Tuesday, August 16, 2011

We're Moving!

It's that time of year again. It seems like every year around this time we are making some big changes in our life. My sister Jenna described me and her as getting complacent easy and needing to change things up a little. :-) Adam and I are definitely changing things.

I won't bore you with Adam's business details. Long story short -- we previously built out a large studio/office in our house with a separate entrance for Adam's business. This has been wonderful for the past 2 1/2 years, but Adam has grown out of it. There are people coming and going all of the time -- at all hours of the night, even when Adam is traveling and I'm here alone with the kids. Our street is getting crowded. He is running out of space. So he is moving his business to a studio in Scottsdale that houses several video production companies. This is a wonderful opportunity and Adam has a business relationship with the owner of the studio. Adam is also taking on a partner who has been sub-contracting for him the past several years. Jeff will handle all of the management, invoices, new clients, etc. for a percentage of the business. Jeff will "buy in" to the company by paying for half of the rent at the Scottsdale studio.

This is the biggest risk that Adam has ever taken with his business. I don't like risk. We normally butt heads when Adam wants to take a risk. Oh I was kicking and screaming over this one. I even blurted out "this is the stupidest thing ever" on one occasion. There were tears shed. However in the end, I knew he was right. It is time to move on. It is time to grow. It is time to decide if he wants to stay a "mom and pop" company or grow into a larger company. I was terrified.

It didn't take long for me to realize that if Adam moves out of this house, we won't be using half of it. We live in a 4,800 square foot house. Our electricity bill last month was $823. Our monthly HOA bill for the gated community is $152/month. This has been a great house, but I can't imagine paying for it, cleaning it, and taking care of the larger yard when we don't even use half the space. We don't even have a TV downstairs at all (except the studio). We live in the upstairs of our house practically. We never sit in our family room. We sit upstairs in the loft. It was time to start thinking about downsizing.

The market in Arizona is very, very different than most other places right now. Rentals are going fast. People are having to place bids on rental houses and you have to snatch them up very, very fast. While we were looking around at rental houses (we have no intention of actually buying a house for many, many years because of the current market), we happen to see a house that had a little "for rent by owner" sign in the yard. It wasn't on any of the real estate websites. We called the guy, saw the house, fell in love, and we just learned yesterday that he picked our family over the other applicants. So . . . we're moving!

We've been renting the past 2 1/2 years from Jim and Sherree, and they will be able to sell the house for a profit when we move out. As for our new house, it is 2,150 square feet -- less than half the space we currently have. But we are ready for small. We are so ready to get back into a "cozier" feeling house. A more manageable yard. And no video equipment taking up my garage space!!!! The house is 3 bedrooms plus a den, and it has a 3 car garage. There is no pool in the backyard, but the neighborhood has a large community pool and tennis courts that are free to residents. Now I don't have to worry about my kids playing in the backyard with a pool. I don't have to worry about the pool maintenance. It's great! We will probably add a jacuzzi to the backyard once we get settled.

The boys are super excited about the move and they want to get to the new house as soon as possible. It is 4 miles from our current house, but I have applied for a variance so the boys can continue to go to their current school. I have been told that it shouldn't be a problem because we are still in-district. The neighborhood is really quiet with a lot of cul-de-sacs and no through traffic. We live across the street from a huge park and a skate park. We can ride our bikes to so many different places. Currently we are limited to just our neighborhood because of lack of sidewalks outside of it. At this house, we can go for miles and miles to restaurants, grocery stores, and parks.

The best part -- by downsizing we will be reducing our monthly expenses enough to pay for the studio, Jeff's percentage, and to have a little extra leftover in our pockets. Adam is able to take his risk, and I'm able to play it safe by downsizing our costs. This is a good thing.

The landlord has been great, and I did research on him just like he did me. We are planning on getting the keys on September 1st and moving in mid-month. We want to paint a little in the house, and Adam wants to have time to set up his garage -- ya know, the one without all of the video equipment everywhere!!!!!

There are lots of changes, but these are great. We are really looking at what we "need" in life. Bigger isn't always better. We understand what we are giving up with the big house, private pool, gated community, etc. -- but we also understand that we are going to be gaining a whole lot more. I'm ready!

Monday, August 8, 2011

First Day of School

Wes and Miss Larsen

Calvin and Mrs. VanDeCar

Today my boys started school as First Graders. I am so proud of them, and they are so proud to be first graders. All summer we hear things like "It won't be wild when we go to Jenna's house anymore with the dogs because we are first graders." (By the way -- they are still wild when at Aunt Jenna's house.) They also keep talking about how they will get to play on the big kid playground rather than the little kindergarten playground "which was actually really boring" according to Wes.

Last year at this time, I was a complete mess as my two boys were going to school. I was pretty sad this year, and I shed some tears, but it was so much easier than last year. Last year I knew I would miss them terribly, I would be lonely at home, they had never gone to full-day preschool, and I was worried about Calvin adjusting since we were on the fence about sending him to kindergarten. This year, I don't have those worries at all. I am sad they are growing up, but I know that they will do great. They both did awesome last year, and they loved going to school every day. Calvin has the same teacher, and that makes things so much easier. Wes has a new teacher but he told me today that he likes her and he gave her a high five.

The boys purchased new shirts and lunchboxes for the school year. My mom had sent them a little money for school supplies. I sewed a new Ghostbusters patch on their backpacks.

This picture makes us laugh because it shows so much of their personality. The posed, smiling pictures weren't that great because Calvin's eye has been a little swollen the past few days and the sun was really hurting it. So we thought we'd go with posting this picture this year.

They were excited to start school, and they settled into the classroom really easily. We peeked through the window a few times and they were doing great. Calvin has a lot of the same friends as last year because his class is mostly the same, but Wes told me that he met two new friends today. Also, tonight he asked if he could make new "Mii" characters on the Wii. After about the 3rd one, he asked if he could make a girl and if I could tell him how to spell "Molly". Hmmm I didn't ask any questions so he wouldn't be embarrassed, but now we have a Molly Mii character on the Wii.

The boys have lunch and recess together and they are excited about that. They still call each other "best bud" so it is great that they can see each other throughout the day. Calvin's favorite part of the day was recess, and Wes talked a lot about going to the computer lab and having his very own computer where he could type things.

It looks like this is starting off to be a great year!

And last but not least, a random picture of Calvin dipping his donut in ketchup the other night. Gross! He actually liked it.

San Diego!!

We were lucky enough to take a quick family vacation to San Diego a few weeks ago. Adam had some work for two different clients in San Diego and Los Angeles, and our gas and hotel rooms were paid for by the clients!!

The 5 hour drive went by so fast, and Allie was such a trooper. The boys have always been great travelers, but we were happy that Allie is comfortable in her car seat and didn't have any issues. When we went to Vegas in June, Wes asked a lot of questions along the way. This trend continued to/from San Diego. It goes something like this:

Wes: Are we out of Arizona?
Me or Adam: Not yet buddy, we still have a ways to go.
Two minutes pass
Wes: Are we out of Arizona?
Me or Adam: No, we still have about 2 hours.
Two minutes pass
Wes: Are we out of Arizona?
Me or Adam: Okay, when the clock turns 5 p.m. we will be out of Arizona.
Two minutes pass
Wes: Has the clock turned 5 p.m.?

Now, keep in mind that this conversation happens while he is wearing headphones and listening to music or a movie. So he is yelling at us, and we are yelling the answers back at him, and he always has to ask "What?" before he can hear us. We try to tell him to take off his headphones, but he yells "What?" It makes Adam and I laugh pretty hard. Once Wes finds a clock or his watch that he can see, and we give him a time, he will stop asking, but he will remind us that we only have such and such time remaining. Generally speaking, Wes is more calm when he is wearing a watch. He takes after his mother -- always needing to know the time. My mom tells me that even when I'm wake up from surgery, I ask her for the time over and over again.

While we were in San Diego, we visited Sea Harbor Village a few times. Our hotel backed right up to it, so it was a nice place to walk around, ride the carousel, and look out at the water. Adam got some great photos of the kids during our time there.

On Day 3, we headed to Anaheim and took the kids to Disneyland. They had so much fun. It was crowded, but they didn't mind waiting in lines -- even Allie. Goldfish and sour gummy worms kept her happy. She loved the rides and her eyes would just be huge as she looked around at everything. The boys got to go on a big roller coaster and the Star Wars ride. They waited 70 minutes to ride Star Wars while Allie and I watched the parade, and then I comfortably read my book as she slept in the stroller. Earlier I took Allie to see Minnie Mouse. We waited in line for 45 minutes, and with about 3 minutes remaining she fell asleep in my arms. I was able to wake her up for the picture but she looks so sleepy and refused to smile. It was such a peaceful and fun day, and we were able to go on most of the rides as a family.

Late that night, we arrived at our Ramada hotel. We went from a super fancy Hyatt where we were treated as platinum members to a really ghetto Ramada. We were expecting it, but Adam had a shoot at NFL studios in LA the next morning so we wanted to be close. We had called ahead for a late check-in, but they had sold our room anyway by the time we arrived. We were given the penthouse suite. Did anyone know that ghetto Ramada has a penthouse? This Ramada looked like the crummiest Motel 6 you could find. The Penthouse was on the top floor (level 3), and it was about 2,000 square feet. Huge. It was dusty, and the decorations were odd. The lamp shades still had plastic on them. It was pretty bare. The curtains were like thin sheets and they were torn. The closet doors were broken and as I was trying to open one I was afraid of what I would find behind it. However, it was a place to lay our heads for the night. We were grateful for that -- until the morning when I saw stains on the sheets I had slept in. The weren't from me or my family. Yuck!!! It still makes me shiver to think about it.

On Day 4, we drove home in the afternoon. We loved our little trip, and the weather was gorgeous. When we swam in San Diego it was actually cold! People were laying out by the pool in sweatshirts. The weather was just perfect. The entire mini-vacation was perfect.