Sept 8, 2013: Fishmonger!

No, no one in our house has decided to become a fishmonger. I just titled the blog that because it’s a fun word I don’t get to use nearly enough, plus Sam is currently on a goldfish-cracker binge, so it seemed appropriate. 🙂

So, the good news is that fish crackers are a solid, and Sam loves them. In fact, his PT and I used them to motivate him to cruise (walk a few steps while holding onto the couch) this week! The bad news is, goldfish crackers are about all he wants to eat! In fact, they are all he’ll eat from me! Chris can get him to eat some purees, but for me he just wails until I give him the darn fish. And I’m somewhat stuck between a rock and a hard place, because he’s still quite tiny and thus needs to eat and keep growing…but he’s stubborn enough that if I don’t give him the fish, he just won’t eat. Sigh… I think his reluctance with me is because (a) he knows I have milk (the only other thing he really likes), and (b) I’m the chief feeding therapist, so he likes to fight with me about eating. Little stinker! He’s even a diva about what kind of goldfish he’ll eat! He refuses to eat the graham-cracker ones, as they have a tiny bit of sugar on them. He’ll eat the cheddar ones, the saltine ones, the multicolored ones, the pretzel ones, and the chocolate-brownie ones…but not the graham-cracker ones. He doesn’t even try them—just picks them up and tosses them on the floor. Stinker!

We’re continuing to work on bottles with him, too…to no avail. He’ll chew on the end of them, but the minute he gets a few drops of liquid in his mouth, he spits it out. For whatever reason, he refuses to swallow any liquids unless they’re breastmilk…and only breastmilk straight from me. I’ve tried pumping and putting it in a bottle or cup, and he’ll have none of it. It has to come directly from me, or he ain’t gonna drink it. Ah well, perhaps when he’s 30 years old, I can wean him….

In other news, Theo had his second week of kindergarten, and he did excellent!! I think he’s already decided it’s somewhat for the birds, but he’s soldiering on. He’s rather disgusted by the fact that they don’t have toys, and he’s told me he only wants to go for “one minute a day; 210 minutes a day is much too long, Mom!” He likes his teacher a lot, though (so do I!), and he seems to have developed a crush on his seatmate, an adorable little girl named Sabrina. He informed me on Thursday that he has set up a play date for him and Sabrina at the Walnut Creek Target, so they can “ride the elevator and escalators and have French fries.” (Awww, it’s his first date—ha!) He also told me today that “Sophia is a pretty name, but Sabrina is a beautiful name.” And according to Theo, Sabrina is his best friend in class because “[they] can be calm together.” (I’m guessing the teacher sat him next to her for a reason—she’s a rather shy, quiet little girl!) And when I saw Sabrina the other day, she gave me a big smile and waved shyly at me. I’m finding this all rather adorable. 🙂

Seriously, though, I think things are going well—better than we anticipated, actually. Theo had such a rough time at the end of preschool and periodically throughout the summer that we thought all hell would break loose when the big transition finally rolled around. But it seems he may have gotten the worst of his anxiety out before ever starting kindergarten, and he’s adjusting pretty well. And I have a very good feeling about what I’ve seen of his teacher so far, so I’m quite happy about that—especially because he’ll be with her for two years!

He is also quite taken with science, which was their enrichment activity this past Friday. He keeps talking about wanting to “do more science,” and he’s very animated about it! I think it’s pretty cool, as I’ve always like science, too. (Well, life sciences. I stink at chemistry. I loved biology and anatomy and physiology, though!)

Speaking of classes, Theo didn’t have soccer this weekend, so we were able to take Sam to Music Therapy at the Down Syndrome Connection—a rare treat! One of the groups of older kids at DSC was doing a fundraiser car wash behind the building, so Chris and Theo got the car washed while Sam and I participated in Music Therapy. Theo was technically welcome in the class, but it’s more geared toward younger kids, and I think he would’ve been pretty bored. He had more fun hanging out with Chris, I’m sure!

As for Sam, he was rather tired during Music Therapy because it was his naptime, but he was a good sport and seemed to enjoy it anyway. His little buddy Otto was there, too—they are so cute together! Otto is about two months older than Sam, and he is just the cutest, sweetest, spunkiest little guy! He recently started walking, which was so neat to see—Sam and Otto seem to be about on par in terms of gross-motor skills, so that furthers my suspicion that within the next couple of months, Sam will likely take his first steps, too.

After Music Therapy, we went down to San Jose to visit Grandma Kathy and Papa. Nikolas came over, so Theo got to go swimming with his cousin, which he very much enjoyed. It was a hot day, so even Sam went in the pool! Sam is a water fanatic, so he was a pretty happy camper.

On Sunday, we headed across the bay to cooler temps—we went to our favorite park in San Carlos. Alas, the boys were both kind of sleepy and sluggish, so we didn’t stay long. But that may have been for the best, as we were in for a bit of a surprise when we got back to our neck of the woods. From San Carlos (which is 40 miles from our house), I pointed to a big cloud hovering over Mt. Diablo and said to Chris, jokingly, “The mountain is making its own weather!” (I can’t remember where that saying came from, but it’s a joke we use now.) Only as it turns out, it wasn’t a cloud I was seeing—well, not a rain cloud. It was a huge cloud of smoke. As we got closer to home, it became more apparent that it was somewhere in our neck of the woods. And in fact, it turned out to be even closer than we expected—a fire broke out near Clayton at about 1:45 on Sunday afternoon. And as I type this at 8 p.m. on Sunday, the fire has spread to 800 acres and is only 10% contained, and they’re having trouble fighting it because it’s in mountainous territory that is full of dry brush. We can see spot fires burning on the summit from our driveway. The main fire is only about 5 miles away from us. There are 200 firefighters battling it right now, with 4 airtankers and 3 helicopters. We keep seeing the airtankers flying over. They’ve now called it quits for the night and are supposed to resume at 8 a.m.

The way the wind is blowing right now, we should be fine. But if the wind shifts, then who knows? We’ve definitely planned what we’ll grab if we’re told to evacuate.

Somewhat interestingly, I have to find a new route to the hospital tomorrow morning! The fire is right on the route I would normally take to get there. Sam and I have to be there at 6 a.m. for him to have his ear tubes put in. Luckily, there’s another route that should be very workable at 5:30 in the morning, before rush hour starts.

Speaking of Sam’s ear tubes, I’m trying not to think about it. I’m told it’s a very minor procedure that very rarely has any complications, but I still hate the idea of my baby boy undergoing anesthesia—even for a five- or ten-minute procedure. Ah well. In the long run, I think this is the right decision—without the tubes, he’s likely to continue getting those nasty ear infections, and his speech delay will still be very pronounced. With the tubes, he shouldn’t get ear infections, and we’re likely to see a big jump in his speech development. Still, I’ll be glad when it’s over and my Sam is back in my arms!

And last but not least, Chris and I have made a big decision. We’re moving to Cooperstown, NY, to open a B&B near the Baseball Hall of Fame. HA! Just kidding—though we’d love to do that! In reality, though, our decision does relate to moving…sort of.

There’s a house in our neighborhood that went up for sale recently, and it was open on Tuesday morning. Sam and I stopped in on our morning walk, and we chatted (well, I did—Sam babbled!) with the realtor. The house is lovely and would be perfect for us, but it’s a bit out of our price range. However, I got some great information from the realtor and from the mortgage lady that she had call me (with my okay). It turns out that Chris and I are already eligible to buy another house. We thought we had a few more months to wait (at least), but it turns out that’s not the case.

Let me backtrack a bit. When we moved here, almost two years ago, we had to short-sell our house in Roseville. But it wasn’t an issue of us overextending ourselves on a mortgage and then not being able to pay it—rather, it was an issue of Chris getting a job 100 miles from our house, so we obviously had to move. And like pretty much everyone in our area, we were underwater on our house. Way underwater. It had lost 50% of its value, so it wasn’t as if we could hold onto it, rent it out, and expect it to regain its value within a couple of years. It was going to take a long time to come back up…if ever in our lifetime. And rents in our area were such that what we could get for renting it would be several-hundred dollars less per month than our mortgage, and we would have to make up the gap. Again, not a good solution when you consider this would be the case for many, many years.

So, our short-sale was officially considered a “hardship” short-sale—the “hardship” being that Chris’s job was relocated. Plus, I was about to take a huge pay cut to have Sam (my income dropped by two-thirds), and the bank considered that a “hardship” as well—even though technically, that was our decision.

And we got lucky that our short-sale went through very quickly. Because our house was more like a condo (with front-yard maintenance done by the association), investors were snapping up houses in our neighborhood like crazy. Our short-sale closed in a mere six weeks, which means we didn’t have a lot of missed payments on our credit. (We had to miss one payment to even qualify to short-sell, but only one—and our credit was perfect before that. So we took a credit hit, but it didn’t hurt us too badly.)

This all means that at this point, we are now able to buy another house—apparently the waiting period doesn’t apply to us. So, we’re going to go ahead and get pre-qualified for a loan. BUT…we strongly doubt we’ll be moving anytime soon. Our budget is much, much lower than the median home price in this area ($150,000—$200,000 lower than the median, in fact!), so our only real hope is to someday stumble upon a foreclosure priced well below the median and snap it up. And somehow, I don’t think that will happen anytime soon.

But we’re actually fine with that. We have a rental house that we really like (as long as the fire doesn’t gobble it up!), and we have quite a bit more time left on our lease. So we’ll get pre-qualified and keep our eyes open in case anything pops up, but we expect that we’ll probably be staying put for quite a while.

The thing is, we don’t want to compromise this time, because we don’t trust the housing market! When we bought our house in Roseville in 2006, we followed the conventional wisdom of our parents’ time: Buy the cheapest house in the best area, and buy a small starter home and then use the equity in a few years to move into something bigger. And you know what? That strategy, which I’m told was a sound one for many, many years, bit us in the rear end! We bought an inexpensive, small house in a good area, and the value plummeted. We ended up with no equity—quite the contrary! And we don’t trust that same thing not to happen again. So we won’t be buying a little condo or something, just to become homeowners again. Instead, we’ll bide our time and wait for the right house to show up. It doesn’t need to be fancy—we’re perfectly happy with something older that can use some cosmetic updating. But it needs to be big enough for a family of four, and it needs to be in an area where we’re content to stay put for the long haul. In short, it needs to be a house that we’d be happy to stay in for many years, while our kids grow up. And a tiny condo in our price range isn’t going to fulfill that. So…we wait. And hopefully, someday, something will come up. In the meantime, we’ll continue paying as much in rent as people pay for a mortgage (ouch!), but at least we’re living in a house we like, in a neighborhood we love.

In case you locals are wondering where we’re looking, by the way, that would be Clayton, Walnut Creek (yeah, right!), perhaps parts of Concord, Lamorinda (bwahahahaha—as if!), and perhaps the Danville area (yeah, right!!). We love Clayton (and it’s much more affordable than some of the others, even if it’s still well above our price range), but Walnut Creek and Lamorinda have much better access to highways and transit, which would help Chris’s commute. And Danville has good schools and services, plus Genentech runs a shuttle bus from there. And Concord…well, Concord has its ups and downs. It has some great neighborhoods and some not-great neighborhoods. And we’re picky about that—we need to feel safe with our boys. So Concord is a possibility, but it needs to be the right area.

The good thing about renting for all this time, of course, is that it has allowed us to learn the areas we like and would be happy to put down roots. So, we’re feeling pretty good about this decision…even though the wait for anything to actually happen will probably be very long!

Anyway, I’m going to sign off for now. Happy week, everyone! And if you could send good thoughts Sam’s way on Monday morning, we would really appreciate it!

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