Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rent VS Buy

Well, I think that Matt & I have decided to buy a home in Rochester.

This kind of terrifies me.

It's also exciting.  But mostly, it is scary.

It would be one thing if we could pop over and look at listings as we found them, but since we can't, its pretty overwhelming.  However the monthly cost of rent VS buy, in today's market highly favors the buyer with good credit (which is us).  It would probably save us at least $300/month to buy over what we would pay in rent (yes, even factoring all the additional little costs that actually make your mortgage a couple hundred bucks more than you think its going to be).  Not to mention that we could also be way more selective about getting what is important to us in a home (IE a 2 car garage so that we don't have to shovel our cars out every morning, being in the right school district for Lily, location in relation to the Mayo Clinic, etc)

Matt and I have almost bought here in the valley several times over the last 5 years, even getting pre-approved and getting a realtor at one point.  However we just could never find a house we felt quite right about.  I felt OK.  Never horrible.  Just not good.  So we never bought.  Renting is just SO much more stress free and EASIER!!  So it REALLY surprises me that we are going to buy now. 

I knew I would consider it, because I always like to keep an open mind and consider my options so that I can feel confident that I made the best possible choice.  However, I really thought that with us unsure of whether we will be staying the shortest amount of time possible (2.5 years), the medium choice (4.5 years), or longer (indefinitely), we wouldn't want to have to worry about buying/selling.  But we feel good about pursuing the buying option at this point.  Which really stresses me out since buying a house is stressful enough but buying one in a city you aren't familiar with 2,000 miles away, as a first time home buyer is lots more stressful.


Are you happy with your mortgage?  Who is it through? Would you recommend them?  Any mortgage tips? 

We will probably get a 30 year fixed, and put like 10 grand down.  I hesitate to put too much down, even if it gets us a better rate, because we are going to have a lot of moving costs, plus need to buy lots of furniture, school expenses, etc, so I want to have at least 10 grand to cover those bases, plus emergency money, and not be totally cleaned out.  We may end up putting 15 grand down, it just depends on whether or not the house is going to need appliances etc.  We are looking in the $120-150,000 price range BTW, which in Minnesota will actually buy you a pretty decent house! (so we will probably be putting 10% down)

Friday, March 16, 2012

If I Only Had a Brain...a Xanax...a Paper Bag

(Sung to the tune of "If I Only Had a Brain, a Heart, the Nerve" from The Wizard of Oz)

Well, I guess, I technically have a brain.  And I could probably round up a paper bag.  And I think there's a guy on my street who sells black tar heroine, which should work just like xanax, right?  What I meant was, I wish that I had a brain that worked more like other people's brain's seem to.

At least I don't think that living a mundane life like mine makes other people want to punch strangers in the face, scream obscenities at dogs that walk too slowly across the road (well, OK, maybe everyone does that), wake up to pee in the middle of the night only to be unable to go back to sleep haunted by endless possibilities, biting the inside of their mouths bloody while they rock back and forth furiously flipping through color coded and tabbed notebooks of information. 

 OK, maybe some of that was slightly exaggerated.  I'll let you guess which parts. (hint: it's not the part about the heroine, that stuff's great)

Why the heck is a stay at home mom so stressed out, apart from the fact that I am clearly bat-poo crazy?  Because of the up-coming move to Minnesota of course!  After 4 months, I am sure you are sick of hearing me complain about moving to MN.  I am certainly sick of THINKING about it, much less hearing myself complain about it!  WHY won't you turn off brain?!!  Anyway, in just over 4 months, we will be gone, and instead of hearing me complain about having to move, you will get to hear me complain about how cold it is, how I don't know anyone, how Matt is gone all the time, how I don't like sausage (cause I know they put it in everything over there), how they do weird things in the mid-west like sculpt cheese, etc.  So don't worry.  I am sure that my whining heart will find something to moan about, and at first I am sure you will be grateful for the change from the "moving complaints".

I think that the problem is just that 8 months is a LONG loooong time for a super planner/over thinker like me to know that you are making a cross country move.  Much, much too long.  Matt's solution:  "Just don't think about it for a few months". DO NORMAL PEOPLE'S BRAIN'S REALLY WORK LIKE THIS?  Should I be able to do this?  I mean I am excellent at repressing horrible things that I have to block out.  Like super good.  But at just temporarily forgetting important things that I need to remember later and not worrying about them until an appropriate time?  I am simply not capable.  I try.  And sometimes I am moderately successful.  The problem is that I am a HUGE daydreamer.  Have been my whole life, and I am always thinking about the future and mapping out how I am going to make it better (chalk it up to a scarred childhood), and that is not something I can change.  I find myself doing it before I can stop myself, and when I have no clear picture of the future, just a little black hole, super amounts of stress and anxiety set in.  OK, this just got WAY deeper than I intended it to.  I will get off the couch, so I don't have to pay you for a therapy session, and get back to the intended blogging for the day.

Anyway, here are a few things I have been doing that can be done 4.5 months out of a move.
  • Figuring out how to pay for it all, applying for loans, FAFSA, shuffling savings accounts, looking into health insurance, figuring out our essential expenses etc.  The program is 30 months.  Tuition isn't that expensive, only like $15 grand, but Matt can't work at all during the program, so all of our living expenses for 2.5 years are going to have to be loans/savings.  Plus there are other things, books, a program specific laptop and other equipment, etc that will have to be paid for, not to mention the cross country move.
  • Figuring out which school districts we are willing to live in!  We have never had to worry about this before, but Lily will start Kindergarten next year, so while looking for a place to live, we are going to have to be very aware of the different school districts.  There are about 17 Elementary Schools in the Rochester area, so I have had to look into them and see which ones are an option.  This will limit our housing options, but what are you gonna do?
  • Getting an idea of what rental costs are.  What types of options are available, locations, what its going to cost us, etc.
  • Figuring out the cost/options of actually physically moving, IE truck options, flying kids out VS making them drive with us cross country, etc. 
  • Planning a trip to go out and house hunt prior to the big move
  • I got bored halfway through typing this list and decided to go ahead and quit here, so it you are still reading props to you...
We are STILL waiting on some information from Mayo, that SHOULD help us make some big decisions.  I think.  Hard to say 'til we actually see the information, but here's hoping.  We were initially told the info packet would be here in Feb.,  but they have yet to send it.  Which is part of the desire for face punching as afore mentioned.  However, look how pretty Mayo is. 

And here are some nice city views of Rochester in case you are wondering what it looks like.

I got to chat on the phone this week with a very nice woman from the PHX valley who is currently living in Rochester while her husband does his general surgery residency at Mayo.  She was awesome, and talking to her was great and made me more excited to get out there.


Anyway, every March residents are "Matched" and lots of new Dr's move out of Rochester to do their residencies all over the country at the end of May/beginning of June.  This means that this is when a lot of properties are listed.  Granted most of them are for sell, and I am pretty sure that we are just interested in renting and not buying (that is a whole other debate for another time.  Why is it that paying a mortgage is $400/month or more cheaper that rent? grrr)

Anyway, we don't actually NEED a house until August.  But I am nervous that if I wait until then there won't be very much available, remember its a city of about 110,000 people so it's not like our options are limitless.  So my question is, do I find a house early, like one that will be vacated in June when this year's batch of residents leave and start paying rent a month or two early to secure a good rental, or do I sit tight, be patient and wait for the right time/until we really need a place.  Will I just be throwing away a month or two's worth of rent (which could be like $1000/mo remember) when we could possibly find another place just as good?  Is it the early bird gets the worm, or good things come to those who wait?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Big News,

in the eyes of a 3 year old girl can be summed up with one word.


She was very excited to get bangs and tells everyone about them, and now notices anyone else who also happens to have bangs and points that out.  I debated for a long time whether or not to give this girl bangs.  She very unfortunately inherited my family head shape, which my siblings and I are all STILL trying to grow into, a five head (as opposed to a standard four head) is not an easy thing to pull off.  A great solution for this is bangs, though Izzie was also "blessed" with Matt's super fine and thin hair, which made me worry that were I to give her bangs they would have to come from the very back of her head and be a "comb-forward", kinda like a comb-over.

Kinda like this:
or maybe this:

So I decided to cut the bangs in the "standard" bangs spot, not the deep far back kind.  They turned out OK, but they are pretty thin, so I am tempted to take them a little farther back, but Matt has cautioned me against it, since it is a slippery slope until I end up making her look like the above gentlemen.  He's probably right.  It's probably not a good idea.  You know what is a good idea?  Trying to take a cute picture of your hungry 3 year old while she is clearly busy trying to eat a sandwich.

Anyway, the sandwich, rightfully won out over the new bangs pose here, but you get the gist of what she looks like now, right?

Saturday, March 10, 2012

February, Five year olds, Fashion, First Steps & Forever Families

Clearly, February was an alliterate month!  :)

Much like January, we spent a lot of it inside due to colds and allergies.  It has been such a mild winter that everything has continued to bloom here in AZ and nothing has frozen and died and therefore everybody seems to be miserable.

We did spend a TINY bit of extremely limited time outside. What is the point of living somewhere where it is 70 degrees outside in February if your/your kids allergies are so bad you can't go outside??

 I also won an awesome giveaway from flower bucket boutique, who sent me all this cool stuff:
 Matt went and saw Mitt while he was in town, he took this pic with our camera.  Kinda looks like a stock photo, but its not :)
Kate FINALLY started walking, though she still is pretty tentative and mostly crawls, but we can coax her to walk here and there and she will do it when she thinks no one is looking.

Lily turned 5 in February, and I simply can't believe it.  5 seems to be a whole other world.  She is now in a different category.  She'll start kindergarten this fall.  I am not ready for this.  I am such a proud momma though.  She is a good egg.  On birthdays I let the girls wear whatever they want and she picked out this dress up/gymnastics combo.  She helped make the cupcakes to take to school, including putting on all the sprinkles herself.

She wanted a Tinkerbell cake, this was the best I could free-hand on short notice with only being able to find 2 icing tips (I have since bought 6 more and am very anxious to make more cake and try out different things...)

We had a very small get together, with Lily's grandparents, Uncle Charlie, and Nana's best friend Sister Student, who brought her grand daughter.  We had dinner and cake and ice cream right after Daddy woke up just before he had to go back to work.  I was very tempted to do a friend party for Lily this year.  She has been invited to several, and I know she would have loved one, but I hate to set the precedent right before we go away to school, so we didn't do one.  She did get to go to lunch with Nana after school though, and had a very fun and eventful day.

Lily got 3 new church dresses for her birthday, which is what she really needed, and they are all SO cute!  My little Fashionista!

 We also got to go back to my home town for a quick visit, it was filled with wonderful little moments like this one, of GG rocking Katie to sleep. 
Though technically we went to Thatcher at the beginning of March and not February, we missed our original planned trip (during Valentine's day) because we were all sick.  While in Thatcher we got to go to the LDS Temple a couple of times and I had a really nice experience while I was there that I wanted to share and kind of "journal", so forgive the next couple of narrative journaled paragraphs.

If you don't know much about the LDS church, here is a brief sum up of what we consider saving ordinances.  Like many Christian faiths, we believe that man must be baptized in Christ's name to be saved, along with receiving other ordinances, performed by someone with the proper priesthood authority, and by making covenants with God, and living a worthy life, continually striving to refine oneself and improve oneself through a lifelong learning and repentance process.  The first step is to be baptized into the church, then, if members are worthy, and choose to, they can receive further ordinances and make more committed covenants in the temple.  Men and women who have each been through the temple for themselves and have individually received of the ordinances of the temple have the option of being married in the temple.

A marriage in the temple is different than a marriage outside the temple, because we believe that ordinances performed and promises made inside the temple are done with the authority to be bound eternally.  Therefore, we do not believe in 'til death do we part.  We believe that be will be bound forever, and that children who result as part of a covenanted union made in the temple are also bound to us eternally, as long as we live worthy to claim the blessings extended to us. 

We also believe that God is a loving a merciful Father, and that he wants all His children, even those who did not live in a time when they were able to hear the truth of the Gospel to have the option to choose whether to accept these ordinances for themselves.  Therefore as a member of the church who has gone through the temple and received of all of its ordinances for ourselves, we no longer need to ever go back (kind of like baptism, its really a one time thing), but we return and serve as proxy for deceased people, who we believe on the other side will have the opportunity to accept or reject the proxy baptism, other ordinances, and even marriages to their spouse (that we call "sealings").  We believe that this work is a service, that is is not being forced upon anyone on the other side, but that the Gospel is being preached there as it is here, and that there may be many spirits who reject these ordinances, but that there may also be people waiting on the other side, hoping for baptism and for a sealing to their family, just waiting for someone to perform their ordinances for them.  I may not have explained that perfectly, but if you have more questions, please feel free to ask!  I can at least put you in contact with someone who is sure to answer them more eloquently than I can.

Anyway, back to my story.  Lately I have been able to do a lot of family history work.  Its really thanks to my awesome brother Charlie, who is not a member of the church, but who does share a love of our ancestors with me.  Since we have never really known our father very well, and my Papa died when I was 12 (he being my only link to that side of the family) we have never really had much information at all about my Dad's side of the family.  Just that my Papa's family came down from French Canada, and obviously my brother Charlie is a IVth (well maybe you didn't know that, but my brother charlie isn't just a Jr or even a III, but a IVth.  He hates it.  He actually had it legally changed this year).  Anyway, BACK ON TOPIC JENN!  Goodness, I am sorry!  Anyway, Charlie went to Quebec last summer and brought back SO much FASCINATING information about the history of my St George/Laporte side of my family, and translated it all (or at least most) into English for me (it was all in French).  Anyway, from this we were able to construct a family tree that goes back 10 generations.  Something I never though would be possible.  I have been able to construct a connection to these people that I come from that I never thought I would have.  It is a beautiful thing.

In August I put all of their information in the new family search program and my mom and I have been doing their temple work.  Mostly my mom has been doing the leg work, since she lives about 2 minutes from the temple and doesn't have a job.  However when we were there this past week I got to do some and then also we arranged to do several family sealings, my GG came to do the sealings with me along with my mom and Hank, Aunt Colleen, Uncle Seth, Matt and a few others, it was such a great experience.  HERE IS THE REAL STORY>

We had sealed several families together, including my Great Grandfather to his parents, and I was having such a beautiful, wonderful experience, when suddenly, during one of the sealings, I had the distinct thought that the family being sealed was incomplete, that several children were missing and weren't being sealed to their mother.  I had entered these names 6 months ago and had entered in dozens of families, large, catholic families with lots of children, so there was no way I could be sure of these facts in my mind.  After we were finished, but before we got home I mentioned the feeling to my mom and told her I wanted to check it out.  Later that night she reminded me to check on it, and sure enough, 3 children were not included.  My mom had not noticed when she printed off the family that 3 children didn't have their work done, but the underlying fault was mine.  When I entered their information in originally I had left off a birthplace, though I had a specific date entered in for them all, the place section was left blank, and apparently they will not let you do any work without this information.  It was my stupid mistake, and I was SO grateful for a prompting from the Lord so that I could fix it, and I did.  It was quick and easy to get the needed information into the computer so that their work can go forward.  What a blessing.  It was a HUGE testimony building experience for me.

After all that typing I though I would  leave you on a nice random picture of my sweet blonde baby making her, "Who, ME?" face

Friday, March 9, 2012

Need a laugh?

So, I have a couple real posts I am "planning" on posting really soon.  But right now I am busy.  And by busy, I mean that I am completely wasting time online and don't want to stop to do something productive.  But hey, you are reading my blog, so you know all about that, right!  Gotcha!!

Anyway, there is this website that I like to visit that is always good for a laugh, and since you are clearly wasting time right now too, you should check it out and scroll through a few pages.  The girl who writes it is named Jen and she is super funny, it is dedicated to showcasing horrible professional cakes, like this one:
Clearly the person who ordered this cake didn't want the one N only to be written on the cake.  There are lots of other horrible and hilarious examples.  Mis-spellings, bad artistry, questionable taste, idiotic mistakes

She also does something called "Sunday Sweets" on Sundays where she posts pics of AMAZING cake creations that are beautiful and artistic and lovely.  But mostly the site is great for a laugh.  Her commentary is what makes it so great.  So, if like me, your significant other works every weekend night and you find yourself sitting home bored out of your mind, go waste some time, flip through a few dozen pages, catch a case of the giggles, and appreciate the bones life throws you and the comedic genius that can be found in the display case at your local grocer's bakery!