. But right now all I can think about is that our landlord wants to sell our house, preferably as soon as possible, and I have already eaten all the chocolate. 

Last week sometime the landlord called about bringing an appraiser over. I decided not to think too much into this. Then while we were standing in line for the Storybook Land Canal Boats (cute!) Phillip took a call (not cute!) from the landlord who asked if we were going to be gone long enough for him to install new countertops. UM, YES? Except I was pretty disappointed to come home and see countertops that looked exactly the same, just minus some bubbling and peeling. 

And then today he called to tell us that he wants to put the house on the market. According to Phillip he sounded like he felt pretty bad about springing it on us, and was surprisingly forthright about why - he's losing three thousand dollars a month on his three rental properties and he's afraid of losing HIS house. I suppose I could begrudge him the lack of notice and all that, but the truth is that we're looking to buy anyway and he's been awesome to us so far and dude, it sucks to be losing that much money PER MONTH. Phillip said, "Well, we're looking to buy a house anyway" and the landlord instantly said, "Do you want to buy the house?" and Phillip said, "Well how much are you selling it for?" and while we are not ENTIRELY clear on this, as in, nothing is in writing and he could change his mind and who knows what he'll come back with if we say we want to discuss it further, but he produced a number about the same as what we paid for our townhouse. 

Which... see, this is where my mind gets blown a tiny bit. It is a number so low that it seems incredibly foolish not to say YES WHERE DO I SIGN? The houses we've been looking at are priced significantly higher. Of course, we've been looking at updated four-bedroom houses with over 2000 square feet and this house is... not that. We actually have no idea what the square footage is - maybe 1600? And there are only three bedrooms. And no dining room. And a really old, outdated kitchen. And two bathrooms that could use some remodeling. And slopey floors. And a hideous, unfinished laundry "area". And dingy blue carpet. And ancient windows. On a busy street and right next to an odd-looking duplex building - no fence between us at all. 

Still, it's kind of an amazing price. So amazing that we could definitely do some remodeling. A LOT of remodeling. 

Because we also kind of love this house. We LOVE the neighborhood and how close it is to pretty much everything. The schools are excellent. I'm always thinking about how awesome the backyard would be if I OWNED the house and felt that the work and money would be worth it. It's got a playroom downstairs. It has cool skylights and a wall of windows in the kitchen. I have spent extensive time daydreaming about how I would remodel this house (but never seriously, since I never thought we'd have the option to buy it). It's light, it has character, it has that 1920s craftsman look. We've been really happy here. 

But I never wanted to remodel anything. Phillip and are not DIY types at all. We're not into that kind of thing, have no talent in it, and if we ever attempted a bathroom remodel we'd probably end up getting divorced. That's why we're not looking at houses that need serious work. It's just not an option for us. 

SO WHAT ARE WE THINKING? I'll tell you. First of all, if we buy this house for what the landlord owes, which is the number he gave us when we asked what he'd sell for, we could hire an architect and contractors. We'd still be living in a construction zone, but we wouldn't be doing any of the work ourselves. And the second thing is that I'm really drawn to the idea of making all the decisions. That house I went to see before we went on vacation put a lot of dreams into my head. It was beautiful and modern without being the same old same old you see in every suburban development house. It was creative and beautiful and I really admired the imagination that went into planning it. It TOTALLY EXCITES me that we could have the same opportunity. 

The scariest thing is that we'd want to add at least two bedrooms, and we have no idea if that's even possible. One of the first things I'd want to do if we owned the house is knock out the walls of Jack's former bedroom (now Phillip's office) and make space for a dining room. Which means losing one of the three bedrooms. Which means we'd definitely need more. So we're not just talking a kitchen remodel, we're talking about MAJOR WORK. Additions, build outs (I'd LOVE to bump out the front and create an entry way), who knows what else. 

Our real estate agent is coming over in about 20 minutes because we want her opinion. We want to know if the estimated selling price is as awesome a deal as we think it is. We want to know her opinion about resale value, given the busy street and rental next door. We've also left a message with our architect friend, to see if it's even possible to add on to this house (and if it would bankrupt us). And I think after we talk to those two people we'll have a much better idea of what we want to do. 

Because if we don't buy this place, we're looking to buy a house within the next several weeks. And this makes me ill. 

Let's look at pictures of happy!


Here is what Molly looked like when I finally took that lollipop away:


I seriously have a thousand things to say about this trip (you = on tenterhooks), but right now let's think cheery thoughts for my husband who is stomping around saying things like, "We're RIGHT back where we were a year ago!" and perusing (and CALLING) rental listings. 


Realtor said the only real way to expand is to add a second story, which would most likely blow through our remodel cash pretty quickly. Hmm. Now to talk to the architect...

Quick note before I crash

I'm sitting on my bed, surrounded by my husband's packing mess, trying not to think about waking up at four in the morning and getting on an airplane. I hate both of those things. A lot. 

To relieve the airplane jitters I am thinking about sending Phillip out for an emergency apple fritter. It turns out that I not only want to eat Actual Apples, I need my junk food to taste like apples too.

My appointment this morning was a Grand Success. One little blob, measuring ahead. One fantabulous doctor who blew off the mean nurse and hugged me when she left. 

I have no idea when the kids are going to go to bed. Which is a bummer because I? Could go to bed right now. 

I'll have something up at Parenting later this week, but other than that I'm outta here. Dear Southern California: I will require all of your sunshine.


There is just one moon and one golden sun

I started packing tonight. I figured this was a good idea, seeing as how the kids are staying with grandparents tonight (foisting children off on the grandparents on the first night of daylight savings: BRILLIANCE) and we've already spent a small fortune at Target on snacks, travel-size toiletries, a few extra clothes, and child-size headphones (that was Phillip). Oh, and borrowed my in-laws' brand new suitcases. WHY NOT?!

I've been religiously checking the Anaheim weather and stocking up on cheap little clothes (aka LAYERS), but I'm still sort of baffled as to what we'll actually need when we get there. We're planning on hitting the park in the mornings, coming home for lunch and naps - the hottest part of the day - and going back at night for parades and shows. So... MAYBE we'll need a few pairs of shorts? But it's not really going to be HOT. So also sweatshirts and long pants and maybe a vest when it gets colder? Or a full on jacket? Do we need the full on jacket? I have their rain jackets, if only to get us to OUR airport. I have several different kinds of shoes. And I have extras of every layer because I am not fully convinced we can get through a day without pants-wetting. So I guess what I'm saying is that I'm OVERpacking, partly because I have to and partly because my in-laws bought some pretty giant suitcases. 

As for Phillip and me, we're going light. If only because neither of us has any Disneyland-appropriate clothes. One of us is too fat and the other only owns khaki pants and approximately 573 dress shirts with blue stripes. 

Oh, and going on what I learned last time, I'm bringing most of the food with me. Cereal and peanut butter and snacks. You can buy those things when you get there, but you will need to take out a loan. 

So I THINK everything is going okay. Phillip has a Big Day at work tomorrow, so he's upstairs Stressing, and I am downstairs staring at a couch full of miniature clothes. Except not anymore, I am writing to you about being stressed about miniature clothes. 

BUT NOT REALLY! After we foisted the children we had a really nice afternoon. We decided NOT to look at houses. We decided napping and general Lazing Around was a much better idea, then we took ourselves to Target and dinner at an Indian restaurant and, be still my heart, bubble tea for dessert. 

This does not bode well for tomorrow's First Doctor Appointment. I'll have you know that I totally watched what went into my mouth yesterday and I LOST weight (I HAVE IT TO LOSE) but today there was, well, Indian food and bubble tea. Sigh. I keep telling myself that the nausea = eating will not last forever and the bubble tea was for Impromptu Date Night and also I am going to DISNEYLAND where I will be walking about nine thousand times more than usual. If I don't keel over from exhaustion, that is. We shall see. 

Also, I cannot decide if I'm nervous about this appointment. It's the Heartbeat Appointment, but I feel pretty zen about that. I think I just don't want to GO there and I don't know what ELSE they'll want me to do and whine whine whine. I don't know. I THINK I am zen. I have no reason to NOT be zen. Except for the fact that it's been well established that I am not at all a zen type of person. BAH.