Summer2014

Things are moving fast in Hoggland.  We are in the process of closing on our first home and it is both very simple of a process but at the same time its very complicated– somewhat unnecessarily so, but they do seem to make it seem like it was the people’s fault the banks got into the mess that they did some years ago– they need all these forms and there are all these questions— where did this money come from, why did these people pay you in cash, why were you saving cash outside of a bank– its all so silly in the grand scale of things, but people have to do what they need to in order for us to get permission to pay a bank for the next 30 years and at the end of the day, what protects the consumer from the banks?

Regardless, I think that its a good idea to buy, even though it seems crazy expensive and I could laugh/cry if I think of the size of the place I was spending this kind of money somewhere else, but land value is a funny thing– the odds are pretty good that what will buying will just increase in value– one thing is for sure– rent will certainly increase over the years and I like the idea of having a place that I am free to do what I may.   Even if it does seem to cost us every cent we will earn for a number of years.

I never thought I would be interested in being a homeowner, but I think children turns that rather quickly– giving your family a place where they can spend their formative years– in a consistent sense is important to me– part of what makes me is the way that we moved around so much, so that culture might be important, the perspective of different people, but I think I given the choice, I would have probably preferred one place and then been set free in the world, but who knows.  It is usually the case with people I meet that have only lived in one place their whole life have more of an altered perspective than those who have traveled.  That being said tho– most of the experience with place comes later in life– going away to college, getting that first job in a different city, the ability to know that you can survive in a city on your own is a rewarding thing– not to be taken for granted.  Children almost beg for consistency, especially during those developing and early childhood years.

Owning a property doesn’t necessarily tie you down either– it just puts the roots in the community I want to live in while we are here.  There appears to be a trend here with housing which indicates that investing is a good idea and if we decide to go to Germany for a couple years, we could easily rent the place out and head out.  Which I could see us doing before the kids get settled in school.

When I say kids, there it is.  Number 2 comes just after number 1 turns 3.  That is going to be interesting.  Elliott is a special kid– such a great demeanor to him– and I think pretty smart for his young age– but I think children now have a lot of things at their fingers that we didn’t have– for example, he knows how to find his own shows on this device I am typing on and the iPad and the iPhone– its pretty interesting to see him do it– at 2.5 years– it wasn’t a skill we taught him, but we are on these things a lot– and it does work to keep him calm at times when there is adult talking to be done.  I used to make fun of parents that would bust out the phone to entertain their kids, shaking my head and saying to myself that there was no way I was going to let my kid get away with that.  But here I am today, eating crow as usual.

The summer has been super fun and busy with the preggers wife and the son — it started with a great visit from my in-laws who spent three weeks with us and it was good to take some time off and enjoy it with them.  Soon after they left, we were back on the housing hunt, thinking we wouldn’t be purchasing a piece of property until late in the summer at the earliest, then one day when we were just planning to look at a couple of places in the market to see what was out there, we stumbled upon the kind of thing we were looking for.

–Not a flipped house.  Buying a house that someone just bought and flipped seems cheeseball to me.  Buying a new remodel means you have to accept everything that people did to that house and every house we looked at– we had to gulp at a lot of the things that people did– from the odd sinks to the fake tiling… it reminded me bad Russian stuff you would see in China– No Thanks!

–Updates over the years is fine, just not dreadfully outdated or just shipped from Home Depot.

–Big Yard.  This was huge and this is disappearing with the amount of zero lot housing being developed here.  I wanted something that we could make into our own at this point– I have been gardening a lot lately and its something I enjoy– as a hobby.  I also think it would be cool to plant a tree when the next boy is born– but with my luck, it would die by winter if we planted in October.

So, lots of things to consider as we throw ourselves into this next chapter– exciting, scary and amazing.

Here are some pictures, because no one likes stories without pictures…

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One of the three rooms for the kids.

Another one of the smaller bedrooms

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Walk in closet…

…an example of what needs renovating… The guest bathroom– needs a makeover– but it is functional now– but its little projects like this that tend to skyrocket the asking price for a home– and I would rather do this to what Lili and I want.

View from the Master Bedroom of the yard. Hot tub is located below.

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Seattle Eastside Housing

I have to say that the Seattle market for Real Estate at this point has not impressed me at this point.  I have kept away from purchasing a home for all of my life but when you start to build a family, a home seems a logical step in the pathway.

We have been renting a really nice house in a part of Kirkland that I really like, right at the base of Finn Hill.  It’s a great location for both Lili and I to commute to our jobs, has nice schools and is close to Lake Washington and Puget Sound, 20 minutes from Seattle and my parents.

However, after 2 years, you start to think, I could be paying down a mortgage for the same price I am renting this place for — building equity while home values rise between 6-8% in this market every year– and when the median house in this area is between 350-550k, that’s a pretty significant return on investment.

The only problem with that theory is the market is completely insane.

We have been looking at purchasing for the last month and have all but given up looking in the neighborhood we love so much and have spent the last four years in.  Sure, there are houses for sale here in our price range, but we just don’t see the value in most of them and the overall inventory is super low.  Those that are on the market in our price range, need work.  Who in their right minds would want to pay 400,000 for something you are going to have to fix up to suite your middle class needs?

So we move out a couple miles, right?  Not so fast.  The problem changes the further you go out.  In Bothell, Kenmore, etc. there is a ton of new development going in and most of it is in the price range we are looking at, but the homes are built on zero lots, which means no yard and neighbors you could shake hands with through your window. No Thanks.  I don’t the investment in these types of homes– sure they look great now, but in 10 years, when the cabinets have aged and the tiles are cracked– who is going to want that at that price?

Now I am not knocking you if you have one of these– for me, I just can’t see myself living that close to someone and not having a bit of a lawn to take care of.  Some people just don’t want to take care of a lawn, I get that– but buy a condo!

The mixture of these two elements makes me leery to continue looking, but I know the problem is just going to continue to get worse as time goes on and as people get older and more people move here.  I just didn’t think that there would have to be so much compromise on our part to get us into something where we can start building a future for our developing family.

We just have to keep searching for our diamond in the rough.

The Genius Marketing of the Seattle Seahawks

 

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The marketing of professional sports has reached new heights and the Seattle Seahawks are at the top of the pile.  Today I went down to my local store to see how much the “Conference Championship” T-Shirts would be going for– and I wasn’t surprised to see the $40 price tag for a t-shirt.  Free Market Capitalism at it’s finest.

This has been a long time coming for the Seattle sports fan.  It wasn’t more than a couple of years ago where everything seemed lost in the Seattle sports world.  The Sonics were a long lost cause, The Seahawks with Matt Hasselback was one disapointment from total collapse, the Mariners wallowing in their own self pity.  The most promising team award is split between the WNBA and the Sounders who routinely make it to the playoffs, only to get eliminated by the first round.

In reality, the Seahawks Championship shirts should have been handed out for free to any fan that has stood by the team for so many terrible seasons of purely mediocre sport– sport that was, for me, hard to follow for all those years.  For those of you who suffered through all of those seasons, I salute you.

But what is hard is watching this game through my sons eyes.  My thoughts on this started in the post celebration of last nights sweet victory over our media driven enemy, the San Francisco 49ers.  As we watched Richard Sherman “jaw” Crabtree, I watched my sons reaction to Sherman snarling nostrils and hatred– he was truly frightened.

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The media blitz behind his comments also gave me pause.  All of the trolls of social media took to their computers and smart phones to give their two cents, mostly negative about what transpired.  Erin Andrews even took to defending Shermans actions when reports started to surface she was scared.

Its all theater of epic proportions with supporters shelling out billions to be recognized as part of the team.  The 12th Man is pure marketing genius, putting the fans on the field, giving them their own place not only helps energize the millionaires taking the field, but also fills the coffers with money so they can show their “support”.  It’s pure genius.

My son and I both have jerseys, my wife looks mighty fine in her tight fitting Russell Jersey– we are in!  We are a part of this huge celebration and our pocket books are open for all of it.

The big question is does this team represent the city of Seattle?  Does it really matter?  Do the antics of a sports team reflect on the city itself?  Seattle, being one of the prettiest cities in the country has wanted its place in sports history for some time– one has to wonder what we lose in order to achieve it?

Pro Football doesn’t have the kind of people we used to look up to, but over the years the players are either thugs or Jesus freaks.  Up until last week, I applauded Russell Wilson’s message:

http://theresurgence.com/2014/01/10/what-matters-most-to-seahawks-quarterback-russell-wilson

But after seeing that, I have pretty much lost hope.  These sports icons don’t share my beliefs or my morals.  Then again, neither does Pete Rose or Lance Armstrong, but I still love baseball and cycling. I know people will find nothing wrong with Russells message, especially if you are a “Christian”.  I, however, always take issue with any message, be it social or commercial, when delivered by a sports star in particular.  Your relationship with religion should be a personal journey and signing the lords praises while also hauking Sports Wear sends a mixed message.  On one end you have Wilson and on the other you have Marshawn Lynch with Beacon Plumbing.  The marketing of the Seahawks reaches its arms long and wide.

in the end, does any of it really matter?  I guess time will tell– but the time will come soon enough when my son begins to comprehend more and begins to ask questions about these “stars”.  I am sure by then the marketing will be even more aggressive and personal and that much harder to defend against.

The Christmas Story

Issac and Elliott Elliott:

Your second Christmas this year was a lot of fun!!! For being just two years old, you got to see Santa three times– once with Nana, another time with your cousins and a third time with Mom and Dad!  This picture was taken just after we saw Santa on the Santa Train in Elbe, Washington.  We decided to go with Joe, Kristin, Issac and Gabe and Nana and Grandpa on the steam trains and Santa was there– it was a lot of fun.

A tale of two santas

Here you are with the same Santa, when you were one and just starting to walk and here you are at two, standing tall and proud with Santa– such a cool picture I always look at and just can’t help but smile how adorable you look– so happy and such a big boy.

I am still working on the video of Christmas morning– which will get posted soon enough.  On Christmas Eve, you woke up about 12:30 in the night and wanted to know if Santa had come yet– you made me get you out of the crib so we could check and see if we could see him– and I think we saw a light in the sky above the house– I couldn’t believe it myself, but I knew he was getting close.  This just excited you even more and you called for mom to come up to your room and when she did, she said that a red light filled the room– which has never happened– I am sure now that was Rudolfs red nose checking to make sure everyone was asleep.  You quickly went to bed once you figured that out– pretty cool stuff.

The next morning, you slept until after 8am– I think that will be the last Christmas your mom and I get to sleep in that late!

As we took you downstairs, we saw your face just light up– It’s Christmas!  You kept saying Woo-Woo while you liked at all the presents, wrapped under the tree for you.

The coolest part is you opened each one individually and looked at each gift before moving on to the next one– such a cool thing.  You saved the biggest gift for last– a big set of Duplo blocks!  In the end it was a lot of fun to watch you dig through the Duplo and play with all of your new trains and take over more of the house !!!! ;P

We also had a couple of visitors come from Germany to spend the time with us!  Markus and Tonia!  They had such a nice time hanging out with you and watching you play and here they are trying some hot buttered rum:

Marcus N Tonia

I will be adding the video and additional picture later, but I wanted to get something up while I had a couple of minutes to spare.  We are having so much fun with you right now– it was such a nice Christmas.

Elliott’s First Birthday

Elliott’s second birthday basically turned into almost a week of celebration. We decided to have the official party on the Sunday following his birthday. On the morning of his birthday, we gave him the train set and the Radio Flyer tricycle (not shown).
On his birthday, we kept wishing him a “Happy Birthday!”, to which he would shake his head no and smile. By the time his party rolled around, he realized that it WAS his birthday and he was even able to say he was 2!

The party was great fun with some really great weather– it was probably the last day of 70+ weather and everyone was outside, enjoying the weather on Elliott’s special day. Here are some shots of the big “week”.

 

 

 

 

at times travel, at times tidbits, mostly rambling…