Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Well, I think I officially overdid it.

That's what I get for being overzealous. I definitely pushed my body too hard. I stayed home Friday to pack up some plastic totes and boxes. I figured, "Hey, they don't look too heavy." And I figured a foot locker full of clothes was movable too. So, of course, by the time Tim got home on Friday, I had completely pulled my back out of whack. I could barely move.

I took things a little lighter Saturday--I did more cleaning type stuff and packing sitting on the floor. I let Tim move everything. I was still pretty sore, but I could tell my back was getting better. No stress.

On Sunday, we worked outside. I carried around a big planter full of rocks, pieces of wood railroad ties, and one foot to two foot diameter rocks to build up a planter wall. That tweaked my back again, of course. What can I say, I'm a slow learner!

Starting on Sunday, I noticed that my throat was really sore, and I was having trouble talking and swallowing. I don't really get allergies much, but I figured that was probably what this was. I had been digging around outside and planting pollen-y flowers all day. I didn't worry about the throat stuff.

Monday the throat stuff was worse, and I also developed a hacking cough. I couldn't lie down at night without coughing. I barely slept Monday night, and by Tuesday, I had a full blown chest cold. Who gets colds when it's 90 degrees outside in June? Me, apparently. Last night I didn't even get two hours of sleep. Poor Tim--between the hacking coughs and the wheezing between breathes, he had to get up and sleep on the couch overnight.

This morning I've still got the hacking cough, but I'm having a hard time catching my breath. My chest hurts, and the muscles along the top of my rib cage are really sore. I'm blowing my nose so much that I'm starting to resemble Rudolph.

I had come in today with high hopes of running a bunch of gels and getting caught up. We have a farewell lab lunch for Valerie and Sriram today at 12:30, so I had planned to have everything up and running before we left. I think what will happen instead is that I'll leave right after lunch and head home. If this doesn't clear up, I'll call my doctor tomorrow morning and see what she thinks. I do have an albuterol inhaler at home for my exercise-induced asthma (that I never use), so I may toss that in my purse just in case.

I know I got this cold because I'm stressing myself. At least it's a productive, busy stress. It's worse when I do this to myself just because I'm worrying. My immune system is always a little bit touchy. I know being pregnant has just amplified that. I need to get some rest and take it easy today, despite wanting to rush home and keep working on the house. I may head home and try to nap, and then I can do everything else later. I also need to work on getting to bed before 11 PM. It hasn't mattered much the last few days, when I don't fall asleep until after 2 or 3 AM anyway, but I need to at least try.

It seems the baby doesn't seem to mind all the activity. She's been an active little thing the past few days. The light flutters now alternate with the more occasional karate kicks. It's cute (for now), and it lets me know she's there. I'd be more worried if she got quiet all of a sudden.

And we do have a name picked out. We use it all the time at home, and it's really hard not to blab. I know I'm going to slip before she's born. Both Tim and I have almost slipped in front of our parents. We want to wait at least a little while longer before we tell people (I've still got 16 weeks of pregnancy left!). But I think it'll come out sooner rather than later.

That's all for now. I'm a little mad at myself for pushing my lab stuff to the back burner, but really, that is where my priorities are right now. It'll all be ready by the end of July for my committee meeting, but I know Dr. B wanted to see it next week. He's not very understanding about illness, pregnancy, moving, or outside-the-lab issues in general. I'm sure he won't love when I ask for more time. But, what's two days in the big scheme of things? I am still getting work done in lab, but I don't have the nights and weekends to devote to it at the moment. I know Dr. B doesn't get that, but he just needs to cope for the next week or so.

Sunday, June 24, 2007


The house:
The kitchen:
The family room:
Dining room off the kitchen:
Living room off the family room:
Master bathroom:Satellite map: You can see how we have no neighbors on the left.
Here's our view of the easement from the backyard:Back of the house (future home of deck in 5 years maybe):

Friday, June 22, 2007

We got it!

We got a call from the realtor about 10:15 last night. She had a counter offer from the sellers. It was within our max range (actually at our max). We would've loved to get it for 5 grand under their counter, but we also knew that extending the negotiating phase any longer opened us up to being outbid by the other bidders. We didn't know what they bid--just that it was a verbal offer, not yet in writing--and we didn't want to give the other people a chance to write a formal offer.

So, after debating things for about two minutes, we decided to take the counter offer. We got the house!

I'm actually home today getting our house organized a little bit. It'll be a several week process to get our house on the market--we have to move a bunch of stuff out so we can paint, and there are a few other projects that need to be done. If you know of anyone looking for a nice starter house outside of Cleveland, let me know!

I have some pictures of the house I took at the first walk through. I'll try to get those up later today. For now, it's back to organizing! Goodwill is about to get a whole lotta stuff from us, that's for sure.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

No news

No news yet, and I can't say that I feel comfortable with that. I think if they were interested in starting negotiations, we would've heard last night. The other bidders may not be putting in their offer until today--we don't know for sure--so maybe that's why they are waiting. At best, maybe we'll hear late tonight.

I don't have a good feeling about it. Not at all. I just want to know one way or another so we can move on with life. I hate this waiting around crap.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Dammit! Not again!

We met with the realtor last night and put an offer on the house. We were pretty comfortable with our number, and like I mentioned before, we definitely have a max number than we can afford. So we went a little under our absolute max and put it in. Overall, I think we felt pretty good that they would come back with a reasonable counter offer and we'd go from there.

This morning, the realtor called me. I guess another agent had called the seller's agent to tell her there would be another couple putting an offer on the house. The seller's agent didn't have anything in hand yet, but our realtor said she'd tell us as soon as she knew something.

This house has been up since December 2006. And now, in two days, there are two offers?

This is deja vu. The same thing happened last year with the other house. Actually, that one was worse: we had already been negotiating for several days, countering back and forth, and then someone swooped in and offered full price.

We agreed we wouldn't get into a bidding war over a house ever again. Now we have to decide if we really meant what we said.

I know Tim already sort of blames me (Editor's note: Tim wants it known that he does not blame me). His first reaction was, "We should've put in an offer at 10:30 Monday night!" I asked him to give me less than 24 hours to think it over. Really, we still wouldn't have come to an agreement by this morning--it takes days to counter back and forth, and the seller can take another bid up until the contract is final. This other offer still would've come in during that window.

It's just so frustrating. I didn't let myself get emotionally involved in this new house until yesterday. Now, by letting myself do that, I'm all nervous and freaked again.

I keep telling myself that what is meant to be will be. But it doesn't make the waiting any easier.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Since I'm too distracted to accomplish anything today...

Let's see:
-over five months pregnant: check
-thesis committee meeting at the end of July (which still needs lots of work done): check
-putting an offer on a house tonight: check
-needing to totally fix up our house to get it ready to sell: check
-doing all of this at the same time: check

Anything else I could do to add some stress to my life?

Actually, I'm not feeling all that freaked. The pregnancy is going fine, my thesis committee meetings always suck (and I'm sure this one will be less fun than usual), the house we're trying to buy needs no work, and we've had family offer to help us paint and redo the stuff in our house that needs done before we sell.

I'll have no free time for the next few months, but really, it's all doable. I actually work better under pressure, so maybe this'll actually help me get more done in lab.

Well, except for today. Tim's down in Virginia for a work meeting and won't be back till after dinner tonight, so I'm in charge of getting everything set up for the realtor, making sure we have all the facts and figures straight, etc. I had some stuff I wanted to do in lab, but it's not going to happen today. I've got time to do it tomorrow. That'll have to work.

To fill you in since last night: we had the siding guy come. 8 grand for siding, 3500 for the roof. Ouch. If we were staying in the house, we'd do the roof, but the siding would have to wait. It's this sort of dingy yellow siding with black shutters. We're going to paint the shutters white before we sell, and we might try to clean the siding (although pressure washing it may take the paint right off the aluminum, which would be worse). But we're not going to put that much money into the house if we're leaving.

As soon as the siding guy left, we jetted over to go through the new house again. I was totally exhausted, so I pretty much took a quick tour through the house and then sat on the steps while Tim and his dad did their inspection.

Our parents left the house a little after nine, and we stayed for a bit to talk to the realtor. We got home about 9:30 or so. Tim called his parents to get their impression, and I called mine. Everyone like the house (hard not to--it's only 7 years old and pristine). We like it at a lower price. Tim was ready to call the realtor and put in an offer at 10:30 last night. I needed some time to process things. I didn't have any reservations about the house, but I refuse to let myself get emotionally attached to houses until we're really ready to get serious about them. I needed last night and today to picture myself in the house and make sure I saw a good fit.

I'm still doing that now. The house is really a blank slate--all white walls with neutral floors and fixtures. I'm trying to picture it with some paint and some furniture. I can see us there, for sure, and I'm just trying to get a visual as to how we'd live there day to day. I can say I'm pumped that the commute would be cut in half.

It was also nice to get a vibe for the neighborhood. We saw tons of young families out walking with strollers, kids, and dogs in tow. It seems like a better fit for us than our current place.

I told the realtor this morning that Tim will call when he knows when he'll land back in Cleveland (they took his boss's little private prop plane, so he doesn't have a set flight time or anything). If we can meet before 7, the realtor can help us draw up an offer. I have plans with a bunch of my high school friends tonight, one of whom is coming in from Pittsburgh. I hate delaying the get-together, and I don't want to cancel all together, but as Tim put it, we are trying to make the biggest purchase of our lives here. If we can't get together by seven, the realtor can't do it before her meeting at 8, so we'll have to wait till tomorrow probably. That's good for my social life, but I'd like to get this ball rolling sooner rather than later.

That's it. There's no guarantee this'll work out--we tried three different offers over six months on that house last year, and it didn't end up working out. We're at the very peak of our price range with this house. That makes things a little easier. We've got a "drop-dead" max number. If we can't negotiate under that number, we have to walk away. Easy as that. Not that we won't be disappointed, but it does make the process a little more straightforward.

So, my guess is that it'll be an exciting few days. If we get the house, then I'll put pictures up. I feel a little weird doing that while it's still someone else's house.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Busy busy!

Starting on Wednesday of last week, things have been insanely busy around these parts. I've been finally able to start experiments again now that the cells seem to not be suffocating/dying from fungal infections. That's a plus. And, I'm still helping the summer student with his stuff. He seems competent, so I think soon he can be off on his own, but we're tag-teaming for a little while longer yet.

Non-work hours have been busy too. We've been running errands and checking out houses. This weekend was a total blur. We met with the bank from 9-10:30 Saturday morning for house stuff (pre-approval, nothing's happening yet), hit the grocery store, had just enough time to shower and head out to my friend's wedding west of Cleveland, come home and check out more house stuff, head back out west for the reception, and get home late Saturday night.

Sunday was another marathon: 8:30 mass, meeting another MSTP up in Cleveland to talk baby stuff till 12:30, grocery shopping for Tim's dad's dinner, prepping the food and heading over to his parents' house about 3 for dinner, finishing up to be back at our house by 6:15, heading to another house to check it out (with all the parents in tow) at 7 till 8:30, heading back home about 9, and then finally collapsing from sheer exhaustion.

Total whirlwind, really. I like being busy, but sometimes that can be a bit excessive. I think a lot of it is due to the house stuff. We've checked out a few, and tonight we're doing another look at the very first house we saw. It'll be the third time through it, and finally tonight all the parents will have seen it. We initially thought that the price was too much (both for our budget and for the layout of the house), but our realtor got word from the seller's realtor that they were pretty desperate and ready to bargain. We're doing the really nitpicky walk-through tonight, and then we are going to decide what we want to do. The house is only 7 years old and pristine looking, so I don't expect to find a lot wrong with it. Really, it all comes down to how much the sellers are willing to deal.

We're still not 100% about moving to this house (it's basically price dependent at this point), but we both agreed now's a good time to move in general. We're pretty set on staying here for residency, with fellowship being the likely time we're going to head out of Cleveland. It'll work out well--we'll have our kids while we have family around to help in emergencies, and then once they are a bit older (but not yet in school), we'll be ready to move for fellowship.

We know we can't be in our current house long term, especially not with kids, so we've got to move eventually. We won't be able to move up in terms of our budget until I'm a resident (and really, we're not looking to move up a price point). Since it's a buyer's market now, it's as good a time to get a next-step house at a bargain as it will ever be. And easier to move before we clutter up the house with baby stuff.

If we don't move now, it's not the end of the world. We've got another year or two before the baby really needs the space (and a yard too, preferably). But there are a lot of reasons now's a great time to go, so we figure why not? We're not going to stretch ourselves too thin with house payments. And the sooner I get to cut my commute in half, the better. The thought of having another whole hour (or more!) a day to spend with my family instead of driving in the car makes me really thrilled.

So, we're debating and making a plan. We're both really busy this week too, so even if we decided to pursue this house, it may be a few days before we can get the ball rolling. I'll keep you posted as best I can.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

House bit: no excitement yet

We went through the comparison (we shall call it the "fixer") house last night, and it was good for us for several reasons. First, it showed us that the newer house we saw on Friday really does have a crappy layout. The fixer house has about the same square footage, a little less actually, and the first level felt huge. The upstairs has three bedrooms instead of four, but they were big bedrooms. We would've used the fourth bedroom as an office anyway, and the fixer actually has two more rooms than the new house: a loft area over the family room and a separate den. The loft is basically what the fourth bedroom would've been (even bigger though), and the den is a big room itself.

Even with two more rooms, the first level room dimensions were bigger than the newer house. That made me feel a little better. I was starting to think maybe small room sizes were my imagination in that newer house. Turns out it wasn't.

So, nice layout, nice big house. It had a wide yard with a deck that had a woods line with a ravine as the rear boundary. No easement like the newer house, but still a nice yard. It needed some landscape love, since they hadn't lived there in more than six months, but it had potential.

Really, those are the two themes of the fixer: needing love and having potential. The roof was newer, we thought, but the windows, appliances, furnace, and hot water tank were all original. The windows were the biggie. They have nearly floor to ceiling windows in every room of the house, and there are three sets of doors leading to the deck, plus a front door. His dad's estimate for replacing all windows and doors was about 25k. Now, that's with high-end stuff, and a little inflated, but that's what I would try to get off the seller's asking price. It also needs a lot of cosmetic love--pink striped wallpaper with mauve carpet in the living and dining room! And it needs appliances.

But it has great "bones." That's what I look for in a house. This newer house was well maintained and clean (it better be for only being 7 years old), but it would've been nearly impossible (or extremely expensive) to fix the major design flaws in the house. The fixer house had a great design, but it would've taken work to get the finishes the way we want them.

The nice thing about a minor fixer (I'd never buy a house that needed major structural fixes) is that you can get it cheaper initially and then fix it up at your convenience. Windows one year, the kitchen another, then room by room. Everything is livable now--you can do a bit at a time.

Like I said, I like houses with potential. The caveat is that I need to get them at a discount. I think the reason this house has been on the market over a year is that they are unrealistic about the price. They bought it in 2002 for 254k. They replaced one room of carpet and maybe a roof, and that's it. We saw it for 313k last summer (way out of our range), and it's down to 278k now. If we could get it for 240k, we'd do it. But these people have been reluctant to drop the price (they drop it in $500 or $1000 increments every few weeks--please!). I understand that you don't want to lose money. But if you want it to sell, be realistic!

Tim hates fixers. It's funny, because he likes projects, and his dad has done nothing but constantly re-renovate their (already nice) house. And his dad has helped us quite a bit too. We'd pay someone else to do the windows, but I have no problem tearing off wallpaper and painting, or doing some landscaping. Tim, not interested.

So, because I don't like the newer house, and Tim doesn't want a fixer, I think we're staying put for now.

Actually, I really enjoyed going through the house last night. We spent about an hour and a half there. I felt no pressure from our realtor--she even said that if this isn't it, we'll keep our eyes peeled and wait for one that is. I loved seeing how a good layout can really make you appreciate the square footage. And I love imagining what I can do with the space with some elbow grease and a little money (you should see what I could've done with this kitchen!).

I think if I wasn't already pursuing the doctor/scientist thing, I'd be a realtor. Last year was high stress, but now we're just taking our time, no pressure. Totally fun for me. I think Tim doesn't enjoy it as much, but I could do it every day. I don't think I'm creative enough for the interior design thing, but I'd be a good architect, maybe. I don't so much see the colors and patterns, but I see the bones of the layout. That's what I like. Leave the color to someone else.

Anyway, if I had even the slightest idea that the owners of the fixers would play ball with a lowball offer, I might do it. But I really got the opposite impression. So let the house sit. As for the newer house, it sounded like there was another couple (who didn't have a house to sell) that really liked it. Let them have it. It was nice, but not worth the price.

So, that's where we are at. We'll keep one eye opened, but we're moving forward with replacing our current roof and possibly siding as if we were going to live there for a while.

I figure if we're meant to move, the right house in the right area at the right price will work out. But for now, we're good. We're doing what we need to do on a day to day basis. Maybe that's why house hunting this time is so much less stressful. Last year, everything was on hold. We didn't know what we were doing, so we froze. And that sucked. This year, we're more mellow, and it's a lot nicer, I have to say :)

So, that's the update. It sounds like there won't be a lot of change with the house stuff for a while--these two were the only two on the market now that are in our target area for the target price (and they were both at the very high end of our price). Unless something gets reduced drastically or something new comes on the market (and they usually start out overpriced), it'll be quiet for a while. Which is fine, really. If we don't find something by the end of the summer, we'll wait for a while. Neither of us wants to be moving or getting a house ready to sell with a newborn. And since winter sucks so bad to sell, we'd probably wait till next spring.

Anyway, I had fun. If nothing else, it gives me more experience to use when we do finally move, whether it be this year, next year, or five years down the road. It can only help us clarify what we like and what we don't. And our realtor understands our situation, I think, so I don't feel like we're "using" her at all. This is what buyers do.

Fun stuff. Now, back to the regularly scheduled programming...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Bringing you up to speed.

Ok, so when we last talked, I was looking at (maybe possibly) going through a house. Here's what's happened since then:

-We called our new realtor woman, and she set us up to tour the house Friday night at 7:30. The owners moved out last week (so they say--there are empty house pics up online that I think are over a week old). So we meet at the house. Tim and I are super pumped, more than we should be. The house is way bigger and way newer (plus more expensive) than anything else we'd been through. We're psyched.

-We go through the house. It's nice. There's nothing obviously wrong with it. The sellers painted every room in the house the same color white. All the flooring is either light hardwood, beige tile, or cream carpet. It was very light, but very sterile. However, that's easily fixed. The finished weren't as nice as I expected for this price point (laminate counters, cheap bathroom fixtures, etc), but again, that's not such a big deal.

-Pros to the house: newer, great lot, huge master suite (the closet, bedroom, and bathroom of the master are bigger than our current three bedrooms combined), big unfinished basement, big kitchen. Lots of closet and storage space. Phone jacks and cable outlets in every room.

-Cons: felt small for the square footage. The living spaces (living room, dining room, family room) were not bigger (and in some cases smaller) than our current house. Considering this house is nearly twice as big, I expected some bigger living areas. Without a finished basement, having a smaller family/living room combo feels like we are losing space. Especially since we spend 90% of our waking hours in the living room. Now, the kitchen is about three times ours, which is a plus, but I don't think I should have to feel like I need to finish the basement for living space when we're talking about a big, expensive house. Other cons: no deck (could be built, though), weird sections of dead space.

-Overall, we left Friday night pretty bummed. If the house was 25 or 30 thousand cheaper, it'd be easy to overlook the design flaws and gobble it up as a house with "potential." For what they are asking, I think most of the "potential" should be used up.

-We were pretty much done with it on Friday night. The realtor called early Sunday morning to tell us the listing agent was having an open house, and we could take another peek if we wanted. We decided there was no harm in looking again. We had Tim's mom and both my parents come up and go through it too.

-After the Sunday walkthrough, Tim was more excited about the house. The parents loved it. I was more negative about it. The listing agent wasn't super pushy, but she kept telling us how many people had already been through (two other couples came through the hour we were there) and how we should hurry and jump on it. The house has been up for over six months--if it happens to sell in the two days I take to think about it, then it wasn't meant to be, I think.

-I came out with my reaffirmed thoughts about the living space issue. The house is 2900 square feet. Last year, we almost bought a house that was 1800 square feet. Our current house is barely 1500 square feet. I would think a much bigger house should feel bigger in the living area. The fact that the 1800 sq ft house felt the biggest in the main level is not a good sign for that house.

-We decided to go through one of the few houses around that is semi-comparable, just to have some sense of if this house is laid out poorly or if it is just the way the footage works in big houses. The house we are seeing tonight is a little older (21 years instead of 7), needs carpeting/tile replaced in several rooms at a minimum, and has been on the market for over a year. The square footage of the house is about the same, the lot on the older house is a little bigger (but there's no easement next door), and the current price is just a smidge lower. The biggest difference is the layout, and that's what we want to see.

-So, I guess things are on hold until after tonight. Surprisingly, I'm pretty zen about the whole thing. Maybe it's because we've been riding the real estate roller coaster for a year and a half. Maybe it's because I've finally realized we don't have to move--we have a house (seems straightforward, but once you go through a ton of houses, you feel like you should buy something for your time.) And I figure if it's meant to be, it'll be.

As calm as I am, it doesn't mean house stuff hasn't taken up most of my time. It started Friday--I got very little done at work because I was researching the house. Friday night was house touring. Saturday was a nice breather--I ran errands all morning and then had a really nice bachelorette party dinner for a college friend. Sunday was house stuff all morning and afternoon, discussing with my parents in the late afternoon, and then heading to Tim's parents for dinner to discuss. Actually, Sunday was so busy that we both realized we never actually got to eat lunch (which explained why we basically ate his mom out of house and home Sunday night).

Today has been more of the same--researching this next house online, putting together to-do lists to sell our current house just in case, etc. I have gotten quite a bit of lab stuff/ordering/summer student stuff done too, but my main mental focus has been houses.

At least it's nice to be calmly thinking about houses instead of frantically scurrying around like we were this time last year. We both agreed: we're never dealing with sellers like the ones we did last year. No bidding wars. No non-negotiating sellers. No sellers that call once a month when the other house offer falls through. We're going to do this our way, following our rules. And if it doesn't happen that way, then we walk away.

Anyway, I'll keep you posted on house stuff. At least it's something new-ish for the blog. Not that the baby isn't cute and all, but things don't really change with her often enough that it makes for an exciting read :) And I'm pretty tired about saying the same thing about lab over and over. It sucks, crappy project, crappy mentor, crappy situation, but it'll be over in a year. And at least I'm a happy person about it now, not totally soul-crushed like I was before. So why rehash it?

Maybe I need to take up a new hobby or find something else stressful to add to my daily anxiety:) It'd give me something to talk about!

Anyway, overall, life is good. Things keep moving, some more quickly (the pregnancy) and some more slowly (lab), than I'd like. But things are generally good, which makes for a happy me!

Friday, June 08, 2007

What the hell is wrong with me?

Ok, this nesting instinct crap is pretty overwhelming, and I'm not even in prime time yet!! They say this doesn't usually kick in until the third trimester, but boy, mine's been wicked for a while now.

I mentioned before how my instinct hasn't so much been "let's fix the house" as it has been "let's buy a new house." For those of you who have been tuned into the program for a while now, you may remember this started a year and a half ago. Here's the synopsis:

-Jan 2006: Tim gets a new job. It's closer to the center of the county, versus being in the far western section (while I was in the eastern section). His new job means we're both living pretty far west of where we work. For giggles, we check out houses and find a few we like. We go through two.

-Feb/Mar 06: We make a (lowball) offer on a house. It's already got a contigency on it, and the owners really don't even negotiate. So, we move on.

-June 2006: We get a call that the contigency on the house has fallen through, and they've switched to a new realtor. So, we size up the situation. And we bid again. And things are going well, we're coming to a number. Then, at the last minute, another buyer swoops in and takes the house. We move on.

-July 2006: The realtor calls to tell us that the new buyer hasn't been able to get financing and close the deal. The owners said we can have it at their last number, which is still about 10k more than we want to pay. We start negotiating again, then we go on vacation. The new buyer closes on it while we're away. So, that house is gone (which is ok, we were getting sick of dealing with the people anyway).

-Summer/Fall 2006: We check out a few other houses and basically agree something spectacular would have to pop up. Plus, the market is starting to tank, and we worry about selling our house.

-Up till now: we've seen a few houses here and there, hit a few open houses, and gone through a few more. Nothing's really made us jump. We have kept an eye open, but we sort've figured we'd stay put.

So, recently, I've been nesting, as I mentioned. There's a house that's been for sale for well over a year. It needs some cosmetic stuff, but it's huge, and the price keeps dropping. It started out well over our range, and it's sort of slid into it. It was built in the early 80s, it's in Seven Hills (the southern part) and not Independence (where we were hoping to move, though much pricier than our current city), and needs all new paint/flooring throughout. We debated about going through it, but we decided it'd have to drop a lot more to be enticing for all the work that needs done.

Of course, that's not the end of the story. That'd be too easy!

Today I got another email with a house. It's also in Seven Hills, although a more northern (and thus better located) location. It also started out over our range, but it's starting to fall into it. This one was built in 2000, has one owner, 4 bedrooms, 3 bath, hardwood floors and tile throughout, and appears to need no work. Plus, there's an easement (land owned by the city) located on the left side, so you only have neighbors on the right.

I don't know. I think we might go through it. We've done that before--looks great on the outside, has a bad inside or a bad layout, and we drop it right then.

But, if we like it, then we start this whole process again. I'm nervous to go through it all. I'm strangely not nervous about buying--we only look at what we can afford--but the selling sucks. You have control as the buyer. You have little to none as the seller. And I realize we'd lose money in this market trying to sell for all the work we've done. But, all the finance people say that it balances out in being able to buy a nicer house for less (at the same discount you sold the cheaper house, so the money is still in your favor).

We could afford it, even with child care, but that doesn't mean I'm not nervous. Buying a house way under our max has given us a lot of leeway to save for retirement, fix up things when they break, etc. All with a level of security. We wouldn't be killing ourselves with a new mortgage, but it would be more of a stretch than we are used to.

I don't know. We'll talk about it tonight, I'm sure. I'll keep you posted.

Why do I feel the need to constantly find new ways to stress myself out? Having a baby isn't enough?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Ok, I will warn you--I don't think these pictures are as good as the last set, but hey, we take what we can get :) I omitted the picture that proves she is a girl--something about putting her girl parts online weirds me out a little (not like I'm not showing everything else, but oh well). So, here they are: That's her from the side. You can see her head and her hand up by her mouth.

These next two are cute in theory, but a little creepy to look at. She's looking straight at the wand, so you can see the bone structure of her face. There are her two eyes, her nose, and her jaw. You can see her left hand again (that hand was everywhere!) and the top of her abdomen.

Another face picture (they were kind enough to label it this time). Again, sort of creepy in the picture, but I just imagine it with the eyes and nose and everything in place, and then it's cute.

This last one actually has her sucking her thumb. The tech said she was doing that quite a bit. Again, it's a side shot. You can see her outline, her ears, her spine, etc.

I had my doctor's appointment this morning. I asked her about the weight stuff. She said 12 pounds in 20 weeks is hard to guess about. She looks more long term, and since she's only seen me over the last 8 weeks, it's hard to get a number. She said just to do the basics--watch what I eat, exercise, etc--and as long as the next appointment looks ok, we're fine. I guess early weight gain is harder to gauge.

I also asked her about all the birth stuff. She suggested a hypnobirthing class through the hospital. She said it's good skills to have in general. I guess the teacher is very natural birth oriented, but my doctor said there's no reason I can't learn hypnobirthing but use medication if I want it. She said 80% of her patients use some sort of medication. She's actually very supportive of natural childbirth, but the clientele at the hospital isn't really oriented that way. So, basically she said there's no reason for me personally to have to choose all or nothing. That's good to know.

My quad screen test from last time was super good (very very low risk of birth defects--she said basically the lowest risk the test shows). That's good. The heartbeat was good, the movements are normal, so everything is moving right along. I think next time, or the time after, will be the gestational diabetes screen. Other than that, same old thing.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I know, I know

I didn't get the pics up yet, but I will soon, I promise. It was one of those days when I was busy doing other things in lab, and time just slipped past.

Anyway, I did spend some of my lunch break looking up birthing methods (Bradley, lamaze, hypnobirthing, etc). My doctor had asked me at my last visit if I had started thinking about it yet, and I honestly had to answer no. Since my next appointment is tomorrow morning at 8:30 AM, I figured I'd better at least look some stuff up.

First, let me say that I realistically expected to get an epidural. I don't like needles, and I don't like medication, but I am a total wuss with zero pain tolerance. My mom had all five of us natural. I didn't see that happening.

And then I started looking stuff up. Oh. My. God. I am totally and completely lost.

I'm not lost in the sense that I don't understand. I think I have a fairly good understanding of what each type of childbirth involves. I knew things like water birthing or home birth were too far out for me, but I really tried to have an open mind about everything else.

Really, what I was hoping for was some sort of middle-of-the-road. You do as much as you can by yourself, you learn maybe some relaxation techniques to help along the way, and then you get the epidural when it's too much.

What I learned is that you are either all natural or all medical. After I looked at some official-looking websites, I checked out some of the message boards on It's where I've gotten a lot of my general info, so I figured there would be a pretty good mix of women with mixed experiences.

Not so much. It was almost an advertisement for hypnobirthing/hypnobabies. Anything else was not kindly looked upon. And the horror stories about epidurals--ugh!

I know a girl who did hypnobirthing (it's basically putting yourself into a state of semi-hypnosis to get through the pain). I'm going to ask her about it. But, she's already given me the lecture on how cloth diapers are the only acceptable type, so I'm pretty sure what she'll say about hypnobirthing.

I don't know--I liked yoga, and I'm looking to take a prenatal yoga class, but hypnobirthing? Really? It just seems a little out there to me. I guess the medical/analytical side of me expected things to be a little more high tech. Then again, I haven't done an OB rotation yet, so I have no idea what actually happens during childbirth (yes, I know what happens physiologically, but not emotionally).

I am just feeling a bit freaked right now. I'm going to bring it up tomorrow at my appointment, and hopefully my doctor can talk me down. I still have a few months to go, so no need to rush. Still--why does this whole pregnancy thing keep getting weirder and weirder?

I just want to have a non-traumatic pregnancy and delivery and meet my daughter already. Why does it have to be so complex?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Drumroll please...

Well, I haven't gotten a chance to scan in the ultrasound pics from Friday's appointment yet, so I'll probably post that tomorrow if I get the chance.

But, I promised I'd share the gender if we found out, and we did! So, if you don't want to know, don't look (although if you intend to keep reading the blog for the next few months, you'll find out eventually anyway).

Ladies and gentlemen, we are having:

A girl!

And it's a sure thing--there are female anatomical landmarks they can see now on ultrasound--we're past the "absence of a penis=girl" phase. So it's a pretty certain thing.

The ultrasound went well. It was a general anatomy, 20-week ultrasound. They spent a good deal of time checking for all the organs, the placenta location, etc to make sure everything was good. The monitor that lets me see what's going on was broken, so Tim could follow along with the tech, but I only got to see things when she turned the screen to show me.

I guess the baby was pretty active. The tech kept talking about how much she was moving around. She asked if I could feel the baby moving, and while I hadn't been sure before then, the pressure from pushing the wand into my stomach made me feel the baby move for sure. That was definitely exciting!

The tech found almost everything she needed on ultrasound, but our little gymnast wouldn't cooperate and let her see the left side of the heart and the left outflow tract, so we had to wait for the doctor to come in and find it. I guess the baby wouldn't roll over the right way, and when they tried to approach it from a different angle, she wouldn't move her arm. Figures. She's obstinant like Tim is, and she's not even born yet!

They dated us as 20 weeks 3 days, which is smack on with our original date done by LMP of October 16. My doctor pushed it back to October 21 after our 6 week ultrasound, but the last two ultrasounds have both been exactly on the 16th. My doctor said they won't switch the date again, but we should be prepared early just in case.

The baby's weight was estimated at 13 oz, which the doctor said is right at 50th percentile (50 percent are heavier, 50 percent are lighter). I thought that sounded like a lot, but she said it was just right. I asked if they could tell how long she was, but the doctor said with her movement and being all scrunched up, it was hard to estimate. She's definitely bigger than I expected, though. They had that wand all over my abdomen, and there was always a baby under it!

All of the anatomy was normal. They did eventually see all views of the heart, which looked good. All the internal organs were good, the spine and skull were formed, the brain was normal, and the cord and placenta were good. It was all around good news. The heart rate was 156, which is normal (especially for a girl--I guess their hearts usually beat a bit faster). We could even hear the heartbeat when they dopplered it.

Overall, it was very exciting and surreal to see our baby again. I wish I could've watched the whole thing--I would've loved to see her turning somersaults!--but knowing she is a "she" and that everything is going normally is definitely huge for me.

We are so pumped it's a girl. We never really said whether we preferred a boy or a girl. Really, we always said we'd be happy with either, especially if they were healthy. But, as soon as we knew it was a girl, we both looked at each other and smiled. That's what we had each wanted. We want a boy eventually, but a girl now is awesome. Plus, we have way more girl's names picked out.

We are telling family (and anyone who will listen) that it is a girl, but we are keeping the name secret until we deliver. Part of it is to have a surprise, part of it is so we don't have to hear people's opinions on our name for months, and part of it is that realistically we probably won't decide until she comes out. Some babies just look their name when they are born, and some don't. So, we'll have a few options ready.

Knowing the sex also persuaded us to finally go and register for baby stuff. My mom wants to have a shower for us maybe mid-August, so it's time to get on the ball. We went to Target on Saturday. I have to tell you, it was a lot more nerve-wracking than when we registered for our wedding. We had read a little bit about baby stuff, and we had a checklist, but we were mostly baffled. Like cribs: some are $500, some are $100. We registered for one that was about $150. We figured it was simple, supposed to be safe, and relatively inexpensive. Really, that was our motto for about everything. We'll likely buy most of the big stuff ourselves anyway, and heaven knows we're not spending $500 for a crib.

We'll likely change the registry a few times yet. Part of it is so I can check out what we signed up for (and make sure it's ok), and part of it is that we'll probably decide whether or not we need things. We know we need a crib, but do we need a changing table too (and will it fit in the room)? We initially registered for a crib and a bassinet, but talking to people, most people just use the bassinet feature of the play-yard they get. So we took the bassinet off. Stuff like that.

We went mostly neutral themed, with a safari/zoo pattern to the bedding and the stroller/car seat/ play-yard/high chair. We hadn't planned it--it was really the main neutral theme, and we're nature nerds, so it worked out. We did register for some girly clothes and blankets though. We didn't register for much clothes or toys-wise; everyone says you'll get that no matter what, so let people decide what they think is cute.

Really, this whole baby shower/registry thing is a little weird for me. It was weird for me when we got married too. I feel greedy telling people that they should buy me things, and oh by the way, buy me exactly what I want. When I'm shopping for showers or weddings, I always appreciate the registry (how do I know what dishes they'd like?). But when I do it, it feels weird. There were other people there registering the same time we were, and I heard one girl say "we're not buying it, so register for the most expensive thing there is." We didn't really approach it this way. There are a few big things, in case people want to go in as a group (although I really don't expect people to buy my $250 breast pump. That's the most expensive thing on the list). But most of it is smaller, less expensive stuff. I always appreciate options that either fit into the $30-$50 range or can easily be combined to do so.

Some stuff we were clueless about. I had no idea how many different types of bottles and pacifiers there were. I was totally overwhelmed. And we didn't even register for diapers, although everyone told us to. What brand? And what if she grows too fast and doesn't use them? Or what if she's sensitive and needs a certain kind? Totally clueless.

Registering was probably the one experience that has made me feel totally incompetent as a future parent. I was prepared to take care of the eating/sleeping/pooping stuff, but all the options and extras made my head spin. Does picking the cheaper (although not the cheapest) car seat/stroller/crib/etc mean I don't want the best for my baby? Or does it make me realistic? So bizarre how simply spending two hours in Target totally made me question my ability as a mother.

Anyway, that's the news! It was a busy weekend, so I didn't get to scanning the ultrasound pics yet, but I will. Tim and I were busy being good Cleveland sports fans. We got really good seats to Friday night's Indians game from a friend of mine (it turned out to be an awesome game! And we only spent $10 the whole night--two pops and two hot dogs. Free tickets, and we parked for free--although 15 blocks away). Saturday night was the Cavs game. Two great games. Actually, counting the Cavs game Thursday night, it was three great games in three nights. Unfortunately, they all got me to bed well after midnight, which was tough. But totally worth it.

I've got my next doctor's appointment Wednesday, so hopefully all will be well. I am a bit worried about my weight gain--I was doing well until the sudden 5 pound gain last week that hasn't gone away. We'll see how I weigh on their scale and if she wants me to change anything. I'm up about 12 pounds by my home scale since I got pregnant, which is a bit more than I was shooting for at 20 weeks. They say you gain a pound a week from here on out, which would put me at 32 total. Since I started out overweight, I was shooting for 20-25. My doctor's never been concerned, but given my past history of weight issues, I'd like to keep the gain as small as possible without putting the baby in danger. So we'll see what she says.

And I have to ask her about counting months. I keep track of weeks, but people always ask "How many months are you?" I had been counting back from my due date. I figured Oct. 21 minus May 21 equals five months left, so I am four months pregnant. But the tech was talking as if you just divide the weeks by 4, which maked me 5 months pregnant. I guess this makes sense--that way, you are nine months pregnant the month before you deliver, not nine months on your due date. But, it messed me up a bit. I feel like I've lost a month!

So many random questions. But, I guess she's probably heard them all before. We'll see what she says.

Pictures tomorrow, hopefully. I don't think they are as good as the last set, but I'll post them anyway.