Party Hard / Finding Home

Another exhausting weekend.

We celebrated Ansel’s birthday with a joint party at a friends house. These friends, two of four we had when we moved, have a daughter who is just 3 days younger than Ansel, and we’ve been spending a lot of time with them lately, so it made sense to share the expense and energy of throwing a party. Plus, you know, we don’t really know enough people to justify having a party of our own so . . .sharing guest lists was a nice idea, too.

Initially, we talked about renting a party room at a toddler gym/jumpy place/whatever and investigated that idea. It was . . .ok, but felt like a lot of money to have a little corner of a place carved out where our friends without kids would be bored and the parents of kids would be chasing after their toddlers to make sure they were safe.

Our friends live in a beautiful, super open, high ceilinged town home and called us one night a few weeks back. “We can totally fit a bouncy castle in our living room. do you want to do it?!” An irresistable option, if you ask me! So, we paid less to rent a small bouncy castle/ball pit to put in their living room, bought pizza and veggie trays from Costco, and all got to hang out together in the comfort of their house. More comfortable for adults, for kids, for parents and non-parents. It was fantastic!

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Ansel’s birthday stash grew via mail and party contributions, and he ended up really rounding out his vehicle collection: a recycling truck, rescue boat + helicopter set, sea plane and trolley (a la Daniel Tiger or “Dan” as Ansel calls him), a car garage/filling station,  plus scoring some coloring books, stickers, sundry art supplies, a care bear costume, puzzles and a plush bowling set.

In the last few days, he’s really been into pulling us into playing and directing what we do, telling us how we play with the Daniel Tiger figures or drive the plane or whatever. It’s cute and, you know, a little bossy. But really, I love it and it feels like another developmental shift.

Yesterday, L and I took the day off (A went to the babysitter) to get our taxes done, both because it’s necessary and to be prepped to apply for a mortgage. Today, I reached out to a few lenders to begin the application process. I also checked my credit – something I haven’t really done since we moved and paid off all of our debt – and discovered that an account from the hospital where I delivered Ansel had been sent to collections without anyone notifying me or trying to get payment. It’s about $3k, and I was under the impression that the payment plan I’d set up two years ago covered this bill as well. But, you know how hospitals do – they have a million different bills coming from the facility, the physician, the anesthsiologist . . .so, this bill was from something else that didn’t get rolled into the others and also, somehow, no one tried to get my money before sending it to collections, who also didn’t bother contacting me.

I asked my mom if we would pay the debt off via her credit card and then make the monthly payments to her, rather than pay down the collection agency, which would result in the account staying put during the mortgage application process. The whole thing makes me so angry, since we’ve worked really hard to fix our credit and this totally fell through the cracks. Ugh. Thankfully, this is the only derogatory mark on my credit report and it only shows up on one of the two major credit reports – the other is excellent and hopefully, that counts for something.

We’ve been talking more and more about where we want to live . . .of course, we’ve been looking at real estate in the area since we moved, but as time has crept forward, we’ve had to be more realistic and thoughtful. Based on what I think we will qualify for (looking at my income, how much we want to pay in mortgage, our monthly expenses) we can afford, well, almost nothing in Seattle. I’m not really exaggerating. I am not sure there is a house in the city limits within our budget. There are probably apartments, and maybe townhomes – though, I wouldn’t bet on it. As you travel south, more and more pops up. Just south of the city, we could get a small fixer (for our max budget; no room for a reno budget even if we wanted to do it ourselves), in the city where I work, things start improving.

But you get to Tacoma, and all of a sudden there are renovated craftsman homes, houses that have newer roofs and plumbing, that have most of our list already. And there aren’t just a few. There are a LOT.

When we moved here, we talked about Tacoma. We visited and I liked it, but then we thought . . .do we want to invest time and energy into building a community here in Seattle just to move again? That’s still true, of course, but maybe feels less compelling. And lots of people we know think Tacoma is a good idea; it’s hard not to when you look at the facts.

So, we’ll see. When the broker calls back we might know more about what we can afford, and then we can talk to a realtor and start really digging in to the process. We have four months until our rental lease is up, 5ish until Tiny shows up . . .Clock is ticking.

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3 thoughts on “Party Hard / Finding Home

  1. At least you’d have an awesome commute on rail into Seattle from Tacoma! I love Seattle’s public transit.

    We’re in the same debate – Boulder versus Longmont. We could afford a LOT in Longmont, but we love the convenience of living where we work (Boulder). I don’t think there is a house in Boulder that we could afford on the budget we like (pretty conservative). We’re in a condo for now, but we’ll be facing the same decision as the family grows and a yard looks pretty appealing.

    In other news, how is it only 5 months until Tiny?!?! This pregnancy is flying by from afar!!

  2. We faced some similar real estate issues when we bought our house. Los Angeles is a crazy expensive market, and our budget was incredibly modest (for LA). Although our 67 year old house is perfectly livable, it is definitely a fixer. We’re replacing the roof this year. Hopefully the bathroom next year. Fingers crossed for the floors the year after that… and so on. The location is great for my work, and horrific for Catch’s. She has a monster commute that’s really starting to wear on her. We moved away from our people (houses in our old neighborhood were going for $800,000 to 1 million+), and although we’re not so far away that we can’t visit, it’s a pain and we rarely do. There are many, many days when I regret moving. Many days when I would rather be living in a tiny apartment in our old neighborhood… But really, when it comes down to it, it’s worth it for Charlotte to have our big back yard. It’s worth it to have a guest room for visitors (even if the visitors are usually my in laws!). I love that we have a (tiny) den so the living room can be TV-free. If I had to do it all over again, I would be MUCH less excited about it and I probably would have spent more time wandering our old neighborhood in tears, but I’d still move. Good luck with all of the big decisions to come!

  3. The school district was the main criteria when we were house hunting. I feel like that’s an overlooked and often regretted issue when people look for the home they will raise kids in.

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