When last we left our heroes, they'd just lost out on yet another house bid. Since then we've bid on two more places, one of which was a serious fixer-upper that sold for $352k over asking with an all cash, 7 day close offer. This was pretty much the turning point that made us admit we needed to either look in other neighborhoods or look only at townhouses. In a small miracle of serendipity, we are now in escrow for a delightful house in Santa Clara.
|Gorgeous backyard |
When I say miracle of serendipity, I'm not kidding. First, the only reason I even saw it was because there was a house for sale on Cheyenne that looked lovely, but we knew would go for more than we could possibly afford (it did, over $200k over asking). But right there on the Sereno Realty page was this other house, just down Homestead in Santa Clara. We looked at a really awful townhouse in our dream neighborhood, and then went to see this house. We managed to squeeze this in before going to a friend's wedding. It was everything we wanted, just four miles from where we wanted it. It was all fun and games walking through. Then we hit the back yard. I stood out on the lawn as Erik walked up and said, "I know this isn't the "big plan" house, but if we bought this, it'd be a good investment, and if we ended up stuck here in another downturn, I'd be really okay with that." So we started pulling it together, reading all the disclosures. Kevin looked up a little info on the owner, and he's associated with Game Kastle
, which led me to ping Justin to see if he knew him via Secret Weapon
, who immediately pinged the owner and said, "Hey! Small world!" Luckily, the owner thought that was amusing rather than creepy. We put in our bid after consulting with the owner on which pictures were cuter, and in the end, though apparently there were slightly higher offers, our offer had the charming family introduction letter and a good overall package and we won! So now we're moving! Soon! Wheeeeeee!
I'll admit though that as I look at what we'll be paying each month, this whole thing still seems crazy. But where we live now has a school with a 2 out of 10 rating. That just will not do. We had two options: keep our current house and pay for private schools, or buy a house with a good elementary school and pay a bigger mortgage. We picked option B, because we can resell the house at some point, and private school tuition is just a sunk cost. Sutter Elementary sports a 8 out of 10 rating, plus we have friends whose kids went there and loved it. And ultimately, the last time I bought a house, I shopped for too long, watching prices rise for 2 years and getting priced out of places I wanted to live. This time I wanted to get it done before we lost our chance. Housing prices tend to rise around here in a wave, starting in Palo Alto, flowing to Mountain View, then Sunnyvale, then Santa Clara, and finally San Jose. As people get priced out, they look at the adjacent market. We grabbed this place in Santa Clara because it feels like the prices there have not risen to match similar places in Sunnyvale yet. I hope I'm right, but if not, I'm also okay with living here for the rest of my life.
Athena is now 16 months old. She keeps learning new words. She's clearly says, "bubbles" and "cookie" and "duck" and "dog." Bubbles are awesome. We went to Cordelia's second birthday party in the park and she loved playing with the bubbles. She also loves swings. She also loves running in circles around just about anything - tables, columns, kitchen islands. Heck, she loves running. If it's around something, that's better. If it's running down a hall, that's pretty much good enough. Running back and forth between mommy and daddy for hugs is awesome. We can burn five minutes getting a hug and then pointing to the other and saying, "Go hug daddy!" And she runs over and gives a big hug. Then Erik says, "Go hug mommy." And she runs over and hugs me. And then I say, "Go hug daddy." and she does. It's pretty funny actually. Plus, baby hugs are awesome.
Almost running at great-grandparents house a month ago.
She also loves to spin with daddy. She'll go for a hug, then launch herself up onto his shoulder into spin position. And then the fun begins.
Baby dizzy face is awesome.
Athena is still fascinated with wallets and iPhones. Small wonder, but dang, baby girl loves her the credit cards. Why yes, we are doomed! We entertained ourselves at the end of one day with Daddy's credit card.
Fun and games
Then she figured out how to win this game:
Seriously, how can you not love this kid?
May is the month of birthdays. First there was Rachel's birthday on May 1st. Then there was Erik's birthday on May 8th. Then there was my birthday on May 24th. It was birthday a-go-go. For Rachel's birthday, we put the new outdoor kitchen into service and had steak and green bean salad and then yummy ice cream cake from Cold Stone: Peanut Butter Playground. That was definitely something I shouldn't know about, but now I do. So, we had it again for Erik's birthday a week later. This time we had artichokes instead of green beans though.
|Flaming table fire pit and flaming ice cream cake!|
For Erik's birthday we went to see Wait Wait Don't Tell Me live cinecast, whereupon we learned that the secret to comic timing is good editing. Also, Paula Poundstone's style has not changed at all since the 80s and Tom Bodette is way younger than I expected.
Also for Erik's birthday we got to see Oblivion, which was pretty good sci-fi. We had scheduled this with her daycare via their Parent's Night Out, but then they canceled it at the last minute again. Argh! Athena and Cyrus said they'd be happy to watch the ladybug, so we got to go anyway and it was worth it. It was definitely one of those movies that was still populating my idle thoughts a week later, so I count that as a big win.
Also for Erik's birthday, we had an afternoon social dance with Anna and Heraldo. Anna and Erik's birthdays are a day apart, and both of us have tiny humans that keep us from dancing that starts at 9 p.m. A dance at 1 p.m. sounded like way more fun. So Anna reserved the function hall at her complex and we had a great party. We hired sitters for the kids and had them there on site. And then we danced! Yay dancing!
|Yay everyone who made it!|
|Why yes, that is more cake from Cold Stone.|
|Dancing like real people!|
|Snuggly baby girl|
The hall at the complex is really awesome, and there was an open house there. Seriously, if we hadn't gotten this house, another fall back plan was to get a place at Villa Santiago. We toured this one place that was so much nicer than anything we'd looked at in Sunnyvale for a while, and it was 10% of the cost. The catch? Mobile home. But Heraldo put it best as "Think of it as a super cheap rental with an insanely high deposit." Yep, just $900 a month for the space rental, and we could pay for the home itself in cash. Sure, there are some catches, but damn, if I were working at Google, I'd be all over it. I envy Anna's walk to work. (Thanks to Anna & Heraldo for all the great photos!)
Last weekend we went to KublaCon, and as much as I want to love that hotel, it's just got issues. That the food on site is so expensive and so mediocre and so often wrong is huge. This time we tried getting Waiters on Wheels only to find out food can't be delivered to the room for "security reasons". Ugh. But, the amazing part was that both nights, Athena was curious about my food. She took a piece of chicken from my pasta the first night and took several licks from my pizza the second night, actually consuming real ricotta and pesto. We're getting there! But mostly it's still all puree and baby cereal all the time. Oh well. She'll get over it eventually.
We attempted to have Athena participate in a brain study here at Stanford, but it involved wearing a hat. She would be fine for a few seconds, then just casually reach up and take off her hat. The only way I've managed to convince her to keep a hat on longer than that was to take her to the mirror and show her how cute it was (making a really big deal about it) and that would last til she forgot about it and then she'd wonder what was on her head and then take it off. So that failed. Then there was a second test where she was supposed to watch Elmo on a screen, but Elmo scared her, so that was a no go. She really has been a pretty much zero tv baby up til now, with a few notable exceptions. Lately we've been watching Dr. Who with the Foxes and Lendvays and she watches a few minutes of that before wandering off to play. She LOVES the opening song, mostly because we sing it for her every night, one of us singing the baseline and the other singing the melody while the stuffed Tardis makes the Tardis noise. So there she was last week, sitting on the edge of the sofa, kicking her legs along to the theme song. Geek in training - level 2 achieved. Last night I was sitting on the sofa with Athena before bedtime and she wanted to poke at my computer. I thought it might be fun to watch the baby giggling at tearing paper
. Yes, indeed! But dude, that kid will laugh at anything. I mean seriously: celery
? Yeah. So we watched babies laugh at lots of things, including a popcorn eating dog
. That had a dogfood commercial before the video, and Athena points and says, "Dog!" Perhaps I've irreparably damaged Athena's brain with 20 minutes of "screen time" but I doubt it. It was a nice way to wind down together on the couch.
Athena is a huge fan of closing things right now. We spent a lot of time with her opening and closing cabinets and what not in the past few months with me saying "open" and "closed" each time. Now she thinks closed is awesome. She routinely closes the bathroom door, which is pretty awesome because we try to do that but frequently forget and it's best to have it closed to keep her from digging through the drawers, unreeling the toilet paper, or drowning in the toilet. Now she does it for us. She also really wants to close the dishwasher, which is sometimes inconvenient when you're trying to load or unload it. If I leave a cabinet open, I can just say, "Athena, can you close the cabinet please?" and she does. That's pretty cool. She also loves helping pick up stuff off the floor or carrying it to us from another room. Put to good use, this can be pretty handy. Sometimes when she runs out of things to pick up, she pretends, and hands it to us very carefully anyway.
Some toys you think she's outgrown keep being fun for far longer than you'd expect. She still occasionally asks to get in her exersaucer for bounce time. The level of glee that usually accompanies it is just fabulous. I caught this video after a few rounds of bounce-bounce-bounce. She's clearly getting too tall for this toy, but it's still fun. Many thanks to Christine for the hand-me-down!
She also loves doing whatever Mommy is doing. I had to get her a kids electric toothbrush so that she could brush her teeth with it while I use mine. She also likes brushing hair when we brush our hair. She's rapidly turning into a little person instead of a baby.
We also learned this month that some moments are so awesome that they cannot be adequately captured. I was completely unable to get a video of Erik doing "the robot" with a laundry basket over his head. He was playing peek-a-boo with Athena in the kitchen and when he had the basket over his head, he'd be the robot, and then he'd slide it up and be Daddy. At some point there was music, which then became robot dancing. Athena started imitating Erik's robot dancing and Erik said, "Did I just teach the bug to do the robot? Because if so, that's awesome." Sure enough, now when there's music and we say, "Do the robot!" she bends her arms and does robot arm motions, dancing with glee. It makes us grin every time.